2005 Season Review
2005 Season Review
“Wood Wins The Big One In A Season Full Of Suprises ”
With a mix of seven very different circuits for the 9 meeting, 15 round NG Road Racing series the rider who ended up as a class champion really would deserve the title.
Pembrey, Darley Moor, Silverstone and Cadwell kicked off the year with then Brand Hatch followed a second visit to Pembrey in July. The season came to a climax with rounds at Donington, Pembrey again and finally Thruxton for the Phoenix Yamaha backed final round.
The NG Road Racing team had a season of highs and lows. The lowest point of which was the racing accident at Pembrey, which ended the life of popular rider Miles Tripp. Racing paddocks have a way of dealing with unfortunate incidents like this and Miles is remembered and will be remembered for his racing exploits for years to come.
We at NG are one of the few Clubs still awarding an overall Club Championship award as well as the individual classes. As such all classes are treated equally and the highest amount of points amassed in your class are compared to all other classes….so the club champion is not only the best in class … but the best overall. Neal Fraser of Frasers of Gloucester once again stumped up top money for the Overall series and unlike some of the series in recent years this years fight was tight all the way with the lead changing a number of times as we went from circuit to circuit. Andrew Williams and James Hibberd got off to a flying start being unbeaten for the first seven rounds but Pete Thompson (F400) Brian Wood (600cc) and Simon Gates (F400) all started to close in, and after round 11 Brian Wood hit the top of the table. Going into the final round Williams/Hibberd or Wood could still do it. With Williams taking third in the Sidecars Brian Wood had done the maths and knew a top 10 placing Wood be enough. Brian took it easy came home in fifth and grabbed the points he needed to lift the Ovearall title on his Blueberry Developments CBR600 RR with Williams/Hibberd second and Pete Thompson third.
The racing in the 125cc class saw 14 year old Charlie Hall take on allcomers on his TZ125 . In spite of the attendance of Daniel Cooper and Nigel John in the early part of the season, and then Jack Drummond, Jonathon Lodge, Alistair Ray, Jack Groves, Ross Willshire and Luke Harvey, none of them strung a championship performance together. Hall’s season long challenger was Mike Edwards and the two fought until the final round… a round at which the consistent pair ironically both failed to score a point. Hall became aware that he was the class champ as he sat on the banking with the marshals at Thruxtons super fast Church Corner.
Pete Thompson, became the first rider in the NG Road Racings 34-year history to take the 400cc class on a fourstroke, a class usually dominated by the TZ and RS GP 250’s. It was Thompsons early season form on his T Sports CBR400 Honda that saw him amass a 45-point lead in the title chase by round 8. From that point on it was a case of damage limitation, and get it safely to the flag to keep those points ticking over. Teenager Chay Newton on his TZ 250 Yam joined the fray at mid season and immediately had an impact racking up 3 wins at 4 runner up spots as he chased to within just 2 points of Pete come seasons end….. one more round for Chay and it could he been a very different championship outcome. But Thompson had done enough to take the title despite not taking a win all year. Those wins went to Roo Cotton, Brian Spooner, Paul Mumby Croft, Ian Gardner and Steve Jones as well as the aforementioned Newton.
It was Brian Wood all the way on his Blueberry Developments CBR 600 RR in the tough 600-class taking 9 wins from the 14 starts. Only being bested by Darren Neal, Leon Morris and Liam Lowther. Lowther, at Darley, only when Woods Honda went onto 3 cylinders in the holding area. Wood piled on the early season pressure to build up a strong advantage in the table before settling down to really enjoy his racing… especially against young star Leon Morris on one of Steve Caffyns R6’s. Towards the tail end of the year Wood was having a tough time against the teenager, with Morris taking a couple of victories from underneath Woods nose at the line. Wood dominated overall but there were a whole host of other riders who made this championship one to watch. Ian Allsop, Martin Sharpe, Darren Neal, Martin Sharp and Randy Kitzmiller all had a hand in providing the excitement. It is strange now to look back and think that Brian Woods 2005 plans did not include a 600 as his original intention was to race a pair of R1’s. It was only after a pre-season test at Pembrey that the team’s plans changed and the 1’s swapped for 6’s.
Joe Symonds and Damien Fricker, both on R1 Yamahas were to battle it out until the very end in the Powerbike series. They took the fight away from Steve Lake, who would have been up there and fighting had it not been for a bad run of early season luck on his R1. Phil Bevan took more wins than anyone else, on his GSXR 1000 Suzuki, but the former NG champion was not on for a full season campaign (although he still managed 5th in the final points table). The top two, Symonds and Fricker went into the final round at Thruxton knowing that a top ten placing would be enough for Symonds to take the title on his Black Lion Express R1. Damien did all he could to keep the pressure on with second in the race, but Joe kept his rival in his sights to take a comfortable 7th place and the class victory.
