The 2018 ACU British Grasstrack Championships take place in Chelmsford this Sunday. The event is being organised by the 500cc Sidecar Association and a top-class field lines up for what will be an afternoon of high-speed, wheel to wheel action.
Being the 500cc Sidecar Association the focus begins on the 500cc International Sidecars and what an event it promises to be. This is the class with the most at stake as there is not only the British Championships, but the event is also the qualifier for the 2019 European Championship. Both Final and Semi-Final places are available with the top two seeded automatically into the final. The reigning champions Josh Goodwin and passenger Liam Brown are looking to make it four years in a row. They have dominated the Championships since 2015 and will probably start as most people’s favourites to be standing on top of the podium again at the end of the day.
But Mitchel Godden/Paul Smith, who have not been seen in action in the UK this season, will also be a major contender having had some great results in Europe this season. They have been knocking on the door for the past two seasons. Can they take that next step this weekend? It’s going to be a fascinating battle between all the crews. Don’t write off eight-times champions Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg who are on home soil as are young chargers James Hogg/Scott Goodwin who surprised all with a podium in 2017. That’s what makes this class so exciting, the experienced crews against the up and coming crews all hungry for a place on the podium and a little trip to the European Final. A strong line-up of the twelve best crews in the UK all gunning for glory.
And if that hasn’t whetted your appetite for a day at the races, the two solo classes are equally exciting. In the 350cc the 2017 Champion Rob Finlow is back to try and emulate his success from last season. But Midlander Tom Perry will be looking to make amends for missing out in 2017 having won the class twice in 2015/2016. Speedway commitments stopped him from taking up his space last season, but he jumped at the chance of one of the two wildcards this year. The other wildcard in the 350’s is former European and Masters Champion Paul Hurry. He has always supported the class and will be sure to want to add the title of British 350cc Solo Champion to his already impressive CV.
Last month the club played host to the Eastern Centre Championship. The winner on that day was Mark Giles who heads this season’s grading list. He was chased all the way by Dave Mears and brothers Liam and Ryan Ashcroft who will all find last month’s track time very useful. Add to the list Andrew Whitaker, Andrew Mellish, Wayne Broadhurst and Mark Taylor and once again we have a strong line-up, with the winner worthy of joining such names as Alf Hagon, Peter Collins, Chris Pusey, Chris Morton, Steve Schofield, Joe Screen…the list of grasstrack/speedway legends just goes on in the list of former 350cc British Champions.
Probably the strongest class in depth on two-wheels at present is the 250cc Solos. As in the 500cc sidecars the class has an interesting mix of both young chargers and experienced campaigners. Henry Atkins as in all classes will be trying to keep his hands on the championship trophy for a further twelve months. But the seventeen-year-old from the West Country will be in for some tough competition from Eastern centre champion, 16-year-old Charlie Brooks from Diss in Norfolk. Both riders are sharing their racing time between the grass and the shale and are equally at home on both surfaces. Both are very fast but so are David Knowles and Tim Greig who have so much racing experience with track craft to match. Others to watch are Luke Harris and Adam Hawker who has been really improving this year, again as in the 350cc solos strong field of of over 20 riders.
Last but by no means least is the 1000cc left-hand sidecars. This is the first time they have visited Chelmsford and although the field is a little depleted after a couple of nasty recent crashes, these 1000cc monsters will certainly add even more excitement too what is already an exciting event. Heading the line-up is last year’s British Champions Richard Webb. And Bradley Reynolds. Martin Cuff/Colin Clark and Joe Butcher will be pressing them all the way. With the absence on Will Penfold/Ricky Pay after their big Frittenden crash the Penfold family will be represented by Tony Penfold/Carl Bell and Billy Penfold/Dan Woodbridge. Again, as with all classes the winner is difficult to pick in this line-up of quality racers.
Who will join the list of Champions and forever have their names etched in British Grasstrack history?
Don’t miss it…this Sunday, over 40 Championship Races starting at 1pm.