Firstly, congratulations to all the Champions of 2016.
Namely, 15 year old’s Charlie Nesbitt, who won the British Motostar Moto 3 GP, and Dan Jones, winner of the Moto 3 Standard class.
South African born Jordan Weaving, eventual winner of the National Superstock 600’s, and to the ‘MacKenzies’, Tarren & Taylor who made history by becoming the first brothers to win separate British Championships titles in the same year. ‘Mini Mac’ wrapping up the British Supersports whilst his elder sibling Taylor, secured the National Superstock 1000 category.
Sidecar wise the pairing of Ricky Stephens & Ryan Charlwood retained their F1 Title for a second year, whilst…… surprise, surprise, the brothers Birchall, Ben & Tom, romped away with the F2 Cup.
And of course the major title of the year, the MCE British Superbike Championship, went for a record breaking 5th time, to Paul Bird Racings golden boy, and crowd pleaser, riding the ‘Be Wiser’ Ducati Panigale, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.
2016 has been yet another brilliant year of racing across the board, and without doubt has served up one of the most competitive & exciting for many a season. Much will be written & spoken about the racing at this Final Round elsewhere by the media, for you to digest at leisure, so I’ll leave my report at that.
However, it would be remiss of me not to offer a word of praise & consolation for the major opposition to ‘Shakey’ season long that was provided by JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam. So equal was the fight that both riders finished the series with 9 race wins, four seconds & two third place finishes apiece, and but for a disastrous final round at Brands Hatch for the Kawasaki man……..well, we’ll never know the answer to that one.
So I guess the only way to sort that one out is for Shane, Leon & the rest to come back & do it again in 2017 to see if we get a different result!!!!!!!!!!!!
We now know that Mark Smith-Halvorsen,Team owner of GB Moto Racing, the force behind this years JG Speedfit squad will definitely not be back in the paddock next year. Although Title sponsors JG Speedfit will be. Meaning there will be some interesting shuffling about of riders/teams etc., ready for next year. It’s going to an interesting closed season.
The real reasons for Mark S-H withdrawal, we know not. It is as we all know, a hard world at times and we can only surmise. However he has gone on record as saying…..’ It is with a heavy heart, but for some fundamental reasons that I draw a line under not only this season, but cease the racing activities of GB Moto too.’
Ironically this year was by far & away Mark’s best as a Team owner, with Leon finishing Runner Up, James Ellison third, and Peter Hickman taking the Riders Cup.
For those of us who have the pleasure to know the man personally, it is sad to see him go. I have a lot of time for Mark. I find him warm, friendly & up front. He will certainly be missed around the paddock, but should he ever venture back to any of the circuits either officially, or unofficially, then I all I can say is..’Mark you are always welcome in my Commentary Box’.
One of the more interesting entries over the weekend was that of a certain Michael Dunlop in the sidecars.
I spent some time with Mickey ‘D’ on the Thursday afternoon as he was being fitted, & shoe horned into Ben & Tom Birchall’s short wheel base F2 Honda outfit (which incidentally with Ben & Tom has won 3 Isle of Man TT’s & currently holds the Lap Record for the Mountain Circuit).
Before we spoke sidecars, I asked him about his outright TT lap record of 16min 53.929sec, av. 133.962mph that he set this June, and what time did he reckon he would have saved on that record breaking lap had it not been set on a slowing down, refuel stop lap.
‘7 seconds at least’ he hit me with.
So getting out the pen & paper I quickly worked out that that would have meant something in the region of 16min 46.929sec lap. That’s about right he agreed. The resulting calculation thus indicating an average speed of 134.893mph.
I further calculated that if he had saved the 7sec plus the .929sec as well, then the average speed would be, wait for it…………135.018mph!!!!!!
You can now understand why I enjoy talking to him so much.
But he was here at Brands Hatch, along with 8 times TT winning passenger, and equally impressively, 3 times solo Manx Grand Prix winner Dan Sayle, to race in the Final Round of the British Sidecar Championship.
Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!!!
He would be racing against the cream of British sidecar talent, along with a fair number of World Championship points scorers, let alone 5 times World Champ. Tim Reeves.
So when he tells me this would be only his second sidecar race meeting in 5 years ( only other being Scarborough).
That he is racing with an outfit that has right foot gear change & left foot braking, (whereas his solo configuration is the total opposite, and interestingly that even when he’s in his Ford Mexico Rally car, he has never mastered the art of left foot braking), AND that the brake pedal is just a little too far back to reach comfortably and he would have to ‘shuffle’ about a bit in the cock pit to operate it (and critically on a sidecar, braking to ALL three wheel is operated by the left foot) oh, and just to further complicate things he adds………… he has never, ever raced over the Brands Grand Prix track before!!!!
Talk about the odds being stacked against you!
Well many eyes were on the number 6 outfit, and he did not disappoint.
21st overall, and 6th in Class in the dry Race 1, gave no indication as to what was to come in the wet second race.
The wet track would certainly help the smaller engined F2 outfits negate the extra straight line speed of the more powerful 1000cc F1’s.
Starting from Row 9 of the grid, Dunlop was up to 12th overall at the end of lap 1, and over the next 7 laps he just kept moving higher up the leader board.
Amazingly the Dunlop/Sayle combo finished 5th overall (behind winner Tim Reeves, 2nd home Chris Walker, with F2 Class winner, Des Founds third and the British Champions Ricky Stevens & Ryan Charlwood 4th), and was 2nd in Class.
And just for good measure they also set the 5th fastest lap of the race! Not too shabby for total newcomers to the game.
The clear message being, when he gives up the day job, a career in sidecars awaits.
Well that’s it for this year. Hope you have enjoyed the Blogs.
Have a great closed season. See you all next year.