Runners and riders at the Grand National

Round three took GP Originals to a new circuit hosted by NG Road Racing for their flagship Castle Combe Grand National event. With spectators now allowed, riders played out their races to a backdrop of bike fans lining the banking.

Like many UK circuits, Combe is tight on noise and available track days. With very limited numbers per session and only a.m. or p.m. testing available, many of our field were straight into practice, eager to learn the fast, bumpy layout.

Qualifying for the weekend

Basking in some very welcome sunshine our riders got themselves dialled-in with a warm-up session in the morning. Timed qualifying at midday saw several riders getting up to nine laps of track time chasing the 250 and 350 Motocarb Motopole £50 cash rewards. Ant Hart proved to be the pace-setter putting in a 1:17.667 on his 350 to head the field. Next up was the 250cc of Phil Stead at 1:17.996, proving that the smaller machine has what it takes to take on the 350s. Dan Jackson’s 350 claimed the last front row slot and Glen English took 3rd of the 350 runners. Nigel Palmer and Gary Vines rounded out the top three 250s. The fastest of our Masters went the way of Nick Williamson, Nigel Palmer and Roy Chapman.

Racing begins

The temperature soared during the afternoon to 25 degrees as 12 rows of two-stroke Grand Prix machines assembled on the grid anticipating 10 scorching laps. The start at Combe is fast! It’s flat out through Avon Rise then eventually arriving bouncing and bumping at Quarry Corner; over-taking opportunities are plentiful. The start provided onlookers with a sensory treat of sounds and smells plus the customary plume of two-stroke smoke momentarily obscuring the launch.

Phil Stead made haste, the chance of a win looking positive on the green-plated machine. Regular front runner and current 350 Champion, Phil Atkinson had suffered bike issues and was starting from an unlucky 13th spot on Chris Rose’s other machine. A blast through The Esses and Stead took flight in what the commentator described as the biggest high side he had ever seen! The red flag came out and everyone reassembled for the restart. Ant Hart took charge from the off with English, Jackson, Walling and Palmer all packed in tight. With a South Africa vs Cornwall face-off through lap two English pulled a gap on Atkinson bringing a determined Dan Walling through with him. They were soon joined by Dan Jackson, relegating the Maxton Suspension 350cc Championship leader back to 5th. Hart and English each pulled comfortable gaps to clinch 1st and 2nd 350. This left Atkinson, Walling and Palmer to fight it out, crossing the line less than a second between the three of them.

With Stead out of the picture nursing two broken wrists and a shoulder blade, Nigel Palmer took the reigns in the AD Modular 250cc challenge and an impressive 5th on-the-road behind teammate Walling. Siân Brooks’ 250L suffered a broken rear sprocket on the restart and had to watch from the sidelines as Michael Grigson took the 2nd 250cc spot – finding some exceptional form buoyed by the disposal of his orange jacket. Mike McDonnell celebrated his maiden outing on the Derek Skinner TZ250L with a 3rd 250cc place.

Our fast CBG Contractors Masters didn’t disappoint once again. Palmer from Williamson from Chapman all within the top 10 overall.

Hammerdown for the second race

Sunday dawned with a light mist and damp track that soon cleared to leave warmth and high humidity. Some took the opportunity for an early shake-down in readiness for the day’s two races.

Race 18 took off for just shy of 15 miles of hectic fun at 12:47. Atkinson now back on his No1 machine took the lead to the finish. Dan Jackson initially took the fight to Ant Hart but succumbed to 3rd spot. Glen English had his race cut short losing a clutch lever after a coming together with Palmer. Dan Walling achieved another strong finish in 4th.

Palmer and Williamson went head-to-head for the Masters victory with Williamson just missing out at the line. 2nd 250 across the stripe was Mark Linton, keen to make amends after a DNS in the first race. George Thomas, Mark Linton, Roy Chapman and Dorian Eardley all in close contention. Jamie Edwards was another rider fighting a weekend of machine issues but pushed forwards throughout the proceedings to finish 8th ahead of George Thomas. Another strong performance put in by Michael Grigson to take 3rd 250 spot and 13th overall. Lansdowne rivals Perkin, Bedford and Farrall found themselves enjoying the competition together on their two-strokes! This race delivered the hottest pace as Nigel Palmer put in the fastest 250cc lap of the weekend to claim the Redline Motorcycles £50 cash with a 1:18.767. Phil Atkinson also posted the fastest 350cc lap at 1:15.755 to collect his Redline envelope.

