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!
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 back
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.
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.