The Wirral Hundred club’s season-opener at Anglesey in March was graced with dry, sunny weather, only a handful of fallers, and some top-class close racing. Move on five weeks to Oulton Park (Saturday 22nd
April) and it was all repeated again with excellent weather, no reported injuries, and some exceptional racing.
The Paul Bland Motorsport
Formula 600 class attracted 50 entries, with the fastest 36 in qualifying practice seeded into the two championship races. The fastest qualifier was 2016 club champion Jamie Devine and in race 1 he was never headed, finishing two seconds clear of Matt Waldron and Antrim’s Ross Patterson; the ride of that race, however, came from Sean Montgomery, a faller in practice, who started at the rear of the grid and eventually came through to 7th
place. Race 2 again saw Devine take charge, but it was the Irish 600 Championship contender Patterson, 4th
at the end of lap 1, who took the lead on the sixth and final lap, a performance that was to so impress the marshals that they voted that he should be the recipient of the Paul Leonard Award as ‘the rider of the day’. Devine, Waldron and Montgomery filled the next four places in race 2. The two F600 consolation races saw wins for Rich Baker and Aaron Hands.
In the Powerbikes class, championship favourite Johnny Blackshaw maintained his unbeaten run with two victories, both times ahead of Lee Williams, Dan Stewart and Jamie Harrison; Blackshaw’s seven seconds margin of victory in race 2 was particularly impressive. The club’s newly-introduced Pre-2009/Pre-Electronics Powerbikes category is gaining momentum and for this second meeting there was an encouraging entry of 19 riders; former W100 champion John Robb wheeled out his faithful 13-year old Suzuki, and scored two comfortable wins ahead of Chris Ganderton and John Jackson on their elderly R1’s. Robert Coppock and Mike Brampton and their 750 GSXR’s were the fastest of the Golden Era bikes in races 1 and 2 respectively.
There was a wonderful hotch-potch of 35 machines that came to the grid in the 500cc Allcomers races – ranging from 125cc & 250cc GP bikes, 400cc proddie bikes, several Manx Nortons, and a few others in-between. The experienced Adrian Kershaw and John Price (both aboard 400 Kawasaki’s) are usually the men to beat in this class but this time they were joined at the front by Chris Moore (250 TZ). Price though blotted his copybook at the start of race 1 when his late arrival put him on the back of the grid. Kershaw led from the off but on the last lap Chris Moore nipped ahead and won by a fraction, whilst Price achieved a miracle in moving through the field to claim 3rd
place. Irish newcomer Noah Holmes was an impressive 4th
on his 250 Aprilia. In race 2 Moore led at the end of lap 1 but then Kershaw took over and held on to the lead – just. Price was again 3rd
, whilst 15 years-old Myles Wasley, continuing to impress, moved up to 4th
John Price made up for the minor disappointments in the Allcomers races by dominating the two Forgotten Era races on his more elderly 400 Kawasaki. Paul Day finished 2nd
in both races, whilst Jim Barnett and Nick Bedford shared the 3rd
Jonathan Perry had two 3rd
place finishes in the 650 Twins races a year ago, but this time he rode mightily impressively securing two fine wins, one by 14 seconds, the other by 8 seconds; these rides attracted enough votes from the marshals to secure him 2nd
place in the ‘rider of the day’ stakes. The experienced Irish visitor Marty Lennon was 2nd
on both occasions, well clear of Mike Bampton in race 1 and Daniel Capper in race 2.
In the SSR Suspension
Golden Era Supersport class, Ray Stevenson and Dave Marsden, in that order, had taken the honours in the first championship round at Anglesey and they were similarly locked together in the two Oulton races; however yet another Irish newcomer Lee Bradshaw claimed an impressive 5-second victory in race 1 but sadly had a stop in race 2 when in the lead, letting Stevenson and Marsden take over. Damian Davis was the best of the rest in both races.
Joe Ravenscroft on his R1 had won the two Pre-Injection races at Anglesey and had also won the two NG races at Oulton two weeks ago, so it was no surprise that he dominated qualifying and had two clear victories here. Chris Ganderton and John Jackson, also on R1’s, were next along, and Jon Wright was comfortably the best of the 600’s.
The David Swallow Memorial Race attracted an excellent entry of classic bikes and the feature race saw Harley Rushton and Richard Molnar (both on Manx Nortons) locked together for all of the 7 laps, with Rushton winning a great race by just 0.2 seconds. Gary Thwaites and Sam Rhodes finished 3rd
whilst Steve Ferguson (500 Honda) was the first to finish on a bike with more than one cylinder! It was fitting that Bill Swallow brought his 350 Ducati home in 14th
position and then was an honoured guest in the awards presentation in parc ferme.
The Earlystocks Racing Club were guests at this meeting and shared track-time with the classic bikes. Nick Allison, all the way from Jersey, won race 1 on his 1170cc Moriwaki from Andrew Howe (750 GSXR) and Dave Crampton (600 R6); these positions were reversed in race 2.
Hugely contrasting outfits featured in the two sidecar races. The W100 open races saw 2015 British champions and 2017 British championship contenders Rick Stevens & Ryan Charlwood and Alan Founds & Tom Peters scorching around and putting on a great show for the crowd at the front. They shared the track with the pre-injection outfits competing in the FSRA Lane Building Services & PAGID Brake Pads
races; this was the FSRA’s first championship round of the year and it really was a first – first and second places in both races went to two all-female crews Hayley Capewell & Sarah Stokoe and Marianne Walford & Kerry Hughes. Brilliant!
The next Wirral Hundred meeting of the year will take place at Anglesey over the weekend of 24th
June. Saturday’s action will take place on the 1.55 mile Coastal Circuit, whilst it switches on Sunday to the 2.10 mile International Circuit. One weekend: two circuits.