Thundersport Mallory: Series finale race review27/10/2011
By Steve Day
Image by Steve Gough
The Bikesportnews.com Superstock 600 class was always going to be difficult to predict this weekend, it was now down to two riders as Tommy Mountain of Lincoln led Nick Anderson of Umberleigh by just five points going into the final three races this weekend in Leicestershire.
In amongst the usual Superstock regulars, Tommy and Nick were joined this weekend by the familiar face of Joe Collier and James East and in qualifying, Joe led the way, setting a time that was seven tenths quicker than series leader Mountain in second, with Michael Cooper third and Anderson fourth.
The first 16 lap race got underway and with all eyes on the two championship rivals, everyone forgot about Collier, who soon got down to business by clearing off at the front and breaking lap records.
In second, Anderson led a chasing pack of seven or eight bikes and had no idea of his solid championship status, after a poor start from Mountain left the series leader back in eighth.
Anderson was busy trying to fend off James East whilst Shellcock fell out of the running for a podium on lap nine. Then on lap 11, a crash at Shaws hairpin for Michael Cooper, bumped Mountain up to fourth with only a few laps remaining. By now, in what was looking like a nightmare for the championship leader during the early stages, with the second fastest lap time and a few riders falling in front of him, he was now hunting down both Anderson and East as we drew closer to the end.
Collier crossed the line just under ten seconds ahead of the pack to claim a brilliant victory, and to the delight of Tommy Mountain fans, James East had limited the damage by claiming second ahead of Anderson, with Mountain finishing fourth and Meehan caliming fifth.
With two to go, there were two points in it and at the start of the second race, Collier led from Mountain and Anderson as the duo went head to head for the Championship.
Nick led most of the way but the last lap flag triggered an attack from Mountain, the Lincolnshire rider attempted to out drag him into Edwina's first but failed and then he turned his attentions to Shaws hairpin and having got some supreme drive up the hill and through the esses, it was all change as Mountain pinged out of Devils elbow ahead of Anderson to take the biggest second place finish of his life to lead by six points going into the final race of the season.
As the lights went out for race three, a stoppage within minutes produced a sigh of anxiety on pit wall as they knew a complete restart would take place. A shortened eleven lap race would now decide the fate of both Mountain and Anderson and whether it was nerves or just a simple error, Mountain struggled away from the line and was squeezed out into turn one, whilst Anderson roared up to second behind Collier.
To make matters worse for Mountain, he was then in amongst a fight into Edwina's with Tom Meehan and Cooper and the championship looked as good as over as Tommy was seen taking the slip road through edwina's chicane to rejoin in ninth.
The next ten laps would have been the longest in the world for Anderson, but the shortest for Mountain as he began his fight back, moving up to fifth. Out front meanwhile, Collier was unfazed by the tense atmosphere going on behind and just to make sure he was remembered on this final day at Mallory, the 'MC Motors' backed rider then broke his own lap record, posting a 53.267 on the way to victory number three of the weekend.
With James East passing Anderson once more at the half way point and Mountain having done a sterling job to have moved up to fourth after a disastrous start, if the flag went out now, it would be Mountain's championship but the action didn't end there.
With East and Anderson four seconds clear of the championship leader, Nick received the news of Tommy's whereabouts and you could almost see the change in body language as Nick shaved half a second off his best lap time to hunt down East, knowing that second place would give him the championship by a point.
Putting everything on the line, Nick put the move on into Edwina's to pass East and attempted to break away with a few laps to go.... Mountain was helpless in fourth though and as the riders crossed the line, it was Anderson who claimed the championship by a single point.
After 36 Aprilia Superteen races, 13-year-old Joe Francis entered Mallory Park with a 22 point lead overall but crucially 30 points over Tom Oliver if you included the round dropped, which would go on to be the more important tally to remember.
In qualifying, 12-year-old Scottish newcomer Lewis Rollo rocked the paddock. After a brave debut at Oulton Park a fortnight ago, Rollo turned up having never seen Mallory before to put it on pole for the final round of the season.
