Day Comes Out on Top in the Battle of the Kings
The two-day NG Motorcycle Grand National race weekend, held at Wiltshire's Castle Combe Circuit on 1-2 September, was billed to be a duel for the King of Combe title between two men. Both former 'King' winners, both former British Champions, and both keen to prove they are top dog. Josh Day from Cirencester and Dan Cooper from Stroud made their intentions clear, Josh had the Kendrick and Spalding ZX10R Kawasaki and Dan had the Impcross BMW S1000R in the armoury. The racing lived up to the billing as the pair traded fastest lap after fastest lap all weekend.
The front row for the King of Combe saw Josh and Dan joined by young BSB 600 hotshot TJ Toms. Toms did a valiant job on his SMW ZX6R to take third holding back the likes of James Cox (another ex-King), Chris Pope and Gary Stevens. Out front through the top two dragged away trading lap records. Cooper had been under the weather all weekend with a strength-sapping bug, but for this fight he mustered all his energy tracking Josh around the 1.85-mile circuit. Going into lap six of the ten Dan set a new lap record and was looking to mount his challenge...... a challenge he could not execute as the red flags came out for an incident at Quarry. In the post race interviews with Steve Parrish in pit lane Dan was philosophical, knowing that "you can get a red flag at any time". Meanwhile Day and the team celebrated as NG's top rider retained the title he won twelve months ago to get a second reign as the King of Combe.
The pair also battled it out in the Phoenix Open and the Bluebell Lakes Powerbike this weekend. TJ took three podiums in the Open with vacant Powerbike podium spots going to James Cox each time as he held off the attentions of the hard-riding Chris Pope, Jim Walker, Allister Hayes and Gary Stevens.
Just to really mark his domination Josh set a new outright circuit bike lap record in the Powerbike at 1min 09.06sec that works out at 97.21mph.
250GP and 125GP ACU National Championship
2010 National 250GP champ Andrew Sawford has returned to the grid on his TZ250 and has proven that he has definitely not lost the will to win as he took all three wins in the Dymag backed 250 series. Phil Stead took two fine runner-up spots but had to watch the action from trackside for the other outing as he pulled his ailing machine off the grid. Another former champ in the shape of Dan Jackson came back into the fray for Combe and had a couple of podiums. Thomas Lawlor too had a taste of champagne getting onto the box for third place on Saturday. Bruce Dunn was unlucky not to come away with more than just one trophy as he was one of the quickest riders over the weekend but his TZ cried enough dropping him down the order from 2nd to 11th on Saturday. The crew got the bike back in full working order for the final outing on Sunday but he had to start from the back of the grid. It was great to see him slice through to take a well-deserved third place at the flag.
The Mills Racing outfit field a team of 125s in the Hartsmere/Love life and Ride GP series and it was nice that they each had a win here with Gavin Mills, Gary Arden and Jake Hopper all tasting victory. Gavin Mills had done enough with Saturdays win to take the title and wheeled out his new 250 to test on Sunday... he took fifth on his first outing!
All the Castle Combe Action
Now before we look through the rest of the weekend’s action the aforementioned Josh, Dan and TJ also clashed in the 600 on other bikes from their respective racing stables. TJ was on a much more level playing field this time and finished the first race just a couple of bike lengths behind Josh now on his R6, Dan was third with championship leader Sean Montgomery next along holding off Kayla Barrington. The other rider in the championship chase is Aaron Ridewood but he was forced out with a holed radiator. Cooper got revenge on Sunday morning taking the win over Day and Montgomery. In the afternoon Josh was back in the ascendancy with Coop's and Monty second and third. Liam Delves held onto fourth from TJ Toms who had stunning ride through after starting from 42nd on the grid after pulling in with a leaking radiator in the second race.
Mark Compton has finally got his Motorapido/Pentland Plumbing 1299 Panigale set up how he wants it and set about showing why he should have been a contender this year. Not only did he take three wins from three starts but set a new Sound of Thunder lap record as he headed home Dave Mackay each time. Mackay ended the day happy with three podiums and the 2018 championship secure for the True Heroes rider. Paul Willis, Jonathan Stenning and Ben Broadway fought over the remaining podium places.
William Holland likes Combe and proved it by taking three wins in the Super Twins on his JHS Racing Suzuki Gladius over Alastair Fagan, Paul Wardell and Alan Russell. Holland also took a win on his Mini Twin Gladius too with Paul Wardell on his Bee Lighting SV and Justin Garrett on the Reed Family SV sharing the spoils.
Steve Palmer was one of the stars of the weekend taking a clean sweep of wins in both the Formula 400 class and the 500 Open class on his Team MK1 Transit Racing Team ZXR400 Kawasaki. 500 class leader Dave Hampton had a weekend to forget with a broken chain on one machine and a major blow up on the other, meaning that with some strong points Nick Brown has taken top spot in the 500cc points table with just one meeting left.
13 year old Oliver Upton took the win in Saturdays F125 Race on the Wheels Motorcycles Aprilia but was bettered in both outings on Sunday by class new boy, 12 year old Corey Tinker on his Aquatix-2U Aprilia.