The finale

A few dark clouds were looming but the final race stayed dry. The weekend had been difficult for many. Of the original 40 entrants, 29 riders made it to the start line for the final race – still an impressive grid for the 37+ year-old GP machines.

English made his customary fast start pushing through to 2nd in the first lap until Walling, followed by Hart, came through. George Thomas pushed on getting into 4th spot. However, by lap four a rejuvenated Jamie Edwards was coming through the field and made the pass. Thomas looked to reclaim his position and the pair clashed through the fast bumps into Quarry and both went down hard.

With Atkinson in the lead, Hart was looking for another strong second place, until a gearbox failure spat him off with only a lap to go. Hart later confirmed it had been jumping out of 2nd gear throughout the weekend. Walling took 2nd and added nicely to his points haul over the two days. English rounded out the top three.

Nigel Palmer had the 250cc victory in the bag until he attempted an optimistic pass on Chris Moore for 5th overall. The move at the uncompromising, tight final chicane ended his charge on lap seven. Moore picked up his best result of the weekend in 4th.

Palmer’s predicament left Mark Linton to claim 1st 250cc whilst locked in a tussle with Roy Chapman. The pair crossed the line just a tenth between them in Chapman’s favour. Fast Master Nick Williamson claimed the over-55s victory from Chapman who was next on-the-road as former Masters’ champ Tony Perkin took third.

The remaining 250 podiums were being fought out between Michael Grigson and Siân Brooks, the pair swapping places until the rather over-zealous slippery surface flags began appearing. Youthful confidence prevailed with the uncertainty of the grip and Grigson took 2nd 250cc from Brooks. John Hannaford had switched classes after nipping up the 250 and rolled out the 350 for this race, Mike McDonnall had done the same and was now on Derek Skinner’s 350. Grigson Senior stuck to the 250 Juchem framed TZ he knows so well!

Black and orange flags were being shown for a few riders during this race. We are unsure of the reason for some and understand this is very disappointing. A stoppage on Saturday from our race caused a long delay which we know was not to the knowledge of the rider. Another oil leak in our first Sunday race compounded the issue. We can only assume these events caused a zero-tolerance approach for the final race. This is frustrating as we all know our bikes hold very little oil. As a guest class, we must be vigilant with our bike prep, adhere to rules and flags and ride with good conduct, a vital code to ensure future invitations. A weekend of highs and lows, some great results, a warm GPO welcome to another new recruit, Andy Wade. We all wish our injured friends a speedy recovery.


An action packed weekend for IN Competition

The IN Competition racing team started their campaign at Oulton Park this weekend for the first round of the Bennetts British Superbikes. This will be the first race since last October so the riders were keen to get into race conditions.

The two adrenaline-fuelled riders are both entered in the National Superstock class which some would say is the toughest series in the UK if not the world and this year is no different with 53 entries. Fraser Rogers who is well rehearsed in the national class would be running the Aprilia RSV4 , got off to an excellent start managing to be consistent in getting into the top ten even in damp conditions however was hindered by wrong tyre choice when the rain decided to play a factor and stop half way through a session leaving a dry line. He ended the first day with a combined result over the two groups of P6 with a fastest lap time of 1:37.922, about 0.8 off the pace.

Ben Luxton, now on the Aprilia APX electronics, instantly felt more comfortable and settled into the seat on the first day, staying out for all the sessions doing as many laps as he could to get into a good rhythm. After 24 laps over 2 sessions he had a good time, keeping in mind the mixed conditions of 1:40.

Day 2 the qualifying was split where by the first 32 would go through then there would be a last chance race for the rest and only 8 would get through to join the back of the grid, but we didn’t need to worry about that as both of the IN Competition riders got though and were placed on the grid. They had another free practice at the end of the day in which Fraser put in a 1:38.019 placing him in 7th place and Ben in 28th place with a 1:39 just showing how close this class really is.

