Hot summer weather and clear blue skies provided the perfect backdrop for the final round of the 2008 Hottrax Motorsport Racing Club Endurance Championship with both classes starting at a shade before midday at Silverstone.
Junior 1000 title winners Track Craft (Mark Linscott/Mike Dickenson/Robin Hooker) had moved into the Senior TAG field to join GBMoto (Mark Smith-Halvorsen/Mick Godfrey/Alex Cudlin/R1) who had wrapped up the 2008 Overall Championship but were hoping to add the ProSuperbike class silverware where they were in contention with Sweatshop Moores (Hugh Brasher/Nick Roake/Rod Lynn/R1).
Pole was set by GBMoto with a 1. 5.738s, whilst Rawlings Racing (Neil Gregory/Mat Rawlings) were fastest of the Juniors with a 1m 6.319s which they managed to convert to first on the road after Macca dropped the flag on what was to be his final race. GBMoto and Track Craft soon took to the front just before Maria Costello retired her GBMoto Junior Triumph leaving Phill Clarke to press on solo for the remainder of the race.
At the one hour mark GBMoto led from Track Craft and Sweatshop Moores, however half an hour later the championship winning R1 pitted with a sick engine - this motor was the third of the weekend after the team lost their two plants in Friday testing and this was an ex Phase One version kindly leant by a very generous Phil Haynes of rivals Moores Racing, the investigation dropped them down to 14th place. At the two hour mark TM72 Racing's Kevin Doughty lost the gearbox on his Aprilia which required a pace car intervention, at the same time Track Craft and Sweatshop Moores were given a stop/go penalty for an on track infringement.
Track Craft still held a handy one lap lead over Co-Ordit Racing (Dave Wardle/Ian Walker), Freaks of Nature Too (Mark Whiston/Dave Stewardson), Ducks Cross Racing (Jon Railton/Grant Wagstaff/Martin Landmann/R6) with Sweatshop and GBMoto only now a lap apart.
Drama took hold of the race at the 2hour 40 minute mark as Pete Allen threw his Suzuki 1000 into the Armco at Woodcote bringing out the pace car and paramedics. For the rider's safety the race continued behind the pace car and the Junior race was concluded under these conditions resulting in a well earned win for Freaks of Nature Too with a lap over Co-Ordit and Rawlings Racing, 4th place went to Billericay Coachworks (Kevin Maxted/Brendan Roberts) who just pipped the first 600 home of newcomers PR Trackbike Hire (Tom Young/Fred Russo).
Advance Bike Shipping (Mike Bull/Jason Pittaway) slipped in just ahead of the already confirmed 600 Junior champs for 2008 - ETA Racing (Ian Courts/Darren Brearley). Whilst the Junior bikers were cooling down in Parc Ferme more drama unfolded as third placed Alex Cudlin dropped the GBMoto R1 at the far side of the circuit requiring a lengthy time to recover the stricken bike, once recovered the race was on for the team to get the machine back out into the race to cover at least 75% of the winner's distance in order to gain championship points towards their class battle with Sweatshop Moores.
By two-thirds distance - Track Craft, now in the capable hands of Mike Dickenson basked in a 3 lap lead over the Supersport machine of Ducks Cross and five circuits ahead of the Sweatshop Moores Yamaha.
Moments later, Ryan Peters had a chain break which went through the crankcase and dropped oil on the racing line coming out of Woodcote, within seconds the race leader Mark Linscott and Mike Eglington unavoidably clashed and were down in front of the pits, causing concern to all on the pit wall.
Thankfully both men were on their feet within minutes, transponders and bikes recovered for the show to go on with the two riders being taken to the medical centre for checks, whilst marshals and officials rendered the track safe under the watchful eye of rider’s representatives.
The GBMoto R1 was in the garage ‘receiving attention’ and the team hoped the stoppage out on track would play into their hands and enable them to get back out to rack up some laps, however the bike was sadly retired and the team had to be satisfied with just one title for 2008.
Entering the final hour of the race the Track Craft duo of Dickenson and Hooker led Ducks X, Sweatshop Moores, Darkside Endurance (Andy Buik/Daz Jones/Kevin Upstone/R6) and Team Viking (Paul Clarke/Crispin d’Albertanson/Barry Salmon/R6). Bad news hit Ducks X with only moments to go as the engine dropped a valve and was retired in the pits.
