With double points up for grabs in the penultimate round of the Thundersport season over the weekend, there was a lot at stake when the paddock landed upon Oulton Park.
Four wins from four races at Anglesey had given Golden Era SBK protagonist Ryan Strafford an important boost in August, and more importantly cut the gap to championship leader Ritchie Thornton to just 18 points. Tricky conditions saw Ryan qualify in third, but crucially he was ahead of his arch rival and continued his impressive form in the warm up as he went fastest on the RC-51 SP2 despite a misfire issue. Unfortunately for Ryan, Thornton found his way to the front of the pack in Saturday’s opener, but Ryan hit back with a crucial win in the second contest of the day to keep the gap at just 18 points with four races still to go. After qualifying 6th in class, Ryan’s teammate Andy Meachen found himself in traffic for much for much of the weekend to take home 8th and 10th placed finishes respectively.
After some time away from the sport, Jonathan Harrison found himself back on the race track once again as he joined brother Richie on the Golden Era Supersport grid. There was no love lost in qualifying, as Richie had to settle for 4th behind his brother on the spare RAP Racing Yamaha and pole winner Ian Lawton, also on Continental. A fastest lap in the opening race saw championship leader Richie get the better of his brother to take 3rd, whereas Lawton and Jonathan dropped back to 5th and 7th respectively in the latter stages. Another 3rd for Richie in the second race means that he holds a 14 point lead heading into Donington next month. With two strong performances after so much time off the track, and after taking family bragging rights in qualifying on the team’s spare bike, Jonathan has been named our ‘Rider of the Meeting’ for Oulton Park.
Another rider looking to make up ground in a Golden Era class is Dave Langley on his Tyres 4 Bikes supported Honda Steelframe. Former champion Mark Biswell just pipped him to a win in the opening race, but Dave returned the favour in Race Two with an important win. Even better for Dave, he finished several places ahead of championship leader Jon Wright which leaves him with a 36 point deficit for Donington.
After missing the previous meeting due to Classic TT commitments, Team Army’s Jason Markham was back on the stocktwin grid alongside teammate and Anglesey rider of the meeting Ryan Redman. Jason was the faster of the two in qualifying as he took an impressive 2nd place, but Ryan continued his excellent run of form in both races to take two 2nd places. Jason was unlucky not to make it onto the podium in Cheshire, finishing in 4th on both occasions. A returning George Lawson also came home with two top ten finishes in the Supertwin race which shared the same grid.
Once again the Pre-National Sport 600 grid was packed, with close to thirty riders all vying for position. After a poor qualifying session which saw him way down the order in 16th, Alun Brooks put in an amazing performance to finish in 3rd place, and then followed it up with a hard fought win in Race Two. Freshman AJ McDaniel was unlucky not to make the podium at Oulton on the Burton Metalworks Honda, but 4th and 5th placed finishes still earned him vital championship points. Tom Collinge also followed suit in the Sportsman 600 class.
Things are certainly tight at the top as we head for Donington next month!
Congratulations to all the riders who took part this weekend.
Photo credits to Ian Boldy.
You can find out more about the Continental race tyre range here.