There’s no such thing as a Rider of the Month award, but if anyone ever deserved one, it would be Richard Cooper who has won six out of the eight races he has contested this month, adding the Race of the Year and a Buildbase Mallory Trophy win to the Stars at Darley, final BSB at Brands and double at the Sunflower meeting.
All the Race of the Year entries appeared in the opening Buildbase Trophy race, Billy McConnell and Richard Cooper racing wheel to wheel throughout the ten laps, Cooper leading the first couple of laps before McConnell took over. Cooper got back ahead at half distance, but he could never shake off the challenge and finished just 0.18 of a second ahead, with Brad Ray coming through from the back of the grid to take third.
The Buildbase Suzuki riders dominated the Race of the Year, Billy McConnell leading for the first nine laps with Cooper just holding off Ray, but on the tenth lap it was Ray in the lead with Cooper second while the Aussie rider was down to third, and he began to drop back as the battle for the lead became even tighter, with Cooper grabbing the lead on the fourteenth lap, holding it for three laps until the Kent racer took it back on lap 17, lost it the next time round, regained it on the penultimate lap only for Cooper to retake it on the final tour to win the Race of the Year. McConnell came home third , while Lee Jackson held off Luke Mossey in his first race on the OMG Suzuki for fourth place.
The second Buildbase Mallory Trophy race saw Luke Mossey take his first win on the OMG Suzuki, ahead of Leon Jeacock with George Stanley in third place. Paul Westerdale finished sixth, two places behind his rival Curtis Wright, but that was sufficient to take the Buildbase trophy to add to the Allcomers title that he had won last month.
Ben Bailey and Wayne Sutton came to the final round of the EMRA 500 championshipo separated by sixteen points with double points on both races, so it was important to make a good start to race one, and Bailey’s near-vertical take-off on the line was not the start he wanted, and he was seventh on the first lap, while Sutton was involved in the battle for the lead with Darren Faulkner and Darren Conneely. By lap three Conneely was ahead of Sutton with Bailey still in sixth. Six laps in and Bailey was up to fourth ahead of Sutton, but this was a normal 500 race with a leading group of five riders fighting for the win, and at the start of the last lap it was Faulkner, Conneely, Dave King, Bailey and Sutton covered by one and a half seconds. The group was reduced by two at Edwinas, when Bailey and King went down leaving Faulkner to win by 0.19 seconds from Conneely, Sutton gaining vital championship points in third, giving him the championship lead with one race to come.
Race Two began with Ben Bailey on the back of the grid, not the ideal start for a man chasing a championship deficit, and in a class with such evenly matched machinery he passed a third of the field on lap one, while up at the sharp end Phillip Stevens was heading Faulkner, Conneely, Robert Carver and Scott Adams, with Sutton opting for safety in sixth place. Darren Faulkner took over at the front on lap three, and he and Conneely would continue to battle for the lead for the rest of the race while Bailey gradually worked his way up to pass Sutton on lap nine, and finally take fourth, but seventh place was sufficient for Wayne Sutton to take the title at the end of a very tough season. Faulkner won the race by one-fifth of a second, which is pretty much par for the course in this class where more than half the races this year have been won by margins below half a second, and on six occasions it was 0.2 seconds or less.
The two Open 600 races saw Kurtis Butler battling with Jed Bird throughout, Butler winning the first, but Bird taking the second by a tenth of a second after snatching the lead on the last lap.
The Lightweight races were dominated by Asher Durham on his Moto3 machine with Jodie Fieldhouse taking second both times, and that pattern was repeated in the open 450 class Clive Somerfield taking the 50cc class in both races.
The first Phil Dongworth trophy race saw world champions Ben and Tom Birchall start from the back of the grid but it didn’t take long for them to carve their way through the field to take the lead on lap three, and they went on to win by 43 seconds from Brian Ilaria just ahead of Michael Russell, Matty Ramsden and Giles Stainton. The second race saw Matty Ramsden lead from start to finish, well ahead of Russell with Stainton third and Ilaria fourth. The trophy was awarded over the aggregate result of the two races, and therefore went to the Yorkshire team of Matty Ramsden and Scott Hardie.