As the shadows grew longer retiring 2008 Champion Mark Smith-Halvorsen waved the flag at the end of the six hours confirming the win for Track Craft over Sweatshop Moores who took the National ProSuperbike title and Darkside Endurance making the National Supersport championship their own. Only a lap further down the field were White Tiger Racing (Nigel Bryan/Ash Joice/Chris Lang), SMF Racing (Paul Rogers/Simon Fenwick/Mike Ashton) and Viking filling out the top six.
First Form Racing (Paul Robey/Jay Smith) were the second ProSuperbike home in seventh ahead of the well ridden bikes of S and P Racing (Pete Carr/Scott Adam/Hazel Drury).
Best Choice Endurance (Sarah Jordan/Terje Joensen/Sean Moss) were delighted with 9th and third in the heavily subscribed Supersport class – Greg Wilson having motorcycle racing sage, Mike Edwards, in the pits for advice and support.
Moores Racing (Tony Jimenez/Mike Eglington/Jim Agombar) brought the bruised R6 home in tenth only 7 seconds ahead of Phoenix Endurance (Shelley Pike/Mark Castle/Andy Jones), next up were Senior 600 Champs Black Flag Racing (George Duncan/John Higham/Jonathon Whitelegg) ahead of the luckless TM72 Racing who finished the race with only one rider – Andy McKnight, after Eric Chitty crashed in testing and Kev Doughty & Ryan Peters followed suit during the race, thankfully the 2008 newcomers had tied up the Senior 1000 title up earlier on. BSB Supersport outfit Ducks Cross were classified as the penultimate finisher ahead of the hard working RAF Roundall Racing duo of Simon Allen and Dave Rose who had entered Silverstone in the Senior TAG 1000 class, lost one of the Aprilias in practice, and changed class to ProSuperbike with a shared machine – that’s endurance racing for you!
After a tough and exciting season GBMoto sealed back to back National Championships for 2007 and 2008 to add to their 2004 title, Sweatshop Moores 2 worked very hard to become National ProSuperbike Champions and the very consistent Darkside Endurance made National Supersports all their own.
Black Flag Racing were top Senior Endurance TAG 600 team and TM72 Racing enjoyed a successful debut season wrapping up the Senior Endurance TAG 1000 title before the final round of the seven race championship. In the Junior TAG division Team Track Craft showed quality and effort by winning the 1000 class before moving up to the Senior TAG arena and the very professional ETA Racing were rewarded with the 600 class.
GBMoto team principal and lead rider, Mark (Macca) Smith-Halvorsen, had announced his intention to retire from the sport after Silverstone following a full and distinguished racing career. His presence in the Endurance Racing paddock will be greatly missed.
Macca’s final race day was a busy time – he dropped the Union flag to start the race and the chequered flag to close the action whilst also racing to try and add the ProSuperbike title to the Overall Championship silverware. Well done to all the GBMoto team for your 2008 efforts and enjoy your retirement Macca! National and Senior 6 hours
1 Track Craft * 287 laps 2 Sweatshop Moores * 281 laps 3 Darkside Endurance * 275 laps 4 White Tiger Racing 274 laps 5 SMF Racing 274 laps 6 Team Viking 273 laps 7 First Form Endurance 272 laps 8 S and P Racing 269 laps 9 Best Choice Endurance 267 laps 10 Moores Racing 42 264 laps 11 Phoenix Endurance 264 laps 12 Black Flag Racing * 259 laps 13 TM72 Racing 242 laps 14 Ducks Cross Racing 241 laps 15 Roundall Racing 198 laps NC GBMoto 158 laps Fastest Lap GBMoto 1m 5.373s Junior 3 hours Race 1000 TAG 1 Freaks of Nature Too * 149 laps 2 Co-Ordit Racing 148 laps 3 Rawlings Racing 148 laps 4 Billericay Coachworks 145 laps 5 Advance Bike Shipping 144 laps 6 Throttle Monkeys 144 laps 7 Into The Void 142 laps 8 Spellfame Racing 141 laps 9 Name With Held 141 laps 10 MIB 140 laps Fastest Lap Rawlings Racing 1m 5.522s 600 TAG 1 PR Trackbike Hire 145 laps 2 ETA Racing 143 laps 3 DBL Racing 139 laps 4 Gasi Racing 138 laps 5 Monkey Six 137 laps 6 Damoose Racing 135 laps 7 TMR Racing 134 laps 8 GBMoto Junior 89 laps Fastest Lap PR Trackbike Racing 1m 8.123s