Bonhams Lansdowne British Historic Championship
Round 3 - Oulton Park - 24th & 26th May 2014

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Action shots: sport-pics.co.uk

Round 3 of the Championship was at Oulton Park in Cheshire; one of my favourite circuits in the UK so I was looking forward to riding there.

However, my hand was still very sore from the Silverstone crash - I had done a coaching day on the Wednesday before the Friday and found braking was going to be an issue, just quite how much was unknown.

There was a practice day on the Friday then two 7 lap races on Saturday, a day off on Sunday due to noise restrictions, then two more 10 lap races on Monday.

Ian and the team arrived Thursday evening and had set up in the paddock so we rolled in early Friday morning signed on and was ready for action for the first session bright and early.

There was virtually no damage to the bike from the Silverstone crash other than the odd scratch and a few broken spokes so I was not expecting any serious problems in practice.

 

But the gearing was far too tall and I was only using 5 gears so after the first session Steve changed the front sprocket for the second session.

 

I was struggling a bit with braking as the drum brakes on Millie take some squeezing to get her stopped plus the throttle was slipping round in my weakened grip, with the longer races on Monday I knew I was going to be up against it but there was nothing we could do at this point.

Another few sessions on Millie and I was happy with her so we turned our attention to the spare machine, now named Mork.

We had a few sessions at Silverstone but it needed quite a bit of work to get it better and ran out of time there.

Steve altered the fork oil grade and re-jiggled the handle bars, gear lever and brake pedal to make it work better and the next session saw a huge improvement in how it felt. Now if needed, I could race Mork if anything went wrong with Millie.

Saturday morning was a little damp in places for qualifying but there was only 10 minutes to play with so it was a case of 'get on with it', a few laps latter I pitted and saw that I was pole only just from my old mentor Charlie Williams, “not having that” and bombed out again for the last few minutes before the flag.

Pole this time from Keith Clark by just over 2 seconds gave me a comfortable feeling for the race later that morning. I had been thinking of my hand injury and thought the best thing here would be get away, break the tow of the group so if I was struggling I had a cushion to play with.

Race one went exactly to plan, Alex hole shot turn one but I bagged him into Denton's then got my head down and opened up a 5.5 second lead by lap 4. Mike Russell fought his way from a bad start through the group and set off in hot pursuit of my but my lead was too great for him to close and I crossed the line 4.5 seconds clear for the win.

 

Great start to the weekend but Silverstone was the same and we know how that all turned out so I focused on race two, this was early in the afternoon but as the last race before lunch finished the heavens opened. Racing had to be delayed for a while because of laying water but unfortunately it didn't stop in fact it got worse and worse so for two hours there was no racing.

It was looking like we were going to be shortened races but the organises decided as everyone in the race program had done one race they would cancel race 2 for Saturday for everyone.There were noise restrictions for Sunday so we had a day of rest with racing resuming again on Monday. One of the Lansdowne competitors Mike Farrall who lived locally had invited everyone in the series to come along to his transport yard for the day and see his collection of motorcycles, trucks (new and classic) and have lunch there.

 

Mike and his wife put on a fabulous spread and made everyone very warm and welcome, plus the fact people had the opportunity to have a drive in the vehicles round his large yard.

I couldn't help myself and had a spin in a 1950 10 ton Thames Trader truck, no power steering, only 5 gears and top speed of 45mph the drivers of the day must have been a hardy bunch for sure!

Monday and the weather was much brighter, and after a quick warm up session we were confident of some more good results in the two races today.

The Lansdowne races were early in the program so we didn't have long to wait for race 3 and soon were being called to the holding area. Lights out and this time Alex and Duncan got to the first turn in front, I passed Duncan on the run to Cascades and followed Alex for the rest of the lap passing him into Lodge for the first time. Duncan hadn't given up and passed me towards island bend but I out braked him into Shell, this happened for the next few laps and my plan of getting away was never going to work, so plan B – stay in front and hold everyone up in the corners.

This worked until Mike Russell came by towards the end of the race and we opened up a gap from the battling Duncan/Alex pairing. Mike was riding very well but I made a tough hard braking pass on the last corner and managed to hold on to the line to win by 0.072 of a second. Great race.

 

The sun was out now and the racing like the temperature was getting hotter, Lights out in the last race and Alex once again made the front running for a few laps, he was riding hard and fast making it difficult to get by him.

 

Duncan and Mike had a little coming together out of Cascades which opened a small gap from Alex and me, then Alex ran on at Hizzys. I was a little caught out watching him disappear down the slip road and wondering where he would rejoin, he let me pass so not to be seen to be taking advantage of the situation and Mike had now caught us up.

 The next few laps were fantastic racing, swapping places and re-swapping now excuses given or taken proper elbow to elbow stuff.

Last lap I lead over the line but both Mike and Alex passed my on the run down to Island bend, I didn't want to come third at this point so planed a pass into Lodge again like race two.

 

However, on the brakes into Hizzys Alex out braked himself and I now was right on Mikes heals as we exited Hizzys.

Getting a good tow over Clay Hill I managed to out brake Mike into Druids and kept good momentum through the corner.

Staying mid track I braked as hard and as late as I could into Lodge for the last time, I could hear Mike and Alex sitting on my rear wheel as we all went through the corner.

I squeezed every last drop of power from Millie and we all crossed the line less than 3 hundreds of a second apart with me taking the win from Mike then a hard charging Alex, yet another terrific race. In the frantic last few laps all three of us broke the Lansdowne lap record with Mike setting a new one of 1:57.02, well done Mike.

It's been a long time since I had to ride as hard as that to take a win and it shows the level of the riders in the field but I honestly enjoyed every minute of it, thanks boys. Another big thanks to everyone in the Ripley Land Team for supplying me with a great machine and helping me to another great weekends racing.

Next round is at Castle Combe, I like the circuit and hope Millie does too.

 

Jun 21/22     Castle Combe NG Racing
Jul 19/20      Cadwell Park BMCRC

Aug 8-10      Donington Park CRMC
                     - Classic Motorcycle Festival
Oct 4/5         Brands Hatch Indy BMCRC
                    - Last race double points