Brands Hatch 5,6,7 March 04

 

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Date: 5th, 6th & 7th March 2004
Event: Practice Day and Rounds 1 and 2 BEMSEE Nationwide Championship
Venue: Brands Hatch Indy Circuit

This was round 1 & 2 of the Bemsee National championship of 2003 being held at Brands Hatch In Kent.

Go Star Racers who were competing:

Go Star Racing club members visiting:

  • too many to list.
  • lots of family members of all the racers

So finally the start of the season had arrived with nine racers from Go Star Racing competing over the weekend the season was going to start with a bang!

Many of the racers turned up on Thursday night to secure places in garages while the others to set up the Go Star Racing circus tent in the main paddock. The race team manager Chris Martin had been on a track day earlier in the day and saved a garage for us. We were greeted with the news that the track was a bit on the greasy side, as Chris managed to stack his new Minitwin on its first outing. Then came the news that Ade Adeyemi wouldn’t be competing either as his head gasket had blown on his new full race prepped R1 the previous weekend, still both were in high spirits and the setting up shop began. In the garages for the weekend were me (Ben Hallett), Terry Oliphant and Steve Thomson riding in the Rookie 600’s, Matthew Pankhurst in the Supersport 600 and Barry Lukehurst in the Minitwins. In the Paddock was Stuart Willetts (aka RugRat) and Gavin Wheeler (aka Hamma) in the Minitwins and Tony Bryant in the Supertwins. Some of the boys who had travelled a fair way stayed over on Thursday night sharing a beer and a microwave curry in the circus tent……….personally I opted for the warm bed less than half an hour away, call me a southern softie if you will!!!

Friday 5th March
Friday morning we were greeted with an almost complete white out due to the fog, not another hangover as the Hamma had first thought. You couldn’t even see from one end of the main straight to the other and because of this the practice sessions were delayed by an hour or so. When eventually the fog cleared, the overcast conditions meant that the track never really dried and by the afternoon the rain had returned so wets were the order of the day unless you fancied your chances on dry tyres. No one did except Bob Collins….nutter!!!

Many of us didn’t get out until the afternoon some liked the conditions some didn’t, whatever it was good practice as there was a distinct possibility of this weather holding for the weekend. By the end of the day Gavin and I were hoping for a wet race, others were sitting on the fence and others wanted it dry. I think I can say the later included Barry who was not keen on swapping wheels on his Minitwin, boy there was some colourful language from his side of the garage!!! An incident free day ended and on the whole everybody was happy, also managed to get the bikes through scruternering on the Friday which would save time on the Saturday……….we also found out our grid positions for the first race the next day and it turned out that Terry had got pole position in the rookie 600 race so the pressure was on……….now for a sleepless night

Saturday 6th March
Saturday morning came and the weather didn’t look brilliant but the fog wasn’t back so everything got underway on time.

The first Go Star racers on the track were the Rookie 600’s with Terry on pole, me on the second row and Steve on the third row. The track was still a bit wet but it was declared a dry race. Terry got the hole shot into the first corner closely followed by myself, and Steve got through a gap left by a rider in front of him who had stalled to slot in fifth. The conditions favored those who had more experience at Brands and by the end of lap two it looked like it might be a Go Star clean sweep as Terry, Steve and myself were filling the first three positions.

Unfortunately for Steve on lap 4 the front end let go going round clearways, which saw him exit the race early. There was some dicing for the lead between Terry and I on laps 3 and 4, but ultimately Terry had the upper hand pulling out an eventual 4s lead on me at the finish line. However the good news was the rest of the field were a further 18 seconds behind which was a wicked result. So celebrations ensued in the paddock at the end of the race as Terry picked up the first win for Go Star Racing.

Race two for the rookies and the grid positions were based on the results from the previous race; this was good news for Terry and me however as Steve’s DNF in the first race it meant he had to start from the back of the grid. The start lights went out and I managed to get the hole shot into the first corner of the dry track, but it wasn’t long before Terry was on my case challenging for the lead. After a bit of a tussle at Druids then Clearways Terry took the lead and managed to breakaway from me again and went on to complete the double for the day. I held on to second with a similar gap between us as in the first race. This time however third place was only a couple of seconds behind.

