The majestic Cumbrian Fells being covered in late April snow made probably the most beautiful drive to any race circuit in the UK even more impressive than usual for the competitors making the trip to Round 3 of the British Supermoto championship. As they arrived at the twisty but extremely well presented venue they were greeted with the sight of a newly constructed all weather off road section comprising of a mixture of tarmac & concrete berms and jumps it was further indication of the new found confidence in British Supermoto that this investment had been made.
Michelin Premier Cup
Bright sun but breezy conditions greeted the riders, a nice change at notoriously rainy Rowrah. Matt Winstanley made a welcome return to the paddock after being absent in Australia, however the SJP Husqvarna rider Jay Smith was one of a long list of injured Elite riders who couldn’t make this round and this left his team mate, Chris Hodgson as firm favourite at his local circuit. At the end of qualifying it was Hodgson on pole by .5 sec from Winstanley, Richard Blakeman and Richard Sharp completed the front row to make it a Husqvarna whitewash but were nearly 2 seconds slower than the front two.
Hodgson got the holeshot but was chased initially by Winstanley & Blakeman, however the Cumbrian is riding with real confidence and is at the very top of his game and he inexorably pulled away to win by a comfortable 13 seconds from Winstanley who held Blakeman off. Jordan Bannon gave the race most of its interest coming from last as he fluffed the start to finish 4th
Was again won by Hodgson in a start to finish master class, Winstanley chased hard but the real story was about an even more local rider than Hodgson, Dale O’Connor who lives 2 miles from the circuit battled away at the front after a fantastic start to hold on for a fantastic third place ahead of Bannon and Blakeman
Hodgson cruised to 3 wins from 3 in the 3rd
and final race of the day Winstanley who revealed he had been fighting a virus all day, was again second but a fantastic four rider battle for third place kept the crowd royally entertained. Dale O’Connor was determined not to give up his third place spot even under intense pressure from Richard Sharp, Blakeman & Bannon who all crossed the line with less than a second covering them.
It was Hodgson from Winstanley with a delighted Dale O’Connor taking the final podium place and a Michelin watch for rider of the day
Suter Clutch Challenge Cup
Another really strong entry for the Suter Cup saw some of the best racing of the day with no quarter asked or given. The riders enjoying the demanding track and fantastic weather. Widnes rider Jack Fay put his relatively poor showing at Rednal behind him to win 3 out of 3 races, he was shadowed throughout by Darren Lee riding in great pain with an injured back and occasional racer Mark Stephens putting in a fantastic effort for third overall after 2 thirds and a fourth. Grant Fraser grabbed fourth and title favourite George Jarvis seemed relatively off the pace with fifth overall.
NPS Novice Cup
The success of the Novice class continued with many riders making incredibly long trips to make their debut at this track and the numbers meant gain that split races were the order of the day. Glaswegian Chris Eastwood stole the the show on his Honda with three wins from three, three riders then finished on identical points being split by the best last race rule so second on the podium went to John Oakes ahead of Cornishman Simon Snowden who now leads the British Championship. Blaine Pearson had to settle for the points rather than a podium on his 2-stroke Husqvarnai.
Seasoned Rowrah racers know that one day of sunshine is rare and two is unheard of and this proved to be the case as what would be light rain was turned into a monsoon by the gale force winds. Luckily the all weather off road now came into its own and the full track could be continued to be used. Michelin Elite Cup
Matt Winstanley soon got to grips with the tricky conditions and set pole in qualifying which gave hope that Hodgson might be under some pressure for a change on his home track. Richard Blakeman was third with Jordan Bannon fourth.
Winstanley got the holeshot from pole and led the race for 9 laps before a slight mistake let Hodgson through on lap 10, it looked like it would be a three way battle as Richard Blakeman used his experience to get on the back of the front two setting the fastest lap in the process but at the line it was Hodgson from Winstanley then Blakeman with Scotsman Jamie Duncan having a fine ride in fourth.
It now looked like Hodgson had some competition at last as the riders lined up in horrendous conditions for race 2. However the normally fast starting Winstanley bogged down on the line and got caught up in the pack at turn one Blakeman and Jamie Duncan took advantage and as Blakeman chased after Hodgson, Winstanley tried everything he knew to get past Duncan who was grimly hanging on to third. Eventually Winstanley got past the dogged Duncan on lap 5 but had to much to do to catch the leaders settling for third behind Blakeman with Duncan a great fourth.
