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2017 ACU British Supermoto Championship Round 1

3 Sisters Wigan 16 & 17 April 2017 

 Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by Styleimage

Hodgson and Winstanley battle it out for Easter honours

The 2017 British Supermoto kicked off the new season at its spiritual home, Three Sisters Wigan. A new look series had been created for the new season to try to give an easier format for competitors and spectators to follow, Day 1 was now the club championship day with the Michelin Cup, EVO (pre-2007) Class, Give it a Go Novices, Mini Bikes and a brand-new Academy class for junior riders. Day 2 is now the ACU British Championship day with all riders being split into three groups based on their qualifying time. Within the overall championship four extra British titles are fought for, Clubman, Over-45, Novice and Two-Stroke. Typically for a British Easter weekend the preceding weeks glorious weather turned foul and a damp track greeted the large entry as the continuing resurgence in Supermoto saw competitors old and new returning in numbers to this spectacular sport

©2017 styleimage.co.uk

©2017 styleimage.co.uk

 Race Day 1 – The Michelin Premier Championship

Qualifying; Having only ridden a few rounds in 2016, local hero Matt Winstanley looked to be in a determined mood for 2017 and desperate to get himself back to the top of the sport he dominated for several years. He put his Manchester M/c’s Husqvarna on pole position, but only by the narrowest of margins, one tenth of a second separated him from current UK number one Chris Hodgson, however the real story was how fast Hodgson was on his all new LSP KTM 450 with minimal development time the Cumbrian was quickly up to speed. These two riders were almost 2 seconds quicker than the gaggle of chasing Husqvarna’s led by Jay Smith from Richard Blakeman and a very impressive Tim Johnson.

©2017 styleimage.co.uk

©2017 styleimage.co.uk

Race 1 Matt Winstanley took the holeshot from P1 on the grid on his Husqvarna, although Jay Smith briefly took the lead on lap two a mistake saw the Londoner drop to sixth, Hodgson stalked Winstanley until lap 10 when he slipped past and although Winstanley pushed hard in the tricky conditions, setting the fastest lap of the race he couldn’t get past his rival. Jay Smith got the better of semi-pro ice hockey star Jordan Bannon who had held third for most of race before losing out as back markers came in to play at the end of the race. Richard Blakeman was a steady fifth ahead of his usual sparring partner Richard Sharp in sixth, Tim Johnson was seventh with last year’s Suter Champion George Jarvis eighth and probably the ride of the race Andre Craddock managed to get his TM in amongst the Husqvarna’s in an excellent ninth, whilst Charlie Light coming to terms with his new bike rounded out the top ten.

Race 2; Hodgson the multiple British Champion knew that he was in for serious competition from Winstanley and as the track had got wetter the times got faster as full wet tyres could be used, however for race two the drizzle had stopped and the track was at its most tricky. Hodgson was a master in the conditions leading from start to finish, Winstanley normally a lightning starter got boxed in on turn one and Jay Smith moved into second, the Londoner has a totally committed riding style and is notoriously difficult to pass so it took Winstanley until lap 10 to ease his way past. Jordan Bannon continued his fine form to take fourth, Richard Sharp had a solid ride in fifth ahead of the improving Tim Johnson in sixth, Dean Hillier rode really well to pass Richard Blakeman and grab an excellent seventh, George Jarvis was again in the mix with ninth. Charlie Light was consistent in tenth.

Race 3; The track was now starting to get a dry line so most of the top riders had full slicks on the rear, however for those gambling on a wet set up might struggle with the race length of 14 laps. Hodgson got the holeshot but Winstanley was right on his tail and seasoned watchers were soon saying that Winstanley was going to win this one as he was looking very comfortable shadowing the number 1 plated rider. Those predictions came true on lap six as the local lad eased past on the fast exit of Lunar, Hodgson tried his hardest to get back the lead setting the fastest lap but Winstanley was totally in control and took a great win. Jay Smith in third and Jordan Bannon in fourth were the only two other riders to get under a minute per lap. Tim Johnson was again excelling himself with a flag to flag fifth place, Richard Blakeman got revenge on Dean Hillier passing him at the end of the race to take sixth, Charlie Light improved with the conditions with eighth, Richard Sharp ninth and Scott Murray after a torrid day fought his way to tenth from the back row of a packed grid.

