On the 20th April the second round of the MiniMoto Racing Association (MMRA) British Minimoto Championship rolled into Larkhall, 20 miles South of Glasgow for another weekend of fast and furious low capacity, miniature GP racing competition.
The circuit had everything, fast sweeping bends, a very interesting ‘bus stop’ hairpin at the far end of the circuit before a sweeping ‘straight’, a tight infield double hairpin section and banked elements of the circuit running into a final flip flop downhill section to a tight final corner that was bound to create some last corner action.
Strong local support brought with it the best riders Scotland had to offer, some just coming to ride as a one-off, being the sole excursion North of the border for the MMRA, and this really stoked up the melting pot.
The first bikes rolled onto the now dry track for a Saturday morning practice session followed by two 15 minute qualifiers.
Local circuit knowledge advantage for the Scottish riders was apparent but by mid afternoon it looked like everyone had been riding here regularly.
Rain during the night greeted the early Sunday morning risers, leaving a wet track and the all-too-familiar tyre choice dilemma.
Once again the spectators weren’t disappointed, with races producing some breathtaking dices conducted at an electrifying pace. The highlight of the day in the Senior classes had to be the Production B class races with the second race with a six man scrap from start to finish.
As the flag dropped 15-year-old Grant Villette hit the front on the Fast Forward Racing RT2, determined to make up for being knocked off while in the lead of the first race and racing only the day after having laser surgery on a damaged shoulder, He was hotly pursued by Mark Wooff, 2006 Champion Chris Martin, and his Havoc Racing team mate Lee Sweetland.
As they disappeared down to the bus stop and out of view it was Villette who emerged onto the back straight still at the front. He was holding off the pursuing group of riders lap after lap, even opening a small gap, with Dave Perry skilfully picking his way up to second of the scrapping followers with one lap to go as Sweetland disappeared from the pack.
And what a last lap it was. As the riders crossed the line for the penultimate time it was Villette a few metres ahead of Perry with the front running pack led by Mark Wooff just feet behind.
As Perry chased the back of Villette’s machine edging ever closer. As they hit the banking and the downhill section to the last corner Perry edged ever inches closer and as they braked for the last corner Perry went for a gap as Villette tipped his machine in.
Perry’s front wheel caught the back of Villette’s RT2 and they both went down, scattering the riders behind.
In the scramble to remount Martin seized the advantage to cross the line first, ahead of Woof with a remounted Villette crossing the line on one wheel with Perry remounting to come home in seventh.
Although disappointing for Villette he came of age in this race and clearly marked his intention for the rest of the season as a potential future champion.
Metrakits MiniGP50/MiniGP70 Junior Classes
Round two of the MiniGP British Championship was hosted by the West of Scotland Kart Club.
The track is located on the outskirts of Larkhall near Glasgow. The track is an excellent mix of corner types and is a great test of rider ability.
MiniGP50 Race 1
The drama commenced before the grid had completed their warm up lap with Gary Winfield on his immaculately prepared machine taking a tumble rounding the final bend.
All was well however and Winfield took his position on the grid. The track was damp and particularly slippy following overnight rain.
The riders seemed to be a little over excited for the first race of the day with Bradley Ray pulling a stomping wheelie and Aaron Climpson stalling on the line when the flag dropped.
Despite George Powell’s airborne starting antics it was Ray who got the best of starts followed by Harry Comber from row two.
Ray immediately pulled a gap from Comber who was hotly pursued by Kyle Ryde and Stuart Wilson on the Saltire Suzuki sponsored machine.
Comber succumbed to Ryde’s pressure and dropped to third position. Stuart was lining up Comber for a pass when the race was red flagged.
At the restart it was Ray again in front followed by Wilson, Comber and Alex Metcalf.
Ryde eased past Wilson into second but had a big ask to close the gap on Bradley who had already pulled a commanding lead after two laps.
Metcalf retired with mechanical problems but Ray was controlling the race from the front with a comfortable gap. Wilson and Comber were entertaining the spectators with some close racing.
