Bonhams Lansdowne British Historic Championship
Round 7 - Brands Hatch - 4th & 5th October 2014

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The final round of the Lansdowne championship at Brands was always going to be a pressure keg.

OK I had a very healthy 41 point lead but three of the races carried 15 points for the win, and the last race 30 - so there were 75 points up for grabs.

We thought until its mathematically impossible to loose that's what can always happen. I know, over 32 years I've been there before - twice!

There was a practice day on the Friday giving us the opportunity to run both bikes and set up Mork 100% as a back up machine to Millie. Although not perfect, come the race weekend both bikes were race ready.

The times were good with a best of 54.2 seconds on Millie which Steve assured me should be right on the money for the weekend.

However the weather on Saturday was forecast to turn very nasty around lunch time then better for Sunday again.

Qualifying went well but there was a huge entry list for the last round so there was a lot of traffic out on the Indy circuit making finding some clear space difficult. Same for everyone I guess, but I managed a good lap towards the end of the session pushing Mike Russell off pole with a 54.92.

Then the rain came and it was a real down pour as we formed on the grid for race one; I reckon if everyone had got together, we would have preferred to draw straws for the result and had a cup of tea instead of racing!

But that's not the way it works and as the lights went out we all roared into Paddock for the first time. Glen English made a great start and I settled in behind him as we dropped down Paddock for the first time. In reality all I had to do was grab some third and fourth places even if Duncan won all the races but in these conditions anything could have happened.

There was no grip at all, everyone was wheel spinning and sliding around so I decided to keep it together and get at least a finish.

 

Alex came by and set off after Glen but I hung on keeping an eye behind on Duncan in fourth place.

I was in a dilemma 'should I slow down and settle for what ever points I got or press on and stay in front of Duncan making his task more difficult?'

I felt confident even though I was sliding around and started to close on the leaders until I had a huge front slide on the brakes into the top of paddock, OK "calm down Michael" I thought, points make prizes and rolled on to grab third place with Duncan in behind me in fourth.


Action photos: racing-line-photography.com

The rain eased off and the sun came out for the last race of the day but there had been some stoppages and by the time our race came around the sun was setting and was now getting cold.

 

As a result it was still quite wet and now cold so it turned out to be almost as slippy as the first race.

Lights out again and Duncan did his lightening start grabbing the hole shot into Paddock, I didn't want to let him get away so dropped in behind him with Mike Russell in third.

Everyone was feeling their way round so it took a few laps before Alex mad a move passing me and Mike to get up behind Duncan, I thought he was going to ride shotgun for Duncan but the next lap he passed him.

A few laps later in a moment of madness I passed Duncan too, "what are you doing Edwards points make prizes" I thought again, but I managed to stay there until Duncan now under tremendous pressure came back passed me again.

 

As we started the last lap we encountered a big groups of back markers at the top of Paddock, Duncan went tight on the exit pushing some of the slower riders into the middle of the track right where I was making my move on them.

To say it was tight was an understatement but I couldn't afford to ease off as Duncan would have made the break, I then had a great drive down the hill and up to Druids so past him round the outside into Druids. Keeping a tight line and riding defensively I held him off into Clearways for the final time where I had some luck and put a slower rider between us, taking the pressure off me on the run to the line where Duncan's Norton would have passed me for sure.

 

Crossing the line ahead of Duncan in second place all I needed now from Sunday's two races was one point, back at the awning the team were made up but as I reminded them all "it isn't over yet boys and girls" it can all still go wrong.

Sunday was glorious weather, not a cloud in the sky but it was cold making the circuit deceptively slippy again, but better than the misery of Saturdays conditions.

Forming on the grid my mission was simple 'keep it upright'. Lights out and I got a good start in second place Mike in third with Alex fourth.

Duncan was away but I was not worried at this stage so waved Mike passed to chase him down, however Alex came by too with Keith Clark and Clive Ling on his heels so this was starting to drop me right back into the chasing pack. It was no good I was going to have to put a bit of a fight up to stay in the reasonable points. Unfortunately, under enormous pressure, Duncan fell off exiting Clearways.

He was up on his feet so I knew he was OK but I was so shocked I couldn't figure out what that meant to the points table, while I was trying to work it out another rider fell and the red flags came out.

I had to wait for the restart to see if Duncan would make it however I couldn't see him resume his starting place so for the restarted five lap race me and Mike Russell had a great scrap.

Mike lead the whole race with me trying to work out where I could nab him, he looked back a couple of times but I was right up his chuff.

I tried a few times into Druids but he was riding brilliantly and was quick yet defensively making it impossible to squeeze by.

As luck would have it though a back marker on the final lap exiting Clearways made Mike ease slightly allowing me to get into a super slipstreaming position on the run to the line.

I didn't think I could get passed him but as I had tried a few times on previous laps but dropping down towards the pit wall right on the line I levelled him over the line. We had no idea who had won until we arrived back at the pits where I was declared the winner by 13 thousands of a second!

Now everyone back at the awning were jubilant, Ian gabbed me and shook my hand thanking me for a great race and everyone was clapping. I made my way over to Duncan to see how he was and to commiserate with him, however he was fine, a sore elbow but fine, he congratulated me on winning the Championship and good luck in the last race.

Now the pressure was off and there was no real need to even go out we decided to give Mork a run out for the last race and use it as a extra practice. Lights out and Mork flew off the line giving me the hole shot for the first time, but Glen was right on my back wheel as I started the second lap.

Hey nothing to loose now lets see what we can do I thought.

 

Keeping an eye on my lap board next lap I was +2 then +3, +4, +6 leaving Mike, Alex and Glen all squabbling amongst themselves and I just romped away with another race win to finish of the Championship and season.

 

Looking at the seasons results with 25 rounds I had 16 wins, 4 x 2nd, 3 x 3rd, one DNF and a DNS totalling 333 points.

89 points clear of Duncan with Alex in third overall.

I've had a great season, not just with the on track success, but the Lansdowne paddock is a fantastic place to spend your weekend, everyone is very friendly and what else can you ask for?

Great team, great sponsor, great bikes and great racing with some very talented riders - I've had a fabulous time throughout 2014 and can't thank Ian Garbutt, Steve Ragless and Rob Gregory enough for all their support and help towards me securing my 5th career British Championship title.

Cheers guys.