The UK's Grasstrack Stars Head To Chelmsford This Weekend

Friday August 4, 2023 at 9:23pm
The UK's Grasstrack Stars Head To Chelmsford This Weekend

The 500cc Sidecar Association has the honour of hosting this year’s ACU British Masters Grasstrack Championships- the pinnacle of the British Grasstrack season- on Sunday 6th August. If the organisation’s previous events are anything to go by (including several British Grasstrack Championships and European Championships) then they are sure to pull out all of the stops to ensure that it is a special day. Their circuit, located in Writtle just outside Chelmsford, Essex, is a proven racing circuit, having held several great meetings over the last few years. This year’s Masters event could not ask for a better venue for 2023.

As always, the two main British Masters race classes comprise of the country’s very best 500cc solo riders and 1000cc sidecar crews. In both classes, a plethora of big names make the title’s destiny uncertain. However, topping the billing in both classes are the reigning defending champions: Chris Harris in the solos and Mark Cossar in the sidecars.

Harris has been in tremendous form on the Grasstrack and Longtrack this season. Recently, he won the World Longtrack Grand Prix round in Marmande, France and sits on top of the world in the competition. Having won the British Masters for the previous two years, there is absolutely no doubt that he starts as favourite for the crown. He has certainly got his work cut out, however, as he begins the meeting with the target of a champion on his back.

Harris’ fellow World Longtrack star Zach Wajtknecht has also been in very good form on the continent. He currently sits 3rd in the World Longtrack standings and has put in several top performances so far this season. Having only ever scooped the Masters title once, and losing it so cruelly in the final in 2021, Wajtknecht will be desperate to clinch the title this year.

If there was to be a dark horse for the event, perhaps it comes in the form of vastly experienced 4x former champion Paul Hurry. Track time has been limited for the ACU’s Track Racing vice-chairman this season, but he has proven time and time again that he can never be underestimated on the British Masters day. Similarly, multi-British 250cc and 350cc champion Paul Cooper brings with him bags of experience and determination and is perhaps a strong outside bet. The returning ‘Cotswold Express’ Tim Nobes was back on a bike at the recent Southern Centre Championships and proved that he has lost none of his spectacular talent. He returns to the Masters after a 3 year hiatus. The Southern Centre Championships, however, will be remembered for another Masters contender’s emphatic victory. Youngster Chad Wirtzfeld was simply unstoppable and could be hitting form at the right time for the Masters. Another two highly rated youngsters, Cameron Taylor and Mickie Simpson make their British Masters debuts with plenty of interest surrounding them. Charley Powell has had some great rides this year, narrowly missing out on winning the Barracks Bonanza earlier in the year. He is another rider capable of mixing it with the world’s best.

In the sidecars, Mark Cossar naturally starts as overwhelming favourite, however his feathers have been ruffled a few times this season, most notably by little brother Tom and his passenger Wayne Rickards, who have been getting closer and closer to Cossar Snr all year. Terry Saunters/Liam Brown are another pairing who are not too far behind the sidecar driver who many are starting to call the greatest of all time. Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh picked up a big win in the absence of Mark Cossar at the Barracks Bonanza event earlier in the season and have been in solid form elsewhere. They were runners-up last year and were followed home by a determined ride from Trevor and Sam Heath. The Heath cousins have always been near the front at every meeting this year and cannot be counted out. The Barracks Bonanza organiser Michael Austin and passenger Vinny Branch have been picking up some very strong results this season and also come into this year’s Masters looking like they have stepped up their game. Two former champions making another welcome return to the meeting, bringing years of experience are Rob Bradley (4x British Masters champion) and Steve Smith (6x British Champion). They will be passengered by Ryan Wharton and Gareth Little respectively. Could either of these two roll back the years to put together a title-winning performance? For Smith, it is a remarkable 50 years since his first British title in 1973!

For Mark Cossar, he has paired up once again with former long-time passenger Carl Blyth for this year’s assault having crewed for Mark for four of his seven British Masters titles. To help him along to winning an unprecedented eighth British Masters win (not to mention a 13th British Masters podium) would surely solidify Mark as the greatest of all time, and Carl as one of the best passengers of all time as well. You need to go back to 2008 to find a British Masters top three without Mark Cossar on it; a simply astounding feat of dominance.

The action is set to take place at Kings Farm, Writtle, Chelmsford, with the practice sessions starting at 11am. The first race takes place at 1pm. As well as the racing, there’ll be plenty of other attractions taking place, and food/drink stalls to ensure that you are refreshed throughout the day. Camping is also available from noon the day before at a cost of £5.

More information go to our website

Pics courtesy of TTL Photography

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