The race was red flagged for a second time with a couple of laps to go when Ryde slid off while trying to close the gap on Ray. A result was declared with Bradley taking the win from Wilson and then Comber.
MiniGP50 Race 2
An incident free start to race two saw Ray once again making turn one his own, closely followed by Ryde, Wilson and Comber. The track was drying and the riders were becoming more confident.
Most had opted for wets as there were still damp areas just off the racing line. Bradley was stretching his lead with every lap and the interest focussed on Alex and Aaron who were having a ding dong battle mid-field with Aaron eventually getting the upper hand.
Bradley took a comfortable win over Ryde. Wilson in turn had gapped Comber to take third place.
MiniGP50 Race 3
If you were a betting man the money was on Ray to take the holeshot. The favourite didn’t disappoint the punters and led from start to finish.
As the riders stormed past the start/finish line on lap one it was Ray followed by Ryde, Comber and Wilson.
Ryde rode admirably and at times looked to be closing the gap but Ray’s pace was just too hot. Wilson was pressing Comber for third and was determined to find a way past.
Wilson made a tenacious move on Comber to move into a podium position.
At the flag it was Mr 100 per cent Ray followed by Ryd, Wilson and Comber.
MiniGP70 Race 1
Pole setter Fraser Rogers made the holeshot with Luke Helm, Jason Douglas and James Flitcroft on his tail.
Rogers was holding the advantage over Helm with Flitcroft moving into third ahead of Douglas.
On lap four Fraser extended his lead slightly and Douglas was being dropped off in fourth.
As they crossed the line after seven laps it was Rogers, Helm, Flitcroft, Douglas, Luke Hedger and Niall Campbell who had steadily moved through the field from the back of the grid.
At mid distance Hedger and Flitcroft were closing the gap on Rogers and Douglas, also gaining in confidence, started to up the pace.
Douglas was soon on Hedger’s tail. Both pilots were riding really hard as Luke fought to retain third position.
Douglas dived up the inside at the turn leading onto the start/finish straight but missed a gear on the exit allowing Hedger to move in front.
But Douglas was in determined mood and forced his way past and set about reeling in Flitcroft. With one lap to go Flitcroft was caught out by some backmarkers allowing Douglas to storm into second.
Rogers took a deserved win with Douglas in second and Flitcroft third.
MiniGP70 Race 2
Rogers made a flying start and led the pack down to the bottom hairpin. Douglas and Luke Helm had a coming together with Douglas coming out of the gravel trap with a missing footpeg.
As the leaders crossed the line on lap one Rogers was in front followed by Flitcroft, Charlie King, Luke Hedger, Alex Olsen, Niall Campbell, Daniel Booth and Luke Helm.
The drying conditions were suiting Rogers and Flitcroft who pulled away at the front.
The leaders were starting to lap the slower riders by lap 16 but JFlitcroft pushed a little too hard and slid off directly in front of Campbell, who did well to take avoiding action.
Rogers now had an unassailable lead over Luke Hedger but it was Booth who was on the move and swiftly found himself in third place.
Flitcroft was trying to salvage some points but lost it big time on the fastest part of the track with his bike making an acquaintance with the trackside barrier.
The race was red flagged and a result was declared with Rogers taking the win with Luke Hedger second and Booth third.
MiniGP70 Race 3
James Flitcroft’s big off in race two didn’t seem to phase him and he let Rogers know that he meant business in the final race of the day by leading into turn one.
Flitcroft crossed the stripe on lap one in the lead with Fraser Rogers tucked in behind and local lad Jason Douglas giving chase.
It didn’t take long for Rogers to show his superiority with a nice move on Flitcroft to take the lead.
Douglas’ luck had deserted him today as his bike coasted to a halt just as he was lining up Flitcroft for a pass.
It turned out that his carburettor had worked loose, most probably caused by his shunt in race two. Daniel Booth was having another cracking race and moved ahead of Luke by mid distance. Fraser took the win with a seven second advantage over Flitcroft, Daniel was an excellent and third.
For further info, see http://www.mmra.org.uk