Through the visor of Tony Perkin
Arriving on Thursday evening for this the Stan Woods meeting, torrential rain made the prospect of racing look grim. But once all ‘the righteous’ were assembled at Pembrey circuit for the first round of our championship, hosted by the CRMC, the clouds parted and as most of the country saw rain we basked in a mini heat wave, the incredible weather brought out the best in classic racing, milk bottle legs and great paddock banter. John Cragg kept his chin above water crossing a puddle in the paddock whilst little Harrison Thomas decided to lie in it and fill his wellies. Ooooh, to be young and carefree – Harrison not John.
Mike Hose (11a) was right on the pace securing pole with a scintillating lap nearly a second faster than 11b champ chaser Matt Hebb who was certainly in the mood in P2. New recruit Mark Taylor (11a) made his intensions known with a superb debut P3 ahead of the ever jovial Robin Stokes (11b) from another very quick Matchless G50 mounted Lansdowne new face Dan Jackson (11a). Class act Glen English (11a) took P6, with Moi (11a) P7 a gnat’s todger ahead of current Champ ‘Gorgeous’ George Thomas (11a). Jamie O’Brian (11b) was third placed WRR runner in P9 a whisker ahead of Andy Glasgow (11b) then Steve Parrott (11b) in P10 & 11. First of the Avon 350 nutters was the lovely John Cragg (11c) taking P21 a sniff away from his nemesis Jack Hebb (11c) P24. Richard Hann (11d) lead the P55 clan in P17 from Stevan Radakovic (11d) P18 and the delightful Derek Bunning P26.
Senses heightened, noses twitching to the tang of 105 race fuel, visor down, gear selection checked, rev’s pick up, lights go out and the cacophony of British bike racing’s golden era machines accelerate towards an almost dead stop hairpin! This first corner could be likened to a food mixer, having the desired effect of total chaos spitting out riders sometimes in the same direction in some sort of race order! Plop!! It’s Matt Hebb with the lead, the WRR runner has the bit between his teeth taking to the front a gnats cock in front of The Hose who took a lap to dampen Matt’s fire, then cleared off to take the win. I was having fun digesting Matt’s hairpin tyre smoke before sneaking under him to snatch second then gorged on destroying my new tyres on Pembrey’s abrasive asphalt. Dan Jackson enjoyed ‘Jaws’ music in his head as he first clawed past Matt then set after my rump. Alas the checkered flag put a stop to that undesirable quest! Dan well chuffed though having secured third winning one of Ian Bain’s hand made exquisite trophies. Matt yielded to pressure from daring duo Glen English and George Thomas on the last lap but retook Glen after a mechanical slowed the ex-champ, Matt taking 5th overall and top WRR rider just in front of the fabulously gangly Robin Stokes. Jamie O’Brian rounded out the WRR top three with another class ride. Further back the orange vested Simon Hocking increased his Manx knowledge the hard way, downshifting too early making the engine over-rev and bending a valve! Back to the action, the 350 battle saw Jack Hebb and John Cragg battle all race switching lead at half race distance as John hummed Hi-Ho and got to work, but Jack wasn’t to be denied taking the opportunity to make his old adversary change from Happy to Grumpy! The Pre 55 had late race retirements from Richard Hann and Steven Radakovic, leaving Derek Bunning to scoop the trophy.
Same bowel movement, different race, another 7 lapper. Starts so important and Mike Hose made it count, holding the lead from start to finish but he was made to work hard. Dan Jackson pushed his G50 real hard but the canny Hose covered all the angles crossing the line 0.2 of a second ahead. I took 3rd escaping a lunge from George Thomas where I expected him to come under me into the long left so closed that off only making me run wide on the exit, but poor George planned a pass on the outside at the turn’s exit, I came close to the grass, George came close to the track! 80mph on damp grass grabbed his attention though he kept upright and settled for a wide eyed 8th. Matt Hebb once again poured on the coals, frustrating Robin Stokes into 2nd in the WRR battle with Steve Parrott showing ’That’s the way to do it’ in third (bet he’s never heard that before) from a hard fought battle between Andy Glasgow and Jamie O’Brian. Just behind saw a great return Lansdowne ride from Richard Ellis, with rusty race craft and new leathers losing a few places early in the race, but then it all came back to him as he pulled back five places at the flag just ahead of Alex Williams, himself making up 4 places. Angela Cragg also had a great ride on her new steed, ducking and diving all race finishing hot on the tail of Richard Hanns Triton. In the 350’s, it’s got personal, back and forth was Jack and John, their relationship blossoming in their 350 waltz, folk will be talking! Jack once again throwing a wheel over the line first 0.3 in front of John. The Pre 55 class is gaining momentum, with Richard Hann taking the early advantage from Derek Bunning.
