This Pembrey meeting was a weekend of two halves. Bright sunshine, great grip and lap record pace racing on Saturday, followed by high winds and heavy rain on Sunday. What it did do though was to allow great racing each day with more riders able to shine, some revelled in Saturday’s conditions and some shone as the rain came down on Sunday.
2017’s top NG rider has undoubtedly been Josh Day the 29 year-old former British 600 Superstock champion. After winning that title back in 2010 Josh suffered a couple of torrid seasons as he tried to make his name in the BSB paddock. Despite showing flashes of form it was difficult to find the budget to string a season long challenge together. In 2015 Josh returned full time to the NG series and his speed and ability has been there for all to see, and I for one make no apologies for beating the Dayo Race Team drum.
This weekend Steve Buckenham gave Josh the chance to test the Morello Racing ZX10R Kawasaki. Now Josh’s usual mount is a ZX10 in Kendrick and Spalding colours and is near standard, but the Morrello bike was a fullblown BSB Superstock spec bike. Josh showed the Morello boys what he could do by building pace all weekend and during Saturday’s Phoenix Open final Josh, despite not getting the best launch off the line reeled off lap after lap under 59 seconds. His efforts culminating in a stunning lap of 57.82 seconds (90.65mph) for the 1.456 mile circuit to set a new outright NG lap record.
Josh, as has been the pattern this year took Saturday’s Powerbike final over an inform Gary Stevens and Nick Williamson, but was denied the double as suspension problems forced him out of Sunday’s wet race. Gary Stevens on the BMW was having another great race, revelling in the wet conditions but eventually had to give second best to Peter Carr of the Pistol Racing ZX10. Pete was suffering from jet lag all weekend due to only landing back in the UK on Friday after honeymooning in Australia.
Josh took Saturday’s Open final over a pair of fast young 600 riders in Max Symonds and Mark Clayton, but on Sunday the Morello bike was parked up and Josh used his own Kawasaki. Aaron Ridewood revelled in the wet and took the fight to Josh. Ridewood on his Louigi Moto R6 took the lead from the fast starting Lukasz Gaslawski on his Fireblade on lap two as Josh was in an unaccustomed position of having to chase. Struggling with a lack of time on his own mount and allied to the fact that Ridewood was riding out of his skin Josh had to work hard to catch Aaron. Even when Josh did eventually get to the front Aaron stuck to him like glue finishing second by just half a bike length. Aaron was on a high and blitzed them all in the third Open outing heading home tevens, Carr and Gaslawski.
Ridewood’s winning ways were not at an end though as after setting a string of 59 seconds laps on Saturday to finish third in the 600 open behind newly crowned 2017 champ Max Symonds and BSB Superstock 600 runner Mark Clayton. He stormed to an 8 second victory in Sunday’s wet and rainy conditions. This time heading home Max, Alex Jones and Simon Bastable, these rides caught the eye of the panel for the Performance of the Meeting, and Aaron was a unanimous winner….well done Chubba ! Sidecar Shenanigans.
Despite a depleted sidecar grid, the three wheelers gave us some of the closest racing of the weekend with plenty of fairing bashing action. British National runners Dean Nicholls and Kenny Cole took maximum points by taking wins in both wet and dry on their Certain Exhibitions 600 LCR, but behind then all mayhem was going on. Top qualifiers Pete Millington and Helen Deeley, along with Andy King/Joe Thomas and Stephen Jackson/Tom Bryant constantly knocked lumps out of each other for supremacy…….literary, as was borne out by the scuffed and broken fairings! Jackson took the points he needed to take the lead in the 2017 F2 series, which is just reward for his hard work encouraging crews to come only to the NG meetings.
250GP and 125GP ACU National Championship.
Newly crowned 2017 250GP ACU champion Ant Hodson took his FCL Yamaha to two wins and one runner up spot as he and Dan Jackson, (who took the one Ant didn’t win) suffered with a mystery misfire all weekend on his TZ. Dan was leading Saturday’s race when the bike cut out completely on the approach to Honda Curve. Ant swept to the front to take a win over Jackson who’s bike chimed back in and set about closing Ant down, but ran out of time. Sunday saw both wet races close affairs with nothing to choose between Dan and Ant, so it seemed fair that they took a win each. Jackson and the Team Sigie spanner men were still left ruing the misfire though, hoping that they can cure it before the Thruxton finale. Paul Metcalfe took a stunning podium on Saturday but Sunday saw two great races for the final step between Simon Hunt who has just returned from the Manx GP and John Lewis. Hunt took both battles but Lewis still had his best weekend for many seasons proving that the rain is a real leveller.
17 year old James Hind took three more wins in the Bluebell Lakes 125GP series on his North Lincs Components RS125 Honda to secure the National championship title, and a well deserved victory it is to bounce back after a big spill at Castle Come earlier this year……hopefully someone can find a 250 for the youngster for 2018. The rest of the action from the two days.
For Greg Maden 2017 has been a case of keeping his head and his bike in one piece as all around him have been faltering. Maden and his Allied Mobility Aprilia RRV450 have yet to take a win this term, but have packed in nine rostrums including five runner up spots, and this weekend took another to take the points he needed to secure the title with one round still to go. The wins this weekend went to former 500 Open winner Paul Metcalfe and Nick Brown. Pre-season tip for the title and five time 2017 winner Dave Hampton suffered another no points weekend to drop out of contention on the 450 Tigcraft. Hampton’s woes continued as he fell from a championship challenge in the Supermono too as Welshman Jay Bellars-Smith continued his winning streak on the KTM Smith Bros 717 with a 35 second clear victory over Perry Goldstein in Saturdays dry race setting a new lap record in the process. He underlined his dominance by lapping the whole Supermono field in the wet on Sunday.
