Round 1 of the ’22 season – Pembrey

Through the visor of Tony Perkin

The Lansdowne series soaked up the glorious weather at wonderful Pembrey for its season opener, the new hospitality trailer taking centre stage at this CRMC staged event. Few bared lilly white legs, the like I’ve only ever seen hanging from nests! Lets get on with it.

Saturday qualifying

Conditions allowed some decent lap times with George Thomas knocking out a 1:08.918 to take pole. Mike Hose took P2 from myself completing the front row. Matt Hebb just held off Chris Bassett and Steve Parrott to head the Clubman class charge in P5, 6 and 7, whilst the jovial 350 mounted John Cragg stuck in his fastest lap of the weekend to slot into P14 surrounded by many quick 500s.

New Lansdowne recruit Paul Stephen guided his stunning 1938 ‘garden gate’ Manx 350 to a creditable P23 displaying what is possible on a standard original motorcycle also showing the mix of machines that can be ridden in the Series.

Saturday race one

The Welsh flag dropped to the bellow of Britain’s best classic racing motorcycles charging to the hairpin, our resident scalded cat George Thomas led the pack and with enlarged testicles denied hauling the brakes until the death. The hole-shot kid held fast then rounding the hairpin Mike Hose pushed the G50s nose to the inside of the preceding right forcing George to give way. I tucked in behind and we were away with Chris Bassett and Matt Hebb both nipping at my rear Avon. Behind them each position is hard fought for, each rider tests their own limit and the pack splits into paced groups all hotly contested.

Up front Hose succumbed to Thomas’ determination, settling for the runner-up trophy. I came in 3rd ahead of the hard charging Luke Bailey and super smooth Chris Bassett loving being back and straight on pace. Mike Farrall was up next having duffed up Steve Parrott in the last corner 0.2 secs between them at the flag!

Seb Perez looked back to his old form working hard to keep TT missile Mark Parrett at bay finishing in 9th as another roads nutter, John Leigh-Pemberton, made with the wide elbows to keep Gordon Russell away from fresh air languishing in hydrocarbons.

Avon 350 top dog John Cragg scythed his 350 Manx through the 500s before he found himself baulked at Stuart Tonge’s rear, but the whirly Yoda engineer has seen it all before and closed the door. John then forgot it’s Easter and didn’t allow his daughter Angela to beat him. She finishing a tantalising 0.7secs behind, hopefully John has made amends with a chocolate egg?

The high flying Derek Bunning was jet propelled off the line but faded at the end still staying ahead of the 2nd 350 of Jack Hebb. The pre-55 class honours went to Tony Hazeldine on his Norton Domi-racer ahead of our newest recruit Paul Stephen on his cracking vintage machine.

Saturday race two

As per the first race George was off like a rat up a drainpipe at the front from Mike Hose and myself. This time, Bassett, Matt Hebb, Bailey, Parrott, Perez, Farrall, Leigh-Pemberton, Harry Cole and Robin Stokes became a collective blob after the first lap before a cold-seized motor in Mike Hose’s G50 put paid to his race. This left me to chase Gorgeous George at the front totally oblivious to the right old brawl just behind with Luke Bailey muscling through past Matt Hebb who, in turn, slipped through on Chris Bassett on the last lap.

Bailey’s pace nearly nailed me at the flag, but not quite. I mean 0.050 secs shows it pays to mount your transponder as far forward as possible! All through the field riders were stealing positions by a gnats todger. Of note, the ding dong battle between Mike Farrall and Robin Stokes, Robin just taking the points in 5th clubman home.

Another new Lansdowner to break his duck was John ‘James’ Smith, an ex 2-stroke racer giving the real(?) bikes a go and obviously enjoying the experience as it takes a good ride to stay ahead of Gordon Russell. Having a steady ride back from being pulverised on 2-strokes of late saw Andy Glasgow cruising well below his usual pace in 14th place, though he will be back up to speed soon enough.

Sunday race three

With a rocket up his jacksee George once again catapulted to the front but had to concede to a nifty move from Mike Hose exiting turn 1 the hairpin. This pair were nipping each others ankles until the penultimate lap when a luckless Mike had his G50 snap its drive belt. George nearly planted his cooked front Avon up where the sun don’t shine! This allowed me to sniff a win but George held his nerve to win by a length.

After a bad start Luke Bailey came through to take 3rd from Matt Hebb who snuck past Chris Bassett at the line these sorting the two top Clubman positions. 3rd Clubman was Mike Farrall who was charging through from 12th on the first lap to 6th overall. J-J Smith was again enjoying Lansdowne competition using his race know-how to move from 16th to 9th claiming 6th clubman points. John Cragg once again had the better of his 350 adversary Jack Hebb taking the lions share of points whilst Paul Stephen must be well chuffed finishing 0.134 secs ahead of Tony Hazeldine.

Sunday race four

As the sun continued to shine Gorgeous George continued his Dunnell Manx take off procedure, streaking to the front once more and once again Mike Hose poured on the pressure snapping at his heels for the duration of the race, nothing in it. George snatched the full house of wins by the narrowest of margins 0.039 of a second ahead. I had a great view of those pair riding to a lonely third ahead of the Clubman match featuring Matt Hebb, Chris Bassett, the pair finishing in that order both satisfied after a weekend of duelling.

Robin Stokes took 3rd Clubman and must have a right forearm like Popeye after hammering the single sided front brake lap after lap. Stevie Parrott had another cracking race, and after giving the baying crowd a lesson in how not to dance on the podium the night before must be well pleased with his pace, not dancing but racing!

Gordon Russell finished P9 again so fast given he’s older than our conker tree (it is a very nice tree). John Cragg again took top 350 points from Jack Hebb with Tony Hazledine collecting maximum points in the pre-55.

To sum up…

Both Mark Parrett and John Leigh-Pemberton had steady races in preparation for a trip to Ireland’s Cookstown road races next weekend. Both are real quality riders and we wish them luck.

John ‘James’ Smith who’s Norton 500 literally snapped in half at turn three, which led to both a red flag and what looked like a Laurel and Hardy sketch as one Marshall wheeled the handle bars/forks and wheel one way, whilst the other was left to try and lift the meat of the bike, all visible from the grid as we had returned for a restart.

Hope Seb Perez only hurt his pride pirouetting bike in the middle of the track, whilst underlying the reason we wear crash helmets, which took a bit of a bashing in Seb’s case, hope you and your bike are quickly sorted mate.

A few new riders joined the fold and were made welcome, a credit to the new trailer which appeared busy with folk all weekend. ‘Gorgeous’ George Thomas soaked up the Welsh sunshine and began this seasons GP campaign in dominant style winning all four races from pole position, very impressive from the new Dad, and must be awarded our rider of the weekend.

Can’t wait for the next round at Brands, if you haven’t entered get your skates on, check on the website. Massive thanks to Team Lansdowne, Mike and Elaine Farrall for the amazing amount of work on the trailer, also all the riders helpers, sponsors and CRMC for organising a great event.