A much better start had Glen English right up Mike Hoses chuff, Glen leading for a few laps but after 10 frantic laps at the death Mike did the biz just 0.3 ahead of Glen for the win. Dan Jackson took 3rd from a closing George Thomas. Another new rider Mark Taylor ran another strong race, safely taking 6th place as he finds his feet. Matt Hebb once again put in a performance to take the WRR class leaving a shadowing Stokes pondering how to just get that little bit more needed to snatch a win. In 3rd the beaming Richard Ellis, joyfully making the most of more movement in his new leathers as they bed in…squeak! Richard Dawson kept Harry Cole honest throughout the race, the two mates enjoying a tussle, as did Alex Williams and Martin Thrower both flexing some G50 muscle. Angela Cragg had the better of Richard Hann as Paul Stephen absorbed the foibles of a 1960’s Manx Norton after a season on his Pre55 steed with steady rides. Now then, up next is Simon Hocking, bleary eyed, brain frazzled but racing!! After yesterdays race 1 DNF, a short sharp lesson from Guru Stuart Tonge on engine transplanting had Simon with Richard Dawson’s help, exchanging engines. Only taking a jiffy, (1 jiffy = 6 hours), it was completed with only timing to do in the morning, a terrific effort, well done both. The 350 class, Guess what, guess who ? I think Jack has got into John’s head, he won’t yield, maybe next time ? Richard Hann again took the Pre55 class with Derek Bunning runner up.
Another 10 lapper, this time Glen English had a scorcher of a start from Mark Taylor and Mike Hose, all sharing the same shadow for the first couple of laps before Hose grabbed the lead and unravelled a race winning hot pace that secured his 4th win of the weekend. Dan Jackson tapped into his vast experience to give chase and was so close but no banana even though a weekend best lap of 1:06.748 highlighted how hard he was pushing. George Thomas showed why he won last years championship with a smooth ride on the Dunnell Manx taking 3rd. That man Matt Hebb was on it again taking top spot in the WRR with a super strong ride, this man means business! Whilst Jamie O’Brian on the Oakdene Racing Manx scooped 2nd WRR from a fully flexible Richard Ellis in 3rd. Mid pack Richard Dawson had his gnarly gardeners hands full holding off Harry Cole, the pair pruning paint off each other switching positions throughout the race before Dawson gave one last pull to cross the line a wheel in front. Great racing lads, as was the pair just behind where it was the head of experience against the daring of youth, Simon Hocking benefiting from the engine skills of Stuart Tonge and then putting it to good use, Simon keeping the fresh Manx a hairs-breather in front of Stuart at the line. Paul Stephen had the better of Richard Hann keeping a steady gap between themselves all race long just in front of Martin Thrower who was enjoying his first Lansdowne foray. Jack Hebb did well to see through tears of joy as once again John Cragg was the 350 bridesmaid by 0.3 of a second……not again, Ho, Ho, Ho, Noooooh!!
In this the Coronation Weekend, our very own crowns were being successfully chased with Mike Hose in the Championship Class, Matt Hebb in WRR, and Jack Hebb in 350, all became the Lansdowne Kings of Pembrey with faultless display’s winning all their class races. Hose had so much pace all weekend it was a joy to see, especially if you are the Ripley Land head honcho Ian Garbett. Dan Jackson so wanted to pop his Lansdowne win cherry but Hose was having none of it, but I think it’s not far away.
We had a fabulous response from our Lansdowne virgin’s who all seamlessly slotted into the Lansdowne ethos of close safe racing with some very impressive results, great to have you guy’s on board, Dan Jackson (ex pole dancer), Mark Taylor (ex pole dancer in the only way is Essex!), Brett Randle (ex pole dancer), Alex Williams (aspiring pole dancer), and finally Martin Thrower (can’t start pole dancing until he gets rid of the orange bib, but I can tell, he’s gagging!!) Yep they should fit in just right.
The Tyre draw kindly sponsored by Avon through Smith Moto had Angela Cragg and Jamie O’Brian as the lucky winners.
Mike and Elaine made two trips to the circuit to insure we had the display trailer in pride of place, looking resplendent and stocked with team wear, hot drinks and scran. Thanks Mark for keeping it shipshape.
Next round is the superb long Snetterton 300 circuit. Not often we can ride this version so get your entries in through the website, again plenty of track time, qualifying and four races plus I’ve some more dubious new jokes!
Cheers Tony Perkin