In the Open class though Steve Lakes second half of the season form on the SELEC R1 was enough to lift him up through the table after languishing down just inside the top ten after the first five of the fifteen rounds. After both Steve and the R1 had their early season problems sorted it was a case of top three positions all the way to claw back the points. Eventually taking the title from underneath Middleton Phoenix R1 rider Damien Fricker. Lakes racing experience and never give in attitude which dates back to the early 1890’s when he won multiple club titles on 250 and 350 LC’s stood him in good stead. Fricker though must not be disappointed after just dipping out on both the Open and Powerbike series by just a few points in each case, although I am sure that the rider who finished runner-up in the NG Novice title chase just last year behind Dylan Morris has a strong future.
Taking seven victories from fourteen starts is usually the sort of form that would secure a championship. It was Simon Gates that took those wins on his FZR 400 Yamaha in the Formula 400 class….. but it was not enough in this case to take the class. If you look back you can pin-point the moment in the series when the series victory went away from Gates….. Donington Park. Leading by almost 8 seconds the FZR gave up the ghost and Gates coasted to a halt leaving T-Sport CBR 400 rider Pete Thompson, with five victories and 7 runner-up spots and a 100% finish record to take the F400 title for the 3rd time in 4 years. Gates however was fortuitous to get to the end of the year in second place after the FZR had decided to die on him on a number of occasions. It was down to the benevolence of fellow competitor Rich Bearcroft on no less than three occasions that allowed Gates to continue his challenge, as Rich wheeled out his spare ZXR 400 for Gates to use. Gates ended up just six points behind Thompson in the final table, but with both riders scoring double the amount of points of third placed Bob Beach.
It was another case of early season form that secured Andy Peck and his Team Spiderman Aprilia Mille the Sound of Thunder title. Peck and Dean Nicholls battled hard early season until Nicholls, a former top British Moto X rider suffered serious injuries at first Cadwell and then Donington. Nicholls made a return at the final Thruxton round and should be back on the grids in 2006 on the Ducati. By the time that Nicholls challenge was fading Mark Compton on his distinctive turquoise Willpower Marine Aprilia had his charge gathering momentum. Compton had not competed in the first four rounds of the series due to a friend of his not getting an entry in the popular 600 class so rather than come on his own the pair raced with another club until the NG series hit Silverstone. Affectionately known by his mates as “The Reaper” for rather macabre reasons ! Mark Compton was left ruing that decision later in the year as he started to close down Pecks championship lead, but the smile never left the face of Compton who really enjoyed his on track battles with Peck. The 6 victories to Compton in 11 rounds were not enough to math Peck at the end of the day who in spite of taking just the 4 wins, backed that up with a 100% finish record all inside the top 4. Nicholls and outgoing champion Mark Bardock shared the other victories. By Pembrey round 13 Peck had mathematically secured the series and in a never before seen display for a class champion the whole of the grid raced with Pecks Team Spiderman Championship Winning T-Shirts over their leathers. This class gave us some of the best battles-for-the-lead of the year.
The Mini Twins series was a season long battle between two riders both on the class dominating SV650 Suzukis. Luke Brackenbury and Darren Fryer were separated by less than a handful of points all year, with the pair finishing one-two on 8 separate occasions sharing the wins and both riders taking five wins apiece. Essentially it was a mistake at Pembrey round 13 by Brackenbury that ended his charge as he parted company with his Co-ordit/Blueflame SV that handed the advantage to Fryer, who then kept the pressure on and took the title by a seemingly comfortable 22 points ….. a points gap that really does not do justice to the hard racing between Luke and Darren.
Pre season favourite for the overall and 1300 streetstocks titles amongst the paddock sages was Stuart Jacques, a former top runner in the 600 open class in 2004. In the early rounds Jacques form on his TFR Racing GSXR 1000 was breathtaking with 4 wins and 2 runner up spots in the first 6 rounds. By mid season though the opposition in the shape of Andy Dunne and Ian Treasure both on R1’s were starting to get up to full speed and put some pressure on Jacques. Then a run of DNF’s struck Jacques….. DNFing from the lead on a couple of occasions. Ian Treasure took his chance and strung together 6 victories to edge into the series lead. Then as Andy Dunne was hit by DNF fever Treasure continued to pile on the points to ease away eventually taking the class by over 40 points, it was another case of consistency paying dividends with Treasure only finishing outside the top three on one occasion.
