Following the massive disappointment of having to abandon the original staging, the Ledbury MCC hosted the rerun on Saturday of the 2021 ACU British Grasstrack Championship and what a classic it was to be! Full of thrilling racing and incident, the event culminated with five dramatic finals to thus send the crowd home happy.
With conditions very overcast but thankfully dry, it was the 250cc class which opened proceedings at Sparrington Farm as the immaculate Adam Shipp took the win. Getting a very late 11th hour call-up to compete following a withdrawal of a fellow rider, reserve and defending 250cc British Champion Henry Atkins got his first outing of the day in heat two but after coming through the pack had to settle for 2nd behind Jake Mulford. After young Cameron Taylor then won the final 250cc race in leg one showing very impressive speed and style, the tone was quickly set for the remainder of the proceedings.
Norwich based Mulford then scorched to victory in his remaining two heats and semi-final but faced some very serious competition in that last race final title decider. Joining him at the start tapes were Taylor, Atkins and the fast Luke Harris amongst others but Mulford was quickest away. Immediately, Taylor was on his tail and looking for a way through to glory only to drop it on the exit from turn four. Quickly remounting, Cameron remounted in last place but did still manage to pass Ben Phillips. At the front though, Mulford controlled all the way to the flag and thus claim the win ahead of Harris, Atkins, David Knowles and Chris Still.
Defending 350cc Champion Rob Finlow started the day with a heat victory along with 2003 Champion Paul Cooper and Dave Mears. In the remaining qualifying races, Cooper remained unbeaten whilst Neil Taylor, John Cox (2) and Tom Perry also recorded wins. Following a second race exclusion, that win for Perry was enough to carry him into the semi-finals but the scoring system meant that he still had work to do and required another big result if he wanted to make the all-important final. For Tom though it all went wrong with a broken chain on the final lap leaving him with a long push to the finish line for a solitary point. That though was not enough as the flying Cooper and Taylor confirmed their progression to the final stages by taking the semi wins.
In the title decider, Cooper then completed a brilliant maximum by leading from tapes to flag but the real excitement came in a stunning battle for 2nd. Cox and Taylor passed each other for fun but it was the former rider who won the race to the line and bag the verdict with Wayne Broadhurst 4th, Finlow 5th and Mears 6th. For one of the expected 350cc front-runners, Saturday’s event proved a disaster as Charley Powell was plagued with mechanical issues throughout!
Multiple 500cc Sidecar Champions Josh Goodwin/Liam Brown started their day with a typically stylish win as Mitchel Godden/Paul Smith was also victorious. After that bright start though, Goodwin had to wait until his fourth outing for a second success as Godden was displaying simply irresistible form. Making stunning starts, he recorded another three classy wins but there was still plenty of work to be done especially with the likes of Shaun Hughes/Louis Bennett, Aaron Vale/Danny Hogg, James Hogg/Scott Goodwin and Dan Berwick/Mark Hopkins hunting him down.
Perfect out of the start all day, Godden was up for the final battle but then almost found far too much grip, his outfit rearing as the rev’s reached their crescendo but Mitch quickly got it under control before racing onto victory and completing a perfect unbeaten score. Working very hard and taking a richly deserved 2nd place was the delighted Welshman Hughes ahead of Vale and Goodwin. Whilst Danny Hogg now had a podium appearance to enjoy, for James Hogg the final was heartache, suffering an engine failure when chasing Godden for the lead.
Rob Heath/Kyle Fish were the stars early on as they started the defence of their 1000cc Left-Hand Sidecar title with three stylish wins. Also victorious in the heats were Alex Balman/Mark Hopkins, Darren Hill/Harry Hill and Tom Penfold/William Naden. If the qualifying races were good though, the final was an absolute classic which went right down to the wire. Early on it looked like Heath was going to get the win only to be brought to a halt by a mechanical issue. From onwards the intensity was turned up and became a no holds barred battle which saw four crews enter the last bend covered by the proverbial blanket and all within a realistic chance of snatching the title win. Will Penfold/Ricky Pay, Hill, Balman and Michael Phillips/Timothy Phillips were really going for it but on the run in to the flag, Balman then found the grip and drive to fire himself to glory as Penfold took 2nd from Phillips and Hill, that was simply superb!
At Sparrington Farm, there was also a support class for Upright Solo’s and despite starting with a DNF, Darren Phillips safely qualified for the final. Also showing good form early on were Paul Knott , Eddie Rouse and Nigel Coates. In the all-important final though it was Phillips taking a calculated win from Knott and Ashley Hill.
So it’s many congratulations to the 2021 ACU Champions, Jake Mulford, Paul Cooper, Mitchel Godden/Paul Smith and Alex Balman/Mark Hopkins and also a massive well done to the organising Ledbury MCC on another great promotion.
Report and Images by Mike Wood
Champion- Jake Mulford
2nd. Luke Harris
3rd. Henry Atkins
4th. David Knowles
5th. Chris Still
6th. Cameron Taylor – fell and remounted
7th. Ben Phillips
DNS. Adam Shipp
Champion- Paul Cooper
2nd- John Cox
3rd- Neil Taylor
4th- Wayne Broadhurst
5th- Rob Finlow
6th- Dave Mears
7th- Liam Ashcroft
8th- Marcus Crutchington
Champions- Mitchel Godden /Paul Smith
2nd- Shaun Hughes/Louis Bennett
3rd- Aaron Vale/Danny Hogg
4th- Josh Goodwin /Liam Brown
5th- Dan Berwick /Mark Hopkins
DNF. James Hogg/Scott Goodwin
Champions- Alex Balman /Mark Hopkins
2nd- Will Penfold /Bradley Reynolds
3rd- Michael Phillips/Tim Phillips
4th- Danny Hill/Harry Hill
5th- Tommy Penfold/Will Naden
DNF- Rob Heath/Kyle Fish- stopped while leading