JOSH Leaning secured the HMT Racing Thundersport 500 Elite championship this weekend after splitting wins with Tony Waistnage.
The two were the only ones in contention for the title, with Graeme Frear not out at Snetterton, but it was the JLR/SB Transport man who came out on top.
Waistnage started strong, however, as he put his Online Carpets Honda on pole position ahead of Leaning, with Grant Whitaker completing the front row for HWW Racing.
But when the lights went out for race one, Leaning and Waistnage emerged at the front, leading the pack and stretching a gap over the top Sportsman bike of Matthew Shaw in third.
The front-runners diced for the entire 10-lap scrap, but Waistnage pulled out a wheel at the line and took victory by just 0.175s. Shaw completed the podium for the Sportsman win, while Infinity Motorcycles’ Chris Kingham bagged the Senior spoils.
Race two was nearly a repeat of the first as Leaning and Waistnage pulled a gap early on, but disaster struck for the latter as he retired on the final lap, leaving Leaning to an easy win and the 500 Elite crown with an insurmountable lead. Whitaker took second ahead of Shaw as Rustic Racing’s Brett Haley snatched a Senior win.
Sunday’s first race was nearly a carbon copy of the previous two, but this time RP Motorsport’s Daniel Swift tagged onto the back of Leaning and Waistnage. But it was Leaning who suffered a DNF this time, just four laps in, while Waistnage held off Swift to win by 0.163s.
James Lee crossed the line at the front of a four-rider scrap for third, holding off Whitaker, Shaw and Shaw’s title rival Sam Palfreyman as the quartet was covered by a mere 0.323s.
The three early leaders hit the front once again in the final race and after a 10-lap battle, Leaning emerged the victor with just 0.044s to spare over Swift and 0.248s ahead of Waistnage.
Haley took another Senior win in sixth, but Kingham had already done enough to clinch the championship. And after completing his clean sweep, Shaw Twins Racing’s Matt Shaw bagged the Sportsman crown.
Despite taking a Freshman class hat-trick to George Powell’s lone, Rick Jenkinson came up just under 50 points shy of the rookie silverware as Martin Bazeley took the title.
*Images: Colin Port