Rowrah, 28th/29th July 2007: Ray and Rogers have an eye for the title...
Bradley Ray and Fraser Rogers extended their respective championship leads in the MiniGP50 and 70 classes. Ray won all three races convincingly while Rogers scored a brace of victories in the fifth round of the series at Rowrah. The championship has now reached its mid-point and is shaping up to be a battle for runner-up spot as Ray and Rogers tighten their grip on the 2007 title.
Ray made his customary flying start from pole position in the opening GP50 race and was never troubled from start to finish. Kyle Ryde was the best of the rest but could not find the speed to stay with Ray, finishing over 8s behind the winner. Stuart Wilson (Saltire Suzuki) was expected to be one of the front runners but suffered from terminal mechanical gremlins and retired after 2 laps.
A good battle for third materialised between Harry Coomber, Robbie Britchford and Arran Climpson (Domino’s Pizza) with Climpson getting the verdict with less than a second separating the three youngsters at the flag.
Race 2 followed a similar pattern with Ray out in front, although his winning margin from Ryde was cut to just over 3s. Ryde had to work harder this time to overcome a determined Climpson and just edged ahead of him in the closing stages. Wilson made the grid on a borrowed machine but struggled with the unfamiliar bike and was unable to get in the mix. Ray grabbed a hat trick of wins to round off a perfect weekend for the talented Lydd based rider.
Ryde and Climpson served up another epic battle for runner up spot with Ryde just able to cross the line ahead of Climpson with only 0.5s to spare.
After five rounds, Ray has a commanding lead with 370 points, Ryde second with 266 points, Wilson third on 200 points and Coomber fourth on 195 points.
Saturday’s opening GP70 race saw pole-setter Fraser Rogers move into an early lead chased by Luke Helm (Wyder Honda), Niall Campbell, Jason Douglas and Daniel Booth. The unfortunate Luke Hedger had problems on the start line and was eventually excluded from the results.
While Rogers pulled a gap at the front, Douglas found his rhythm and caught and passed both Campbell and Helm within a half a lap. His move on Helm at Sunny Bend forced Helm wide and almost let Campbell through into third. Douglas was on a mission, relentlessly closing the gap and was in Rogers’ slipstream going into the final lap. Rogers held his nerve and denied Douglas victory by 0.12s.
The battle for third was just as exciting. Campbell out braked Helm at McRaes but the Wyder Honda backed rider showed Campbell his front wheel at every opportunity in an effort to retake third. Campbell just held on by 0.17s after a breathtaking final lap. Douglas and Helm made lightning starts in race 2 and exited the first chicane ahead of Campbell and Rogers. Helm fell at the chicane next time round leaving Campbell and Rogers to take the fight to Douglas. Campbell and Rogers were battling hard for much of the race with Campbell blocking every attempt that Rogers made.
The gap between Campbell and Douglas was visibly closing as Campbell set the fastest lap of the race. Rogers eventually overcooked it and lost the front at Paddock Bend. Campbell was unaware that Rogers had fallen and still had his sights on Douglas when he had an almighty highside exiting the chicane, just managing to stay aboard his machine after a short excursion onto the grass. This allowed Douglas to claim a comfortable win followed by Campbell, Booth and Hedger. Race 3 was red flagged after a first lap collision between Douglas and Rogers.
Douglas did not make the restart which saw Rogers move into a comfortable lead that was never threatened during the 12 lap race. Helm led the chasing pack ahead of Hedger, Campbell, Booth and Webb. A four-way scrap developed between Helm, Hedger, Campbell and Booth. Hedger lined Helm up for a pass at the Stewart Esses and finally made it stick after a couple of attempts.
Booth finally found some pace and moved up the inside of Helm at Sunny Bend to grab third. Booth stepped up another gear and took the fight to Hedger but was denied runner up spot by only 0.16s.
Rogers leads the championship with 314 points, Douglas second on 223 points, Helm third on 201 points and Booth moves into fourth place on 193 points. The next round will take place back at Rowrah on 1st / 2nd September.