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Wirral Hundred Meets Storm Hannah at Oulton Park

Tuesday April 30, 2019 at 2:25pm
Wirral Hundred Meets Storm Hannah at Oulton Park
The Wirral Hundred club’s annual visit to Oulton Park on Saturday 27th April was extraordinary to say the least. The forecast that Storm Hannah would hit the North West with wet and windy weather was absolutely spot-on, and it did so all day long. All credit then to the 230 ridrs and passengers, and more than 120 officials and marshals, who contributed to a challenging and unforgettable day of racing; inevitably the wet and the cold took its toll in the afternoon with reduced grids, and the final two races of the day were cancelled. Whilst there were many more fallers than is usual at W100 events, there were no serious injuries.

In the tricky conditions, keeping machines upright was the main aim, particularly when braking into Hizzy’s and avoiding the fallen leaves at Druids (to be expected in October but not in April!). So all credit then to the six riders who had double wins – Brandon Paasch, Simon Robins, Tim Sayers and Graham Hornby in the W100 championship races and in the guest classes Phil Atkinson (GP Originals) and Rob Fisher & Jake Lowther (FSRA Pre-Injection Sidecars). The marshals’ vote for the Paul Leonard rider-of-the meeting award, however, went to Carl Jones, son of former W100 champion Ian Jones, whose two 2nd places in the F600 races, were undoubtedly his best results to date.

The Paul Bland Motorsport Formula 600 class practised first and it was a cagey affair with riders picking their way through the puddles, and it was a surprised Keith Ferrari who claimed pole position for race 1, with Chris Eden the championship leader down in 10th place and the 2018 Junior Manx Grand Prix winner James Chawke in 17th position - all very strange. Richard Wilson, 4th in practice, forced his way to the front on the first lap of race 1 and was never headed, but Carl Jones seemed to be relishing the difficult conditions, moved into 2nd place on the third lap, and closed to within 0.2 secs at the flag. Rich Baker, Chris Eden, Chris Jones and Keith Ferrari completed the top six. Richard Wilson did not start in race 2, and it was Rich Baker who took an early lead. Carl Jones again was the main pursuer, on this occasion well clear of his cousin Chris Jones, followed by Keith Ferrari, Chris Eden, and the promising young Irish rider Eoin Collins. Eden still leads the championship but only by 5 points, with the two Jones’s and Rich Baker separated only by 2 points.  

There was a wonderful hotch-potch of machines that came to the grid in the 100 - 500cc Allcomers races, ranging from 250cc Moto3 & GP machines, 400cc production bikes, a Supersport 300 bike, a few Classics and a few others in-between. 18 years-old Brandon Paasch from the USA and his 14 years-old FPW teammate Jamie Davis, on their Moto3 KTM’s, belied their lack of experience in such trying conditions, and dominated both races. ‘Veteran’ Jamie O’Brien was 3rd in the first race, and in the second race it was 13 years-old Corey Tinker who was 3rd; in this race the first six riders were all teenagers and all taking the opportunity for track-time ahead of the BSB Motostar rounds next weekend.

In the Golden Era Supersport races it was Simon Robins, who dominated, just as he had done in the Club’s first championship round at Anglesey in March; he won the first race by 8 seconds and the second by 11 seconds. Club champion Tim Bradley had been fastest in practice but sadly an off in the first race put paid to his chances. The beneficiaries were Matthew Stephenson and James Leatham, who had a 2nd place each, whilst Damian Davis took two 3rd’s.  

In the 650 Twins races another Club champion Mike Bampton fell in the first race and this enabled his main rival, Manxman Tim Sayers, to take the win ahead of Sam Clews, normally to be seen on a Manx Norton in Classic racing.; Sayers repeated his win in race two, but this time Mike Bampton did enough to secure 2nd place, albeit 36 seconds behind. Tony Leach and Tommy Hodge took the 3rd place positions.

The adverse weather conditions obviously did not suit the Carl Roberts / Emjess Racing Powerbikes class and there were a number of withdrawals, but race 1 provided a great scrap with the ever-consistent Graham Hornby eventually finishing 0.2 secs ahead of Leslie O’Connor. Two newcomers to W100, Stephen Ryan and Anthony Healey had an equally entertaining battle for 3rd place, with the former just coming out on top by 0.5 secs. Hornby and Ryan were the top two in the even more miserable conditions in race 2, whilst Liam Goodson kept going when others didn’t, and secured a 3rd position award for his bravery and perseverance. This is the third year for the Pre-2009/Pre-Electronics Powerbikes category and the two wins were taken by Paul Stones and Jon Wright.

The cancellation of the last two races of the day meant, of course, that the Forgotten Era, Pre-Injection and Classic Bikes only raced once. It was good to see that the Forgotten Era and Pre-Injection races were won by newcomers to W100 racing – Ian Riley and Matthew Stephenson respectively. Stephen Kennedy’s 2nd place took him to the top of the F/E standings, whilst Jon Wright’s 2nd place in the P-I class put him into an already dominant position in that championship. In the Classic race Sam Clews on his Manx Norton finished an impressive 32 secs ahead of Peter Bardell, who then had an extra 10 secs added to his time for a jump-start, but still finished 2nd. The second Classic race was to have been the David Swallow Memorial Race, and the intention now is that this will be run as part of the Anglesey Grand meeting in October. The Earlystocks Racing Club were guests at this meeting and shared track-time with the classic bikes. Nicholas Jones won by 16 seconds from Sean Gauchwin, both riders aboard 750 Yamahas.

The major guest class was the GP Originals, for whom this was their second championship round of the year. In the main 350cc class the first round at Brands Hatch had been dominated by the South African rider Phil Atkinson and he carried on from where he left off, winning both races by a comfortable 12 secs. Daniel Jackson and Chris Moore were 2nd and 3rd in race 1, whilst Chris Moore moved up a place in race 2 ahead of Richard Wilson. In the 250cc category Gary Vines, also a double winner at Brands, won race 1 but went out in race 2, leaving Dave Grigson to take top spot. It was a pity about the weather but it was a pleasure nevertheless to see such a good entry of 2-stroke machines and hopefully they will be back with the Club again next year.

The other guest championship was the FSRA / Lane Building Services & PAGID Brake Pads Pre-Injection Sidecars; this was also their second championship round of the year and it a pity that a number of their teams were late in entering the event and missed out in competing. The many times TT-winner Rob Fisher had dominated the first round at Mallory Park, and this time, with experienced stand-in passenger Jake Lowther alongside him, he again dominated proceedings, almost lapping the 2nd position crew, John & Doug Chandler, in both races.  These P-I outfits shared track time with the W100 Open Sidecars class, which included a number of crews ‘testing’ ahead of their national championships. Todd Ellis & Chaz Richardson, second in the 2018 Hyundai British series, were very impressive in the wet winning race 1 clearly; they departed after that race, saving themselves instead for the start of the 2019 championship at Oulton next weekend; the second race was comfortably won by the 2018 W100 Champions John Shipley & Andrew Haynes.

The next Wirral Hundred meeting will take place at Anglesey over the weekend of 22nd & 23rdJune. Saturday’s action will take place on the 1.55 mile Coastal Circuit, whilst it switches on Sunday to the 2.10 mile International Circuit. One weekend: two circuits.

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