Through the visor of Tony Perkin
Castle Combe brought out the very reason riders, supporters and the paying public love the Lansdowne series – un-diluted classes of equal machinery guarantees fast competitive races throughout the field yielding a fantastic response from the fans around the circuit. Blessed with fine weather, the early morning practice blew away the cobwebs ready for qualifying.
Michael Russell, after a small mechanical issue put in a real class performance to take pole ahead of the Championship Leader ‘Gorgeous’ George Thomas in P2. Second Champ runner Mike (HPB) Hose P3, with third Champ jockey Luke Bailey P4. Lansdowne first timer Dan Jackson gave a glimpse of things to come taking P5. The only other Championship runner got lost?
With Clubman points leader Matt Hebb on his jollies topping up his suntan, Robin Stokes made hay with P6, from Popeye’s cousin Ben Kingham in the Pre55 Class booming to P7. Steve Parrot ruffled a few feathers powering to P8 from Mike Farrall and Andy Glasgow P9 and 10 of the Clubman. P11 belonged to the incredible Angela Cragg on Roger Munsey’s Domiracer, ahead of Richard Dawson the Gardner who trimmed his bush ahead of Stuart Tonge with the ‘not so gorgeous as George’ Jimmy May in P14 and second Pre55. Geoff Leather enjoyed belting round on his Manx taking P15 whist Ken Perch took the P16 bait!
Talking of knee high to a grasshopper, first 350 class runner was the ever jovial and brunt of most of my pathetic jokes, the lovely John Cragg P17. Our latest recruit Simon Hocking looked proper dapper in his orange vest, obviously running late from his lollipop duties, taking a superb P18 on his brand new Manx teething troubles an all! Derek Bunning enjoyed placing ahead of Mike Baldwin and Jack Hebb’s 350. Richard Hann nursed his Triumph round just ahead of Paul Stephen’s Wonderful 40m Manx.
I’ve never started dead last before so with the lights out we all gave our steeds the beans. The pointy end chaps chased Thomas the hole-shot kid, with Hose, Russell and Bailey sharing the same shadow. The lead constantly changed getting the crowd on their feet, a great show of racing talent. Russell was the powerhouse of the bunch, pulling out a five second lead and taking the win from Thomas, Hose and Bailey. I gave my Manx a proper talking to and surprised myself just taking fifth a hair’s breadth ahead of Jackson and Stokes. Another real close finish saw Parrot snatch P8 and another great points haul from Kingham and Farrall, nothing between the three of them at the flag. Jimmy May fought for P14 and second P55, with John Cragg the worthy 350 winner.
With Cornish beer from the evening’s entertainment sitting heavy and evoking bleary eyed pilots to wander the paddock; their faces contorted by a combination of thick head and unfiltered sunlight. What a wonderful sight? The days action awaits, sprockets, jets, tyre pressures and settings all been mulled over by the weather of yesterdays performance having slept on it? A quick toilet break and we’re ready.
Mike Hose converted years of experience into a hole shot start. The wily fox took the fight to Russell, Thomas, Jackson and Bailey, the battle ensued all race long before Russell left the hustle and bustle easing away from the chasing pack who fought tooth and nail with Thomas just losing out to Hose across the line. Jackson and Bailey were right on their tails, a cracker of a race. Stokes once again took the Clubman points maximum from Pre55 max man Kingham who had Farrall right on his chuff and well pleased to have ruffled Parrott’s feathers by taking second Clubman. 350cc maestro Cragg sealed another win from Jack Hebb as once again May bolstered his championship points haul with another second Pre55 from Paul Stephen.
The cat and mouse game once again played out at the front, Hose taking the initiative from Thomas, Russell, myself and Bailey but with the pace so similar you couldn’t pick a winner and so, it was going to take something special to rock the boat. With Hose throwing in a cracking lap at 1:21.9 it took Russell to put last nights baked bean supper to good use and fire to a new Lansdowne lap record of 1:20.118, absolutely fantastic effort Mike.
Meanwhile, Hose was chuffed to keep his championship hopes alive with second to Thomas and Bailey again fourth. Robin Stokes had another very strong race in P6 and first Clubman ahead of the luckless Dan Jackson who nursed home his G50 when the crankcase cracked! Mike Farrall enjoyed ruffling Parrott’s rump so much in the last race he decided to do it in this one too, another great ride from them both.
Andy Glasgow had a better pace this weekend even with the thought of ploughing through the horrid last chicane last year on his 2-stroke. Talking of ploughing, spare a thought for Cliff Ransley, who’s feeling a bit croc after running into a tractor on his road bike, no other details but I heard his left croc took the brunt of the collision. We wish him and his croc a speedy recovery.
Ben Kingham was another with mechanical issues but still nursed the Vincent home to max points from Jimmy May. John Cragg had better pace and once again the 350cc maximum.
To sum up…
The day belonged to Mike Russell, riding Richard Adam’s Manx Norton, he had scorching pace all weekend and to crown that with the lap record, even though he told me he was on the ragged edge it’s still an incredible achievement.
The BBQ, the entertainment and the very generous donation of Cornish beers from Team Luke Bailey mixed with the Lansdowne banter and camaraderie made for another memorable weekend.
Roll on Snetterton for more of the same, get your entries in now, we might have another BBQ, just need a weather check closer to the time. Thanks to NG Road Racing and all who make this racing happen for us, another great meeting.
Cheers Tony Perkin.