The final round of the ACU British Supermoto Championship normally takes place at Cadwell Park but for 2017 a new venue, Rockingham was chosen. Situated on a former steel works site just outside Corby in Northamptonshire, this huge venue was originally built in 2001 to host rounds of the American Cart Championship and is one of only two pure Oval circuits in Europe. With the infield complex in use 13 different circuits are possible but for the Supermoto championship a new layout was devised including a purpose-built dirt section with table top and a technical double double, with the fast-flowing corners it made the perfect circuit for a season end finale where double points ensured that 12 Club and British Championships went down to the wire.
Day 1 - The Michelin Championship
After overnight rain the morning dawned grey, windy and very cold but mercifully dry, for Race day 1 the circuit was reversed and with no bikes ever having competed on the layout it meant a level playing field for the 150 competitors. Qualifying is an important part of Supermoto, getting away at the front on the normal tight tracks the riders face where passing is difficult is vitally important but the wide-open spaces at Rockingham would surely allow for more passing. Chris Hodgson on the LSP KTM was the pace setter and he looked to have found his feet on the new track the quickest with a great lap. Second was Perthshire’s Scott Murray (TM) 1.2 seconds behind. Matt Winstanley was third a but only 3 tenths behind which was just fractionally quicker than Davey Todd who completed the front row. After being absent for most of the season Jay Smith was back on a 1987 CR500 and what the bike lacked in outright pace he made up for in spectacular action through the off-road.
In bright breezy conditions and with a sizeable crowd starting to build the weekends racing began. With double points at stake in theory 6 riders could still win the championship but unless disaster struck it was down to Matt Winstanley and Chris Hodgson to fight out the result. The appearance of Davey Todd who had shown on his day he could be the fastest rider in Britain would almost certainly act as a Joker in the pack. From the line, Hodgson got away first but after one lap Todd slipped through on the fast right/left flip flop before the dirt section. Matt Winstanley sat on the back of both in third, with Scott Murray giving chase in fourth. All three riders immediately dropped their pace into the 1.22’s, quicker than they had gone in practice. After half race distance Winstanley dropped off the back of Hodgson as he kept the pressure on Todd. Even though the front two pulled a big gap on Winstanley Hodgson didn’t back off and there was certainly a whiff of pride about who was top dog in the UK paddock as he tried to pass Todd in the last couple of laps whilst back markers were being negotiated. Todd hung on to win by the incredibly narrow margin of 6 hundredths of a second from Hodgson with Winstanley a distant third. Jordan Bannon was a lonely fourth and Richard Sharp back after a broken leg was a brave fifth.
After wetting the crowd’s appetite with a thrilling dice for the win in race 1 all eyes were on the top three protagonists in Race 2. This time Todd got the holeshot followed by Hodgson, Winstanley and Jordan Bannon. The pattern from the first race repeated itself with initially Winstanley hanging on to the back of Hodgson and Todd, however as in Race 1 the front two inexorably pulled away by half a second a lap, Winstanley was safely in third so was the wily Wiganer relying on Hodgson taking a tumble to win the Crown. Caution wasn’t in Hodgson’s mind for sure as he pressed and harried Todd and set the fastest lap in the process, dropping into the 1.21’s for the first time in the day. At the flag Todd won by the relatively comfortable margin (after the first race) of 1 tenth of a second. Winstanley was well back in third almost 20 seconds in arrears. Bannon was closer in fourth, this time 3 seconds behind his teammate. Richard Sharp was again fifth and Bradley Hardy was an impressive sixth.
So it was now down to the final race and Winstanley needed to win and Hodgson had to be third. After two disappointing races Winstanley revealed he had made some changes to the bike set up in an effort to stay with the front two, his third places hadn’t been tactical he just didn’t have the pace to compete. From the start the pattern of the first two races was repeated with Todd followed by Hodgson hitting the front, however this time it appeared that Winstanley had managed to find the extra pace needed to compete and he was sat right on the back of Hodgson. There was no cat and mouse in this race with all three pushing as hard as possible for the win, Winstanley was quicker through the dirt section but lost a little time on the approach to the finish but he did set the fastest lap of the day on lap seven to prove he could be competitive. Todd hung on to the line with Hodgson 7 tenths behind Winstanley was just 1 tenth further behind. Jordan Bannon kept his Husqvarna upright to beat Scott Murray in a thrilling battle for fourth and Bradley Hardy again was a very very creditable sixth from the field of 30 starters.
