The 25th Anniversary of the International Lincolnshire Poacher once again provided a top class collection of track racers doing battle on the super-fast Thorpe St Peter Circuit.
In the sidecar class, a much smaller-than-usual line-up of sidecars certainly didn’t lack any quality with almost all of the sport’s best on display.
Such was the depth of competition in the class, that 5 of the 10 outfits competing scored heat wins before the finals.
With so much talent on display, the winner-take-all final was a nail-biter. In the first running, Rob Wilson and Terry Saunters, who had scored heavily all day taking two wins, lifted violently from the start, virtually flipping the outfit over.
Gareth Winterburn and Liam Brown had a turbulent trail to the final, having won two heats, no scored in another two and then qualifying for the final via the B Final.
Rod Winterburn and passenger Billy Winterburn looked favourites for the final, winning two races and never finishing lower than 2nd.
But it was Paul Whitelam and Alan Elliott, who had scored consistently all day, who made the start and rode a fantastic final to finally land a Poacher victory. Whitelam, a local East Midland centre favourite, has strong connections to the Poacher, having passengered for promotor Reg Blackbourn for several years before beginning his successful sidecar driving career. He has been chasing the title for many years, and has several close-calls to look back on. He, along with passenger Alan Elliott, finally land the title that has eluded him for so long.
The International solos boasted several of Europe’s finest, with the European champion, fresh from his win in the latest Longtrack Grand Prix, James Shanes putting on an absolute masterclass. He went through the heats unbeaten and then never looked like being caught in a star-studded final. European Number 3 Edward Kennett continued his excellent form by taking second, and another Poacher long-time regular, Paul Cooper taking a popular 3rd, pushing former European champion Theo Pijper into 4th.
Well done once again to Reg and team for their efforts in pulling off a successful ‘big one’. Report by Gareth Bemister – Images Courtesy of Sue Lascelles