Thankfully the weather remained dry in Kent at the weekend as the Thundersport paddock rolled into Brands Hatch for the opening round of their season.
Riding for a second successive year in the extremely competitive Stocktwin class, things couldn’t have gone better for Suzuki mounted Alberto Solera. Following a busy qualifying session, Solera found himself on the second row of the grid, taking first in class and more than 0.5s ahead of Ryan Folkes and Jason Markham on row three. Riding on our ContiRaceAttack Comp treaded tyres, Alberto took four impressive race wins across the two days, with Jason Markham also joining him on the podium on each occasion, as he was named Sunday’s ‘Rider of the Day’.
The GP2 Supertwin riders were also on the same grid, with Knight Road Racing’s Neil Gregory recording a newteam best lap at the circuit on the Ducati, as he came away with a 4th, 5th and 6th placed finish for Alan Knight’s setup. Also riding on Continental was Craig Szczypek, who joined Gregory in the top 6 on the Saturday and Sunday.
Defending GP1 Classic champion Ryan Strafford had his hands full at the opening round of the season, as he was joined on the grid by TT racer Craig Neve, while keeping one eye on his two new academy racers, Kieran and Christian Smith. Neve set a new class lap record on his in development Classic TT machine, but Ryan worked his ContiTrack Slick tyres hard to ensure he came away with solid points ahead of fellow championship competitor Luke MacRae who joined the pair on the podium. Ryan secured four 2nd placed finishes on the RS Racing Yamaha, leaving him well placed for Round 2 in late April. The Golden Era SBK class also lined up on the same grid, with Andrew Denyer and Andy Challis securing 1st and 2nd place respectively in each of the four races, all on Continental tyres.
Ryan’s RS Racing Academy riders Kieran and Christian were both competing in the Superteen championship, riding on our ContiAttack SM tyres which are designed for lightweight supersport and supermoto machines. The brothers both made huge improvements in terms of lap times at the weekend, with Kieran close to breaking into the top ten, while Christian finished an excellent 6th place on Sunday.
There’s been some change in the Golden Era Supersport class this season, with Steelsport champion Dave Langley joining the class with his Tyres 4 Bikes backed machinery. Unfortunately, engine trouble meant that Langley had to use a stock engine for the remainder of the weekend, but despite being down by about 20bhp, he still managed to work his way into the top ten on two occasions. Jack Holder also suffered engine trouble on his Kawasaki, but Liam Vella was absolutely flying as he earned himself a hugely deserved podium on the Sunday, much to the delight of dad Victor. Ben Doolan also pushed defending champion Andrew Windsor all the way to the line on the Saturday, with less than 0.3s separating the pair at the end of both races.
Finally, Pre-National 600 race winner Chris Lavisher has stepped up to the Sportsman 600 class for 2019, coming away in a creditable 6th position in the championship and with plenty of positives to take home from the weekend.
The second round of the championship takes place on the final weekend of April at the super-fast Snetterton circuit in Norfolk.
Congratulations to all riders on some fantastic racing at the weekend.
Image credits – Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.
You can view the full range of Continental race tyres here.