Around fifty teams entered the first round of the Hottrax Motorsport Motorcycle Endurance Championship at a bright but fresh Mallory Park, rewarding the faith and commitment of Dave and Karen Mabbutt who have managed the series which enters its third year. Many teams took the opportunity to test on the day before, including top 600 team, Ducks Cross Racing who saw their Number One bike burnt out after an early spill entering Gerards at the hands of Russ Horton.
The chilly testday, on the Saturday saw a variety of teams trying out settings, tyres and pit strategy. With 55 minutes of timed qualifying it was fast and furious and the BLDS Couriers 600 Yamaha (Craig Fitzpatrick/Bill Lilly/R6s) nailed pole almost half a second proud of the R1s of 2008 Champions Trackcraft (Mark Linscott/Mike Dickenson/R1s). With five out of the fastest 9 teams in practice it would be quite within reason for a 600 to win the race overall.
At the drop of the cloth it was BLDS who capitalized on their pole and built up a lead over Trackcraft, Extreme Bykesportz (Dave Wardle/Ian Walker/R1s) who had made up 8 places on the first lap and Advance Bike Shipping (Mike Bull/Jason Pittaway) over Ducks Cross Racing (Jon Railton/Grant Wagstaff/Russell Horton/R6) with Freaks of Nature Too (Mark Whiston/Dave Stewardson) rounding out the top six.
It wasn't too long before the safety car made its first appearance with a faller at Edwinas, by now Trackcraft were leading from BLDS, Advance Bike Shipping and Extreme - the Kapital Moto Ducati (Phill Clarke/Jason Boswell/Luke Palmer/Duc1000ss) pitted early with a flat front tyre and were then plagued with battery problems.
Edwinas claimed Grant Wagstaff just after the hour mark which sparked a series of pitstops, up to this point Trackcraft held a 30s lead on Sweatshop Racing (Hugh Brasher/Mick Godfrey/Rod Lynn/R1) with Project Nine Three (Andy Buik/Darren Jones/Carl Myers/R6) a lap down in third. After 90 minutes of racing poleman Craig Fitzpatrick and Roundall Racing's (Simon Allen/Shelley Pike/Pete Gibson) Shelley Pike tangled going into Gerards leaving Craig as walking wounded and Shelley requiring a visit to hospital for checks - neither team continued. After two hours Sweatshop had a lap lead from Trackcraft with Freaks another lap down in third ahead of Project 9-3, Extreme Bykesportz and Advance Bike Shipping.
In the closing stages of the first three hours local team RJS Superbike (Daniel Lane/Gary Arden/Simon Bland) took a topple at Edwinas following an earlier stop-go penalty and Costello Redmond Racing (Derek Redmond/Craig Allamby/Andy Dix/ZX10s) were in and out the pits following an 'off' by Craig Allamby resulting in a persistent oil leak.
It was great to see this team adding their considerable presence to the Hottrax series, Derek R is obviously recognised for his fantastic success on a different sort of 'track', both at National, European and International stage and it is clear to see with the whole team, enjoys riding bikes on the track and will strive to improve their finishing position as the series progresses.
The flag dropped after three hours with the National Supersport, National ProSuperbike, Senior 600 and 1000 machines being placed in 'Parc Ferme' for 30minutes prior to the start of the second half of the 6 hour endurance race where they would be joined by The Junior 600 and 1000 TAG teams.
Trackcraft were winners of the Masters 1000 race only a lap clear of Freaks of Nature Too, following on were Extreme Bykesportz, Advance Bike Shipping, TM72 (Andy McKnight/Eric Chitty) and ANS Racing (Andrew Sean/Mark Affleck). ProFibre (Richard Dubber/Richard Gothard) won the Masters 600 class after finishing 7th on the road over Pit Stop Racing (Peter + Mark Dilks), ETA Racing (Ian Courts/Darren Brearley), Sorrymate.com (Jenny Tinmouth/Fergus Dalgarno) and BLDS Couriers who retired at half distance.
Fastest Lap went to Mark Linscott on his brand new 'Crossplane Crank' Yamaha R1, meticulously prepared by Robin Hooker of Team RHR (www.robinhookerracing.co.uk). Robin Hooker is an occasional Hottrax competitor with a pristine and rapid Ducati. F
raser Greenroyd was 'armed' with his speedgun and took random readings from the bikes as they entered Gerards and Mike Dickenson was travelling at around 133mph, thanks Frase! At just before 3pm the Union Flag was dropped to start the second race of the day - two teams slow off the line were the air cooled Duke of Kapital Moto and the R6 of Ducks Cross.
The Ducati was soon to be involved in a bump at the Hairpin involving the Triumph of Signs Express Racing (Lloyd Magruder/Richard Howes) - both machines making it back to the paddock. The leaders Sweatshop Racing pitted within the first half hour for fuel and rubber and after four hours of racing for the National and Senior teams it was Sweatshop who luxuriated in an 8 lap lead over the R6 of Project 9-3, who were three laps in front of Team Viking, a further lap down were RJS who had put the morning dramas behind them to be fourth on the road ahead of Well Oiled Kitty (Hazel Drury/Michael Naylor/Steve Griffiths) - GASI Racing (Helen + Grant Gaskins/Sam Godfrey) and Ducks Cross were on the same lap in 6th and 7th.
