BEMSEE’S 2020 season kicked off in style as Brands Hatch Indy hosted the first club race of the year last weekend.
And as drier weather and sunnier skies greeted the class of 2020, a full weekend of action brought numerous new – and old – winners.
The opening MSS Performance Clubman 1000 win went to Luke Dixon, while it was Ryan Warrrington who took the second, with an impressive fifth overall. And it was to prove to be a good day for Warrington, who took the final Clubman win on Sunday afternoon.
In the four Rookie 1000 class races, Kenny Fretwell took a hat-trick of wins, with the other victory going to Tony Fountain.
David Twyford and Dan Harris shared the spoils in the popular MRO Minitwins series, with two wins apiece.
Twyford qualified quickest, and was joined on the front row by Paul Witherington and Harris for race one, eventually taking the win by just half a second over Matt Wetherell with John Reynolds third. Craig Henstock was the rookie winner.
Another tight podium followed in race two. Again, Twyford was the victor after stalking Wetherell until moving into the lead on the final lap, as Russell Taylor was third and Henstock took the second rookie win.
With a wet start on Sunday, this time it was Harris who checked-out at the front to win by almost 17 seconds on his HP Racing SV650. Wetherell was second again with Witherington third as Alex Mann took rookie spoils.
Harris was again victorious in the final outing, as Witherington finished second ahead of Wetherell – who was then hit with a 10 second penalty – moving Reynolds up to third. Mann was again the rookie winner.
Peter Branton looked set to dominate the Yamaha Past Masters action after qualifying on pole by a second and storming to victory in both of Saturday’s races.
However, mechanical gremlins reared their heads on Sunday, forcing the former champion to miss the day’s first race and retire on the first lap of the fourth, and Scott Carson took two wins.
Scott Grant enjoyed a successful weekend, taking four runner-up finishes. He finished second twice to Branton on Saturday, beating Peter Moore each time and was second again in Sunday’s wet opener ahead of Andrew Burscough, before beating Moore once again for his fourth second of the weekend.
It was a clean sweep and dominant start to the year in the Formula 400 class for Chris Burrage, as he converted pole position into four wins.
The Seton Tuning Kawasaki man beat Andy Gill in race one by six seconds as Mathew Scott just got the better of Dan Ruth to take third by a mere 0.017secs. Carl Johnstone took the Sub-64bhp class win.
Burrage and Gill were again running one and two in the second race, but Gill retired at the halfway stage. That left Ruth to take second and Scott third. The Sub-64bhp win went to Geoff Mook.
Burrage’s domination came under threat on Sunday, as Gill hit the front on lap three, only to retire a lap later. Ruth picked up the baton and pushed Burrage all the way, but had to settle for second on his Yamaha FZR400RR SP, Scott was third, while the Sub-64bhp class spoils went to Sam Digby-Baker.
Burrage and Gill were back at in the final scrap, with Gill taking his turn to lead. Despite a strong battle, it was a fourth win for Burrage as Gill was second ahead of Scott. Mook took another Sub-64bhp win.
Pole position four wins gave Peter Woodall the perfect start to his BMZRC 250 championship campaign. Each win came ahead of Andrew Wales, with both of Saturday’s victories decided by just a tenth of a second. Chris Kent took third in each race.
Woodall’s wins were more comfortable on Sunday, beating Wales by more than 2.5secs in the first battle with John Ashmead third and it was the same top three for the final race.
In the opening round of Blue Haze GP, Phil Atkinson converted pole into two wins on Saturday, but his absence from Sunday’s action allowed Mark Whiting and Rik Ballerini to score a victory apiece as Scott Grant took all GPF production class wins.
Atkinson led race one from start to finish to beat Phil Ellis by almost 13 seconds as John Hogg took third.
It was another lights-to-flag win for Atkinson in race two, while four riders battled it out for second place. With a second covering second to fifth at the start of the last lap, Ballerini edged ahead to take second ahead of Ellis.
In a wet, eight-lap race three, Whiting took a commanding win over Ellis, with Grant third while a dramatic final race ended with Ballerini taking the spoils over Whiting, with Grant once again third.
After setting the fastest time in qualifying by 1.3 seconds, Jack Sim stormed to four BMCRC Thunderbike Sport wins in the opening round the championship, leading every lap of every race
Elliot Fricker was twice second on Saturday, with Edward Watson and Cedric Bloch taking a bronze medal finish each. Watson improved to second on Sunday morning, ahead of Richard Harris and was then third in the final outing, with Bloch second.
The popular Thunderbike Extreme and Ultra classes were again inundated with entries, with riders each taking part in four of six races over the course of the weekend.
On the combined qualifying times Ritchie Thornton was at the top aboard his Ultra class Team 71 Kawasaki ZX-7R, and won his first race ahead of Andrew Saunders and Sim, the pair first and second in the Extreme class.
Sim and Saunders reversed positions in their second outing, Sim winning by three seconds as Saunders fended off David May for the runner-up spot.
In the second Ultra outing of the weekend, Team Ruby Racing’s Jamie Thomas took the win on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 with Mark Wilby second and James Fearn third.
Saunders and Sim renewed their tussle in the next combined outing, chopping and changing position at the front. Saunders claimed victory by two tenths of a second. Third went to the Ultra class winner, Wilby.
After missing out by the narrowest of margins in Saturday’s second race, Sim stormed to victory on a drying track on Sunday morning, leaving Saunders to take second with May beating Derek Cripps for third.
Thornton was back on winning form in the final Ultra class race, beating Matt Hinnells and Jamie Thomas.
*Main image: Mitch DuCran