Todd ran the perfect races to win three from three and take the overall, Hodgson was second to clinch his 13th
major British title and Winstanley realised he could run at the front with the other two at this circuit. Bannon was fourth, Richard Sharp fifth and Brad Hardy sixth
In the class for bikes built pre-2007, Aberdeen’s Daryl McCall on his 2005 KTM RFS won all three races from Tim Oliver on his 2004 KTM 380. Third was Steve Coombs managing to run well on his trusty 2005 Husaberg. The win secured the EVO title for McCall for 2017
GIAG Novice Cup
A huge grid of Novice riders relishing the opportunity to run at an iconic venue like Rockingham made for some entertaining racing in the “Give it a Go class”. Andrew Murray from Keith in Banfshire made the 12 hour journey worthwhile by taking the Overall from solicitor Keith Edwards, Steven Norman was third and series winner Andy Hall had to make do with a fourth on the day after an uncharacteristic tumble in Race one.
Academy rider Casey Jones was in tremendous form on his KTM 85 and took the first two wins before a seizure on the long back straight put paid to his chances of the overall. This let Kent youngster Ben Bayfield in for his maiden win in the championship, just rewards for excellent progression through the year. Kyle Bennett was excellent in second and the Championship winner Casey Jones could hide his disappointment by finishing third overall. In the Mini Bike class Jamie Stables wrapped up the Championship with a three race maximum from adult riders Darren Bayfield in second and the gigantic Mick Cartlidge in third.
As has become the norm for the innovative track team at NoraSport reversing the track gave a whole new feel to the circuit and with the new off road bedding down on Saturday and developing the start of a highly desirable blue groove then the season finale looked well set. The weather improved as well although bitterly cold the almost gale force winds of Saturday dropped and bright sunshine was the order of the day.
British Supermoto Championship Qualifying
: With riders able to choose two of the six available qualifying sessions it adds some spice to the session to see who picks the track at the best time to get maximum return, Hodgson looked to carry on where he left off on the Saturday and claimed pole with Davey Todd 6/10ths behind. Scott Murray was again third with Matt Winstanley completing the front row.
Todd led from the start but Winstanley got a flyer and went up the inside of Hodgson, there appeared to be no contact but Hodgson was down as the rest of the field streamed past. Thankfully Hodgson wasn’t hurt and scrambled back on his bike to chase after the pack, as the leaders crossed the line he brought his KTM round in 16th
place. Todd consolidated his lead at the front by pulling away from Winstanley, but all eyes were on Hodgson as lap after lap he scythed through the field eventually working his way up to an amazing third place. Jordan Bannon was again a fine mature fourth with Scott Murray finishing fifth on his TM. Richard Sharp was sixth a very creditable performance again from the tough Yorkshireman.
Todd flew off the line again, followed by Winstanley, Hodgson was understandably wary of another fall and followed in third, but it only took him one lap to pass the Wiganer to move to second. For the next nine laps Hodgson was in Todd’s wheel tracks and after hanging on for three laps Winstanley dropped off the pace and finished a distant third over 30 seconds behind Hodgson who was still less than a second behind Todd after nearly 16 minutes of high speed entertainment. Jordan Bannon was fourth having a great race long battle with Richard Sharp in sixth place was again Bradley Hardy.
