The Neate Racing squad of former British Supersport racer Steven Neate, father Jon and stand-in racer Robert Collins have taken victory in the Spa Classic 4 Hour endurance race, coming home a lap clear of the chasing squad of Team Taurus and former endurance world champions Phase One.
However, Team Classic Suzuki, with Isle of Man TT racer Guy Martin and European Flat Track Champion Pete Boast onboard, lost out on their chance to improve on seventh place in the final order as heavy rain and eventually a red flag brought a premature end to the race.
But, speaking after the race, Martin admitted that the red flag was the most sensible course of action as the rain closed in and oil from a technical failure made the iconic Belgian course treacherous.
“The red flag was the only decision. Lots of oil down, a lot of oil down. I nearly came off on it, and on a wet track, how were they going to clean that? Really good fun though. It’s been one big learning process, from everyone’s side; for me, for the team, for Pete. We had to learn how the stops were going to work, how the bike works in the wet, and when the dark came we struggled a bit with the lights, so there are lessons learnt there.
“The hardest part was probably knowing how hard to push, and where the limit is. You don’t get any warnings in those sorts of conditions and it’s a long way back to the pits from some parts of this track if you go down. But I’m happy. You always think you could have done better and I made a few daft mistakes, but no one crashed, we finished, and the team did a mega job. It’s been really good craic.”
But Boast, a veteran of the class and of classic endurance racing, says that despite being thrown in at the deep end, he was impressed by how well the TV personality did on his first time out.
“We were going into the unknown really, with those conditions, and it was the first time the bike had done that sort of distance and first time it’d been out at night. I was pleased Guy did the start and he did an absolute sterling job. He just knuckled down, typical Guy Martin – if the bloke can ride 24 hours on a push bike you know he’ll dig in. He got us in a really good place early on and when I got the bike I felt a little bit of pressure, but I turned in some good laps. I had a bit of a problem with my visor but Guy went back out and did another top job, and then it started to get dark and we did struggle with the lights.
“But as I say, this has all been new for the team and we know where we need to improve. We came into this thinking if we could qualify in the top 20 we’d be happy, and if we finished in the top ten we’d be made up, and we’re seventh, and when you look at some of the teams out there, we’ve got to be happy with that.”