The majestic Cumbrian Fells are the stunning backdrop to the picturesque South Lakeland venue that is Rowrah stadium. Notorious for its bad weather, this year the 130 competitors that attended the four-day festival of Supermoto were greeted by beautiful clear skies and bright sunshine for the duration. A two-day track day festival with live bands on the Thursday and Friday brought riders from all over the country and a large contingent from Jersey added a bit of international glamour to proceedings. Christened “Mettet of the Mountains” in homage to the iconic Belgium speed festival many of the track day riders stayed on to taste a bit of serious competition in the British Championship races that followed on the Saturday and Sunday. Full grids, full paddock and an immaculately presented venue made this one of the most enjoyable events for many a year.
Race Day 1 – Michelin Championship Qualifying
Local hero and early season leader Chris Hodgson was absent, racing in the AMA Supermoto series in America, so fierce rival Matt Winstanley was looking to put some distance between himself and the chasing pack, however HGR Husqvarna’s number one rider Davey Todd was looking to take advantage of a round not clashing with his BSB commitments and would be a serious challenger to Winstanley. As expected Winstanley put his Manchester Motorcycles Husqvarna on pole but it wasn’t Todd who was alongside him but Jordan Bannon. The young Merseysider had been in great form at Round 1 and brought that into round 2 and was only a tenth of a second slower than the illustrious pole setter. Todd was actually only sixth, Richard Sharp (Husq) was third Scott Murray (TM) fourth and Jay Smith (Husq) fifth, however less than a second covered the top six so racing was going to be mighty close.
Winstanley got the holeshot but was chased immediately by Todd who had a great first lap and he soon forced his way past Winstanley to take the lead on lap three. Winstanley hung on to the back of Todd for a couple of laps but couldn’t hold the pace and it soon became apparent that he had machine problem as he was pointing at the clutch as he went past the pits. Bannon backed up his excellent qualifying with a start to finish third place ahead of Richard Sharp who was similarly untroubled in fourth, Jay Smith was some way back in fifth followed by Scott Murray who was hampered by a first lap fall but recovered for a steady sixth.
Winstanley didn’t appear for Race two and it appeared he had terminal bike failure and was already on his way home. From pole position Todd was never really under any pressure and managed a straightforward win but he was kept honest by Jordan Bannon who was riding the best of his career. Richard Sharp was third but this time Jay Smith was much closer to the leaders in fourth. Scott Murray and Richard Blakeman had an entertaining battle for fifth with Blakeman getting the edge.
Todd cruised to three wins from three in the third and final race of the day. Bannon was again second but he was part of a fantastic four rider battle that kept the crowd royally entertained. Jay Smith was determined not to give up his third place spot even under intense pressure from Richard Sharp, Scott Murray was in the mix until another small spill knocked him out of contention and he had to settle for fifth. Richard Blakeman had a untroubled ride to sixth.
It was Todd from Bannon with a delighted Richard Sharp taking the final podium. Jay Smith was fourth, Scott Murray fifth and Richard Blakeman sixth.
NPS G.I.A.G. Novice Cup
With the previous two day festival encouraging many riders to have a go at racing, a bumper entry meant that the group was split into two sets of races, A & B. Making the long trip from Jersey proved very worthwhile for hill climbers Marty Blawdin and Larry Vibery, taking first and second overall. Ben Millar was third with Andy Hall fourth, Max Batty was fifth on his road going 690 SMC KTM and Yorkshireman Craig Whittaker rounded out the top six.
Academy Class/Mini Bikes
In the combined Academy and mini bike class 11 year old future star Casey Jones took three wins from three on his KTM 85 he was followed home by two sons of current Elite riders Harley Sharp (Husqvarna 85) and Kyle Bennett (KTM 65). In the Mini bike class local rider Jamie Stables was unstoppable on his CRF150 but he was given a battle by Scottish riders Mark Ducat and CeeJay Davies.
Race Day 2 – The British Supermoto Championship
If day one had been lovely weather, albeit a bit cold Sunday was a stunner, the breeze died down and shorts and t shirts were the order of the day amongst the large crowd that had gathered to watch the top-class action that was going to come their way.
After Saturdays dominance it was expected that Davey Todd would take pole but having ridden consistently in what was is his comeback season after a 2016 plagued by injury Perthshire rider Scott Murray had other ideas, he put his Scotlifts TM on pole but only by the narrowest of margins ahead of Davey Todd. Richard Sharp took third, Jordan Bannon fourth and Jay Smith fifth. In fact the first five were separated by less than half a second giving a hint of the battles to come
As the riders set off for their warm up lap there was a few puzzled faces as grid position 2 was empty, where was Davey Todd? Both he and fellow HGR rider Bradley Hardy had missed getting to the grid in time so as the rules stated they were put to the back of the grid, all that effort in qualifying came to nothing. You could sense the anticipation on the front row as the lights changed each of the front six knew they had a rare chance of a race win with this turn of events. It was Scott Murray who took full advantage, taking the holeshot from pole and led the race for 9 to the flag much to the delight of the large Scottish contingent present. Richard Sharp and Jordan Bannon put the Scot under intense pressure and looked like it would be a three way battle but after Bannon pushed his way past Sharp he made an error and went down, quickly remounting he was still seventeenth. Jay Smith pushed hard to get on the back of the front two but Sharp was riding as well as ever and set the fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of Murray. The real excitement though was watching Todd’s progress through the pack. Top class British Supermoto is now very competitive and of the 20 riders on the grid there are no mugs, with a tight and twisty circuit like Rowrah with its tricky and technical all weather off road passing points are at a premium. Todd had the large crowd gasping in awe as he cut though the pack like a hot knife through butter making passes were no one had the right to do so, after 14 laps the task was to much and he had to settle for a fantastic fourth place just ahead of the increasingly competitive Charlie Light (LSP KTM).