Following Rollo on the grid was another Newcomer in David Allingham, whilst Tom Oliver was impressive in third ahead of Ben Luxton and Joe Francis could only manage eighth. As the first race got underway, it was clear to see that Oliver, who had now gone six races without a rostrum, was back to his best and whilst Francis got swallowed up into turn one, Tom set about battling with rookie Lewis Rollo and Northern Irish starlet David Allingham in a three way fight for the lead.
Further back, Francis was dancing through the pack. Although his chances of winning were slim if not impossible by the half way point, the newcomers champion showcased his talents to climb up to fourth place.
With two laps to go, Rollo led from Allingham and Oliver, with Francis in fourth, but just like any final mile in a Superteens race, it didn’t stay that way for long. As Allingham made his way through traffic, he took the win ahead of Tom Oliver, whilst Lewis Rollo took the final podium spot in just his third Superteen race.
To close the championship gap down further, Oliver was thankful that Bradley Jones snatched fourth away from Francis, cutting Joe’s lead down to 21 points.
In race two, confusion on the line led to both Rollo and Allingham getting ten second jump start penalties, but they were very much in the frame when it came to challenging Tom Oliver for the lead on circuit, whilst Francis had once again struggled away from the line in eighth.
As the series leader fled through the pack again to limit the damage being done to his championship lead, Oliver was taking no prisoners and went on to claim the victory ahead of Twyman, Jones and Francis to bring the gap down to nine.
As the lights went out for race three, Oliver immediately got into the rhythm that had already landed him some big results this weekend and with his Aprilia sponsored by Cups Direct dotting off into the distance, you'd have to wonder what was going through Joe Francis's mind as he failed to get away from the line and join the leading trio at the third time of asking.
With Oliver leading, Francis fought up to fourth place but Tom rode the pistons off his machine to collect his ninth win of the year, with Rollo taking his best ever finish in second and Allingham third. Francis finishing fourth meant that his lead was gone and it was now advantage Oliver by three points.
With heart rates on pit wall rocketing, the lights went out for the final time in 2011 and Oliver set sail behind Allingham but ahead of Rollo. Francis from eighth on the grid had this time got off to a better start and despite him still needing to play catch up, it was an improvement as the 12 lap race got underway.
Oliver fought for the lead but then crucially missed a gear to let Allingham go and draw Francis closer and the dog could now smell the rabbit as Francis put in his fastest lap of the weekend to dispose of Rollo, and chaseTom Oliver.
The next few laps were a blur as both riders swapped paintwork. Allingham led but the battle for second would now decide the title. Francis has the advantage into the last lap and Oliver's attempts into Edwina's failed and as the pair roared up towards Shaw's hairpin.
Having taken a defensive line, Oliver needed the drive out of the bus stop and as they made their way to the line, Oliver took the advantage ahead of Francis. But with yards to go, Joe clicked up another gear and somehow won the race by 0.011 of a second, giving Francis the title by a single point.
Travelling to Mallory with a ten point advantage over Phil Crowe, Ian Mackman led the Morello Services GP1 class going into the final round, with Mick Robertson of Scotland also in the frame, as the trio clashed in the final three races of the year.
Fresh from the confidence of his double points win at Oulton Park, it was Scotsman Mick Robertson that got away from the lights the best in race one and he quickly dealt with Crowe in the 16 lap affair, to lead with Sam Hornsey in second and Crowe third.
As the laps counted down, Crowe was ready to pounce on any mistake made by Robertson but Sam Hornsey was a nuisance on his Suzuki GSXR600 and whilst posting the fastest time, the trio broke away from the chasing pack, which included Mackman.
Across the line Robertson won it from Crowe after Hornsey fell. This pushed Dan Hegarty up to third overall but Mackman could only manage fourth, meaning Robertson now led the series by a point from Ian, with Phil Crowe only three behind Mackman.
In race two, lap times were electrifying as the Scotsman shrugged off any signs of butterflies to once again race head to head with Hornsey and Crowe, after Mackman once more had issues in yet another struggle for fourth overall.
Having wrapped up the Superstock title on Saturday, Mackman went for slick tyres for the first time this season in race two to try and gain some more grip but things just weren't working out for the Runcorn rider as a stone hit his radiator to prevent his progress.
Out front, Robertson was riding like his life depended on it and took yet another win but and thanks to Hornsey taking second ahead of Crowe, Mick’s lead now looked untouchable as he went into the final encounter 13 points ahead of Crowe and 15 clear of Mackman.
