PHIL Crowe, David Allingham and George Stanley kept spectators on their toes as they all shared GP1 spoils at Thundersport’s Donington finale.
Club hustler Crowe was expected to contest all three races this weekend, but decided at the eleventh hour on Saturday to pack up and take on Mallory Park’s Race of the Year, leaving many wondering if he could’ve made a clean sweep after opening the event with lap times just half a second off Jesse Trayler’s old National circuit record of 1:09.057s.
But it was Haddington’s Paul McClung, a race winner in Thundersport’s second round on the Donington GP circuit, who broke free in qualifying and put in a 1:10.663s to take pole ahead of Crowe and National Superstock 1000 race winner Stanley.
When the lights went out for race one, Allingham nabbed the hole shot ahead of the PCR Racing BMW of Crowe and TT star Gary Johnson, the latter aboard a Briggs Equipment Kawasaki for some last-minute testing ahead of Macau next month.
But it wasn’t long before Crowe flew by the Aprilia and launched into the lead, never to be passed as he extended nearly seven-second lead at the chequered flag, leaving Allingham to settle for second and fellow RSV-4 pilot Jamie Coward to third after edging out former GP1 Sportsman champ Paul Charman.
Rideworx TDM’s Terry Merrit bagged his first Sportsman win in 10th overall ahead of R6-mounted Matt Stevenson and MSG Racing Suzuki’s recent 600 graduate, Will Harper.
With Crowe missing Sunday, Stanley took pole under the mega laps system. But back-to-back GP1 champion Lee Williams stormed into the lead after a solid start from the second row and pulled out nearly two seconds on Stanley by the end of the first lap.
Fighting back from a less than perfect start, Allingham charged back through the pack as both he and team-mate Stanley slid by Williams on lap eight to take over the top two spots.
Williams struck back at Stanley the very next lap but couldn’t keep pace with leader Allingham, who crossed the line eight laps later over five seconds clear of the Team Willo/Hi-Tech Coatings Kawasaki, with Stanley some eight seconds off the win.
From pole position, Stanley once again led the final race of the year, but McClung burst into the lead shortly thereafter with Williams less than a tenth of a second behind after lap two.
But National Superstock 1000 interloper Dean Hipwell streaked by them both on lap six and took over at the front only for Williams and McClung to hit back just three laps later.
In an Aprilia team effort, Stanley nabbed the lead three laps from the finish and led Allingham over the line by 0.380s for his first GP1 win as Scotsman McClung led Williams and Hipwell in the battle for third covered by less than three tenths of a second.
Stevenson took yet another Sportsman win ahead of Merritt and championship runner-up Jamie Tibble.
“It’s always nice to go back and race at Thundersport meetings, which is where I started off my short circuit career.” Allingham said. “Having ridden Supersport all year in British Championship, it was good to experience riding a bigger machine.”
“The Aprilia was awesome and I found it an easy bike to ride. Although I wasn’t pushing too hard, as I didn’t want to go into the off-season with an injury, there was some great racing and I was happy with the results and lap times I achieved. Thanks to Ian, EHA Racing and Colin for all their help this weekend.”
*Main image: Ian Boldy
*Allingham image: EHA Racing
*Harper image: Will Harper Racing