JUST like the MotoGP season opener last weekend, the action at Brands Hatch heated up as Bemsee got its 2019 season underway on the Indy circuit.
And while strong winds and spells of rain hit intermittently, the club’s first round of the year went off without a hitch.
Three different winners graced the L&W Contractors Rookie 1000s, but in the 600 ranks it was Cedrich Bloch who dominated with all four wins to his name.
Chris Cayford won the opening big bike race on his Yamaha R1, ahead of Joe Bassett and Luke Dixon, before Dixon grabbed a brace of wins, taking victory in Saturday’s second race and Sunday’s opener. He beat Cayford and Michael Cherrett first, before winning with Cherrett second and Cayford third.
Bassett bagged the final 1000cc win, just six tenths of a second ahead of Cherrett and Seb Jenkins.
In the Rookie 600 ranks, meanwhile, Bloch swept the action as he was joined on the podium in races one and two by George Prince and Toby Reynolds. Luke Stoneman then claimed the runner-up spot in the first of Sunday’s scraps, with Reynolds third. Reynolds and Stoneman then swapped positions in race four.
And the podium trophies weren’t the only trophies the newbies went home with this weekend, as the Vincent Fox memorial trophy and the Ron and Bill Collins memorial trophy were awarded.
Bloch took the Vincent Fox memorial trophy, given to the Rookie 600 rider judged to have put in the best performance on the first day of racing and with a brace of wins, Bloch was an obvious choice.
Fox raced with Bemsee from the age of 16, progressing to 600s after dabbling as a sidecar passenger. Competing mostly on Yamaha and Suzuki machinery, he was tragically killed in a road accident while riding to an MOT in 2007. He was due to realise an ambition of riding at the Manx TT later that year.
The Ron and Bill Collins memorial trophy – which remembers two brothers who had been attending Bemsee meetings since the club’s resumption after the Second World War – is handed to the opening day’s best performing Rookie 1000 rider.
After much anticipation, the Steve Jordan Motorcycles Thunderbike Ultra class finally hit the track and dominated the Thunderbike ranks, with former EDIasia Formula 400 champion Steve Palmer on pole, alongside Aiden Patmore and Jason Byard, who were all also due to be out on Powerbikes.
Despite Byard not making the start for race one, the racing between Palmer and Patmore was fierce as the lead kept changing hands. Disaster struck on penultimate lap for Palmer, however, as he crashed out under pressure from Patmore, leaving the latter to take the win.
Second went to reigning Thunderbike Extreme champ Barry Chamberlain – now in the Ultra category – with Dave Shelvey picking up the Extreme win in third place.
Palmer was back in action for race two and took a clear victory, with Patmore second and Chamberlain third as Richard Willsher crossed the line fourth to pick up the Extreme spoils.
But Palmer failed to make the grid in race three, leaving Patmore to ride unchallenged to the win, with Andrew Saunders second and the leading Extreme rider. Chamberlain was third.
Battle re-commenced between Palmer and Patmore in the last outing of the weekend, with less than a second covering the pair at the line as Patmore made it three wins. Palmer was second as Saunders’ third gave him the Extreme win.
A packed entry list for the Thunderbike Sport class forced club bosses to split riders into groups A, B and C to accommodate all the action. All rookies were designated to group C, while the rest of the entries were split after qualifying.
Reigning Minitwin champ Dan Singleton snatched the win, beating pole-sitter Thomas Watson to victory while Edward Watson – Thomas’ brother – finished third.
Edward was then the victor in race two, taking the win by nine seconds as three riders diced for the remaining two podium positions. Less than two tenths of a second split Shane Beasley, Andrew Moxon and Ricardo Branco at the line, but Beasley had the edge, while behind them Alex Robinson took the Rookie win.
Singleton doubled up in race three, taking the flag ahead of Michael Simmons and Thomas Watson. In the Rookie ranks, meanwhile, just two tenths of a second decided the win as Michael Benn pipped Robinson.
In Sunday’s opener, Honda rider Singleton completed his Thunderbike hat-trick, joined on the podium by Thomas Watson and Jack Sim, while Beasley later took race two. He was flanked on the rostrum by two rookies, with Robinson second overall and Benn third.
Completing the weekend in style, just one second covered the podium in the final race, with less than a tenth between the top two. Sim bagged his first win of the season, with Thomas Watson and Shaun Wallis second and third respectively. Robinson’s fifth gave him another Rookie win.
Peter Woodall and Robert Dessoy took one win apiece from the opening two races of the Chilton Motors BMZRC MZ 250 Championship, before Chris Kent doubled up on Sunday with two victories.
Woodall qualified on pole, but Dessoy took the plaudits after the chequered flag fell on the first race of the year. The top qualifier still managed a podium, finishing second with Chris Rogers third.
He then went one better in race two, as just one second covered the top three. Rogers also went one better, progressing from third to second, as Dessoy picked up the bronze medal.
Come Sunday though a new name was on the podium, with Kent taking both wins. He took his first win by less than a tenth of a second, as Woodall and Rogers – who was only another tenth further back- joined him on the podium.
Dessoy was back inside the top three in race four, chasing Kent to the line as Woodall finished third.
*Main image: Mitch Ducran
*Side images: JTW Motorsport Photography