Thursday March 16, 2017 at 2:33pm
The British Motorcycle Racing Club - supported by famous workwear brand Dickies - kicked off the new season at Brands Hatch over the weekend of 11-12 March, with a full programme of racing action providing a thrilling start to 2017. BG Products MRO Powerbikes
Defending MRO Powerbike champion Colin Parker got his title defence off to the perfect start at the Brands Hatch, the Global Robots Yamaha rider commanding proceedings to take pole position and all three race wins.
Running the number one plate on his YZF-R1, Parker set a time of 47.6 to qualify on pole position, almost half a second ahead of the Kawasaki-mounted duo of Joe Morphett and former champion Peter Baker.
Parker continued his dominance into the opening 20-lap race, leading every lap to take 25 championship points and start his title defence in perfect fashion.
Baker slotted into second place early on, with John Butler moving past Morphett on the opening lap to take third. Butler then pushed his way past Baker to take second, and held the position to the three-quarter race distance.
With Parker away at the front, it was a three-way fight for the remaining two podium positions. Butler held the advantage, but he was under pressure from Baker and Morphett. Morphett slid past Baker on lap 13, before passing Butler two laps later.
With two laps to go Butler’s podium challenge ended, with Baker making the pass that would see him take third place at the chequered flag, the former champion unable to get close enough to Morphett in the closing stages to launch a challenge for second place.
Butler took fourth ahead of Daryl Dance, while Clubman honours went to Kyle O’Donovan on the Meads Construction Yamaha.
Sunday’s opening race followed a similar theme at the front for Parker, and after his adversary Baker snatched the advantage on the opening lap, the reigning champion hit the front on lap three. From there he was never headed, gradually extending his advantage to nearly four seconds to take his second victory and another 25 championship points.
Morphett shadowed Baker for much of the race, but was unable to make anything stick, and had to settle for third place.
Michael O’Brien and Tony Rogers completed the top five, while O’Donovan took another Clubman win by the narrowest of margins, crossing the line less than two tenths of a second ahead of fellow Clubman contender Tom Norton, the pair seventh and eighth.
Dry conditions gave way to the rain for the final race of the season opener, and while it tightened things up at the sharp end, the finishing order was unchanged.
Parker led in the opening stages, swapping positions every lap for second place. At the halfway stage Parker had pulled out a two and a half second gap, and looked like he could cruise to the win. Baker, meanwhile, had other intentions, and after shaking off the attentions of Morphett, set about hunting down the race leader.
With the gap diminishing, Baker eroded a gap of over a second in one circulation to take the lead on lap eight, with four laps to go. The two title favourites were almost glued together. Parker set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap, before snatching the lead and the win on the final lap as the pair negotiated a lapped rider.
Half a second was enough to give Parker another win and complete his hat trick for the weekend. Baker took second with Morphett a lonely third. The Clubman win went to Norton in an impressive fourth place.
The newest batch of Bemsee Rookies also got their racing careers off the mark, with Michael Whisker looking like the man to beat in the BMCRC Rookie 1000s class.
The BMW S 1000 RR rider took all four wins from the class’s four races, leaving Brands Hatch with maximum points, the championship lead and the Ron & Bill Collins Memorial trophy which is awarded to the best performance in the Rookie 600 class Bemsee’s first weekend.
James Lyon took a brace of second placed finishes from Satuday’s races, with Alex Penrice twice third on his AP Motorcycles Yamaha.
Sunday’s races again saw Whisker take the chequered flag first, with Daniel Laviada Hernandez second and Lyon third in the day’s opener, before Penrice got himself back onto the podium in the final race, taking second place ahead of Gary Baldwin.
Team Respro MRO 600s
The spoils were shared after the opening round of the Team Respro MRO 600 championship from Brands Hatch, with Chris Burrage and Paul Wilby taking two wins apiece.
Burrage was the stronger qualifier out of the two, the Seton Tuning Yamaha rider sitting third on the grid for the opening race, with Wilby on row three in eighth place. Stuart Wickens sat on pole, with Max Symonds also on the front row.
Wickens was quickest out of the blocks in race one, hitting the front and holding station until the halfway stage, when he was passed by eventual winner Burrage. Wickens wasn’t done though, and retook the lead a lap later, only for Burrage to assume control as Wickens crashed out with three laps to go.
