The third running of the Ian Watson Spring Cup National Road Races at Oliver’s Mount had two additional honours attached to the meeting. Firstly the event was the first ‘pure’ road race of the year and the races were the opening round of the 2009 Duke Road Race Rankings Series.
The fact that grids were full for all of the fifteen races and the cream of the road racing contingent of the British Isles and Eire were present showed that despite the recession road racing ‘between the hedges’ was as popular as ever.
As is usual practice with the organising Auto 66 Club, the proceedings got under way in overcast conditions at the scheduled time of 8.30am with untimed practice, initially for Newcomers to the 2.43-mile public road course, followed by sessions for all the other classes.
Qualifying sessions commenced 10.00am and after a short lunch break to allow marshals, medics and officials to get a bite to eat the ‘real’ action got underway at 12.30pm with the first of the 15 races, a six lap, first leg race for non-qualifiers in the 600cc class.
With the sun trying its best to break through the cloud, Gary Graves got the hole-shot into Mere Hairpin with Ross Johnson and Scott Wilson close behind. At the end of the lap it was Scott Wilson leading the train of Gary Graves, Ross Johnson Neil Vickers Paul Owen and Ian Whitlow completing the top six. Johnson moved into second spot after another lap, as the remaining places unchanged.
At half distance Neil Vickers had moved into the third place demoting Gary Graves to fourth.
Ross Johnson moved into the lead on the fourth lap, as Paul Owen slotted into third. Neil Vickers completed the fourth lap in fourth place, but pulled into the pits with machine problems.
The end of the penultimate lap saw Johnson 1.707 seconds ahead of Scott Wilson with Paul Owen a further 6 seconds adrift.
At the flag Ross Johnson took the win by 1.708 seconds from Scott Wilson and Paul Owen, as Gary Graves, Ian Whitlow and Gareth Costello completed the top six.
Sidecars were next up for their first six lap race, as the sun finally broke through. Dave Wallis and Steve Wareham had been quickest in qualifying.
At the end of the opening lap it was a three-way dice between Greg Lambert 0.279 of a second ahead of Conrad Harrison with Wallis third held a second down in third.
Harrison got to the front during the second lap and had pulled out 3/10th of a second as they started their half distance lap.
At the end of the third lap Harrison was still in front, but it was Wallis now in second with Lambert dropping to third half a second down on Wallis, who was 2.441 second adrift of the leading outfit.
Conrad Harrison stopped at Mountside on the fourth lap, letting Wallis/Wareham into the lead, Lambert/Kinsella second 7/10ths down with Tony Thirkell/Nigel Barlow now third 7.5 seconds down on the men in front.
Positions were the same on the fifth circuit with the lead now 6.790 seconds, as Lambert lost his passenger going up Sheene’s Rise!
At the chequered flag it was Dave Wallis and Steve Wareham from Tony Thirkell and Nigel Barlow with Dean Lindley and Mark Sayers third. The winning margin was 13.205 seconds.
Next up was the first of the two four-lap heats for the Ian Watson Spring Cup.
Guy Martin was in pole with Ryan Farquhar alongside him.
Duke Rankings Title holder Farquhar got the hole-shot with Dave Hewson tight behind and Martin third. Martin was ahead by half way round on the first lap, with Farquhar second as Daniel Frear.
Lap two and Ryan was back in front with Frear second, Keith Pringle third as Guy Martin slid off the Hydrex Honda, without injury and retired.
Lap three and Pringle was now second as Dave Woolams moved into sixth place.
At the flag it was Farquhar, 1.836 seconds ahead of Pringle and Frear third, followed by Richard Gibson, Dave Hewson and Dave Woolams, with newcomer Damien Mulleady seventh.
Heat two, with Mick Goodings in pole, but it was Michael Pearson got the hole-shot.
And it was Pearson who led at the end of the lap followed by Kiaran Hankin, Ian Lougher, Steve Mercer Mick Goodings and Ivan Shanley completing the top six.
Hankin took over at the front on lap two, while a lap later it was Pearson, Lougher and Hankin all covered by just over one second.
At the flag it was Lougher, 0.311 of a second ahead of Hankin with Pearson third. Steve Mercer, Mick Goodings and Ian Armstrong completed the top six.
Race five, the first eight lap leg for 125cc and 400cc machines saw Ian Lougher get the hole-shot with arch-rival Chris Palmer right behind.
At the end of the lap it was the same order with the lead just 0.446 of a second.
Peter Wakefield was third, with William Dunlop fourth, Kiaran Hankin fifth and Andrew Neill sixth.
Daniel Frear moved through the field and by lap five he was into third, as the two veterans battled up front with Palmer taking over the lead on the sixth lap with positions remaining the same at the conclusion of the penultimate lap.
At the flag it was Lougher 8/10th of a second in front of Palmer with Frear taking the final podium place.
The first leg for the 600’s were next, also over eight laps. Michael Pearson got the hole-shot, followed by Lougher. Pearson was still in front at the end of the opening lap, but to no avail as the race was red flagged during the second lap when Mick Goodings dropped the plot, without injury.