Into the final race, it was barely believable that a rider who had not seen any of the English and Welsh circuits before the start of 2011 was in a position to become champion and knowing that fourth place or better would clinch it, the three contenders went at it in race three.
Crowe didn't want to kiss goodbye to his title without a fight and after seeing off Robertson, Mackman then pushed his way through to second, the pair of them hoping that Baker could catch the Scotsman and halt his chances.
It was a clever rider from Mick though and shadowing Mackman’s every move, Robertson came home in third to win the GP1 title by four points from defending champion Crowe.
In the Superstock class for the final race of the year, Alex Heaton found the top step as he ends his first campaign on a bigger bike and Lee Reveley won all three Supertwins races and beats Charlie Flett to win his third Supertwins title.
After thinking he'd nailed the championship back at Oulton Park, James Folkard still had work to do this weekend if he wanted to make sure of the job at Mallory Park, with Jake Dixon needing all four wins to even have a chance of changing the story.
With no Connor Tagg in race one, Folkard knew that simply finishing in the top three in every heat would still mean the championship even if Jake were to win every race but Folkard may have been a bit worried after Jake romped home to take the first win ahead of James and complete part one of four, with Will Hodgson back to form to take third.
As we eagerly awaited race two, the news came through that for mechanical reasons, Jake Dixon was unable to make the grid for the second race and just like that, it was championship over as Folkard lined up alongside Tagg on the grid.
Tagg went on to win the race from James and at that point, after 30 races completed in the season... Folkard, Dixon and Tagg had all shared ten wins each.
In third, Will took yet another podium as he looked to end the year inside the top ten of the championship but only just got Sam Cox on the line, who in turn, wrapped up fourth place in the standings for 2011.
On Sunday, with the number one plate on his Minards Pavlou backed Aprilia RRV450, James went on to do the double and end the season with 12 wins. Connor Tagg's two second place finishes were enough to secure him the runner-up spot for the second time in as many seasons and both Will Hodgson and Michael Clifford shared the podium on the final day.
With no champion Andy Lawson or runner-up Adam Shelton, taking pole position in the Bridgestone Thundersport 500 Championships was Steve Tomes, who lined up ahead of Darryl Harrison, gunning for third place in the championship, and team mate Rob Mawbey in third, who'd done enough to push Lewis Osler down to fourth.
In race one, despite posting a lap time under lap record pace, Tomes went down on lap five along with team mate Mawbey and we were looking at a new winner for 2011 as Joe Barton, Christopher Spink and Lewis Osler fought for victory.
Barton, who has spent most of the season on the Kawasaki, switched to a Honda for this round and after a fantastic outing on the machine, he won the race by 2.9 seconds to the screams on pit wall.
In one of the most popular top three finishes of the year, Christopher Spink then secured his highest finish of the season with a second and Lewis Osler, another major improver for the year, grabbed his second podium of the season with a third.
With Tomes arriving late to the grid and starting from the back in race two, James Pickford went AWOL and then Barton failed to come across the line on lap eight to leave us with Osler at the front.
However, Tomes was making his way through the pack like a hot knife through butter and with a new lap record, he hunted down both Spink and Osler to deny the pair of ultimate glory, taking the win in the end by a full five seconds.
On Sunday, we witnessed two carbon copy results. Nobody could keep up with Steve's pace at the front as he took the double and made it eleven wins for the season to finish fifth in the standings. Lewis Osler ended a superb second half of the season with another two second place finishes to leave himself sixth overall and Joe Barton's debut on a Honda, left him with another couple of podium finishes.
With no Keith Smith, Barry Utting, Steve Bradbury or Sean Goldsmith at the final round of the season in the LMB Streetfighters, Andy Denyer went head to head with old enemy Jamie Wilkins this weekend in the 'A' class.
Andy Plaskitt came out to play on his Honda and it was Mick Riddle going for glory in the 'B' class, whilst 'C' category champion Tony Hughes went out for a bit of fun, having secured his title back at Oulton Park.
In race one, Denyer was unable to handle the speed of Wilkins and after ten laps of trying, Wilko took his first win of the 2011 campaign ahead of Denyer and Plaskitt.
