RECORD entries for this weekend’s GP Originals round at Oulton Park were on for a battle as riders fought the gusts and downpour of Storm Hannah.
Gale force winds, temperatures of six degrees and deep standing water set in early on Saturday and never let up as 29 riders braved conditions for the timed qualifying session. They weren’t out of the woods, however – tree debris on track and leaves scattered over the Tarmac made matters even worse.
But points leader Phil Atkinson, who was looking to continue his perfect run of form from Brands Hatch powered his Rose MOT Centre 350 to pole position ahead of Gary Vines on the 250 and Mike Russell on another 350.
Former National 250GP champ Dan Jackson and Richard Wilson were on for a baptism of fire at their first attempts riding post classic two-strokes, but Jackson managed to bag fourth on the grid aboard the Lea Gourlay 350 and Richard Wilson sixth on a loaned Maxton 350. The second 250 to line up was Jamie O’Brien on his EMC Rotax, while the third was Rich Grinling on the TZ250.
With 15 riders on the grid for the first race, several declaring the conditions were the worst they have ever attempted to race in, Gary Vines took an early lead with Atkinson, English and Moore and Jackson chasing.
Atkinson hit the front on lap two and began to pull clear, while Jackson was starting to get to grips with the new bike and the Avon tyres. Wilson also put in a strong performance, eventually finishing fifth on Dave Grigson’s Maxton.
After a coming together at Hislops, Jamie O’Brien and Neil Watson both hit the deck while Glen English and Mike Farrall crashed out separately on the last lap due to the extreme conditions.
The Masters field showed its experience as Mark Edge led the over-55s for most of the race until he was pipped by 2018 Masters Champ Tony Perkin, who was gaining rapidly at the end.
Following nearly an hour of delays and a cut back to just five laps, the final GP Originals race of the day got underway.
Most of the field had called it a day as the track, thanks to worsening weather and an oil spill, continued to deteriorate.
In a repeat show, Vines took the early lead once again before Atkinson came through on lap two. And while Vines looked to be holding second comfortably, he ran out of fuel on lap three and had to call it quits, leaving Wilson to take the runner-up spot until a late charge from JL Exhaust rider Chris Moore, who snatched second on the final lap.
The only other 250-man left standing, Grigson, collected the smaller capacity prize. Ship captain Mark Henrys looked to be in his element in the gales, chasing down and passing Perkin to take the Masters victory, while Edge crashed out with two laps to go.
*Main image: Neil Lambert
*Side image: John Lockett