DEFENDING NEMCRC Open champion Andrew Tasker and 2016 Scottish Lightweight champion Paul McClung squared off in East Lothian this weekend for the North East club’s second round.
Leaving behind a season hampered by a broken pelvis, Tasker returned to competition after a lengthy off-season of assured preparation and to the circuit that called him out nearly 12 months ago.
And in his first full season aboard a 1000cc, McClung had already experienced the extremes of big bike racing when he had a big smash-up at Knockhill in the first round of KMSC racing last month.
Tom Robinson took to the front in Saturday morning’s Open class timed qualifying session and put his machine on pole ahead of Scott Shand, with Tasker completing the front row and McClung in a lone seventh on the third row of the grid.
He led from the start of race one, but the pole-sitter retired after just one lap while McClung exited the race before completing a lap, leaving Tasker, Shand and Garry Whitfield to lead.
Tasker was never bothered on his way to a nearly seven-second victory ahead of Shand, as Aran Sadler pipped Whitfield for the final rostrum spot on the sixth of eight laps.
But McClung was back on fighting form in the second Open Unlimited race on Saturday, and he took the lead from Tasker after just one lap.
Both racers were in the high 1:00-laptimes throughout the race, and even with the fastest lap of the race at a 1:00.1 on the final go-round, Tasker couldn’t make up enough ground on McClung as he came home just 0.223 seconds short of the win, with Callum Grigor in third.
Sunday’s battles were once again a tale of the two protagonists as McClung took the early lead in the first race. But Tasker wasn’t going to sit behind, and he struck back at the big bike rookie and made the pass for the lead on lap seven.
He held position on lap eight, but the Haddington racer retaliated on the penultimate lap and crossed the line shortly thereafter just over a second ahead of Tasker, with Grigor once again taking third a further seven seconds adrift.
Tasker hit the front from the off in the final race of the weekend, and maintained the lead for the first four of 10 laps. But McClung made the pass for first on lap five, and continued to stretch the gap to nearly five seconds ahead of Tasker at the chequered flag to complete his treble, as Shand took his turn at the podium over nine seconds off the top step.
We had a good weekend, and managed to get a good feeling with the bike but have some work to do for Cadwell [for Thundersport GB],” the returning McClung said. “Good lap times for the weather and I wasn’t pushing overly hard.”
“Three race wins will do me after the big crash. Loved racing with Andrew Tasker, the boy’s no mug that’s for sure!”
*Main and McClung image: Jennifer Charlton
*Tasker image: Geo Clark