JOSH Day returned to NG in style with a dominant hat-trick to beat Dan Cooper in the war for four King of Combe titles.
Amid what is normally a festival of bikes and motorcycling stars, with the likes of Freddie Spencer, Guy Martin, John McGuinness, Graham Crosby and Bruce Anstey on hand over recent years, Day and Cooper went head-to-head in the battle for top honours as the Grand National rolled into Castle Combe.
And with current restrictions halting many of the off-track festivities and guest appearances, all eyes were on the racing and the Phoenix Open where riders duked it out for the circuit crown.
The battle for the Rodney Gooch King of Combe title was always going to be a fight between two men. Heading into the weekend, Day and Cooper had both have lifted the title three times – Day in 2017,2018 and 2019 and Cooper in 2015, 2016 and 2020, making the former roads ace the current title-holder.
But with Cooper on his regular DCM CBR 600 Honda, Day took the reins of his old championship-winning R1 Yamaha, borrowed from its current owner who had made a few modifications including a thumb brake since the Ducati Cup champ last raced it.
With a triple-header on the cards to decide an aggregate winner, each race followed a similar format: Cooper made the holeshot on the 600 before Day out-dragged the middleweight machne using the R1’s extra grunt as Cooper then rode the wheels off the Honda to hang on.
And despite Day struggling to master the new rear brake, he took around half a second out of Cooper on each lap to make a clean sweep with all three wins as he reclaimed the coveted King of Combe crown.
Max Symonds gave chase with three thirds while Bob Collins, Chris Pope, Dave Mackay and Richard Dodson duked it out to be the best of the rest.
Day now turns his focus to the Ducati Tri-Options series in an attempt to win his third championship on the bounce, while Cooper – himself a former British 125GP champion – has his eyes firmly set on taking the NG Open and 600 titles.
The former TT Privateers champ currently leads both points tables and is doing his chances a world of good this weekend with the three runner-up spots in the Open class and three wins in the 600 class over Bradley Richman and Owen Hunt, with Lewis Jones and Daniel Nelmes also having strong rides.
Meanwhile, newcomer George Edwards impressed as he steadily found speed all weekend to finish each race inside the top-10 with a best result of sixth on his R6.