At the chequered flag Burrage took the win ahead of Symonds on his J&C Symonds Kawasaki, with James Plummer third and the leading Clubman, after seeing off fellow Clubman contender and reigning BMCRC Rookie 600 champion David Shoubridge.
Burrage led race two from start to finish, but he couldn’t afford a lapse in concentration, with Symonds chasing him hard all the way to the flag, less than a second the gap after 10 laps. Plummer added another podium to his weekend’s tally with another third place, and another Clubman win, again ahead of Shoubridge in fourth.
After a sixth and a fifth from Saturday’s two races, Moremoto Kawasaki’s Paul Wilby found his form to win both of Sunday’s encounters, in convincing fashion, too.
Starting fourth on the grid, the former MRO Minitwin front-runner forced his way through the second on the opening lap. From there, he stalked race leader Symonds until lap nine of 12, before making his move for the lead.
He put the hammer down, and pulled out a lead of four and a half seconds in the final three laps to cross the line first and take victory. He also took the win in the Clubman class.
With two laps to go Symonds also surrendered second place, allowing Burrage past to take the position. He held on for third. Ben Cotgrove took fourth place, heading up a train of riders down to eighth place.
A damp final outing saw Wilby imperious in his quest for victory, the Moremoto Kawasaki rider crushing his opposition to take the win by a huge margin of over 27 seconds over after 12 laps.
Burrage led the opening lap, but it was short-lived, Wilby passing for the lead on lap two. He was followed by fellow Clubman runner Shoubridge, who held off the more experienced Burrage for second place, but third was enough for Burrage to take a healthy championship lead away from the opening round.
In the BMCRC Rookie 600s Tom Newman and Charlie Paterson took two wins each. Newman won the opener ahead of Paterson with Ollie Shotton third. Paterson then went one better in the afternoon’s race to take victory, with Adrian Lewis and Shotton second and third, just two tenths of a second covering the three of them.
Paterson was again the victor in race three, taking the win ahead of Shotton and Newman. Newman was back on the top step of the podium after the chequered flag on the final race, with Shotton second and David Lenehan third.
Patterson was awarded the Vincent Fox Memorial trophy for his efforts on Saturday evening.
Properly Protected MRO Minitwins
Glynn Davies got his assault on the 2017 MRO Minitwin championship off to a solid start, taking three wins from four starts at Brands Hatch.
After qualifying on pole Davies he led every lap to win race one, with Ryan Folkes and Thomas Eustace second and third respectively. The podium was then repeated in race two.
Davies was again on the top step of the podium in Sunday’s opening race, crossing the line less than a second ahead of Folkes, who took another second place, while James Larter made it onto the podium in third.
A wet final outing became a race of attrition, with 15 riders failing to make the finish. Davies rode a safe a steady race to finish seventh and take a solid number of championship points. Daniel Singleton dominated at the front, taking victory ahead of Chris Kent and Folkes.
In the Rookie Minitwin class Cameron Harris took the win in race one, before Charlie Downes took two wins, taking victory in Saturday’s second race and Sunday’s opener. Eddie Daly then took the final victory in race four.
Team Green Junior Cup & Senior 300s
There were four overall race winners from the four Kawasaki supported Junior Cup and Senior 300 races, proving that the class will again provide some of the most exciting racing of 2017.
Luke Hopkins qualified on pole, but was unable to prevent Scott Ogden taking the win in race one, two tenths of a second splitting the two Junior runners at the line. Third went to Ben Hawes, who was the leading Senior 300 rider home.
Hawes then took the overall victory in race two, while Ogden’s second place handed him the Junior class win, as Hopkins crashed out of second place. Third went to Charlie Farrer.
The win finally came for Hopkins in the weekend’s third race, as a third of the field failed to make the finish and the race was red-flagged.
Second, and the Senior 300 win, again went to Hawes, who already looks like the title favourite in the class, with Ogden again taking another solid haul of championship points with another podium finish in third.
The heavens opened for the final race, soaking the Brands Hatch asphalt. Farrer mastered the conditions, gapping the rest of the field to win by 18 seconds. Hopkins dropped out of proceedings on the opening lap, with Hawes following him two laps laters.
