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Bantasia 2 just two weeks away

Monday March 28, 2022 at 3:14pm
Bantasia 2 just two weeks away

With just a few days to go, all roads lead to a little village just outside of Hampshire on the 10th April as Grasstrack Banter Promotions present ‘Bantasia 2’. The meeting, which will follow up on the promotion’s ‘behind closed doors’ live streamed event in 2021, has gathered plenty of momentum for the rest of the Grasstrack season. With a top-class field of some of the best riders in Europe, the event is certainly shaping up to be one of the highlights of the Grasstrack racing season.

The highlight on paper certainly has to be the ‘Stellar Despatch Elite Solos’. Sixteen of the finest 500cc solo riders will come together to do battle at the Bantasia Arena, with several European and British championships between them. Heading the lineup is two-time European and four-time European Champion James Shanes. The winner of last year’s event has been doing laps already this season and is certainly the man to beat in the class. He will certainly have his work cut out this year though as the elite class is stacked full of talented racers both young and old.

Other former European and British Masters champions include Zach Wajtknecht and Andrew Appleton. The former was perhaps deeply unfortunate not to have regained the British Masters title in 2021 when a fall in the final put paid to his chances. He will be in determined form this season and will certainly be one of the favourites for the Elite Class. Appleton, whose British racing has been very limited in recent times, is hungry for success having spent the last two years relatively inactive. He is a classy performer and bring bags of experience to Bantasia 2.

Another former European champion, and one of three overseas riders taking place, will be Theo Pijper. The two-time Euro Champ’s Grasstrack appearances have been a rarity in this country. However, whenever he competes his is always in amongst the top contenders. His last appearance on the British Grasstrack saw him win the big International Poacher meeting. As an added interest, Theo’s young son Ace will also be competing in the 250cc solo class having spent many years competing on the shale. Pijper Jnr will be racing the Grasstrack Banter Promotions ‘pool’ machine. It will be interesting to see how the Anglo-Dutch youngster performs against the finest 250cc riders in the country.

From Denmark, two riders who have been at the very top of the sport in the last two years. Kenneth Kruse Hansen, the 2020 World Longtrack Vice-Champion has shown on several occasions that he is perfectly suited to the British Grasstrack. A majestic performance at the Midshires Euro Semi in 2019 saw him almost topple the Brits in their own back yard. Hansen’s 2020 performances in the World Longtrack Final proved what a great racer he is. Joining Hansen is fellow Dane Jacob Bukhave. Fairly new to Grasstrack and Longtrack, Bukhave has already put in several impressive performances including reaching the European Final on his very first attempt. Added interest here is that travelling with Hansen will be Morten Qvistgaard- he will be competing on the British Grasstrack for the first time in the Clubman Solo Class. Also in the clubman class, German youngster Finn Loeheider makes his British Grasstrack debut.

Names familiar to speedway fans, Edward Kennett, Alfie Bowtell and Ryan Kinsley join the lineup. Bowtell made his Grasstrack debut at Bantasia 1 a year ago and what was to follow exceeded all expectations! A top 8 finish in the British Masters and a great performance at the South Eastern Centre Championships was enough to convince Bowtell that Grasstrack was a pursuit worth investing in. Kennett has been a big name in the speedway world for many years. His all-action style on a motorbike is always entertaining. Time and again he has proved himself to be a brilliant Grasstrack rider. Kinsley has yet to prove himself on the Grass. Several outings at local events have shown that there is a huge potential. He has raced at the top level in British Speedway and it is only a matter of time before Kinsley finds his feet on the grass.

Experienced campaigners Tony Atkin (Former multi-British 350cc Champion), Paul Cooper (Reigning and multi-British 350cc Champion) and Daniel Winterton are welcome additions to the lineup. Charley Powell and Tom Perry, somewhere in the middle in the experience/age spectrum, have been top Grasstrack stars for several years. Powell is the current British Masters Qualifier winner and British Number 4. Perry is a former British 350cc Champion.

Youngsters in the sport are always an exciting prospect and Bantasia 2 boasts two of the most exciting in the sport: Jake Mulford and Chad Wirtzfeld. Jake Mulford was simply unstoppable in the British 250cc Championships at the end of 2021 and has shown on several occasions that he can mix it with the best on the 500cc class. Chad, who lives not too far from the venue, performed superbly at the 2021 British Masters. There is no doubt that Chad, along with Jake, are the future of the sport and they will take no prisoners when rubbing elbows with the best at Bantasia 2.

The awesome 1000cc sidecars will be present, boasting nearly all of the country’s top crews. British Masters champions Mark Cossar and Gareth Williams won the inaugural Bantasia meeting in 2021 and will certainly take some stopping once again. But they are joined by some of the cream of the class. Former British Masters champion Paul Whitelam and Richard Webb will be one of several top crews vowing to topple the six-time British Masters Champ.

At present, the big chairs contain some exciting young talent, plenty of very quick experienced racers, and some interesting relative newcomers. Anyone sitting on the fence with regards to attending only needs to look at the list of names in the lineup to realise that the sidecar talent on offer is too good to pick out any specific crews. The competition is completely wide open.

 As previously mentioned, the 250cc class will provide overseas interest from Ace Pijper. He will be up against Bantasia 1 champion and another of Britain’s hottest young talents in Cameron Taylor. He was in fabulous form in 2021 and will look to continue this for 2022. Luke Harris is another rider in the 250cc class who will certainly start as one of the favourites. Some of the most interesting races occur when the motocross machine mounted riders do battle with the youngsters on the speedway engines. With seasoned campaigners Graham Thomas, Tim Greig and Richie Knight in the lineup, the youngsters will have to have their wits about them. Just-out-of-youth youngsters Sam Norris, Kenzie Cossey and Austin Riches all join the adults after performing well in the schoolboy ranks.

The Clubman Solo class looks absolutely intriguing. As well as foreign racers Morten Qvistgaard (Denmark) and Finn Loheider (Germany), several names of note join in the club class. There’s a danger that they might steal the show! And the Old and New ‘budget’ Sidecar Class will look to once again provide some tremendous racing as they did in 2021 at Bantasia 1.

As well as the on-track action, trade stalls, food vendors, cake stalls and kid’s inflatables will ensure the day is a great day out for all of the family. Camping is available from midday on Saturday 9th April and is absolutely free, although there will be no beer tent on Saturday evening due to noise restrictions. There will be a bar present on race day for those hoping for a tipple at the races! The venue can be found using the postcode SO21 1JJ, and sweep.jammy.friend on ‘what3words’. The club has produced some Grasstrack ‘firsts’ and two firsts of note include pre-event tickets which are available online at the club’s website www.grasstrackbanter.com. The benefit of the online purchase is a lower cost of £15. Entry on the day will be £18 for adults and £15 for concessions. Under 16’s are free. The second ‘first’ will be ‘at the track’ card payments for those wishing to save your cash for the burger or pizza van, or for a pint of cider in the bar!

If you haven’t already, make sure you have joined the Grasstrack Banter group on Facebook, the Grasstrack Banter Instagram, Grasstrack Banter Tiktok and @GrasstrackB on Twitter for all of the latest information on the run up to the event.

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