Steve battled his way up from the back of the grid to 11th place but two laps from the end he found himself closing quickly on the 10th place rider. Then the guy made a mistake running wide at clearways allowing Steve to nip through on the inside, then trying to recover his mistake the rider cut right back to the inside of the track but hadn’t seen Steve and clipped his back wheel sending them both tumbling. Steve was battered and bruised but otherwise unhurt, however the bike was looking in a sorry state and it was going to take a massive effort (by club members) to get him out racing again the next day….not the best start to the rookie season for Steve but Go Star racing did have something to celebrate in the Kentagon that evening with 1st and 2nd positions in the championship.

The following race was the Minitwins with another three Go Star racers competing. RugRat being the hot favorite with his pre season testing times on the minitwin. However the random grid selection system used for the first race hadn’t been kind to any of the Go Star Racing boys and they were way back on the 6th and 7th rows. So to the start of the race, the Hamma had forgotten about the new start line procedure but managed to follow Rug Rat round the outside of the bunched up pack in the first corner and make up some places they were very close to being taken out by someone who lobbed it away on the first corner, Barry placed slightly better on the grid got a good start to and made up some more places in the melee. Next stop Druids and the midpack crush forced the Hamma to the inside and Rug Rat to the outside, luckily for Rug Rat he made up more places while the Hamma got stuck in the pack. Rug Rat battled his way up to an excellent 8th with Barry following him home in 16th and the Hamma in 30th.

Race two for the minitwins and the Go Star Racing boys were gaining confidence with their new bikes but the Hamma couldn’t get back to the pace he was setting in testing. After many a battle in this hotly contested class RugRat got a 10th with Barry in 24th and Hamma in 31st not what they had been hoping for but points in the bag.

Next up was Matt Pankhurst in the Supersport 600 class or better known as the ‘Axe Murderers’. Matt was in Group A for the qualification to the main race and on the 5th row for the start. After a good start in made up some places he got into a battle with Nick Bailey #49 eventually finishing in 15th place and qualifying for the Supersport final in the process. In the Final itself Matt started well but the competition was tough, I think Matt is probably one of the only guys out there on a completely standard engined bike in amongst a mass of tuned weapons. He had a good battle with #96 on another R6 eventually finishing 34th

Final Go Star Racer was big Tony in the Supertwins this is another tough class to race in as there are some big bucks spent on the bikes here. Tony got a grid position near the bac
k of the grid due to his lack of competitive outings last year. At the start he made up a couple of places and went on to have a good battle with some ex works Ducatis finally making to 11th place a great result in a hotly contested class. Tony was also using his recently tweaked bike for the first time and it performed flawlessly. The second race he had a similar battle with #35 on another Aprilla and secured another good finish with 11th place.

Everyone headed to the Kentagon after the races to watch the prize giving. Afterwards Hamma started a little party to celebrate the rookie’s success, and then they shut the Kentagon, so they took the party to RugRats tent. They were joined by some of the marshals (a much less painful way to meet them!). Apparently a lot of the evening’s antics are on video which I’m sure we will be seeing before long.

Sunday 7th March
The first rookie 600 race on the Sunday was a dry race, the grid positions saw Terry and myself at the front again, but Steve after a massive effort the evening before from the Go Star pit crew had his bike back on the track all be it not looking too healthy had it all to do starting from the back of the grid again after yesterdays crash. The lights went out and I had the hole shot but by the end of the lap Terry had passed me and third place guy and taken back the lead.

I managed to mount a challenge going into Druids and made the pass stick but only until Graham Hill where Terry had the better drive and re passed for the lead. By the end of the race Terry had pulled out a 1.5s lead on me and again he was the victor and I took second with third place a further 5.5s behind. Steve was not having the best time although he finally finished a race, he was disappointed with 16th place but given the circumstances it was a fantastic effort after two big get off’s with a bike that wasn’t exactly handling like a dream.