Race day came around and the atmosphere was electric even with only 4000 spectators but the weather was muggy leaving everyone wondering ‘would it rain, or not’? The pit crew were prepared and poised for every eventuality.

As the duo went off for their green flag lap there seemed to be an issue, as Fraser didn’t move off the grid, the crowd held their breath but he managed to get the Aprilia RSV4 started and off he went, prompting a sigh of relief from the team.

The lights went on, the bikes all revving, hairs standing up on end and the commentator shouting “Go go go!” as no less than 40 bikes powered into the first corner, then down the hill into the cascades left hander. A rider abruptly was sat up, creating a ripple effect to which Fraser was at the end of and with nowhere to go but on to the grass. It was all over for the 25 year old rider from Swindon, a very unfortunate turn of events.

Meanwhile, further down the pack Ben was quietly making moves and having some good battles with ex BSB rider Shaun Winfield, Lee Wiliams and Sean Neary. Luxton crossed the line in fine fashion and moved up 6 places during the 14 lapper at the Tarporley track.

Catching up with Ben Luxton after the race, here’s what he had to say:

“Taking great positives from Round 1 at Oulton Park. IN competition Aprilia worked faultlessly all weekend providing me with a superb package, which I was able to understand how the RSV-4 works. I’m excited for round 2 in just over a week's time. Massive thank you to IN Competition Aprilia, Maxton and all my sponsors for making it possible. Roll on Scotland!"

Team Owner, Ian Newton said:

“It was a hard challenging weekend, the Team worked hard as usual and we had lots of positives and some negatives. Ben made positive steps forward with the new electronics, but it was tough for Fraser not being able to show his real pace and complete the race. We must try harder in Scotland.”


Oulton Park Report

Joe Loughlin was in the points with two determined British Supersport Championship rides on the Team ILR - Mark Coverdale R6 Yamaha. Joe is pictured on the grid with Daithi, Jacko, Ian and William. Photo: Team ILR

Team ILR were back in the BSB paddock with two young riders under the guidance of Ian Lougher, as the premier domestic championship season got underway at Oulton Park.

Back with the team was Castleblayney's Joe Loughlin who last raced for Team ILR at the same venue at the end of last season when he also had his first look at the Cheshire circuit, Loughlin was again on the Team ILR - Mark Coverdale R6 Yamaha in both the British Supersport Championship races. Another young rider linking up at Oulton with Lougher and his experienced team was James Alderson who was competing in the National Junior Superstock class on his own 675 Triumph.

Free Practice on Friday was held in very tricky and challenging conditions and it brought mixed fortunes for both riders with Loughlin crashing whilst riding well, thankfully without injury.

Alderson meanwhile finished both sessions as third quickest just under half a second off the fastest time.

Saturday's Qualifying would see Joe finish on the tenth row of the grid for the Supersport races with James putting in a great performance to put his Triumph on pole position for Saturday's Junior Superstock race. Thankfully the dampness on Friday gave way to drier conditions for the rest of the weekend and Loughlin brushed off his practice crash to ride very well in both Supersport races to bring his times down and register two 14th place finishes which were great results both for himself and the team. Meanwhile all Alderson's good work in qualifying didn't reap the rewards it deserved when he crashed out of second place in the first Junior Superstock race, he was uninjured but his bike was looking very second hand. A lot of hard work went into ensuring James made the second race, and he dusted himself down and repaid that hard work with a great sixth place ride with the fourth fastest lap of the race.

Team ILR owner - manager Ian Lougher:

"It was nice to return to the BSB paddock after some time away, but unfortunately we didn’t get the best of the weather on the Friday, so Free Practice 1 was a little damp and Free Practice 2 was wet and very slippery. Joe was going well but unfortunately had a slip off in the wet but was thankfully unhurt.

For the two supersport races the weather was dry and Joe acquitted himself well, his times coming down and coming away with two 14th place finishes was very pleasing for the team.

Working with and mentoring James Alderson in the Junior Superstock 600 class was new to myself and the team and an experience the whole team enjoyed. James qualifying on pole position for the first time was a fantastic achievement for himself and his family who worked so hard over the weekend to support him. Unfortunately on Lap 2 of the first race while sitting in 2nd place he had quite a quick crash at Turn 1 and the bike took a lot of repairing…mainly by his dad Stephen who worked well into Sunday morning to get it ready to race.

