The weather kept everyone on their toes at Brands Hatch last weekend for the opening round of the Thundersport GB 2017 season.
With regular showers plus some very heavy downpours, lots of riders found themselves switching wheels in a desperate big to get the best tyre setup for the changing conditions from race to race, and sales of ContiRaceAttack Rain tyres were high in the paddock.
Flying the flag once again for Continental in the Golden Era SBK class was West Yorkshire racer Ryan Strafford, on RS Racing’s immaculate Honda RC51 SP2 in it’s eye-catching new livery and fitted with our ContiTrack Slicks.
Last year’s runner up in the class, Ryan started well to stick the bike on the front row of the grid in qualifying, just behind this year’s big rival Ritchie Thornton. Despite setting the fastest lap of the opening race, Ryan just couldn’t find a way past Thornton’s Kawasaki, but with a 50.344 under his lap around the Indy circuit, things were still looking very positive. Ryan didn’t let the conditions phase him all weekend, recording three further podium finishes to ensure he’s at the sharp end of the championship early on once again.
Now riding for EB Racing in the Golden Era Supersport class, 2017 marks Richie Harrison’s first season riding on Continental’s RaceAttack Comp treaded tyres and he quickly found his rhythm to qualify in 4th on the Yamaha R6. On the Saturday, Richie just missed out on two podium finishes,with two 4th places still bagging him some valuable points. Further top six finishes followed on the Sunday, and leave Richie right in the mix after round one.
Dave Langley finished as runner up in the Golden Era Steelsport class in 2016, and has his eyes firmly set on the top prize this year. Dave qualified first in class on his Tyres 4 Bikes backed CBR600RR, running in front of number of other Supersport machines on the same grid. The opening race saw Dave drop back to 3rd, and he followed that up with a hard fought 2nd. The first race on Sunday saw him claim his first win of the season, taking the maximum 25 points available, followed by another 2nd place to round off a solid opening weekend.
The Pre-National Sport 600 class, which is sponsored by Continental and A&R Racing, saw a packed grid brimming with potential. One rider that caught our eye was Alun Brooks who took three podiums including a superb Sunday race win during his first meeting on Continental race tyres. Alun’s superb performance in challenging conditions saw him awarded our ‘Rider of the Meeting’ accolade, which includes a free race tyre for his bike at the next Thundersport GB round!
RS Racing’s AJ McDaniel was also running on the same grid as a Freshman, taking a 2nd place and two 3rd places before an unfortunate trip into the gravel on the final race of the weekend as he pushed for the top step of the podium. Triumph rider Chris Lavisher also improved his results as the weekend progressed, with an impressive top ten finish on the Sunday.
The GP1 Classic class is new to the Thundersport line-up in 2017, and TH Racing’s Mike Gover impressed over the course of the weekend, picking up a string of top six finishes including a well earned 3rd place on Saturday’s second race.
In the Supertwin class Tyres 4 Bikes supported George Lawson struggled initially, this being his first time out on the bike since he crashed at Aberdare Park last summer. With some modifications made overnight, results improved on the Sunday as he climbed as high as 5th place to take some solid points whilst find a good base on the bike for future rounds. Knight Road Racing Ducati’s Lara Small is also learning the ropes on the teams 180bhp machine in the Military Inter Services Challenge this year, and although the team struggled with a misfire and missing 2nd gear in qualifying, they made good progress on a packed GP1 grid despite Lara having to start from the back.
Congratulations to all the riders on their superb opening weekend results, and thank you to everyone who came to see us in the paddock.
Thundersport GB is back later this month with the second round of the series at Donington Park, hopefully with some dry weather too!
Image credits to Ian Boldy (top & left) and Colin Port (centre & right).
Find out more about the Continental race tyre range here.