3rd Round of the Inter Services Championships held at Rockingham Motor Speedway by Gary Hignett (RAF)
July the 30th and 31st was round 5 of the Thundersport GB Championships, held at Rockingham, Nr Corby.
The Combined Services Championship was lucky enough to have 2 races this weekend, a last race of the day slot on Saturday and a 5pm televised slot on Sunday.
The series is full of different machinery from CB500 Honda’s, 650 Stocktwins and fully blown 1000cc Superbikes. Qualifying was taken from each individual’s class time, then allocated in order to form the grid, which made for some great racing at the twisty Rockingham circuit.
Royal Navy’s Alastair Wright was the poleman with a 1.30.703, with RAF’s James Field a close 2nd with a 1.31.842, and the Army’s Alexander Young making it a perfect 1-2-3 front row, with a 1.32.437. 4th was Andy Kewley followed by Ryan Redman, Mick Riddle, Dave Langley, Stuart Goodson, Marc Greenslade then Ben Hollingworth rounding out the top 10. 26 qualifiers was going to make for the best Combined Services race of the year so far.
Good starts all round, especially from Gary Hignett who was penalised 10 seconds for a huge jump start, but it was Field with the holeshot who stamped his authority with a 2 second lead over Wright after lap 1. The 4 way battle for 3rd between Redman, Young, Kewley and Langley was superb with some close overtaking and block passes, separated by only a couple of seconds until the latter stages of the race. The 4 way battle for 7th was just as hard fought between Elliott, Hollingworth, Riddle and Goodson, again only separated by a couple of seconds, although a bit less intense than the battle for 3rd.
Young and Redman had a close call when they came together at turn 1 in the early stages of the race, and did well to stay onboard their machines.
Gareth Skinner and Marc Greenslade had a good scrap for 11th before Skinner gained the place after Greenslade slowed slightly in the last couple of laps, while Lara Small, Rob Vickerman and Gary Hignett were separated by just a couple of seconds at the finish. Ian McGann was behind Hignett and putting pressure on for the whole race before grasstracking on the last lap in what was thought to be a last lap move. McGann’s final placing was unaffected, and behind him finished Oram, Evans, Fuidge, White, Salkeld who had a good scrap with Wilmot, and Castle just holding off Smith. Danny Williams was an unfortunate faller at Gracelands, but fortunately walked away unscathed.
The biggest mover from qualifying to race pace, improving his time by an impressive 6.655 seconds, was British Army’s Ian Evans.
A great first win for Field, who took the flag by 0.626 from Wright, with Kewley a well deserved 3rd. Young was an impressive 4th after being a newcomer to racing this year, 5th Redman then Langley, Hollingworth, Elliott, Riddle and Goodson.
A distinct gap in the middle of the front row, as Race 1 winner, RAF’s James Field was involved in a crash in the Elite 600 race earlier in the day. Unable to get the bike repaired in time left him with no choice but to miss the televised race. Army’s Alexander Young was also missing from 3rd place on the grid after crashing in the Pre-National 600 race 2 earlier in the afternoon.
This left the remainder of the pack to fight it out for race 2 honours, and it was RN’s Alistair Wright who got the holeshot from Army’s Andy Kewley.
Wright had his head down from the off, and after 4 laps had a near 10 second lead over Hollingworth in 2nd, Kewley 3rd, Riddle 4th and Redman 5th.
After Greenslade and Vickers went grasstracking at turn 2, a good scrap was emerging for 6th place between Elliott, Greenslade, Goodson and Skinner, before the latter was dropped slightly. Another good battle for 10th between Small, Vickers, Vickerman and McGann made for some brilliant viewing for the spectators, as did the battle for 18th between Evans and White.
A dominant victory for Wright who won by 15.435 seconds, and another great podium for Andy Kewley in 2nd, and another podium debutant Ben Hollingworth in 3rd.
Mick Riddle was 4th to keep up his consistent run of form, Redman 5th only 0.014 seconds behind, Greenslade 6th followed by Goodson, Elliott, Skinner and Vickers rounding out the top 10, but only by 0.893 from Small whose battle with Vickerman and McGann went all the way, with all 4 riders covered by just 2 seconds.
Brian Fuidge closed the gap on the last 2 laps to just 0.260 seconds behind Hignett, with Evans coming out on top of the battle for 18th by 0.384 over White.
All in all two brilliant races from 26 HM Forces riders, in a championship which has come a long way since it’s start in 2012. A great win each for James Field and Alistair Wright, with Wright setting the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1.28.595 compared to Field’s 1.29.796.
Well done to all competitors on some brilliant racing all the way through the pack, and some very quick pace at the front. Look forward to seeing you all at the next Combined Services Championship race at Donington Park in September.
Pictures: A podium shot from Race 1, winner James Field (RAF), Race 2 Winner Alistair Wright (RN), and fellow double podium visitor Andy Kewley (Army).
A Services competitor photograph after Race 1, photo credits to Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.