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3 legs not out. British Grasstrack Championships

Wednesday September 6, 2017 at 3:48pm
3 legs not out. British Grasstrack Championships
Although rain curtailed this event after three legs, the racing seen prior to the abandonment was some of the best seen in these classes all season. Riders rose to the challenge of taking on a slippery circuit at Ledbury Club’s excellent Pencombe venue, producing wheel-to-wheel, handlebar banging action full of entertainment. After the three legs of tough racing in difficult conditions, nobody could deny that the newly crowned British champions had earned their mentions in the history books.

The Lefthand sidecar class once again produced some sensational racing, with a newcomer taking the top crown. Richard Webb crewed by Jake Pope looked in outstanding form on board their Wasp outfit. They managed to win all three of their heats, having to work through the pack every time.

As it transpired, the Lefthand Sidecar championship came down to a final race between Webb/Pope and former British champions Martin Cuff and Colin Clarke. Both had been in sensational form, winning their opening two rides. Cuff/Clarke had been involved in possibly the race of the day with defending champions Will Penfold and Ricky Pay. The two crews had an absolute classic as both crews, along with Eirwyn/Alex Balman fought with one another as well as the conditions. But from that heat it was Cuff/Clarke who narrowly emerged as victors, setting up a final heat race-off between the unbeaten crews.

Cuff/Clarke made a good start and pulled a gap on the first lap over Webb/Pope. With races cut down to just 3 laps, a desperate chase ensued. On the final lap, Webb was able to chase down and dive past Cuff/Clarke, winning the race and effectively winning the British title. It was Webb’s 4th British crown, but his first as driver in a driving career spanning just a few meetings.

The 250cc solo class produced some top class racing also, with several top names in the sport looking in excellent form. Exeter based youngster Henry Atkins raced to three flawless victories, winning his first British crown. The other two spots on the rostrum involved two experienced Yorkshiremen who put on some excellent racing. Former British champions David Knowles and Paul Cooper met in two of their three races. Cooper took the first meeting of the pairing, but Knowles had the final say, beating Coops in their final meeting and essentially securing 2nd place in doing so.

Another former champion looking very quick was Graham Thomas. The 1992 and 1993 champ looked super fast on his 2 stroke machine and was always challenging for the lead. Another 2-stroke rider suffered miserable luck. Chris Johnson won his opening ride convincingly, but then a tapes infringement saw him excluded from his second ride, possibly costing him the title; he went on to win his 3rd ride in equally convincing form.

Rob Finlow took his RTS prepared machine to his first British title, winning all three of his heats in the 350cc class in excellent form. There was some ferocious racing in the 350cc class, and Finlow was hounded all the way to the flag in all three of his ride. One mistake would have almost certainly cost him a win, but he rode perfectly to secure victory. Returnee Wayne Broadhurst had a terrific day, finishing 3rd on the podium after some strong rides throughout the day. Andrew Whitaker put in a stellar performance to finish 2nd. As conditions got harder, Whitaker seemed to get quicker. Hard luck story of this class belongs to another former champion. Andy Mellish was well in amongst the leaders but fell in his third ride whilst chasing for the lead. He rode into the loose material on the outside and possibly threw a chain, throwing him to the floor unceremoniously.

The 500cc sidecars saw Josh Goodwin and Liam Brown claim their 5th British title. The former European champions won their first two rides but were then involved in a tremendous third race, with a brilliant ride by Mitchel Godden and Paul Smith. Goodwin/Brown hit the front and led and were challenged from all angles. Youngster James Hogg and passenger Scott Goodwin were the crew looking most likely to beat Goodwin, pushing hard for the lead. But Godden/Smith worked hard to find some extra speed, using all of the circuit and found their way round Hogg/Goodwin and on the final lap managed to nose past Goodwin/Brown going over the line. An excellent race with 5 of the 6 crews crossing the finish line in very close quarters. But the win was not enough to secure Godden and Smith of their first title. James Hogg/Scott Goodwin picked up a 3rd place after some great rides throughout the day.

After the 3rd leg rides, and the rain driving in, the difficult decision was taken to abandon the meeting, declaring results after 3 legs. In a day where it had rained consistently throughout, it was a credit to the excellent track preparation that the meeting was able to go so far. All reports are of slick presentation, organisation and an excellent meeting that we’ve all come to expect from the Ledbury club.

Well done to all involved in the event, which provided 33 races of superb racing.

Report by Gareth Bemister – Action images courtesy of Luke Russell

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