At the re-start, over six laps, Daniel Frear got the run into Mere Hairpin, and Frear maintained the advantage of 0.137 of a second at the end of the first 2.43 miles, with Pearson second and Farquhar third. Lougher, Hankin and Palmer were next followed by new boy Mulleady.
A lap later it was Farquhar, Pearson, Lougher, Frear, Hankin and Mulleady. The race was once again red flagged on the third lap after an incident at Mountside involving Ryan and Ian- both OK. A result was declared at lap
Race seven saw the sidecar out for their second leg race, again over six laps.
Thirkell Barlow took the first hairpin in front, but it was leg one winners Wallis and Wareham who were leading the pack at the end of the lap. Harrison and Patterson moved to second on the second circuit.
Wallis and Wareham retied at Mountside with machine problems on the third lap handing the lead to Harrison and Patterson, with Thirkell and Barlow second and Nicholas Duke/Mike Aylott slot into third, with placings remaining the same on the fourth lap.
Positions remained the same at the end of the penultimate lap and also at the chequered cloth, the winner’s advantage 14.922 seconds.
Race eight saw the first outing for the quarter-litre class and ‘Mini-Twins’ over eight laps.
William Dunlop, Chris Palmer, Ian Lougher and Lee Vernon made up the front row.
Lougher got a flyer from Palmer and Dunlop and at the end of the opening lap, the Welshman had opened up a 3.660 seconds gap on Vernon with Palmer third.
Bell was the first of the Mini-Twins.
Lap two and Palmer had taken second place, although the leading gap had extended to 4.144 seconds. Vernon remained third, Phil Harvey fourth, Derek Clark fifth and Olie Linsdell sixth.
Positions were the same a lap later, with the gap extending slightly to 4.311 seconds.
Farquhar was heading the Mini-Twins from David Bell and Ian Pattinson.
Lougher added a further half second to his advantage on the half-distance lap. By the end of the fifth lap the gap between the two veterans of two-stroke racing was up to 6.382 seconds, a lap later it was 8.351 second.
Dunlop was piling on the coals and was up to fifth and lapping at 76.144mph, the fastest of the race.
On the penultimate lap the lead was now over 9 seconds with William going faster still at 1m 54.627s = 76.317mph.
At the cloth it was Lougher, Palmer, Vernon, Harvey, Dunlop and Linsdell.
The Twins were headed by Farquhar, Bell, and Pattinson.
Race Nine was the first leg of the Ian Watson Spring Cup also over eight laps.
The front row consisted of Ryan Farquhar, Ian Lougher, Kiaran Hankin and Michael Pearson.
Guy Martin fluffed his start, and it was Farquhar from Pearson, Hankin, Frear, Pringle and Gibson in the top six. Lougher came in to the Paddock at the end of the opening lap to retire. Martin was up to eighth.
Lap two and still Farquhar from Pearson the gap was down to 0.340 from 0.360 of a second. Hankin was holding third.
Next time round the gap had increased to half a second. Martin was up to fifth. Half-distance the gap had increased to 0.723 of a second with Martin up to fourth, and then the red flags came out again and a result declared at the end of the fourth lap. Mick Goodings was off and became one of the walking wounded.
Race 10, the second leg for 125cc and 400cc machines was cut from eight to six laps.
Chris Palmer was leading the bunch at the end of the first of the six laps, with Wayne Hamilton second and Kiaran Hankin third.
Next time round Palmer was enjoying a 5.564 second advantage over ex-motocrosser Hamilton. Half distance saw Daniel Frear move into fourth overall, but top 400, with no change to the leading three 125’s.
Frear was up to second at the end of the fourth lap and Hankin up to second in the smaller class. Wayne Hamilton retired on the penultimate lap, bring Peter Wakefield into the third podium spot.
At the flag it was Palmer for the 125cc class although second across the line behind the 400cc winner Daniel Frear.
Race 11 the second 600cc, and it was Daniel Frear who led from the start with Damien Mulleady who was chasing hard, with Michael Pearson a close third. Hankin, Gibson and Hewson completed the sixth.
Next time round it was Pearson in front, with Frear, Hankin, Gibson Hewson and Mulleady completing the top six. Lap three, half distance, Placings had settled down but the lead was shrinking to 0.501 of a second between Pearson and Frear.
Lap four, and the gap was down to 0.379 of a second, with Mulleady moving to fifth.
A lap later, and the gap was closer ay 0.260 of a second, with no changes to positions, so all attention was centred on the chequered linen which went to Michael Pearson by 0.263 of a second from Daniel Frear with Richard Gibson snatching third from Kiaran Hankin with Dave Hewson fifth and Damien Mulleady sixth.
Race 12, the second running of the 250’s and Mini-Twins over six laps saw William Dunlop in pole position. At the conclusion of the opening lap of six, Chris Palmer headed a speeding freight train of Phil Harvey, William Dunlop, followed by Lee Vernon, Olie Linsdell and Derek Clarke.
Ryan Farquhar leads the Mini-Twins from David Bell and Ian Pattinson.
Lap two of six and Palmer was enjoying a 6.4 second lead, as positions remained static.
