JOSH Day dominated NG Road Racing’s Phoenix Open class at Oulton Park this weekend as he beat out the big bikes to take the win on his 600.
But when it came to the IMS 600 scraps, he was forced to play second fiddle to National Superstock front-runner Joe Sheldon-Shaw as Sean Montgomery held off Kayla Barrington to take the championship.
Day has been the rider to beat on the Kendrick and Spalding ZX10 in 2018, but since the last round the big Kawasaki has been sold to make way for an all-new ZX10 for 2019, meaning he and the Dayo Racing crew rolled out his old R6 in the 1000cc-dominated Open race.
The class is nearly always the domain of big bikes, but in damp conditions Day set a qualifying time a blistering 2.7s faster that the rest as the follow-up charge was headed by Ricky Elder and Chris Pope.
But by the time riders lined up for the one and only race of the day, the circuit was dry, the sky was bright and everyone expected the bigger bikes to have the grip to take off and speed ahead of the former champ on the little R6.
Day, however, had other ideas as he built up a four-second lead after just one lap, cruising to victory nearly 10s clear of Scottish wildcard rider John Dean. Allister Haynes got the better of Radstock’s Gary Stevens to take the final rostrum spot, meaning that Haynes and Stevens ended equal on point for third in the Open championship.
With Day out of the Powerbikes battle on the ineligible R6, Melville Club champ Dean was hoping to get revenge, but he fell from his Blinkbonny Quarry BMW in the early stages along with AFB’s Chris Pope, who normally revels in the wet conditions.
Ricky Elder took up the lead on his R1, returning to the grids six years after his last race when he was 600cc champ. RE Performance man Elder was being pressured by Haynes who, in turn, had Gary Stevens for company. Haynes needed the points to take runner-up spot in the championship but was unaware that Pope, his points rival, was out.
The SevenOneStudio.co.uk rider almost lost the plot on the last lap with a trip onto the grass loosing second on the road and 15s in time. He breathed a huge sigh as he got back into pit lane to be given the news that Pope was out and second in the points table was his.
Day was expected to have an easy ride in the 600 class after nearing lap record pace in the Open race, but ViaMoto’s Sheldon-Shaw had other ideas. The Superstock man led from the off with Josh in his wheel tracks. Former National champ Day tried all the tricks he knew and dug deep but Sheldon-Shaw did covered all of his attempts.
After suffering a big slide on the penultimate lap, Day put paid to his efforts as Sheldon-Shaw bagged the win. Continuing to adapt to his R6 after switching from a Moto3 mid-season was third-placed Liam Delves, just ahead of outgoing 600 champ Max Symonds, who has been out of action almost the full season after a testing accident at Donington in pre-season.
Just five seconds further back was Montgomery, who took discretion over valour after two crashes in practice and nursed his Preston Power steering ZX6R to the 600 title with a fifth place, grabbing the points needed to keep Barrington at bay.
“We did it, and I emphasise the ‘we’ because without the ‘we’ I couldn’t have won the championship,” he said.
“And ‘we’ isn’t just me and the immediate team who are at the races, but absolutely anyone who has ever helped me in racing in anyway shape or form.
“I can’t thank people in particular as I don’t want to miss anyone or make anyone think their contribution means any less, so thank you to everyone. Here’s to next season and a new challenge.”
*Main and bottom image: Sean Montgomery Racing
*Action images: EDP Photo News