One of the great pleasures of early-season club race meetings, especially EMRA meetings at Mallory Park, is the appearance of riders from the national championships getting in a bit of testing/practice/confidence boosting for the new season. Sunday’s meeting at Mallory produced not only riders from three national championships, but a World Supersport contender as well.
Maybe it was just the weather forecast that brought out such a massive entry – seventy of them in the last week before the meeting – and let us rediscover a word I have not seen in a race programme for many years – Reserves. Fresh from his maiden national win at Donington was Dan Stamper, the Bennett’s Suzuki works outing brought Taylor Mackenzie for some track time on the BSB bike, and Richard Cooper for something completely different – four races on his CB500 Honda. If that was to hone his ability to get through a massive pack of bikes of almost identical performance (which pretty much describes Superstock 1000), then it worked well. To top it off, Luke Stapleford took a break from WSS to race in the Supersport and Buildbase races.
The happiest man of the day must surely have been Peter Bardell, who shouldn’t have to buy any of his own drinks for weeks to come after beating Richard Cooper three times – two of them by one-hundredth of a second, in some of the best races ever seen at Mallory. The first Lightweight race saw Cooper coming through from the back of the grid to take third after just two laps, but then he had to reel in Bardell and Tom Fisher who were scrapping for the lead, which took until lap eight, but the three of them were absolutely wheel to wheel for the last two laps with Bardell taking the win by 12 thousandths of a second with Fisher third one tenth behind Cooper. The second Lightweight race was much the same story except with the addition of Richard Blunt to the leading group, and Cooper was actually ahead with one lap remaining, but at the flag it was the Bedford rider again who took the honours with Cooper 0.057 seconds behind and Blunt third. Cooper actually won the first 500 race from Blunt by a seventh of a second with Bardell third. The second 500 race was Bardell, Blunt & Cooper again with Cooper taking the lead with one lap left, but losing it at the flag, where Bardell was 14 thousandths ahead, and Blunt one-fifth down. The aggregate winning margins of the four CB500 clashes was less than a quarter of a second.
Taylor Mackenzie didn’t spend his afternoon sparring with the opposition – he just took off to collect four victories from four races, and possibly collect a lap record. In the first Buildbase Mallory Trophy race, he was hounded for a while by Luke Stapleford, but eventually pulled away to win by five seconds, while Lee Wilson won the battle for third place against Curtis Wright with Dan Stamper not far away in fifth. The Jim Noice trophy race saw the Bennets Suzuki finish well clear of the battle in which Curtis Wright eventually beat Dan Stamper by one-seventh of a second. Mackenzie won both the Allcomers races by more than twenty seconds from Lee Wilson. His best lap in the final race was 51.003 – 98.4mph, and it’s believed that this may be a superbike lap record.
Luke Stapleford showed that he hadn’t forgotten his way round Mallory after all his foreign travels, winning the first Supersport race by a 16 second margin from Curtis Wright with Will Shaw close behind, and then Wright took the second from Adam Clark with Shaw third. His afternoon was cut short in the second Buildbase race when there was a collision at the hairpin, and though Luke was not injured, the same couldn’t be said for the bike.
After Donington, Dan Stamper might have expected an easy ride in the Superstock races, but Will Shaw really made him work for his victory in the first race, staying within one second at the flag after ten laps. He did have a slightly clearer run in the second race, beating Adam Clarke with Ben Luxton third ahead of Shaw.
Graham Wilson won both GP125 races quite convincingly from reigning EMRA champion Gavin Mills, while Gary Arden, eager for new experiences, hired one of Gavin’s Hondas to try out, and got an impressive third place in the second race. Being used to a Suzuki 650, the 125 was certainly different -the slightly smaller powerband was an education in itself. Possibly as a result of riding two very different bikes, Gary only took a third and a fourth in the Minitwins races, good news for championship rival Jonathan Wells who won both ahead of Chris Ashfield. Jonathan also took the second Supertwin race from Neil Reading, after finishing behind him in race one.
Leicestershire riders tend to dominate at Mallory, and that applies to the Rookies too, with four of the top five in both Rookie races. Mark Daines from Earl Shilton won both from Matt Speed, with Dan Williams, Joey Pinto and Ashley King taking the next three spots.
John and Jake Lowther won the opening sidecar race from Ryan Crowe and Harry Payne, all the way from the Isle of Man. The positions were reversed in race two, with Sam and Adam Christie taking third in both races. Matthew Rostrum parted company with Dan Knight’s outfit in race one, but, having come across the Irish Sea to race, turned out again in the second race and enjoyed a fierce scrap with Alan Schofield for fourth, finally taking fifth. If there was a prize for longest journey for least reward, it would go to Andy King’s passenger Jeff Gillard, who flew from Canada to take part, but only got two racing laps in!