HUDSON Kennaugh and Fernando Mendes secured the first ever GP Originals championships with dominant performances at Oulton Park.
The former National Superstock champ clinched the blue riband 350cc title with a clean sweep this weekend, while Mendes wrapped up his campaign in the 250cc category after having taken nine of 12 race wins.
Although Kennaugh had dominated the 350 proceedings heading into the final round on Saturday, JL Exhausts’ rider Chris Moore was still in the frame to take over the championship lead if the Veryard Racing rider suffered any mishaps.
Neither was on top in qualifying on Friday afternoon, however, and it was Lansdowne series regular Mike Russell who took his TZ350 to pole position at 1:53.296s, with Kennaugh having to settle for second spot on the grid just .279s adrift as Chris Moore took the final front row slot.
Former British 125GP Championship star Mendes headed up the 250cc group in fourth, while 2015 Manx GP Newcomer winner Gary Vines and Steve Pond completed the second row of the grid.
The first race was underway late on Saturday morning, but was quickly red flagged with a serious incident involving experienced rider Peter Crew. The No Limits team quickly got everyone back out for the restart and racing resumed with David White having to start from pit lane.
With a whopping four second lead on the very first lap and a 20s gap at the flag, Kennaugh secured the 2018 JL Exhausts supported 350cc Championship with victory over Moore and Russell. The 250cc contingent were close behind with Mendes also securing the 250cc crown, followed home by Pond and Vines.
Pitlane starter White pushed his 350 on to an impressive 11th place finish just 0.5s behind fellow Xclusiv Events Master class rider Dave Grigson on his Marlboro-liveried TZ250.
The second and final race of the season hit the grid just over two hours later with similar calamity and another first lap red flag. But this time, it was Kennaugh who had to make his start from pit lane.
Russell noticed a water leak and was forced to pull off the grid, leaving Mendes clear to make hay and take two second lead in the early laps as he was chased down by Moore, Vines, Pond and Classic Senior MGP winner Glen English.
Mendes and Vines flew the 250 flag after Pond retired, but Kennaugh eventually caught Mendes on lap four of seven and beat him to victory to complete his double. Moore took third on the road and second 350 with Vines hot on his heels with the fastest 250 lap at 1:55.222s.
Tony Perkin secured the Xclusiv Events Masters Championship with a resurgent Derek Skinner managing to overtake absent Nigel Palmer for second.
The GP Originals’ regular season may be over, but it returns alongside the Lansdowne Classic Series for a non-championship round at Portimao for the Algarve Classic Festival in October.
*Main and bottom image: PJM Photography
*Group image: Alex James