So with no warm up session for the class James had to evaluate the machine on just the warm up lap, thankfully Stephen’s hard work and great preparation paid off and James took a very hard fought 6th place finish in Race 2, and only 3 seconds from the win. Thank you to all our sponsors and all the hard work put in by the team members, in what was not the easiest of weekends but one of the most a enjoyable. "

Joe Loughlin:

"I had another great weekend at Oulton Park after my first visit there last year, and enjoyed every bit of it. It was also great working with Team ILR once again. Despite crashing in Free Practice I had two 14th place finishes thanks to the great work of the team. I had a great weekend's craic and gained more invaluable experience. "

James Alderson:

"We were really excited for the opening round of the Bennett’s British Superbikes at Oulton Park and to work with Ian from ILR and his team. The weekend started out difficult with the weather on the test day being damp with rain showers throughout the day however ended the day P3 on combined times. Saturday qualifying was looking good as the weather had improved massively and conditions were good, after a tyre change in pit lane I was feeling confident for a good last half of the session for a good grid spot for the afternoon race and managing a new PB 1.40.7 we claimed our first British championship pole position, with this we were feeling really good for the race.

Managing a good start I was in second place after the first lap however a small mistake cost us our chances as running into the first corner I lost the front, we were gutted to crash out of the race especially starting from pole position, when we got the bike back to our awning it was in a bad state, however giving up was not an option so after a late night and into the early hours of the morning rebuilding the bike for the second race we were feeling confident for a good result.

Starting from 7th place on the third row I managed a great start and was in 6th place and on the back of the leading group, we managed to run a strong pace consistently throughout managing a 1.40.9 lap time and brought the bike home in one piece, after qualifying we were expecting a podium this weekend but after the crash on Saturday we didn’t know if we would be back out on the Sunday and not having a warm up session in the morning the first time the bike was tested after being rebuilt was in the race. All considered we’ve had a strong start to the season, massive thanks to Team ILR for a fantastic experience and support for our first round, we were honoured to be part of the team, massive thanks to all my sponsors as without them this wouldn’t be possible."


Team ILR gears up for Brands Hatch and Armoy

It's a busy few weeks ahead for Team ILR with a blend of short circuit and road racing action to look forward to.

First up is this weekend's British Superbikes meeting at Brands Hatch where the team will again run Joe Loughlin on the Team ILR - Mark Coverdale R6 Yamaha, with Loughlin looking to gain further experience in the British Supersport Championship and build on his two 14th place rides last time out at Oulton Park.

Another rider looking forward to returning to the team awning at Brands was National Junior Superstock rider James Alderson, unfortunately James badly injured his shoulder at Donington Park two weeks ago requiring surgery, and everyone at Team ILR wishes him a speedy recovery.

From Brands it's on to Armoy for the popular road race meeting where Loughlin will be joined by Ian Lougher, both will ride Team ILR - Mark Coverdale Patons.

This will be Lougher's second outing in 2021 following on from some strong rides on the Paton at the Spring Cup at Oliver's Mount.

Ian will again link up with John Chapman at Armoy and will compete in the Classic 500 Race on John's iconic MV Agusta, a bike he is no stranger to having rode it at the Classic TT on the Isle of Man.

Joe will also be in action in the 600cc races at Armoy on his own ZX6 Kawasaki.


Double podium triumph for IN Competition

Fraser Rogers was triumphant this weekend aboard the Aprilia RSV4 as he rode the IN Competition team to not one, but two second place podiums. Spirits were high coming off the back of Frasers maiden win in the Superstock championship at Knockhill, placing him 3rd in the championship behind Taylor Mackenzie and he was ready for more.

The weekend started out with reasonable weather conditions at the 2.448 mile circuit on the Kent/London border and in the Friday free practice sessions he found himself 6th on the leaderboard with a few adjustments needed to the settings, but he was strong and by the afternoon session he had pushed his way up to more familiar territory of 2nd place where he improved his timings to a 1:27.718, only +0.2 off the pace set by Luke Mossey.

