RACERS and club fans rolled into a packed paddock at Mallory Park this weekend as EMRA kicked off its 2019 season in bustling fashion.
Reigning EMRA 500 champ Wayne Sutton started this year just like his last, with two wins, but if last season was anything to go by, he’ll have a hard fight on his hands. Even more riders will be eyeing the crown this year – so many at the first round that the club had to split them into three races.
The first race saw Sutton gradually ease away from Darren Conneely, who in turn was able to edge away from the battle between Darren Faulkner and Ian Fairgrieve, while Paul Sawyer just held off Shay Commins and Martin Radford for fifth place.
Race two was a relatively straightforward win for Sutton over Sawyer with Fairgrieve just finishing ahead of Scott Gregg. Connelly took the third, but behind him Commins, Radford and Gregg were battling throughout as they crossed the line in the same order.
Former champ Jed Bird won both 600 Open races, the first win earning him the Alan Tolton trophy. It was hard won as it took two thirds of the race to dislodge Luke Burnett from first place with John Bolsover coming home third ahead of Luke Penny.
Race two again saw Burnett lead from the start but Bird took the lead much earlier in this race and pulled away for a second victory with last year’s rookie champion Penny taking third.
The opening Minitwins race came to a dramatic finale after last year’s champion Chris Ashfield crashed out of first place at the hairpin on the final lap. Up until that point Ashfield had been holding off the continual challenge of Richard Saunders, but in the melee Lee Stanaway got through and took his first race win. Stanway was then on pole for the second race and his own personal fan club gave him plenty of vocal support as he led from the start, but Saunders got through on the final lap and took the flag by a third of a second.
A surprise came in the 125-450 races in that Jodie Fieldhouse wasn’t the winner. Instead, Annabel Thomas took both races on her Moto3 Honda. On the final lap after a scrappy opening to race one, Fieldhouse had been just ahead of Thomas until they came to lap a back-marker and Thomas chose the right side to pass while Fieldhouse tried the opposite side and got pushed wide, leaving Thomas to take the flag by an eighth of a second.
Fieldhouse’s bike stalled on the warm-up lap before race two, warranting a push start from Lynda the start line marshal, but in the race Thomas was much quicker in the opening laps and was four seconds ahead by half distance. And although Jodie kept pace thereafter, she couldn’t close the gap and it was Thomas who doubled up. Steve Moody dominated the Lightweight class and Mark Ess won the Earlystock section of both races.
Having incurred a penalty for a jump start in race one, John Cooke won the second of the ACU 50cc championship races from Mike Pollitt, who had been awarded the first after Cooke’s folly. Clive Somerfield and Paul Whiting ran very close together throughout both races as Somerfield took the third spot in race one ahead of Whiting before the placings reversed in race two.
Thomas Goldthorpe and Luke Burnett shared the wins in the Powerslide Motorcycles Rookies events, Goldthorpe taking the first and Burnett the second, with Cory Wilson bagging third in both.
*Images: Kev Gunstone