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Champion of Champions Delivers

Thursday September 19, 2019 at 11:28am
Champion of Champions Delivers
ASTRA Grasstrack club pulled off what has become to be expected at Swingfield on Sunday, hosting a brilliant Champion of Champions event. On the run up to the meeting, it was announced that the meeting was being held on ‘the big track’, the main circuit used for so many successful events at the venue. With an interesting looking lineup, several comeback riders, and the intrigue of the two ‘budget’ solo and sidecar classes, an exciting day’s racing was duly delivered.

The GT140 class had one of their biggest meetings to date, with a 21-strong lineup contending the inaugural GT140 Gold Trophy. Some close, handlebar banging clashes took place all afternoon, which has been the hallmark for this class. Once again, rising above all of the others was Karl Rushen. He fought off newcomer to the class Paul Smith to take the honours, with another famous name taking to the class, Rob Fortune, finishing 3rd.

The Old and New class similarly saw a domination from the crew who have done all of the big winning in the class since its inception. Cornishmen Mark Courtney/Leon Torres showed the Swingfield crowd just why they are the crew to beat in the ‘budget’ GS500 sidecar class, winning all of their heats and the final. Reigning 4x British Masters champion passenger Liam Brown, passengered by the equally talented Kieron Ivy, took to the bars for only the second time to claim the runners-up spot, with Gary Parmenter/Michael Tottman claiming 3rd aboard their beautiful Wasp Suzuki outfit.

The 500cc solo class looked ultra-competitive. Several returning names came out for this event, including Australian ex-pat Rodney McDonald, who’s been campaigning the Upright class this season. Naturally, the man to beat all day, however, was newly crowned European Champion Zach Wajtknecht. He and Team GB boss Paul Hurry drove through the night to attend the event, and made sure it was worth their while. Despite a second heat blip, Wajtknecht claimed top honours in the final, ahead of his mentor and now-World Longtrack team boss Hurry. Andrew Appleton finished 3rd after some solid rides in the heat. With one of his best results to date, Mark Giles finished 4th in the final, having not competed in the 500cc class for many years. He held European finalist James Wright at bay to claim his 4th, whilst Martyn Sturgeon, who had been riding brilliantly all afternoon, finished 6th.

The 1000cc sidecar class was dominated by Mark Cossar, with stand-in passenger Liam Brown. Younger brother Tom was best of the rest, using a stand-in passenger himself in Carl Pugh. The V-Twin Godden propelled pairing of Neal Owen and Jason Farwell gained another good result by finishing 3rd, having come through the B.Final. Will Offen/Steve Hargreaves, who had been embroiled in a tremendous race in their third heat with Paul Whitelam/Alan Elliott and Clint Blondel/Kev Bennett, finished 4th despite borrowing a machine for the final. Matt Fumarola’s hard work in the garage since turning his outfit over a few weeks ago paid off. He finished 5th in the final. Returnee Gary Shearer, with Ryan Barker in the chair, looked fast all afternoon. They won the B. Final, but struggled to make an impression in a tough sidecar final.

At the beginning of the season, this was being touted as the ‘farewell’ meeting for ASTRA club. Since then, it seems that this moniker has been dropped, giving all race fans hope of what is to come from this excellent South Eastern centre club. Well done to the club and the riders for another great day’s racing at the Swingfield Raceway.

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