CASTLE Combe’s Grand National roared into life last weekend as NG Riders rolled into Wiltshire for their penultimate round of 2019.
And along with the King of Combe battle, there was plenty of action to keep crowds entertained all across the programme.
Formula 125 Championship leader Sean Able was a non-starter at this his local meeting due to an accident at the previous Anglesey round the way was open for someone to elevate themselves up the point’s table. It was Oliver Sweet on his F125 Aprila that took a couple of wins as Able sat on the side-lines, now safe in the knowledge that with just Oulton to go the championship is his.
Tim Bradley was again in dominant form in the Formula 400s taking three more wins on the A and Z Taylor FZR400 Yamaha, making it 17 wins from the 21 rounds so far. Newcomer Martin Stutely impressed many with three fine runner-up spots on his ZXR. Jay Able, Christopher Swyer, Elwyn Fryer and Finlay Arscott battled it out all weekend for the final step on the podium.
Nick Sansome wheeled the Double Take RS250 out for one on his occasional outings in the Open 500 and prove he has still-got-it by leading the first race and setting a new 500 class lap record. Cruel luck saw a broken piston force him out, leaving the way open for Nigel Palmer to take a win on his QRG TZ, with Elwyn Fryer second. Fryer proceeded to take both of Sunday’s finals to elevate himself to second in the tables behind champ Bradley Richman.
Josh Day took one 600 Open win on his faithful old R6, but once Charlie Nesbitt got his eye in the young former British Moto 3 champ was unstoppable, setting lap record after lap record on his way to two emphatic wins. The third outing saw Max Symonds and Aaron Ridewood battle it out for the podium spots with finally Max grabbing second place to secure the 2019 title.
Day took two wins in the Powerbikes finals, one over Daniel Cooper and one over Chris Pope. He could possibly have made it a hat trick but decided to sit out Sunday morning’s race. That left the way open for someone else to pick up the 25 points, and it was former British champ Jordan Weaving who picked up the baton on his new JDR Racing GSXR1000 Suzuki to take the win.
Defending Super Twins champion William Holland was having a race 2019 outing but proved he has lost none of his pace and took a big lead in the Super Twins on his JHS SFV Gladius setting a new lap record before disaster struck as he suffered a big high-side. Joe Thomas took up the running to grab the win. Newly crowned 2019 champ Edward Giles took the rain-affected race two over Thomas on his Giles Motors SV, but for the third outing it was a dry track and sunny skies again and Thomas romped home 15 seconds clear.
Holland also took Minitwin race one on his JHS Racing 650 Suzuki over Olii Warren and Thomas, but his crash left the door open for Olii Warren on the Boutiqueolii SV and Thomas on his SV. Two very different racing style meaning they passed each other time and time again on both races. Dan Harris suffered from an earlier high-speed crash but rode hard to grab points taking a fourth and a couple of thirds to protect his series lead.
Scott Pitchers looked more like himself after taking two Sound of Thunder wins on his Saul Bros 959 Panigale and lowering the lap record numerous times as he headed home defending and champion elect Dave Mackay both times. Mackay was in no mood to be beaten in the final outing of the weekend and on the True Heroes Panigale he powered to an early to finally get one over on Pitchers. Paul Willis had three podium finishes on his KTM, although he said he was struggling for some reason and not able to do the lap times he knows that he and the bike are capable of.
Streetstock man Simon Bastable took three wins, maximum points and a new class lap record in the 700cc category on his WSC/Wincanton R6 each time over title rival David Irons. The thing that Simon will be happiest with though is that he finally takes over at the top of the championship table with just Oulton left in four weeks’ time. The 1300cc class had Combe wild-card Charles Hardisty grab two wins on his BMW S1000RR over series leader Chris Oliver. Oliver on The Garage of Trowbridge GSXR100 took the third over Jon Wright who was having a troubled weekend on his Streetstocker with electrical issues.
Jon Wright on his Controls and Safety R1 took two wins to Daniel Boucher’s one in the 1300 Pre Injection class to close the gap on Boucher’s championship lead to 11 points. Daniel on his LBW / D Boucher R1 took the other race though to keep damage to a minimum going into the last round. In the 700cc class, season long rivals Daniel Jones and Daniel Nelmes again shared the wins with two going to Jones on his Emlyn Garages bike and Nelmes one on his R6.
The Formula Prostocks Bandit Challenge was all action with the top two of James McHardy and Harley Prebble once more pulling no punches. Race one saw the usual nip and tuck with passes aplenty….but two Bandits will not easily go through Old Paddock on full chat and the two clashed with McHardy getting Prebble’s handlebars in the ribs sending him careering across the grass…..an embarrassed Prebble took the win. Race two McHardy and the Vacuum Drainage Suzuki stole an early lead, Prebble on the Redneck racing bike chased hard and set a new lap record, but the race was McHardy’s. Both of Sundays races had the top two cross the line less than a tenth of a second apart, both times with Prebble ahead. McHardy still has the upper hand in the championship though and will be in defensive mode to take the title at Oulton.
Also part of the Formula Prostock series are the FP1s (pre ’81 Classic F1) where John Tatham took a clean sweep FP2s (pre ’87 Production) with Phil Webber and Mark Carels-Watson sharing honours and FP3s (pre ’95 Classic Superbikes) where Nigel Manning-Morton took three but Tony Hart prevented him taking a clean sweep with a convincing outing on Saturday afternoon.
Andy Blomfield with his BB Racing Ducati, Dan James on his Notohashi/Jim Roger bike and Duncan Baillie on the Saddletramps 620SS shared a win each in the Desmo Due Ducati A series. Blomfield, the defending champion could have made it two but had a huge off coming out of Camp Corner, luckily escaping injury but damaging his usually immaculate all black machine. The B class had two wins for Peter Cooper and one for James Topliss who has secured runner up spot in the series behind Austin Lachlan.
Bruce Dunn came to Combe needing to get three wins to go to the top of the ACU 250GP National championship with one round left knowing that current series leader James Hind was still on the Isle of Man. Dunn, took three podiums including a win on his Bilstien/ SFT/HGV TZ 250 but Thomas Lawlor and Nesbitt also took wins in a series of races that saw also saw Hardisty in impressive form but crashing out of a race winning position as did Nesbitt. Dunn is 14 points off the top spot, so Hind needs a top three at Oulton to take the 2019 National 250GP title. Travis Vince is starting to click with his TZ taking his maiden National podium after race long battles with Simon Hunt. In the 125GP ranks, wins are like buses for John Hiorns on his Mr D Hiorns RS125 Honda as he took all three after not troubling the top step previously.
*Images: EDP Photo News