Pressure is the bane of all athletes in any sport and dealing with the mental side is as much a skill as the physical side and you could almost see the tenseness in Murray as he sat on pole position for race 2, could he back up his race 1 result, should he go for it or consolidate? Well Todd had no such thoughts and from lap one he was in front, Jay Smit gated well and sat in his wheel tracks pushing hard these two started to edge clear of the field Smith hanging on to Todd as though they were roped together, but gradually the rope started to stretch ever so slowly but by lap eight it snapped and Todd just inched away lap after lap, Murray had an easy race in third ahead of a very impressive Charlie Light in fourth. The real excitement was the battle for fifth once Light had worked his way through, Bannon, Richard Blakeman, Richard Sharp, Andy Mitchell and Dean Hillier were banging bars for the entire race to keep the spectators totally enthralled.
With Murray having a win and a third and Todd a win and a fourth race three would be the decider, Smith would feel he was in with a chance of the overall as well as his times were getting quicker and he certainly had the early race pace to stick with Todd but did he have the fitness, especially with the fina race increased by two laps to sixteen. Todd again got the holeshot and in a repeat of race two Smith was glued to his back wheel, but for Murray disaster struck on the opening lap coming into the Stadium turn he slightly over cooked it, lost the back wheel and went down, quickly remounting he was still last as he got going again with a huge task in front of him. Todd and Smith slowly pulled away from the chasing pack, again looking like synchronised swimmers as they swept through the flowing twisty turns in unison. Behind them there was pitched battles all the way through the race, non-better than between Bannon, Sharp and Light for third. As in race two Todd’s relentless pace and faultless execution just dragged him inexorably away from Smith to give him a comfortable win by 5.3 seconds, Bannon Sharp and Light crossed the line with a blanket covering them a further 14 seconds behind to round off what had been a truly wonderful days racing.
When the points had been tallied up after a topsy-turvey day Todd came out on top just two points ahead of Smith, Richard Sharp was rewarded for his consistency with third, Charlie Light was fourth (and rider of the day) with Scott Murray left rueing on what could have been in fifth, Jordan Bannon was sixth, his first race crash ruining his chances. The circus now moves on to Anglesey for round three.
Results Day One Michelin Championship
Davey Todd (Husqvarna) 105pts - 2nd
Jordan Bannon (Husqvarna) 94pts - 3rd
Richard Sharp (Husqvarna) 86pts - 4th
Jay Smith (Husqvarna) 84pts - 5th
Scott Murray (Husqvarna) 77 pts – 6th
Richard Blakeman (Husqvarna) 74pts – 7th
Charlie Light (KTM) 68pts – 8th
Tim Johnson (Husqvarna) 67pts – 9th
Jamie Duncan (KTM) 65pts -10th
Dean Hillier (Husqvarna) 61pts
Daryl McCall (KTM) 105pts – 2nd
Tim Oliver (KTM) 83pts - 3rd
Steve Coombs (Husaberg) 82pts – 4th
Damon Jasper (Aprilia) 75pts – 5th
Craig Forshaw (Honda) 64pts
GIAG Novice Cup
Marty Blawdin (KTM) 105pts – 2nd
Larry Vibery (KTM) 84pts - 3rd
Ben Millar (KTM) 77pts – 4th
Andy Hall (Husqvarna) 71pts – 5th
Max Batty (KTM) 69pts
Jamie Stables (CRF) 105pts – 2nd
Mark Ducat (Open) 94 pts - 3rd
CeeJay Davies (CRF) 92pts - 4th
Hugh Ducat (Open) 84pts – 5th
Gary Pigney (Stock) 78pts
Casey Jones (KTM 85) 105pts – Harley Sharp (Husq 85) 94pts – 3rd
Kyle Bennet (KTM 65) 92 pts – 4th
Oliver Keam (KTM 85) 80pts – 5th
Riley Richings (YCF) 75pts
Results Day Two The British Supermoto Championship
Davey Todd (Husqvarna) 144pts – 2nd
Jay Smith (Husqvarna) 142pts – 3rd
Richard Sharp (Husqvarna) 130pts – 4th
Charlie Light (KTM) 128pts – 5th
Scott Murray (TM) 128pts – 6th
Jordan Bannon (Husqvarna)119pts – 7th
Andy Mitchell (Husqvarna) 112pts – 8th
Richard Blakeman (Husqvarna) 69pts – 9th
Tim Johnson (Husqvarna) 105pts – 10th
Jamie Duncan (KTM) 103pts
Gareth Thomas (Husqvarna) 71pts – 2nd
Jack Noble (Honda) 64pts – 3rd
Paul Robey (Husqvarna) 55pts – 4th
Ross Mailer (TM) 38pts – 5th
James Wood (KTM) 29pts
Tom Laycock (KTM) – 2nd
Mitchell Bullen (KTM) – 3rd
Andy Hall (Husqvarna) – 4th
David Beadling (Honda) – 5th
Chris Burrow (Husqvarna)
Andy Mitchell (Husqvarna) – 2nd
Andre Craddock (TM) – 3rd
Darren Lee (KTM) – 4th
Michael Craig (KTM) – 5th
Michael Hosey (KTM)
Best Two Stroke
Tom Laycock (KTM) – 2nd
Blaine Pearson (Husqvarna) – 3rd
Tim Oliver (KTM) – 4th
Joel Todd (KTM) – 5th
Casey Jones (KTM)
Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by Sports Events Live