NO Limits Racing’s flagship National Endurance crown went down to the wire this weekend as James and Jonathan Lodge banked the top prize.
While it was Delkevic Racing who took the honours in NLR’s Brands Hatch GP 8hr scrap, the Earnshaws Motorcycles crew – featured in Issue 26 of UK Clubsport magazine – did enough in second place to secure the championship.
Buy on a drying track on Saturday morning, it was the Andelle Leathers / RatMally Graphics squad of Alec Hinchcliffe, Liam Murtagh, Luke Hedger and Arnie Shelton who clinched pole position a mere 0.028sec clear of Delkevic Racing’s Liam Marchant, Gary Johnson, James Edwards and Luke Scott as the Lodges lined up third.
When the lights went out the pole-men got the best jump as they led the order with Team FWR, consisting of Bob Collins, Sam Neate, Aiden Patmore and Mark Bridger, chasing, but it was just a few laps before the Lodge boys hit the front.
FWR retook the lead briefly as Earnshaws hit the pits on lap 29, but the championship leaders emerged with just seven seconds to make up and within 10 laps they were back in control.
By the end of the second hour, Earnshaws was a lap ahead of both FWR and third-placed Delkevic, with Josh Daley Racing/RC Express in fourth, but it was all change at the front 60 minutes later as FWR took over and by the half-way point it was Delkevic who had found their way into the lead.
With two safety cars deployed by mid-distance, it looked to be anyone’s race as the Delkevic boys sat two points clear in the standings if they could take victory. And with FWR slipping to fourth in the final few hours, it looked to be a three-way battle for the spoils between Delkevic, Earnshaws and the Josh Daley/Rob Hodson duo.
Delkevic’s riders sat a cool 90sec clear of their closest competition and with the Lodges a lap down heading into what became the final hour as the race was flagged early, it was all to play for.
Daley, Hodson, Jonathan and James Lodge went tit-for-tat over the final 30 minutes but within the next 10 minutes, the Earnshaws crew reeled in the road racers to pinch second place with just 18 laps remaining.
And as Delkevic Racing crossed the line after a full 232 laps, their hopes of a title win were dashed just over a minute later as Earnshaws Motorcycles took the flag in second, securing the championship by a hair-splitting two points from their race-winning rivals and becoming the first team to take the title with a single bike.
Daley and Hodson clinched third in the National 1000 series in third place as Andelle and Team FWR followed them home to round out the top five.
Already-crowned Clubman 1000 champs Nathan Jackson, Paul Barker, James Skelding and Graeme Hardie of CT Racing banked the class win in sixth while Mark Daines, Jeremy Watson, Johnny Panter and Joe Higham controlled the Clubman 600 class in ninth overall. Premier Racing’s Lewis Arrowsmith, Jake Major-Bird, John Marsh and Tom Jackson were the final class winners with the National 600 victory as they crossed the line 11th overall.