That left Kai Dickinson, Aditya Singh Behal, and Harry Fowle to sort out the remaining two podium positions. As the order shuffled, Dickinson came out on top, but only narrowly, with less than one thousandth of a second separating him in second and Behal in third, with Fowle only half a second back in fourth. Michael Stone’s fifth place gave him the Senior 300 win.
DFDS Yamaha Past Masters
The classic two-stroke Yamaha series enjoyed a strong turnout for the opening round of 2017, with 35 qualifiers on an assortment of TZR250s and 350 YPVS machines lining up for the weekend’s opening race.
Returning to the class was Anthony Johnson, who got off to to a perfect start by setting pole and winning race one. Doug Edmondson shadowed the race leader, but couldn’t mount a challenge, and finished runner-up by one and a half seconds on his Wave Racing TZR. Third went to the former Rookie champion Scott Grant. Clubman honours went to Lee Huff in eighth while Alan Wood picked up the Rookie win in 11th.
Johnson and Edmondson repeated their performances in race two, although Edmondson narrowed the gap to just one second. Third went down to the wire, but last year’s Clubman champion, Giles Harwood, just bettered Grant for the final podium spot.
Huff’s seventh gave him another Clubman win, with Wood again the highest placed Rookie in 11th.
Sunday’s first race gave Johnson another 25 championship points, as he disappeared at the front to take a commanding win. Edmondson rode to a lonely second place.
Just two seconds covered six riders in the battle for third, as a 12-wheeled train sped across the line at the chequered flag. Harwood snatched it, holding off Pete Fishwick by one tenth of a second, who in turn led Dennis Halil, Grant, Sacha Gyte, and Huff across the line. Huff was the Clubman winner, with Wood the lead Rookie in 13th.
The change in conditions for the final race didn’t hamper Johnson’s ability to lead from the front, as he took his fourth win to complete his weekend’s dominance.
Five riders exited proceedings on the opening lap, leaving Fishwick to race to second place, while Halil finished third. Huff’s sixth place handed him another Clubman win, while the Rookie spoils went to Paul Godbold in 17th.
RKB-F1 and F2 Sidecars
Barry James and Jack Tritton took the overall race win in the opening RKB-F1-backed sidecar race, crossing the line on their Difuria Contractors-sponsored LCR Kawasaki F1 machine ahead of Kev Cable and Guy Pawsey, also in the F1 class. Third went to Wayne Lockey and Mark Sayers, as well as the F2 class win.
Race two saw a repeat podium of the opening encounter, before James and Tritton took their third win in Sunday’s first race. Second went to Simon Gilbert and Carl Morgan on the Shelbourne Yamaha, the duo also grabbing the F2 win, while Cable and Pawsey were third on their F1 LCR Yamaha.
A wet final outing allowed Gilbert and Morgan to take both the F2 and overall victory, with Ryan Crowe and Harry Payne second on their F2 outfit. James and Tritton made the overall podium in third, and also took another F1 class win.
Steve Jordan Motorcycles BMCRC Thunderbike Extreme
Jason Byard and David Shelvey shared the spoils in the BMCRC Thunderbike Extreme races, taking two wins apiece.
Byard was the victor in both of Saturday’s outings, bettering Alan Wood and Mark Lister in race one to make it an all Suzuki podium.
The May Construction Suzuki rider then won the day’s second race, as Lister and Shelvey completed the podium, just a second covering the trio.
On Sunday Shelvey claimed his two race wins, the first coming ahead of Matt Hinnells and Wood, before narrowly clinching the win in the final race of the weekend by a tenth of a second from Byard, with Hinnells back on the podium in third.
Steve Jordan BMCRC Thunderbike Sport
David May was untouchable in the Thunderbike Sport class around the Brands Hatch circuit, winning all four races on his BBs Ducati.
His victory in race one came 16 seconds ahead of Andrew Gill in second, with Tony Coe in third. In race two he again bettered Gill, with Mark Trowell third on the ELP Racing Yamaha.
Gill and Coe were again second and third respectively in Sunday’s opening race, before May completed his rout in the final outing, the wet conditions giving Malvern May and Ricardo Branco the chance to get onto the podium