RACERS of the NGRRC rolled the dice on weather this weekend and came up with a mixed bag as chills, wind and the odd hail storm hit Brands Hatch for their first round.
But despite tyre gambles dominating much of the paddock chatter, some riders still managed to break records and plot course for a feverish 2019 season.
Some of the closest finishes of the weekend were in the Mini Twins class, where Dan Harris took his HP Racing SV to victory in the first outing by 0.15sec over William Holland. The second race saw the same order but this time the gap fell to just 0.03sec. But Holland took revenge in the third outing, taking his 650 Gladius to the win, but again in a tight finish with just a 0.1sec gap.
Reigning Super Twin champ Holland had to settle for podiums in the faster class, however, as James Edwards took two on his Slidesports SV and Paul Wardell one on his first outing with the Bee Lighting ER650.
Reigning Sound of Thunder king Dave Mackay took his True Heroes 959 Panigale to three impressive wins to kick off his defence in perfect style while Krämer rider Jacques Foley, Les Linney and Antony White all had podium finishes.
Reigning Formula 125 champion James Chapman started his bid to regain the class title with two fine wins on his Chapman Racing Aprilia, both times over Sean Able. Able, however, was not to be denied his moment on the top step as he swept through to a victory in Sunday afternoon’s final on his Hire Standards Ltd RS in very wet conditions.
Young Welshman Lewis Jones took a convincing F400 win first time out on his KTM RC390 heading the field home by 15sec, while Mark Walker fought through from the sixth row to take second place.
Reigning F400 champ Tim Bradley was struggling with conditions and managed fourth, but he was in no mood to let any other points go begging as he took the next two races on his A and Z Taylor FZR over Phil Atkinson.
Teenager Bradley Richman kicked off his challenge for the 500 Open title with a hat-trick of wins on his Hel Performance ZXR400, but the 2018 runner up may not run the full season though as he is making the switch to a 600 as soon as he hits 16.
The 2019 Formula Prostocks Suzuki Bandit Challenge already looks to be a two-way fight between reigning champ James McHardy on his European Vacuum Drainage Suzuki and Redneck Racing’s Harley Prebble. There was nothing between the pair over the four races as they split victories, with Prebble even bagging the new lap record in a short dry spell.
Two of FPR’s FP1 wins went to John Tatham on his Harris magnum, while Ian Feeley too the other on his naked CB900. FP2 man Andy Bailey was untroubled on his GSXR750 and defending FP3 champ Lewis Rees snatched the wins on his Pembrokeshire Self Drive Hire CBR 600 each time over Andrew Howe.
Simon Bastable was back on track with the Streetstocks after a huge crash at Anglesey early doors last season. But he did not put a foot wrong at Brands, taking three wins in the 700cc class as Adam Grosch and reigning champ David Irons, who had suffered a big off on Friday, scrapped for the rostrum.
The 1300s had Jason Hill take his first race weekend double on his JT Racing/Weston Motorcycles ZX10, but he just missed out on the hat-trick as former champ Jon Wright took the final win on his Controls and Safety R1.
Daniel Nelmes took a narrow win in the first Pre Injection 700 outing on his R6 over Dean Kennedy in the dry, but in Sundays wet conditions no one had an answer for Nelmes, who stormed to two more wins. The 1300 ranks’ newcomer Daniel Boucher grabbed the win on Saturday on his LBW & D Boucher R1. Sunday, however, saw Wayne Pither and his Supreme Engineering/BAS R1 take a pair of wins to put him on top of the points table.
Steven Colville won first time out in the Ducati Desmo Due ranks on his Class A 620 Ducati with a margin of almost 30sec over the rest of the field. But then Mike Burke was up as he battled with Jim Weatherald, Scott Wilson and Duncan Bailie. Scotsman Baillie did not want to head back up North without a good points haul, so promptly took the next two race wins, each him over Wilson.
The Class B 600 class saw Austin Lachlan take his first ever Desmo win over pre-race favourite Preston Tuby, but the latter bounced back and bagged the second and third wins of the weekend.
Newcomers had some of the worst conditions on Saturday, but still produced a four-way Open class battle as Luke Welch, Chris Oliver, Antony Stroud and Daniel Boucher went head to head before Welch on the LSW Electrical R6 took the honours with a couple of late race fastest lap. The Mini Twins division saw Olii Warren take a stunning 14 second win on the Boutiqueolii SV over Hayden Rushton and Grant Seymour.
Jim Hind set a stunning pole position for the first round of the Dunlop 250 GP series, but it was Bruce Dunn who drew first championship blood with a stunning win over 20-year-old Hind and former 250 Cup winner Simon Hunt. Hind was unstoppable on Sunday as he took both wins by impressive margins on his Bass Tyres/North Lincs. Components TZ with Dunn, Hunt and Daniel Walling chalking up podiums.
Reigning 250 GP king Atkinson is without a 250 ride in 2019, so wheeled out his newly built RS125 and took a surprising first 125GP win on the untested machine over Paul Fyson and Sam Llewellyn. Race two was Fyson’s on the Machine Tool Maintenance RS over Llewellyn and Atkinson, before the latter two swapped positions for race three, putting them all on 61 points as they head to Snetterton.
Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney took pole for the Open Sidecar scrap on their new SBR LCR 600 Yamaha, but despite starting strong they were hit with fuelling issues with two laps to go and had to pull in. Their misfortune paved the way for Sam and Adam Christie to take their LCR to victory. After that win he was never headed across the line and took the next two races in fine style despite early pressure from Brian Gray/Jason Pitt and the afore mentioned Blackstock and Rosney. Kyle Masters survived being thrown out of the back of the outfit piloted by Kevin Cable after they spun on oil at Graham Hill but was unscathed, bouncing back to take a couple of fourth placings.
*Image: EDP Photo News