DAN Cooper reigned supreme as he lifted his sixth Welsh Open crown in seven years at this weekend’s Aberdare Park Road Races.
But the former British 125 champ was matched on wins by old Park rival John Simpson, whose tally of seven equalled the former TT ace on the list of top winners from this year’s war in Wales, with roads returnee Joey Thompson not far behind.
KW Electrical/CMS Honda man Cooper opened his account in dominant fashion on Saturday with victory in the first Park Challenge race, almost eight seconds ahead of Thompson, who was campaigning Paul Jinks’ brand new Triumph Moto2 weapon.
And while they both hit the 40sec lap time bracket in their next battle, the Welsh Open, Thompson fell 15sec short at the chequered flag as James Evans bagged another third.
It was much the same story in the second Park Challenge race and Saturday’s Welsh Open final and while Thompson cut his deficit to just over a second in the penultimate 600 race of the day, Cooper still came out on top both times.
Three identical finishes followed on Sunday and despite the gap between the two Aberdare title contenders being sliced to just 0.415sec at the flag, with Cooper clocking the new Park Challenge lap record of 38.813sec, it wasn’t enough to give Thompson victory.
The Yorkshireman, who had also been campaigning a Trickbits Supertwin SV650 along with a Honda Moto3 machine, bagged four straight wins in the Allcomers class aboard the Suzuki with Mick Goodings no less than six seconds behind each time, as Max Dixon and Alan Gibson shared thirds.
Thompson also kept crowds on their toes in the Lightweight race as he battled to the flag against TZ250-mounted Rhys Hardisty before the Welshman crossed the line a hair-splitting 0.004sec behind Thompson’s winning Moto3 bike.
Returning to the Park was outright lap record holder Simpson, who matched Cooper’s count of seven wins between the Mini Sound of Thunder and Allcomers scraps as he, like Thompson, was out aboard a Trickbits Supertwin.
Simpson was on strong form against the SVs of Martin Robbins and William Holland and while the latter came close, within two tenths of a second on Saturday, nothing could stop the 2016 Thundersport GB champ from hauling the silverware. Holland did, however, snatch a win on Saturday as he beat Simpson by just under a second in the first Welsh Open heat of the meeting.
Local rider Michael Rees scored two wins in the Mini Sound of Thunder ranks in a pair of tight battles that ended with he, runner-up Dixon and Jason Markham separated by no more than 0.860sec in the first race and an even tighter 0.352sec in the second.
The 50cc spoils went to Derbi rider and new lap record holder John Cooke in dominant fashion after he won by as much as 48 seconds, with Richard Done grabbing three seconds to Warren Harvey’s one, as Mark Pollitt and Alan Richardson shared thirds.
Hardisty’s RG500 flew first across the line four races on the bounce as he swept the Welsh Classic board ahead of Arthur Browning’s Seeley G50, while Mark Purslow made a clean sweep of the 80cc class with four wins of his own and four fastest laps to boot.
*Images: Clive Challinor