Donington played host to the opening round of the 2018 season for the Thundersport GB paddock last weekend, with plenty of fast-paced action on show across all classes as always.
With a growing reputation in the club racing scene, Continental race tyres were once again in high demand thanks to their proven race-winning performance.
After three years in the Golden Era SBK class, RS Racing’s Ryan Strafford has moved to the GP1 Classics on a ContiTrack Slick shod 2000 Yamaha R1. Recent testing at Cartagena allowed them to find a great base setting for the bike, and all was going well in qualifying until Ryan was taken out from behind by another rider, sending them both into the gravel. After a few choice words, Ryan picked himself back up and prepared to face up to the monumental task of starting 33rd on the grid. After a great start, he scythed his way through the field to tag on to the leading pack, eventually fighting his way into 3rd. For the start of Race Two, it was back to the rear of the grid once again, but this time Ryan pulled off an even better result as he battled to the front of the field for a superb win. A second place and another win followed on the Sunday, as he diced with Sam Cox who also showed great form in the opening round. BEMSEE regular Adam Norton also joined the GP1 Classic field at Donington on his eye-catching Fireblade, showing great pace and breaking into the top five on the Sunday.
Last year’s Golden Era SBK and Supersport classes were both close fought contests. With Ryan changing class, that left teammates Andy Meachen and Will Swift, both riding Honda RC-51 machines, to fly the RS Racing flag in the SBK class. After a solid maiden season, Andy started the new year off in very much the same way as he came home with a 6th and three 7th placed finishes. Will, riding a specially adapted Honda, quickly got to grips with life in the series as he fought his way into the top ten.
After losing out on the Golden Era Supersport title in the final corner, Richie Harrison was back on the RAP Racing Yamaha with his eyes firmly set on the title, as was regular podium contender Ian Lawton. Richie qualified in 4th, but worked his way up to 2nd place in the opening race, and went one better later that day to claim what promises to be the first of many wins this season as Liam Vella showed great promise also breaking well into the top ten. Sunday started with another win for Richie, as he fended off a strong challenge from Ian who went on to take 2nd place. In the final race of the weekend both riders would be on the podium again, with Richie in 2nd and Ian just behind him.
Dave Langley had a torrid time in the run up to the new Golden Era Steelsport season, and with no time to test the new engine, he did well to qualify in 3rd place. However, during the warm-up lap ahead of Race One his bike laid oil down all over the track, putting him out of contention before the action had even started. This sadly ended his run of 34 consecutive podiums, but never one to give up, the Tyres 4 Bikes supported rider was ready for the second race of the day, in which he came home in 3rd place. Sunday was a marked improvement once again, as he scored and 2nd and then a first win of the season in the final race of the day.
In the Supertwin class, Greg Madero was a newcomer to Continental, but soon showed his pace on the Trickbits Racing Suzuki. In the highly competitive class, Greg diced with Jonny Towers and the other regular front runners to finish on the podium four times in a row. His impressive performance also earned him our ‘Rider of the Meeting’ award, which means that Greg receives a free race tyre at the next Thundersport round in a month’s time.
After a great season in the Pre-National 600, Alun Brooks has moved up to the ultra-competitive Sportsman 600 for 2018. The Welshman clearly didn’t need long to adapt to life in the new class, taking 6th in the opener and being unlucky not to make the podium after Sunday’s first race. Staying in the Pre-National 600 this season, Chris Lavisher was back after the winter layoff and ready for action, taking a fantastic 6th place during the second race on the Saturday.
Next month the series heads to Cheshire, where it’s all-important double points up for grabs at Oulton Park where we’re expecting an action packed day of racing on the Saturday.
Congratulations to all the riders who took part this weekend on some great results – we’ll see you at Oulton!
Photos courtesy of Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.
Find out more about the Continental race tyre range here.