Overall Chris Hodgson took the overall with his two wins from Matt Winstanley. Third was Jay Smith from a disappointed Jordan Bannon in fourth, conversely Tim Johnson was over the moon in fifth Blakeman was sixth after a disappointing day by his standards.

EVO class
A new group for 2017 this class is made for bikes produced prior to September 2006. The inaugural overall was won by Craig Forshaw on his CRF 450, Daryl McCall made a huge trip from Aberdeen worthwhile with second from Penrith’s Tim Oliver back in action on his 590 KTM RFS special, Damon Jasper was fourth on his Aprilia and Steve Coombs got his trusty Husqvarna into fifth.

NPS GIAG/Novice Cup
This starter race series aimed at riders new to the sport continued to show Supermoto is growing back in popularity as a an enjoyable, cheap and safe sport, allowing any rider to take to the track on any level of bike. Newcomer Andy Hall along to watch his son in the Elite Races was a delighted overall winner with three wins from three, Gary Mowbray from Perthshire was second with Yorkshire newbie Craig Whittaker third.

Academy Class/Mini Bikes
Another new class for this year is the Academy class, aimed at young riders on converted MX bikes it was well supported with riders coming from all over the country. The overall winner and sure to be a star of the future was 10 year old Casey Jones from Wigan, superfast on his KTM 85 he was lapping faster than many of the adult riders. Harley Sharp riding the same number as his Elite dad Richard was second with Oliver Keam part of the big Whitstable contingent that follows the series around the country third overall to the delight of his Dad Anthony that competes in the Michelin series. In the Mini Bikes Jamie Stables from Penrith was the winner on his CRF150 from similarly mounted Craig Walker, Anne Savage another long distance traveller was third.

Race Day Two – The British Supermoto Championship
Thankfully the weather improved on Easter Monday and the track was soon dry but very cold making tyre choice very easy as it was slicks all round. The versatile circuit allowed a track change that gave the riders a different challenge from Saturday with a longer more technical layout.

Qualifying. With new rules for 2017 the competitors get to choose two sessions to set a qualifying time from six available slots and with 81 riders entered it was a case of choosing best track conditions and the least amount of traffic, Winstanley couldn’t repeat his pole of Race Day 1 but he was on a spare bike as his main bike had developed clutch trouble so second to Hodgson was very good. Richard Sharp was third with Jordan Bannon continuing his fine form in fourth, Charlie Light was enjoying the dry conditions with a fifth and Jay Smith was sixth.

Race One. In a repeat of Saturday’s Race two Hodgson got the holeshot but he couldn’t shake off Winstanley who looked totally in control staying in his wheel tracks for lap after lap and sure enough with two laps to go Winstanley again eased past at Lunar to take the chequered flag. Behind these two a real battle raged with Veteran Andy Mitchell getting in the mix and up to third place before tiring and dropping to sixth, Jordan Bannon, Richard Sharp and Jay Smith had a race long duel with Bannon getting third from Sharp fourth and Smith fifth. Blakeman and Dean Hillier continued their battles from Day 1, with Blakeman coming out on top in seventh. Ollie Kemp was excellent in ninth on his TM and George Jarvis was a tidy tenth.

©2017 styleimage.co.uk

©2017 styleimage.co.uk

Race Two As on Race Day 1 Winstanley made a hash of his start from Pole and got caught up in the mixer that is turn one, this gave Hodgson the clear run he needed whilst Winstanley had to battle past Bannon and then the fast starting Richard Sharp.  Winstanley chased down Hodgson over the 14 laps and at the flag was only 2/10ths of a second behind the Cumbrian. Richard Sharp was a fantastic third with Bannon fourth, Jay Smith was some way back in fifth and Richard Blakeman was starting to get his mojo back with sixth. Andy Mitchell was seventh with Ollie Kemp going one better than race one in eighth, Charlie Light came from a first lap fall to gain ninth and Darren Lee made his first entry into the top ten.

