With just four rounds remaining to the end of the Thundersport GB season, riders were already starting to keep one eye on their championship position as the series headed to Rockingham over the weekend.
The Rock holds mixed memories for Golden Era SBK contender Ryan Strafford, who muscled his RC-51 to victory at the circuit last year. In 2015 however it was a very different story, as a high speed crash put him in hospital with broken ribs and some severely dented pride to boot.
Ryan put the RS Racing Honda on pole position in qualifying, and the Saturday proved fruitful for the team as he kept championship leader Ritchie Thornton at bay to take two wins and two fastest laps. Meanwhile teammate Andrew Meachen finished inside the top ten on both occasions on his circuit debut.
Unfortunately for Ryan, he picked up a bout of man flu from Andrew and felt much the worse for wear on Sunday morning. Conditions for the first race were overcast, and this time Thornton would get the better of the Honda to relegate Ryan to second place. Just ahead of the final race the heavens opened, and the team scrambled to prepare the bike for a wet race. Using the ContiRaceAttack Rain, Ryan brought the bike home in third place but more importantly kept Thornton off the podium to claw back some crucial points for the team. Meachen had his best finish of the weekend in the final contest, taking 6th in class and finally getting enough signatures to lose his orange novice vest. Also on the same grid, Mike Gover once again brought home a string of consistent results, just missing out on the podium on three occasions.
After his crash at Mallory Park, Richie Harrison has been working hard to get race fit for his Golden Era Supersport return as he looks to remain at the sharp end of the championship. The RAP Racing rider was still in considerable pain from the incident in June but nonetheless took 2nd in the opening race, followed by a further two hard fought 3rd places. A decision to fit wet tyres in the final race backfired as the track started to dry, leaving him battling down the order in 6th. Liam Vella also had a strong result in the opening race as he broke into the top ten, but a crash in the second contest would provide a setback for the team later in the day.
Mallory Park’s ‘Rider of the Meeting’ was Dave Langley, who has been on the podium in every single Golden Era Steelsport race this season. Dave put the Tyres 4 Bikes supported Honda 2nd in class on the grid behind arch rival Jon Wright, and once again had a solid weekend taking a trio of 2nd placed finishes along with a 3rd.
Jason Markham’s budget has been stretched to the limit this year as he prepares for the Classic TT on top of his usual Thundersport commitments. In fact, he’s been running the same ContiRaceAttack Comp rear tyre at the last few meetings, but still managing to get onto the podium in the competitive Stocktwin class. Once again Jason didn’t disappoint, just missing out on the Saturday but coming back strong to take two thirds on the Sunday. His commitment and determination has earned him our ‘Rider of the Meeting’ award for Rockingham, and more importantly for Jason, a free race tyre of his choice for the next round in August!
Riding the Knight Road Racing Ducati in the Supertwin class, Jason’s army colleague Lara Small also had her best weekend of the year to date just missing out on a podium as she qualified in 5th in class followed this up with two 4th place finishes.
Once again the Pre-National Sport 600 grids were jam packed, with Alun Brooks making huge strides on his Honda to take a 2nd in the final race on Sunday as the rain came down. After a great opening race finishing well inside the top ten, Chris Lavisher had a huge high side in the next race that day which put him out of contention for the weekend. Nick Barnes and Jeremy Watson both came home inside the top ten on several occasions between them, with Jeremy a whisker away from a podium in Saturday’s 2nd race as he took 4th place. Freshman AJ McDaniel also took 3rd in class in his opener, following that with three 4th placed finishes over the rest of the weekend.
Congratulations to all the riders on their fantastic results at the weekend – we’ll be back next month at Anglesey for some more top race action!
Photo credits to Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.
Find out more about the Continental race tyre range here.