Through the visor of Tony Perkin
90 years of racing at Mallory Park then somebody moves into a house close by and complains of too much noise? Why buy a house near a race track if you don’t like the noise? This was to have a big effect on our racing. Such a shame really as racing followed by live music, free bar and BBQ sounds pretty darned good.
Clubman runner Matt Hebb has had on-going issues with his Manx but still found his rhythm to set fastest time and pole with a 54:8 ahead of Luke Bailey on his Matchless in P2, from Ripley Lands Mike Hose completing the front row. I headed the next row from series points leader George Thomas on his Tony Dunnell Manx with Robin Stokes taking the last second row place in P6.
Next up are the alarmingly fast Pre-55 riders, Ben Kingham on his mighty Vincent top of the tree in P7 from Duncan Fitchett’s ‘long stroke Manx’ in P8 and Mike Farrall’s relentless Rudge at P9. In the Clubman battle Stevan Radakovic rode well to secure P10 by the tightest of margins from Steve Parrott. Of the 350 class, John Cragg, the brunt of most of my ‘shortest’ gags including ‘I’ll tell you what catches my eye, John with an umbrella’, again heads the class in P12, seven places ahead of nearest rival Jack Hebb in P19 and the beautiful Cliff Ransley in P22.
Saturday race one
After the start of Race one, a red flag for noise after six laps had us restart for a four lap dash.
The restart: Ben Robinson the ACU official, manned the red flag whilst we riders find grid positions. Ben points the flag at the lights on the bridge, I close my visor, engage first gear, jab the clutch to make sure it’s home, bring up the revs. It’s time to party, the red lights off… go!
The short straight vanishes fast as gears are quickly dispensed, vying with the competition whilst catching the rev counter max rpm to gear change, heart rate raised giving heightened senses as a quick dab of the brakes peeling into Gerrards hoping there’s room enough to choose a fast line through the bumps that are exaggerated by the cool tyres. Max lean whilst feeding in as much throttle as I dare. Accelerating hard from half way round brought a stuttering from my rear tyre and a shot of adrenaline, colour brown, but quickly back on the gas and aiming at the final apex. Stretching the throttle cable chuffed to have moved onto the wheel of hole shot hero George Thomas who had just been demoted by a superbly brave overtake mid-corner performed by Mike Hose.
Luke Bailey latched onto my tail, tucked in we power towards the esses. Entering requires scrubbing the speed, down a gear, dab the brakes, knee over the rumble strip holding the turn as long as possible to feed into the full gas left part of the corner, tuck in and choose entry position into the hairpin, before hauling the brakes, stamping down the gears, careful to use the clutch and not to allow over-rev and a bent valve. I carry full braking deep into the corner as the concertina of bikes requires concentration, avoidance and throttle feed to survive in position and power out towards Devil’s Elbow. No let off, tuck in and heel the bike over, full chat past the finish line back into Gerrards.
Our little group split when poor George Thomas had a mechanical breakdown, the rubber support holding the float chamber split, this being the second time a rubber has split on George, have you met baby Harrison! Which allowed Mike Hose to take the win as I only just held off a very determined Luke Bailey to take second.
We just managed to gap the heated battle involving Ben Kingham’s Vincent, Matt Hebb, Steve Parrott and Robin Stokes on Manxs with Duncan Fitchett airing his long stroke Manx making a nuisance of himself and on the pace straight away.
The Clubman class saw Hebb just hold off Pre-55 class Kingham with both of them taking P1 in their different classes from Stokes P2 Clubman and Fitchett P2 Pre-55. Behind them Gordon Russell just gets quicker the more laps he does though Steve Parrott stayed just out of reach in the end.
John Cragg on his 350 tucked in behind Mike Farrall’s Rudge. With the acrid smell of burnt methanol tickling his nose, he persevered for three laps then drowsily allowed Ian Lucas through but still took first 350 with Farrall clinching the final podium spot P3 Pre-55.
Jack Hebb had Cliff Ransley for company all race long, both fighting for 350 points, Jack increasing the gap between them with a spirited ride. The Clubman class were rewarded for their efforts with cash prizes, 1st £150, 2nd £100 and 3rd £50 from an anonymous source.
Sunday race two
Mike Hose was really up for this race leading from start to finish whilst George Thomas, Luke Bailey, Robin Stokes and myself traded paint for the runner up spot. George just kept in front while I had a trip on the grass into the Devil’s Elbow when Luke un-knowingly used the bit of track I wanted to use! A racing incident which Luke knew nothing about. Luke went on to clinch the final podium position as Robin Stokes took first Clubman in front of a titanic pre-55 battle between Ben Kingsley and Duncan Fitchett. They traded places lap after lap, dodging back-markers, then crossing the line 0.03 of a second between them, Fitchett just taking the class win.
Gordon Russell and Steve Parrott once again enjoyed each others company, this time Gordon took the runner up Clubman points from Steve. The next battle on track is one that has been active for the last twenty odd years, Mike Farrall on his Rudge and Ian Bain on his Norton CS1, both on girder fork, ridged rear pre-war bikes, battle-scarred and raw. The pair were mixed in with the two Clubman class Manxs of Andy Glasgow and Richard Dawson – all four finishing as a job lot, Mike, Ian, Andy then Richard, proper racing!
Another tussle just behind them involved Ian Lucas and Stuart Tonge, Ian taking the flag by a whisker. Of the 350s John Cragg dumped his machine at the Hairpin unhurt leaving Jack Hebb to take the top trophy from Cliff Ransley whilst the warbling Paul Stephen held off Tony Hazeldine in the pre-55s.
Sunday race three
A great start from the likely lads, Hose and Thomas, had them nibbling each others ears round Gerrards whilst Hebb, Kingsley, Parrott, Stokes and myself were in no mood to let them scoot off and after the first lap twas nowt between us all.
I managed to claw back onto the lovebirds up front as Hebb, Kingsley and Stokes had their own little battle just behind, Hebb taking max Clubman points again, the lad’s on fire. As is Kingsley in the Pre-55s! I was right chuffed to take Hose and hold my line into the hairpin, the front brake lever hauled for all it was worth, then onto Thomas just as the red flag came out for NOISE again!! Grrrr.
Mike Hose getting the result from George Thomas and myself. Steve Parrott had another cracking ride with third Clubman from Robin Stokes in second, meanwhile the middle of the pack had great battles, all so close with Mike Farrall’s Rudge right in the thick of it taking second Pre-55 and having plenty of fun to keep the likes of Richard Dawson and Stuart Tonge at bay.
Ian Bain flushed out the cobwebs on his methanol guzzling Norton CS1 taking third in class. Mick Baldwin also found Mallory to his liking staying ahead of Ken Perch and Jack Hebb, Jack tacking the 350 class win from Cliff Ransley who was made to wear race boots after his beloved Crocs were crow-barred off his feet.
It was great to see Ewan Cameron out on his JAP engined Phoenix, a rare sight but one I hope we will see more of. Resident vocalist and strummer Paul Stephen once again held off Tony Hazeldine as the Craggs, Angela and John had the only DNFs, but still left Mallory with a smile on their faces.
To sum up…
Great track but pretty much un-workable as it is for the Lansdowne due to noise. A great Saturday evening party at the hospitality trailer, great BBQ, beer, banter and with hidden musical talents of a few exposed there was foot-tapping a-plenty and the girls gave lessons in alcohol abuse! Next up is the fabulous Anglesey, North Wales very own Phillip Island, see you there.