Race 3 After the first two races it was obvious that race three would be a battle for the overall between Winstanley and Hodgson. Tyre wear was a problem throughout the day but most of the riders elected to go with tyres used through the first two races but Hodgson stuck new rubber in at the last minute and this proved to be a decisive edge in his battle. A flag to flag win by nearly 8 seconds from Winstanley was his reward. Jordan Bannon was a fine third after being relegated by Winstanley on lap two. Richard Sharp was fourth. The big mover of the day was young Charlie Light, the Wiltshire tractor driver battled his way through the pack after a tough start into fifth passing Jay Smith and Andy Mitchell amongst others to make it through. Richard Blakeman was eighth, Ollie Kemp ninth and last year’s Rider of the Year Ashley Middleton made it into the top ten.

Overall The large crowd had been treated to another fantastic all action day at Three Sisters with full grids and battles all the way through each group race. Number 1, Chris Hodgson as so often in recent years walked away with the overall, however he knows he will be in a battle to retain his crown this year as Matt Winstanley has come back with a renewed hunger which can only be good for the sport. The new look format was also a great success, so for Supermoto the future is bright and for Hodgson in 2017 the future is Orange!

Results Race Day One

Michelin Championship 1st Chris Hodgson (KTM) 102pts – 2nd Matt Winstanley (Husq) 99pts -3rd Jay Smith (Husq) 90pts  – 4th Jordan Bannon (Husq) 84pts – 5th Tim Johnson (Husq) 75pts – 6th Richard Blakeman (Husq) 74pts – 7th Richard Sharp (Husq) 73pts – 8th Dean Hillier (Husq) 67pts – 9th Charlie Light (Husq) 65pts -10th George Jarvis (Husq) 65pts.

Evo Championship 1st Craig Forshaw (Honda) 105pts – 2nd Daryl McCall (KTM) 90pts -3rd Tim Oliver (KTM) 90pts – 4th Damon Jasper (Aprilia) 83pts – 5th Steve Coombs (Honda) 80pts

GIAG Novice Cup 1st Andy Hall (Husq) 105pts – 2nd Gary Mowbray (TM) 94pts – 3rd Craig Walker (KTM) 84pts – 4th Simon Lowery (KTM) 79pts – 5th Keith Edwards (Honda) 71pts

Mini Bikes 1st Jamie Stables (CRF) 105pts – 2nd Craig Walker (CRF) 88pts – 3rd Anne Savage (Open) 46pts

Academy Class 1st Casey Jones (KTM) 96pts – 2nd Harley Sharp (KTM) 84pts – 3rd Oliver Keam 73pts – 4th Lewis Hardy (KTM) 72pts – 5th Ben Bayfield 72pts

Results Race Day Two

British Championship 1st Chris Hodgson (KTM) 148pts – 2nd Matt Winstanley (Husq) 146pts -3rd Jordan Bannon (Husq) 136pts – 4th Richard Sharp (Husq) 134pts – 5th Jay Smith (Husq) 122pts – 6th Andy Mitchell (KTM) 118pts – 7th Richard Blakeman (Husq) 114pts – 8th Charlie Light (KTM) 105pts – 9th Ollie Kemp (TM) 104pts – 10th Darren Lee (KTM) 94pts

Over 45 1st Andy Mitchell (KTM) 118pts – 2nd Darren Lee (KTM) 94pts – 3rd Andre Craddock (TM) 66pts – 4th Andy Goodsell (Husq) 35pts – 5th David Blanks (KTM) 26pts

Clubman 1st James Wood (KTM) 58pts – 2nd Jack Noble (Honda) 53pts – 3rd Ben Johnson (Husq) 44pts – 4th Paul Robey (Husq) 42pts – 5th Andy Goodsell (Husq) 35pts

 Novice 1st Tom Laycock (KTM) 21pts – 2nd Mitchell Bullen (KTM) 18pts – 3rd Joel Todd (KTM) 5pts – 4th Dave Beadling (Honda) 5pts – 5th Dean Smith (Husq) 0pts

Best Two Stroke – Tom Laycock (KTM)