Although Hodgson won after leading from the start he had to work hard as Winstanley was in his wheel tracks every inch of the race, the Wigan rider tried a move round the outside at paddock which saw him nearly lose the front end before settling for second, Blakeman rounded off a fine day with another third with Gosport’s Ollie Pope a very good fourth on his Kawasaki after a weekend of clutch problems were finally resolved.
Overall: Hodgson took the overall win from Winstanley with Blakeman third and the excellent Jamie Duncan fourth. It was a toss up for Michelin rider of the day with Blakeman getting the nod ahead of Duncan.
So far this year the Open Nationals have been dominated by Andy Mitchell but the experienced Yorkshireman found his 2 stroke KTM a little peaky for the slippery conditions and uncharacteristically had a number of falls though the day after setting pole in qualifying. George Jarvis took full advantage and responded well after a disappointing day one and took three wins ahead of rapidly becoming a crowd favourite, Conor Bolsover, whose all action style really impresses. Veteran Robin Brown was a very popular final place on the podium just one point ahead of Ryan Chalmers who was left rueing the his stalled engine at the start of race 3.
After dominating at Rednal Jimmy Lovell was involved in three titanic races with Gary Pigney & Adrian Stables that had everyone in the paddock watching and applauding. It was ultra impressive to see 3 riders knee on the floor in near flooded conditions race round in such close proximity.
Results Day One Michelin Premier Cup
Chris Hodgson (Husqvarna) 105pts - 2nd
Matt Winstanley (Husqvarna) 96pts - 3rd
Dale O’Connor (KTM) 85pts - 4th
Richard Blakeman (Husqvarna) 82pts - 5th
Jordan Bannon (Husqvarna) 81pts – 6th
Richard Sharp (Husqvarna) 79pts – 7th
Oliver Pope (Kawasaki) 71pts – 8th
Charlie Light (KTM) 69pts – 9th
Tim Johnson (Husqvarna) 64pts -10th
Jamie Duncan (Husqvarna) 60pts
Suter Clutch Cup
Jack Fay (Husqvarna) 105pts – 2nd
Darren Lee (KTM) 96pts - 3rd
Mark Stephens (Honda) 88pts – 4th
Grant Fraser (TM) 84pts – 5th
George Jarvis (Husqvarna) 76pts
Chris Eastwood (Honda) 105pts – 2nd
John Oakes (TM) 82pts - 3rd
Simon Snowden (KTM) 82pts
Results Day Two Michelin Elite Cup
Chris Hodgson (Husqvarna) 105pts – 2nd
Matt Winstanley (Husqvarna) 94pts – 3rd
Richard Blakeman (Husqvarna) 92pts – 4th
Jamie Duncan (KTM) 82pts – 5th
Oliver Pope (Kawasaki) 79pts – 6th
Jordan Bannon (Husqvarna) 75pts – 7th
Charlie Light (KTM) 72pts – 8th
Tim Johnson (Husqvarna) 69pts – 9th
Dale O’Connor (KTM)
Open National A
George Jarvis (Husqvarna) 105pts – 2nd
Connor Bolsover (Honda) 96pts - 3rd
Robin Brown (Husqvarna) 83pts – 4th
Ryan Chalmers (Husqvarna) 82pts – 5th
James Wood (KTM) 75pts
Ryan Chalmers (Husqvarna) 82pts – 2nd
James Wood (KTM) 75pts – 3rd
Max Wybrow (Husqvarna) 62pts – 4th
Mike Hosey (KTM) 62pts – 5th
Jordan Nutter (KTM) 57pts
Best Over 45
– Robin Brown (Husqvarna)
Best Two Stroke
– Darren Lee (KTM)
James Lovell (CRF) 105pts – 2nd
Gary Pigney (Open) 96pts – 3rd
Jamie Stables (Open) 85pts – 4th
Hugh Ducat (Open) 79pts - 5th
Ben Green (Open) 79pts
Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by Sports Events Live