With double points up for grabs at Snetterton, there was still plenty to play for as the Thundersport paddock rolled into Norfolk for their season finale at the weekend.
Ryan Strafford had a seemingly insurmountable 30+ point deficit to make up to GP1 Classic leader Sam Cox, and with nothing to lose the Yorkshireman was either going to “win it or bin it” on the big R1. After snatching pole, Yorkie Boy opened with a win, and soon after he would follow it up with another, while Cox failed to finish the second race. His former Texan teammate, who flew back to race on his home-from-home circuit, would join him on the podium in second. After a second place in Sunday’s first race, it was all over – Ryan’s maiden series in the class ended with a championship title, and a well deserved one at that. Not content with it being job done, he ended the season in style with one final win. Running on the same grid, Andy Denyer would also take four podiums in the Golden Era SBK class.
The extremely competitive Golden Era Supersport class saw the end of an era, as stalwart Richie Harrison called time on his 22 year racing career after securing the runners up spot on the RAP Racing Yamaha, behind the seemingly unbeatable Andrew Windsor. Richie also finished in second place last year, as the class title came down to the final corner. We wish him all the best for the future, following two years of working closely together in the paddock. Joining Richie on the podium at Snetterton was Luke Macrae who had made the switch to ContiRaceAttack Comps, alongside Andrew Batner who had really upped his game for the final round of the season. Andy’s performance earns him our final ‘Rider of the Meeting’ accolade for 2018, and a free Continental race tyre of his choice for the first round next year. Also in the top ten were regulars Liam Vella, Ian Lawton and Rob Vickerman, while Andy Kitchen and Jack Holder took some great strides forward over the course of the weekend further down the order.
For local rider Dave Langley, the Golden Era Steelsport seemed to be his to lose, and after a crash saw him fracture his collarbone, he almost did. Battling through the pain barrier, Tyres 4 Bikes supported Langley held his nerve to take 2nd place in the opening Steelsport race, which was enough to see him bring home the title. After that, quite understandably, he called it quits for this season…
The joint Supertwin-Stocktwin grid was packed as always, as riders welcomed the return of Classic TT regular Jason Markham for a wildcard round at the end of the season. Markham would go on to win the second of four exciting Stocktwin races, as he narrowly beat Alberto Solera, who ended his season on a high with four podium finishes. Paul Williams, Tom Foster and Daniel Bateman also had a solid weekend, all recording top ten finishes. Our friends at Knight Road Racing, a regular feature in the North Gloucester paddock this year, joined the Supertwin fray at Snetterton, with Jason Gregory narrowly missing out on a win on Saturday morning, with teammate Danny Williams in 5th. There were also strong showings from Daniel Bateman and Craig Szczypek.
Finally, in the Pre-National 600 class Chris Lavisher has been getting faster and faster this season. After qualifying on pole, he sadly failed to finish the opening race. However, he would bounce back with a double podium on Sunday, with fellow regular Nick Barnes just a couple of places behind him.
Riders will now have to wait until the presentation evening to get their hands on any championship silverware, and we will no doubt be there to celebrate with them.
A big thanks goes out to the whole paddock, including the Thundersport organisers and volunteer marshals who have made this another season to remember.
The count down to 2019 is on…
Photo credits – Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.
View the full Continental race tyre range here.