At half-distance, William was up to second, demoting Harvey to third, as Palmer’s lead was cut to 6.150 seconds. Pete Wakefield retired to the paddock. Lap four, and positions remained the same, with the lead extending slightly to 6.758 seconds
On the penultimate lap, Palmer had a lead of 15.438 seconds not over Dunlop, who had slid off at the Esses - OK, but Phil Harvey from Lee Vernon, Olie Linsdell, Derek Clarke and Dave Guiney.
Positions remained the same on the Mini-Twins. Chris Palmer took the chequered flag some 17.414 seconds ahead of Lee Vernon from Phil Harvey. David Bell snatched victory from Ryan Farquhar just prior to the finish line.
The second leg of the Ian Watson Spring Cup was the penultimate race of the days programme. Leg one winner, Ryan Farquhar got the hole-shot, from Pearson and Hankin. At the end of the opening lap it was Farquhar from Pearson and Guy Martin, one second covering the first three.
Pearson took the lead on lap two from Farquhar and Martin, then a lap later Martin was in the lead by 0.986 of a second from Pearson, with Farquhar still third. Half distance, and positions remained the same with the lead extended to 1.782 seconds.
Lap six and Farquhar and pulled back into second only 0.258 of a second behind Martin. The positions remained the same at the end of the penultimate lap, with the lead marginally extended to 0.292 of a second and at the linen it was Guy Martin from Ryan Farquhar, with Michael Pearson moving into third on the final section of the course from Kiaran Hankin, Daniel Frear and Richard Gibson.
Ryan Farquhar lifted the Ian Watson Spring Cup for the second year running.
The final race on the programme, the second non qualifiers over six laps was a start to finish victory for Jules Croft with Scott Wilson second and David Bell third.
All races 8 laps unless stated
First 125: 1 I Lougher (Yam) 15:51.10 - 73.58mph, 2 C Palmer (Hon), 3 W Dunlop (Hon). FL: Lougher 1:57.98. Second; 1 Palmer 12:14.29 - 71.48mph, 2 K Hankin (Hon), 3 P Wakefield (Hon). FL: Palmer 2:01.09.
First 250: 1 Lougher (Yam) 15:34.82 - 74.86mph, 2 Palmer, 3 L Vernon (Hon). FL: W Dunlop 1:54.62 - 76.31mph. Second; 1 Palmer 11:34.70 - 75.55mph, 2 Vernon, 3 P Harvey (Hon). FL: Palmer 1:54.47 - 76.41mph.
First F 400: 1 D Frear (Kaw) 16:27.74, 2 M Goodings (Kaw), 3 A Haworth (Yam). FL: Frear 1:57.64 - 74.36mph. Second: 1 Frear 12:11.41 - 71.76mph, 2 B Farrington (Kaw), 3 G Costello (Hon). FL: Frear 1:57.46 - 74.47mph.
First national 600 (2 laps): 1 M Pearson (Hon) 3:44.66 - 77.87mph, 2 D Frear, 3 K Hankin (Hon). FL: R Farquhar 1:50.24 - 79.35mph. Second; 1 Pearson 11:11.07 - 78.21mph, 2 Frear, 3 R Gibson (Yam). FL: Pearson 1:50.37mph.
First 600 Non-qualifiers: 1 R Johnson 12:04.20 - 72.47mph, 2 S Wilson, 3 P Owen (all Yam). FL: Johnson 1:56.58 - 73.76mph. Second: 1 J Croft (Yam) 12:01.63 - 72.73mph, 2 Bell, 3 S Wilson (Yam). FL: M Gurnhill 1:57.96 - 74.15mph.
First minitwin: 1 Ryan Farquahar 16:16.72 - 71.65mph, 2 D Bell, 3 I Pattinson (all Kaw). FL: Farquhar 1:57.87. Second: 1 Bell 12:16.16 - 71.29mph, 2 Farquhar, 3 Pattinson. FL: Bell 1:57.70.
First Ian Watson Spring Cup (4 laps): 1 Farquhar 7:26.24 - 78.41mph, 2 K Pringle, Kaw), 3 Frear. FL: Farquhar 1:50.28 - 79.32mph. Second (4 laps); 1 Lougher 7:26.76 - 78.32mph, 2 Hankin, 3 M Pearson. FL: Pearson 1:50.63 - 79.07mph. Third: 1 G Martin (Honda) 14:35.17 - 79.96mph, 2 Farquhar, 3 Pearson. FL: Farquhar 1:47.83 - 81.12mph. Fourth (4 laps): 1 Farquhar 7;17.95 - 79.69mph, 2 Pearson, 3 Hankin. FL: Martin 1:48.09 - 80.92mph. Ian Watson Cup winner on aggregate - Ryan Farquhar.
First sidecar (6 laps): 1 D Wallis/D Wareham (Hon) 12;14.86 - 71.42mph, 2 T Thirkell/ N Barlow (Hon), 3 D Lindley/M Sayers (Yam). FL: C Harrison/L Patterson 1:59.61 - 73.01mph.
Second: 1 Harrison 12:05.83 - 72.31mph, 2 Thirkell, 3 N Dukes/M Aylott (Hon). FL: Harrison 1:59.11 - 73.43mph.