The final rookie 600 race of the weekend and the pits were hectic as decisions had to be made about tyres. It had been raining quite hard in earlier races but the racing line was starting to dry. With the race declared wet there was the option to try intermediates if anyone dared. Twenty minutes before the start of the race everyone in the Go Star Racing garage went for wets, then 5 minutes before the race Steve made the brave move of putting on a D207 back tyre. So on the grid the lights went and the hole shot went to Phil Morley with me in second and Terry in third. Phil Morley held the lead for two laps with me in second. On lap 3 Terry got by me and then started making headway into the leader and shortly after passed him, for the lead. By the end of lap three I had passed Phil Morley and the Go Star Racing one-two restored.

Steve’s decision for the D207 on the rear had upset an already bad handling machine, the tyre profiles were too different and the rear end felt like it was drifting all over the place but Steve managed to finish a credible 17th with the bike starting to splutter and eventually conking out on the final lap due to a split fuel line a weekend to forget for Steve.

Up at the front the battle continued with Terry and I pulling out a good lead on third place, this was the closest I had been to Terry all weekend at the end of a race. On the final lap approaching two pairs of lapped riders in clearways I saw my chance for the win. I was two bike lengths behind Terry when he was slowed going round the second pair of lapped riders, I took my chanced and gassed it trying to cut in between the lapped riders to get on the gas earlier for the main straight. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and after saving the high side I was heading straight for the gravel trap and eventually low sided in the gravel, as luck would have it the bike was ok but an old knee injury reared it head and I ended up at the medical center. Terry went on to take the clean sweep for the weekend, which was a brilliant result for him and Go Star Racing.

Race one for the minitwins; the Hamma, Barry and RugRat got of to a good start but think they were feeling a bit jaded from the celebrations the night before. Some good battles were had but to quote the Hamma ‘started ok, but after a couple of mistakes and slides I lost concentration and rode backwards to the finish’ not ideal but at least he had fun. RugRat picked up a 16th place with Barry not far behind in 23rd place. For race two the boys had the same dilemma as the rookies not knowing which tyre to choose, eventually they went with the wets but by this time the track had dried. Hamma and RugRat pulled out after lap 3 and 5 respectively to save their wets. Barry went on to finish in 26th position.

In the Supersports Matt was in Group B this time enjoying a battle with #49 and safely in a qualifying position, that was until going round paddock hill bend he clipped the white line in wet conditions which kicked the back end out sending Matt off into the gravel trap luckily for Matt he managed to keep it upright and finished the race in 25th position.

So the second race Matt was in the N/Q final after his excursion into the kitty litter, he got a reasonable start but couldn’t get into a rhythm until 3 laps into the race. At which point he started catch those in front. He eventually finished in 4th position which was a good result to end the weekend with.

Finally big Tone was out in the Supertwins he had to good finishes gaining an 11th in race one and a 12th in race 2 which his was more than happy with for the first race of the year. The top ten beckons for Tony.

All in all a fantastic weekend for the racers from Go Star Racing, everyone made it though the weekend in one piece although some will have to visit their local bike shops for some spares!!! Finally on behalf of all the racers I have to say thanks to all the friends, family and team members who came down to Brand Hatch on not the nicest of weekends to support us. Hopefully see you all at the next one.

 

Race Reports

Snetterton 12-14 August 05
Brands Hatch  16-17 05
Pembrey 24-26 June 05
Croix en Ternois 11-12 June 05
Brands 30 April & 1 May 05
Lydden Hill 2-3 April 05
Snetterton 12-13 March 05
Brands GP 29-30 June 04
Lydden 15-16 May 04
Cadwell Park 17-18 April 04
Croft 3 April 04
Brands Hatch 5,6,7 March 04
Snetterton 27,28 September 03
Mallory 7 September 03
Snetterton 30-31 August 03
Cadwell Park 9 August 30
Cadwell Park 26-27 July 03
Croix en Ternois 13-12 July 03
Mallory Park 6 July 03
Mallory Park 26 May 03
Brands Hatch 24-26 May 03
Snetterton 3,4,5 May 03
Lydden Hill 4,5,6 April 03
Snetterton 29 March 03
Croft 28-30 March 03
Snetterton 22 March 03
Brands Hatch 8-9 March 03

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