In fourth and fifth, B & C class leaders Mick Riddle and Tony Hughes were having a right old ding dong and despite Tony smashing his own lap record by a full six tenths, it was the RAF MSA rider Mick Riddle that got the better of Hughes on this occasion.
In second and third overall for the 'B' class were Adam Palfreman and Steven Wood, whilst Duncan MacMillan found himself a step closer to third in the 'C' championship with second in class for race one ahead of this years runner-up Brad Davey.
In race two, Denyer’s bike packed in and with the Uckfield rider forced to watch, Jamie Wilkins took full control. He crossed the line a full 20 seconds clear of 'B' winner Mick Riddle, who had done well to see of Plaskitt on the more powerful machine, whilst Tony Hughes this time went into battle with Adam Palfreman for fourth and fifth overall, this time winning.
On Sunday, there was no change at the sharp end as Wilkins roared to victory twice more to complete the quadruple. Jamie was followed home on both occasions by Andrew Plaskitt, whilst Rob Chisolm took two second place finishes ahead of Brent Millage.
In the 'B' class, Adam Palfreman and Mick Riddle shared the wins with Steven Wood once more taking two third place finishes and following Tony Hughes home in the 'C' class, were MacMillan and Warren.
Motorbike Accident Law Champion Ben Field may have had his number one plate stuck on the winning Honda CBR600 for the final round at Mallory Park, but he faced some stern opposition in all three races this weekend, as RLR Racing's Sam Hornsey returned to the Thundersport GB paddock.
Out qualifying the champion by half a second, Hornsey was on lap record pace to sit on pole ahead of Field, Dan Hegarty and Craig Sproston, in what was a very strong grid.
In race one, it seemed that Hornsey's presence had almost taken Ben Field by surprise, Sam had taken the lap record with a 52.903 and ended the first 16 lap race a full nine seconds clear of Field, who in turn had a lonely race in second ahead of Dan Hegarty and Craig Sproston.
It was race two though where we saw the champion back to his usual form, and completely unwilling to let Hornsey control the race, Field showed Sam his front wheel on more than one occasion and led from lap two all the way to lap 13.
Unable to shake off Hornsey, Sam forced his way through to the front with two laps remaining and although he was unable to pull away from the Champion, he did enough to squeeze the win by 0.113 across the line.
In third place, Dan Hegarty picked up yet another trophy and Craig Sproston finished ahead of James East, to clarify his third place in the championship for 2011.
For the final race of the year, Hornsey got away well and by the time Field had made his way up to second, he’d posted a 52.6 before he then fell to leave Hornsey with an easy win.
Dan Hegarty rode well to take second place and in his last race, Craig Sproston finished his successful career with a third place finish ahead of James East.
With the championships decided in the Alto Digital Thundersport GP2 class, the Minitwins Cup and the Nitro GP3 series, it was a battle of pride this weekend at Mallory Park as in race one, Dover's Jake Dixon went head to head with 2011 Champion Connor Tagg.
In a first race which saw the GP2 lap record being broken by Jake with a 55.308, he and Connor were inseparable for the opening seven laps until the pair entered Edwina's chicane and Tagg was squeezed out by an unforgiving Dixon.
This left Dixie with the race victory ahead of Josh Daley, who was suffering with one or two jetting issues, and Curtis Rothwell finished in third place ahead of 450 riders David Allingham and Michael Clifford.
In races two, three and four ..... Josh Daley's Kawasaki was fixed and with no Jake Dixon in the final three encounters, Daley went head to head himself with Tagg, providing spectators with some great close racing.
Daley won all three ahead of Tagg in a fine display of racing and respectful manoeuvres and Josh guaranteed his third place finish for the season behind Connor, who ended the year on 700 points.
In third for all four encounters and winning every Mintiwins Cup race in the process, was Curtis Rothwell. Although unable to keep up with the likes of Daley and Tagg, Curtis moved up to third overall in the Minitwin Cup and took the lap record with a 55.965.
Sharing the victories in the Nitro GP3 class were 2011 Champion James Robinson and Barnsley rider James Hobson, who now secures third spot overall. James Robinson's win is a credit to his riding ability and a deserved reward to his parents, who put all their time, money and effort into his racing.
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