The Fuchs Silkolene British 2 Stroke Championships headed east to Wakes Colne on Sunday, where as at Pontrilas a fortnight ago, the pre-mix crew was combined with the Red Bull Pro Nationals to make one big glorious day of racing. With a lot of water laid down on the Essex circuit, practice was a touch slip-slidey, but once racing got underway, the dirt was just perfect, creating vast arrays of technically-challenging ruts. With an enormous crowd carpeting the hillside, we were ready to go.
The only sour note was the sound of 4 strokes in the B group. This late in the season, low entries meant that there were only 20 two stroke riders outside of the A group. It made sense to put them together, but the addition of five non-qualifiers from the Pro Nationals was an unwelcome aspect to the race. With the 250 and 450 four bangers away out in front, Craig Polden led the charge of the 125 brigade, sprinting off for two stroke glory in the first two motos ahead of the polka-dotted Danny Allsworth and Warren Clifton in moto one, and Allsworth and NTG Racing’s Adrian Jessop in the second moto, but when Polden failed to make the finish of the third and final race, Warren Clifton was there to take the 2 stroke checkers ahead of the consistent Allsworth and Mat “Maffy” Hopkins.
The Open A class ran next, with Luke Hill using mighty Service Honda CR500 power to mug the whole field off the line in moto one, heading the pack into turn one ahead of Mark Eastwood and Scott Elderfield. Eldy made a move early on lap one to make his way past Eastwood, but the reigning Open champion fired back an immediate response and underlined it by passing Hill for the lead, all within lap one. Elderfield immediately followed Easty through into second, making a successful move for the lead inside the first couple of rather exciting minutes. Elderfield immediately began to check out, dropping Easto inch by inch as the pair of them edged away out front. Eastwood was at his WFO best, but Elderfield’s smooth style paid dividends on the technical track as he eked out the gap by inches every lap. The youngster put not a wheel wrong as he forged ahead for the win.
Moto two started out as a repeat of the opener, with Eastwood leading a mass brawl of Elderfield, Hill, Zach Blackwell and Adams Reynolds, but Elderfield was at the head of the pack before the lap was completed, and the PAR Honda youngster was again super-smooth and consistent. This time, however, Eastwood rode like a dervish, firstly checking Eldy’s rate of departure before turning the tide and slowly making his way back up to the race leader, sitting right on Elderfield’s tail with five minutes to go as the pair tore through the lappers and it looked like we were in for a battle to the death, but Elderfield just raised his game, absorbing the pressure and again just easing the gap out for a comfortable win ahead of Eastwood, Hill, Blackwell and Reynolds. Oli Rusby rode an absolute blinder to come back from a turn two crash to grab an excellent ninth.
Hill again fired the Service Honda CR500 out to the holeshot in moto three, but Jordan Rose, Elderfield and Rusby were right there. Elderfield completed his hat trick of blinding first laps, leading by the time they crossed the line again. But there was further drama early on as Eastwood took a major digger over one of Wakes’s big tabletops. The reigning champion took a few minutes to get going again and was typically wide open as he tore back through the pack, but the damage was done. Elderfield cruised to victory ahead of Rose, whilst Rusby converted a good start into a great finish, crossing the line literally a tyre’s width ahead of Blackwell for third in the closest finish of the day, both of them risking life and limb going wide-open over the finish jump. Eastwood would eventually come home sixth behind title rival Hill - bloody but unbowed, Easty took the podium for second overall at the end of the day to show his typical fighting spirit.
The 125 A group was as excellent as ever. With the title in reach, Jim Davies took a poor turn one in the opening moto to leave himself a lot to do, circulating outside the top ten. As Jim made his way through the pack, Lloyd Morgan led out of the gate ahead of Luke Dean, James Dunn, Jonathan Pettitt and Charles Statt. Within a lap Pettitt was into third and looking threatening, but the reigning 125 champion took the best part of ten minutes to close down Dean and make a pass for second. From then on, there was a tense chase as Pettitt ran down and passed Morgan through traffic, the youngster desperately trying to stay with Pettitt, but Jon eased inexorably away for a comfortable win ahead of Morgan, Dean, Dunn and championship protagonists Sean Stevens and Davies.
Moto two saw the Honda-mounted Stevens exit turn one in first, with precocious youngster Dunn hot on his heels, but Morgan rode a blinding first lap to jump his way straight into the lead. Ominously, Pettitt was right there too, into second as they jumped their way past the old finish line for the first time, with Davies gating well to end the lap fifth behind Stephens and Dunn. Darren Redman, the only other rider still in with a chance of the title was just a couple of spots further back. This time out, however, Pettitt was on the gas from the off, dispatching Morgan before the end of the second circuit and again galloping off into the distance. Morgan kept up the chase as a freight train began to build up behind Stephens, with Dunn, Davies, Redman and Dean all going elbow to elbow. Dunn forced his way past Stephens for third as Dean leaped his way past Davies over the vast step-down. The championship leader’s TM was misfiring, but even worse, the huge jumps were taking their toll and the front wheel began to lose spokes, which had a decidedly adverse effect on the handling.
Dean was on fire, pushing past Stephens and Dunn as Stephens began to drop back down the field. Suspecting a puncture, Davies kept pushing, following Dean past Dunn before charging back in front of Dean for third, but by then the gap back to Morgan in second was too big to make up. Dunn was super-quick out of the gate for moto three, leading Pettitt and Morgan as the trio of championship contenders all gated at the sharp end of the field. Davies was in bullish mood and pushed through to third within a lap, although his TM was still missing at peak revs. Dunn also seemed to experience a problem, slowing dramatically. The youngster gamely stuck at it for a few laps, but it became clear that it was a lost cause and he eventually retired the Doodson Suzuki. Up front, Pettitt was edging a gap over Morgan, who was also just edging away from a Davies in title-winning position. For Jim, it was a matter of staying focused as he brought it home for the 2009 British 125 crown with a round left to run, just reward for his efforts over the course of a long hard season.