William Holland returned to the grids after missing the last round due to being in Ireland and the Isle of Man with the JHS Racing Team. He took his SFV 650 Gladius to victory in both Mini Twins and both Super Twins finals. Alan Russell on his Ducati Monster and Paul Wardell, the newly crowned Mini Twin champ were his nearest rivals.
Wardell was happy to finally get some confidence in the wet. Meanwhile Cameron Corfield in just his second ever meeting knocked lumps off his lap times to take a stunning podium on his Ace Transport/AFB SV650.
One of the closest title races this year is the Sound of Thunder. David Irons, Dave Mackay and Allister Haynes went into the round covered by just one points. Haynes took the dry race on Saturday, but struggled in the wet on Sunday having to dig very deep to get on terms with the two Dave's. He managed to catch Mackay on the last lap, but there was no stopping Irons on the TWR Racing 1198 Ducati who took the win by just over six seconds. This one will go right down to a “winner takes all” race at Thruxton in October. It is a similar story in the F400 as just four points separate the top two going into Thruxton. Tom Harrison still has the upper hand but hampered by still recovering from a broken wrist meant that it is now his big brother Ben on his JHS/Carby Crew ZXR that looms up behind him to be his nearest challenger. Ben took Saturdays win but was bettered by Will Bryant on the last lap of Sunday's wet race. That keeps Bryant in the championship hunt, but the Harrisons both need a disaster to see him take the title…..although anything is possible in this class!
Mike Wilson took both races in the Formula 125’s in convincing style on his CLV/Graham File Aprilia, but James Chapman took the podium he needed to take the title with one still to go.
Andy Blomfield has put himself in prime position to retain the Desmo Due 620 championship. He won Saturday’s race as title rival Matt Lawson crashed out with binding front brakes. Lawson struggled on on Sunday to an uncustomary 11th position for the former champ, but that was nothing compared to Blomfield who retired from the lead as his Desmo was parked up against the tyre wall at Hatchets hairpin. The 600 class saw the first two wins of the year for Peter Cooper over Preston Tuby, but the absent Jack Younge already has the title tied up.
John Warwick took the full set of wins in the Suzuki Bandit Challenge. He had series leader James McHardy and Matthew Baker for close company in Saturday’s dry races, but come Sunday’s wet conditions it was Warwick all the way. Series co-ordinator Keith Chambers finally found his form in the wet to have his best performance of 2017 as defending champ with a podium. Sharing the grid with the Bandits is the other Formula Prostock class the pre-1987 production, and Phil Webber on his GSXR 750 Suzuki had won every one of the 22 rounds so far. He racked up two more on Saturday but was a no-show on the grid on Sunday, which left the way for Andrew Howe, last years champion on a GSXR and Rob Pragnell on his FZ750.
Ciaran Bligh dominated the 1300 Streetstocks taking wins in both wet and dry on the Jubilee Queen of Padstow R1 as he headed Gary Stevens who was having a great weekend on his BMW and Paul Jeffery, who despite taking two podiums surrendered the series lead to Bligh. The 600 Street category has a win each for Simon Bastable and Alex Jones. Both riders suffered a few “moments” in the wet, but headed home noted wet weather rider Adam Grosch who took two lower podium step rides on his R6. Jones in particular got caught up in a few other peoples “moments” resulting in some unplanned trips onto the grass on his newly liveried and very snappily titled WSC Performance/TKRC/Eurofresh/Taylor Wimpy R6.
Daniel Jones and Tim Bradley shared a win each in the 700 pre-injection class, but Liam Turberfield missed out on the big points he needed to capitalise on series leader Jon Wrights’ non appearance to the grids after getting nerfed off his R6 in the 600 Open. Turberfield did all he could with stunning rides through from the back of the pack after retiring from both qualifiers but may be left ruing those missed opportunities as the title decider at Thruxton is just one month away.
Thomas Payne was showing best ever form this weekend on the BAS Assesors/AFB R1 in the 1300 pre-injection heading the qualifiers with ease and taking Saturday's win setting a new lap record on his way to victory. But with the championship within reach Thomas settled for third on Sunday and the points that saw him celebrate crossing the line, safe in the knowledge the championship was his.
Congratulations to all those to tied things up this weekend, but there are still classes that are nail bitingly close. See you at Thruxton……. 2017 Newcomers are crowned.
NG run three newcomers classes that are held at each of the two day meetings, so that is all of them except Oulton and Thruxton. So with Thruxton the next and final round for the 2017 series it meant that this meeting saw the newbies have their final run out for their dedicated championships. Luke Bailey on his LCAB Engineering ZX10 took a narrow victory over Kayla Barrington on her new R6 to lift the Open title. Tom Harrison, despite still suffering from a broken wrist sustained at the last round at Anglesey took his WSC/St Ives Signs ZXR400 to the race win over Will Bryant to wrap up the 500 title. Michael Rees had already bagged the Mini Twins category prior to the round on his MI Construction SV…. good job really as he came across the line in a safe third this time out behind Sam James and impressive raw rookie Cameron Corfield who is at just his second meeting……Good job.