The 1300cc Streetstocks is a fight between two men, former champ Richard Hughes, now on a BMW and series new boy Jason Hill. Hill had finally managed to attract some sponsorship from the “We dig it garden company” and was keen to impress. Hill and Hughes as ever were well clear of the rest headed up by William Moss on Saturday but a few tweaks were made to Hills ZX10 overnight and he was in confident mood. As the second race of the weekend set off the pace increased and Jason had just set the fastest lap to be on Hughes tail when disaster struck with the front end of the big Kawasaki folding on the exit to Camp. Hill piled into the bales but walked away albeit in obvious pain. Hughes took the win….and set a new lap record. For their final outing of the weekend the team got Hills machine to the grid and manfully rode through the pack to fifth. Hughes was again unstoppable setting another class lap record and sealed the championship. The smaller 700cc class is just as tight between David Irons and Alex Jones. This weekend saw David take two wins on his TWR R6 and Alex one on his TKRC WSC REPS Taylor Wimpy R6. The only other rider to take a win this year is Simon Bastable and he was back this weekend after a long struggle back to fitness after a crash at Anglesey. He managed three podiums behind the top three and looks set for a fresh challenge in 2019.
[Text Box: 888 Alex Jones and 10 David Irons] Owen Hunt took three wins in the 1300cc Pre Injection class on his Paul Bland Motorsport R1 each time over Jon Wright. Wright challenged to the flag on Saturday but did not able to make the best of starts in either of Sundays races each time fighting through to second but some distance behind Hunt who set a series of new class lap records.
The Suzuki Bandits are running a showdown system with the top six from the main season fighting it out for the title. Matthew Baker has been the man to beat over the last few rounds, but here, the first round of the showdown he made an uncustomary mistake tumbling from his bandit as he chase the fast starting James McHardy in the European Vacuum Drainage Bandit Suzuki. He eeked out a lead Harley Prebble and John Bolsover chased to no avail. Race two saw the same pattern with McHardy out front, this time Bolsover made the error exiting at Quarry. Prebble was again second and Baker getting his first points with third. That was how both of Sunday’s races would finish. With McHardy the defending champ on a maximum be can now make it a bit more tactically for the final two races at Oulton in October.
Nick Allison on his Suzuki Katana and Andy Hornby with the Harris Magnum shared the FP1 pre 1981 1300cc honours. The pre 1987 Production class FP2 had two wins for reigning champ Phil Webber on his 750 Suzuki and two for Mark Carrels-Watson on a similar Suzuki run under the oddly tagged Danger Mouse Race Team banner. Liam McCarter took the full compliment of wins in the Classic Superbike FP3’s on the Louigi Moto 916 Ducati, each time heading Lewis Rees who was safe in the knowledge that he has secured the 2018 title.
Andy Blomfield on the BB Racing 620 Ducati has been dominant over the second half of the season and took two more wins here. A revitalised Matthew Lawson who obviously likes Combe denied him the hat trick as he nicked the win from under Blomfield’s nose by setting a new lap record for the class. Rodney King took the full compliment of wins in the 600cc “B” Desmo’s on the Team 44 bike to take the class title with Oulton still to go.
Will Bryant on his CBR600 Honda in the 700 Pre Injection class was awarded the Performance of the meeting from Wiz Sliders and Clive and Pam Flood after three stunning races on his Bauromat, Morris Lubricants backed Honda. He was another that did not make life easy for himself in the early stages. Sundays second race in particular saw him down in seventh at one point with Daniel Jones heading the way but with a series of fastest laps caught and passed everyone in the second half of the race to take the flag first. He passed Daniel Nelmes, James McHardy and Daniel Jones on the last lap to grab the win and the championship. His team resplendent in the 115 WIB Racing t-shirts celebrated hard as he did the seemingly impossible…..reports say that granddad was in floods of tears. He was a deserving winner of the performance award for Combe.
ACU FSRA F2 Sidecars
Defending F2 British champions Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley took both points scoring racing for the sidecars, but it was not for the want of trying by the opposition.
It was not easy in the early stages of either race but the current series leaders kept their heads and reeled of consistent fast laps to eventually make their way to front, extending their championship lead as they head off for the final round at Oulton Park. Closest rivals Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie lead both races but could not find the race long pace to do the business. John Holden and Lee Cain were guest riders at this race and made it clear that the lap record was their target, however that didn't quite work out as Founds set blistering new figures to better John Holdens old lap record that had stood since 2007. F2 Cup leaders Daryl Gibson and Ashley Moore two more impressive wins GDM Shellbourne Suzuki over Ralph Remnant and Samantha Tilley to extend their series lead with one round left.
Wiz Sliders Performance of the Meeting
At every NG round one lucky rider is selected for the Wiz Sliders Performance award. The chosen one gets a special set of one-off sliders made by the Wiz guy's in Somerset.
For this Castle Combe meeting the panel chose Will Bryant who took three hard fighting wins on his Bauromat, Morris Lubricants CBR600 Honda in the Pre-Injection class, and secured the championship title.
For this meeting he got an added bonus of getting a prize cheque from Clive and Pam Flood to accompany his bespoke Wiz knee sliders.
For more information on motorcycling events at Castle Combe Circuit: www.bikesatcombe.com
For more images: www.edpphoto.co.uk