Thundersport GB Donington March 2017 race report

After the fast changing conditions experienced at Brands Hatch just a few weeks ago, the Thundersport GB paddock were finally rewarded with some sunshine at Donington Park this weekend, although there was more than a stiff breeze in the air for riders to contend with too.

With the successes of Brands Hatch still fresh in the memory, the Continental stand was extremely busy throughout the weekend with a lot of riders getting on board with the ContiTrack Slick and treaded ContiRaceAttack Comp.

For the first time in the team’s history, RS Racing would be fielding two bikes in the Golden Era SBK class with Andrew Meachen making his race debut on the #65 SP1 alongside series regular Ryan Strafford. Ryan qualified in second place much to the delight of Dad and team boss Chris, with Andrew in 14th in a class of 19 seasoned riders. Running alongside in the GP1 Classic class, Michael Gover also put in several consistent performances to take four top 10 finishes.

The opening race saw a real battle for the lead between Ryan and title rival Ritchie Thornton, with Ryan claiming his first victory of the season by the tightest of margins on the stunning SP2. Ryan then followed that up with three 2nd placed finishes to leave him well in contention after the first two rounds of the season. Ryan was also joined on the podium in the final three races by fellow Continental rider Mark Biswell who has impressed since moving up from the Golden Era Steelsport series, taking three 3rd placed finishes on his Triumph steed. Meanwhile Andrew continued to increase his speed, knocking 6 seconds off his best lap by race three and finishing just outside the top ten in each race, thoroughly enjoying his first ever competitive meeting.

Now riding for EB Racing, Richie Harrison just missed out on the podium at Brands Hatch three weeks ago and qualified in 4th place on the Yamaha R6, fighting his way up to second place in the opening contest to take his first podium of the year. With the main bike refusing to start ahead of race two, Richie jumped on the spare with no time to set it up but a level-headed ride brought it home in 7th place. During Sunday’s first race Richie was running in the lead group before a gear linkage snapped putting an end to his challenge for the podium, but some speedy repairs saw him back out for the final contest where he secured another well deserved 2nd place.

Golden Era Steelsport rider Dave Langley stuck his Tyres 4 Bikes supported CBR600RR on pole position in qualifying before a series of engine issues saw him running down on bhp and needing an engine change. However, despite the numerous issues he faced, Dave came away with four 2nd placed finishes to keep him in the early running for the title in 2017.

Returning to racing for the first time after a six month layoff, Tom Collinge was competing in the Thundersport Cup 600 class and took his first ever win after some great riding in the opening race. He managed to follow that up with a 2nd place before claiming another win and giving his team much reason to celebrate at the end of the weekend.

British Army Motorcycle Race Team’s Jason Markham qualified in 5th on his stocktwin machine, and by Sunday had really found his rhythm as he fought his way through the field to take two 3rd placed finishes, whilst Alan Russell made his debut on the Knight Road Racing supertwin as the team worked hard to find a solid base setting for future rounds. The current NG Road Racing supertwin champion climbed as high as 5th place as he took a string of top ten finishes, with plenty more to come from the bike in future rounds.

With no fewer than 7 riders on Continental tyres in the Pre-National Sport 600 class, it was no surprise that it once again provided us with our ‘Rider of the Meeting’.

This time it was the turn of Chris Lavisher who made significant improvements over the course of the weekend to break into the top ten on several occasions, also recording a new personal best around Donington. There were also some great results from Ben Bailey, last month’s winner Alun Brooks, Jeremy Watson and Nick Barnes. In the Freshman class both Daniel Gregory and AJ McDaniel of RS Racing took to the podium as they continued to impress in their first year with Thundersport.

A big thanks to everyone for their support, and congratulations on your great results.

We’ll be back in the paddock next month as the club heads to the Snetterton 200 circuit.

Photo credits to Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.

You can find out more about the Continental race range here.