Costello Redmond Racing (Mario Costello/John Leech) were top Junior 1000 after an hour on the same lap as Spellfame Racing (Andrew Main/Richard Lloyd) and NR Racing (Nathan Horsfield/Ryan Peters) who topped the Junior 600s. At around three quarter distance the race was stooped and bikes returned to Parc Ferme after 4 machines tangled between the Esses and Shaws Hairpin, it took a while to clear debris and stabilize the track, the four teams were unable to continue; 4th on the road Team Viking, newcomers Fukasu Racing, Ricochet Racing and Bonsai Racing. At the close of play Sweatshop had completed 290 laps over the six hour race, a dominant 11 laps ahead of Project Nine Three and RJS who were on the same lap, Well Oiled Kitty were a fantastic fourth also on the same lap as the rapid Ducks Cross who were using their #2 R6 after a fire knocked out their top machine after a spill at the previous day's testing.
Second in the Senior 1000 race was newcomer team - AMR Endurance (Bob Robson/Simon Taylor/Al Waring), which included a tasty KTM RC8 and is made up of either ex or current service personnel, a big welcome and well done on your debut. Sixth place was secured by GASI Racing, in their second year after some excellent riding and smart pit work.
For 2009 the husband + wife team are joined by Sam Godfrey who was part of the GBMoto Junior team last season and is no slouch on a race bike, Sam's husband Mick has joined Hugh Brasher and the Welsh Wizard, Rod Lynn on the Sweatshop Racing R1 - Mick has a distinguished endurance racing career and is a safe pair of hands when it comes to long distance racing. Rod, a consistently fast and competent competitor, has the good news that he has secured entries for three races in this years TT, however he now needs something to ride - he can be contacted via his website - http://www.rodlynnracing.co.uk/.
Back to the Senior 600s and it was good to see Apex Racing (Glen Levy/Adam Woby/Dave Morris) secure a third in class only a few bike lengths ahead of the seasoned Black Flag Racing (George Duncan/Dan Ashley). For the Juniors, things were close after three hours, NR Racing peddled their 600s a lap ahead of the larger Suzukis of Spellfame Racing - a further lap down were the next three teams; Tango and Crash (John Blundell/Ryan Myler), Costello Redmond Racing and Graphic UK Racing (Dean Skipper/Basil Bannayi) - all a couple of laps in front of Project 39 (Andy Rouse/Colin Norris) and Old Skool Racing (Aaron Harte/John Harris). Spare a thought for Joan McIntosh who partners Claire Bowyer in the TM72 Juniors. Joan, in her first ever race, fell heavily at Gerards - like a true professional she ensured the transponder was returned to the pits for Claire to continue and then safely rode the Suzuki 600 back for repairs and was out on the track before the end!
After an action packed day to mark the opening round of the Hottrax Motosport Motorcycle Endurance Championships the racing was close, entry very healthy and teams new to endurance pressured their more experienced peers. Round Two is at Snetterton in three weeks time and the programme returns to a two day format with practice, Junior and MotoGrande racing on the Saturday and MotoGrande, National, Seniors and Masters racing on Sunday.
Results Masters 1000 - 3 Hours 1 Trackcraft 170 laps 2 Freaks of Nature Too 169 3 Extreme Bykesportz 167 4 Advance Bike Shipping 166 5 TM72 165 6 ANS Racing 164 7 Billericay Coachworks 162 8 First Form Endurance 159 Masters 600 - 3 Hours 1 ProFibre 164 laps 2 Pit Stop Racing 163 3 ETA Racing 162 4 Sorrymate.com 161 5 BLDS Couriers 88 ProSuperbike - 6 Hours 1 Sweatshop Racing 290 laps 2 Kapital Moto Racing 236 Senior 1000 - 6 Hours 1 Well Oiled Kitty 271 laps 2 AMR Endurance 249 3 Costello Redmond Racing 245 Senior 600 - 6 Hours 1 RJS Superbike 279 laps 2 GASI Racing 266 3 Apex Racing 264 4 Black Flag Racing 262 Supersport - 6 Hours 1 Project Nine Three 279 laps 2 Ducks Cross Racing 271 Not Classified - 6 Hours Team Viking 239 laps Roundall Racing 80 Junior 1000 - 3 Hours 1 Spellfame Racing 119 laps 2 Costello Redmond Racing 118 3 Graphics UK Racing 118 4 GT Racing 115 5 Rawlings Racing 114 6 Team TAR 114 7 Racing Snakes 112 8 ASBO Racing 110 9 Vigil-Clockwork Orange 109 10 Pirate Racing 109 11 Banzai Racing 91 12 MC Racing 78 Junior 600 - 3 Hours 1 NR Racing 120 laps 2 Tango and Crash Racing 118 3 Project 39 116 4 Old Skool Racing 116 5 STD Yamaha 112 6 TM72 Juniors 96 Not Classified - 3 Hours Ricochet Racing 65 laps Bonsai Racing 51 Location: Mallory Park, Leics