Both having scored two second places Winstanley and Hodgson needed to beat each other in the final race to clinch the British Title, Todd had no such worries, the young Teessider had missed three rounds due to his road race commitments and just wanted to show he was the top man on the day. From the start it was Todd, Hodgson Winstanley and for 4 laps there was nothing between the triumvirate, however by half race distance Winstanley drooped off the pace, whether tiredness or machine problems it was hard to tell, maybe he was demoralised by the relentless pace of the front two. Whatever the reason he would rue the gap he let build up because with two laps to go Hodgson fell in the dirt, the Cumbrian still pushing for the win like a true champion, Winstanley was too far back to take the opportunity and Hodgson remounted before he could be caught. He crossed the line in the Autumn gloom 16 seconds behind the jubilant Todd and within seconds his team were wearing Hodgson number 1 Tee shirts in celebration. Winstanley came in a despondent third ahead of Scott Murray, Jordan Bannon was fifth and Richard Sharp sixth.
After a truly memorable days racing at a fabulous new venue Davey Todd with three wins from three took the top step ahead of Hodgson winning his 14th
British title. Winstanley was third and second in the Championship in probably his last full years racing. Jordan Bannon was fourth, Richard Sharp fifth and Scott Murray sixth.
Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by Sports Events Live
Results Day One Michelin Championship
Davey Todd (Husq) 105pts - 2nd
Chris Hodgson (KTM) 96pts - 3rd
Matt Winstanley (Husq) 90pts - 4th
Jordan Bannon (Husq) 84pts - 5th
Richard Sharp (Husq) 76pts – 6th
Bradley Hardy (Husq) 72pts – 7th
Richard Blakeman (Husq) 69pts – 8th
Peter Bennett (Husq) 66pts – 9th
Charlie Light (KTM) 65pts -10th
Tim Johnson (Husq) 60pts.
Daryl McCall (KTM) 105pts – 2nd
Tim Oliver (KTM) 96pts - 3rd
Steve Coombs (Husaberg) 84pts – 4th
Dan Spencer (Yamaha) 83pts – 5th
Damon Jasper (Aprilia) 82pts
Andrew Murray (Husq) 89pts – 2nd
Keith Edwards (Hon) 86pts - 3rd
Steven Norman (KTM) 85pts – 4th
Andy Hall (Husq) 83pts – 5th
Ryan Clack (KTM) 80pts
Jamie Stables (CRF) 105pts – 2nd
Darren Bayfield (85SX) 96pts – 3rd
Mick Cartlidge (CRF) 90pts – 4th
CeeJay Davies (85SX) 84pts – 5th
Anne Savage (CRF) 76pts
Ben Bayfield (85SX) 96pts – 2nd
Kyle Bennett (85SX) 95pts – 3rd
Casey Jones (85SX) 93pts – 4th
Harley Sharp (65 Husq) 84pts - 5th
Lewis Hardy (85SX) 82pts
Results Day Two British Supermoto Championship
Davey Todd (Husq) 150pts - 2nd
Chris Hodgson (KTM) 142pts - 3rd
Matt Winstanley (Husq) 140pts - 4th
Jordan Bannon (Husq) 130pts - 5th
Richard Sharp (Husq) 130pts – 6th
Scott Murray (TM) 116pts – 7th
Bradley Hardy (Husq) 107pts – 8th
Richard Blakeman (Husq) 106pts – 9th
Charlie Light (KTM) 104pts -10th
Dean Hillier (Husq) - 103pts.
Andy Mitchell (Husq) 81pts – 2nd
Andre Craddock (TM) 69pts - 3rd
Michael Craig (KTM) 58pts – 4th
David Blanks (KTM) 50pts – 5th
Andreas Gautschi (KTM) 41pts
Chris Eastwood (KTM) 65pts – 2nd
Ross Mailer (TM) 65pts - 3rd
Steven Lowe (TM) 51pts – 4th
James Wood (Husq) 46pts – 5th
Andreas Gautschi (KTM) 41pts
Tom Laycock (KTM) 46pts – 2nd
Mitchell Bullen (KTM) 34pts - 3rd
Dean Smith (Husq) 21pts – 4th
David Beadling (Husq) 13pts – 6th
Joel Todd (KTM) 10pts
Best Two Stroke
Steven Lowe (TM) 51 points