In the 650cc Streetstock class Sean Ridley dominated early season on his 600 Suzuki, and had a 40 point lead as we approached mid season. However Ridley went on to suffer a lack of confidence after the half way point and even considered giving up racing altogether as Steve Thorps challenge gathered pace. Thorp took 4 wins in a row as Ridley faltered. As the season reached a climax Dean Richards started taking up the challenge but by then Thorp on his www.suzuki.co.uk GSXR 600 had done enough to secure the title. Ridley hung on to second after a number of the paddock urged him to continue to the end of the year.
Meanwhile Paul Lumb took his immaculate Ken White Signs/AK 2 stroke RS 250 Aprilia to 10 wins from 14 starts in the 400 Streetstock class. With that sort of form you can see why he took the title by over 80 points from 2004 victor, Andy Davies whom rides a TZR 250. Davies was usually Lumbs nearest challenger although Andrew Campbell, James Ansell and Adam Molloy all took a win apiece. Lumb though took the title with 3 rounds remaining and also lifted the Overall Streetstock title… a first for the 400 division.
Former Mini Moto racer James Cox ditched the mini bikes in favour of the Team Phyco Racing ZXR 400 Kawasaki for a crack at the NG Road Racing Novice series. With four wins from the seven starts it looked easy on paper but on track it was far from it with Cox getting some close attention from Charlie Bishop and Michael Linney. Cox’s all action style… that often looked on the point of out of control !!!… really caught the eye and was very entertaining. Cox took the Novice title but the team was not content to sit on their laurels and purchased a CBR 600 Honda for James to have a crack at a few 600 open races. Cox soon clicked with the extra speed of the CBR albeit still in standard trim and top 3 finished came the way of the 21 yearold by the end of the year. James then had a crack at the last 4 rounds of the R6 Cup in preparation for a full attack in 2006.
The Open novice series went the way of Paul Johnson in the early stages of the year but by mid season a new name appeared on the entry lists. Ade Edwards a former British Jet Ski champion was having a crack at racing on dry land with a CBR 600 Honda. Edwards racked up four wins from four starts at the final four rounds to sneak the title from underneath Johnsons nose, Johnson having changed his trusty Suzuki in for a new CBR. Edwards took the title by just four points in the end and has his eyes firmly set on a full tilt at the open 600 class in 2006. Ade said after the end of the season that his strong top ten finishes in the open 600 rounds that he did this year gave him more personal pleasure than the Novice wins …. although it was very nice to take the title.
It would be safe to say that former sidecar champion Andrew Williams with now James Hibberd in the chair dominated the open sidecar class and after the first seven rounds the pair had a maximum points tally for the 100% win record on the Caerphilly Car Clinic 1100 Derbyshire Suzuki. However at Donington, Brands and Thruxton his plans took a knockas a number of top British …. and a couple of World level riders came to play with the NG regulars. Pairings like Gordon and Daryl Pottinger, Trevor Stafford and Andy Winkle, Roger Lovelock and Mark Howard and the stars of Donington Ben and Tim Bichall all came along and took points away from Williams/Hibberd. In the second half of the year Williams/Hibberd had to fight hard for the top three placings, and on a number of occasions rode out of their skins to beat much better quality opponents (on paper). Richard and Michael Swift lifted their game as the year went on and by season’s end were getting the better of their more experienced rivals taking a double victory at Pembrey. However that early season form had paid dividends as with three races left Williams had an unassailable lead and regained the crown he first took in 1998, with back then Rob Joenes in the chair. 2006 promises a great deal as towards the end of this term we were also seeing strong performances from Jerry Martin/Chris Beavan, Phil Larder/Scott Roberts as well as those Swift boys.
Andy King and Steven Pooley amassed enough points for the F2 Sidecar class in the first 11 rounds of the year to take the rest of the year off!. With 4 wins and 7 runner up spots they had a huge points lead and sat out the remainder of the season. Rob Handcock and Matt Buckley and Paul Lumbley and Gary Andrews along with fast finishers Wayne Lockey and Kez Williams fought out the rest of the year to continue the great entertainment the three wheelers have given us this year.
So with the season done we look forward to 2006. 2005 has seen the NG membership rise to new highs and the range of circuits the best ever. The riders put on a great show and the invaluable sponsors and marshals once more gave time and money in spades… for which the NG organisation is as always extremely grateful.