A jam packed schedule saw the National Superstock championship out for 2 races over a three day weekend meaning Saturday would be a quick turnaround for the team who were well rehearsed in this by now but one factor that could not be controlled was the weather. Damp conditions meant a change in tyre choice for the 30 minute qualifying session where Fraser was consistent throughout the 14 laps aboard the Aprilia RSV4 bringing it home in 3rd position.

Starting from the front row of the grid for race one gave him a good advantage especially as he would be on the inside going into the steep turn one paddock hill bend. He stormed off the line and by lap 3 having moved up into 2nd he was now in a position to fight for the win, however Luke Mossey had put some length between him and Fraser making it impossible, it was a good battle nonetheless. Fraser crossed the line in second, another well deserved ride by the Swindon based rider.

It was shortly after in the British Superbike race that unfortunately on lap one Fraser’s best friend and road cycling partner, Brad Jones had an accident on the last corner putting a halt to racing for some time. Fraser and the team wish to send their condolences to the family, all the PR Racing Team and a speedy recovery from Brad.

Sunday came around and a composed but somber Fraser made his way into the garage before the race. The race start was perfection as he tucked himself in behind race leader, Luke Mossey but on lap 3 Luke had a technical problem putting Fraser in the top spot and off he went.

By lap 6 Alex Olsen who had clawed his way up from 6th on the grid was now chasing him down the over take happened and Fraser could not hold him off. The deed was done and Alex was now in front but Fraser didn't give up without a fight as he tried to get underneath him and go around the outside but he just missed out, Fraser crossed the line in second.

Fraser and the team rejoiced as he rode into parc ferme and embraced team manager, Ian Newton, unable to hold back the tears as he collected the trophy which he dedicated to Brad Jones.

Catching up with team owner Ian Newton after the weekend he said: “Fraser and the team did an exceptionally good job on a very hard and emotional weekend. Our thoughts are with Brad and his family.”

After both of these heroic efforts by Fraser and the IN Competition team they now see themselves close the gap on the championship claiming a total of 40 points over the weekend just 7 points off 2nd and 10 points behind Billy McConnell in the top spot as they move on to Thruxton, Hampshire in a couple of days time for round 4 of the Bennetts British Championship.


Baptism of Fire for Rogers at Home Circuit

IN Competition Racing Team and Fraser Rogers had yet another impressive start to their weekend aboard the Aprilia RSV4 after producing a P3 in the wet with a 1:23.8 and P1 in the dry during the Friday free practice sessions. Rogers was now feeling a lot more confident in wet conditions and it showed around the 2.356 mile Thruxton Circuit in the heart of Hampshire.

Rogers still managed to perform to an extremely high standard despite the added pressure of close friend Brad Jones remaining in hospital but trusted friend and 2019 British Superbike champion, Scott Redding was on hand to lend his support throughout the weekend.

After topping the leaderboard in the combined results for the practice sessions with an overall fastest lap of 1:17.705, Fraser was keen to get out for the qualifying session. Completing a total of 15 laps, he was 0.1 off the top spot held by Luke Stapleford as the chequered flag came out, both Fraser and Luke were under the lap record followed by Billy McConnell who came a close 3rd completing the front row for race one later on that afternoon.

The countdown to the green flag lap drew closer and all the bikes were set in place, Fraser rocketed off the line as the lights went out but all three front runners got swallowed up by Alex Olsen who came through from 4th position.

On lap 4 Fraser was barged out wide by another rider moving him to 5th position leaving him frustrated. Overtaking was tricky and Fraser could not see a good opportunity to pass despite trying multiple times until lap 12 where he regained his 5th position taking it from Tom Neave. On the penultimate lap Fraser went into the chicane at CLUB and rider Keith Farmer attempted to go underneath him on the left hander knocking Fraser causing him to slide off. Not the end that the team wanted, it was now time to regroup and focus on race 2 where Fraser would start from P6 on the grid.

The second race Fraser again found that he could not quite push past the group in front, moving back and forth with Tom Neave and 2020 champion Chrissy Rouse. After 14 laps Fraser brought the IN Competition Aprilia RSV4 home in 9th place.

Team Manager, Ian Newton: “ A very good weekend but not having any data for the new RSV4 set up at Thruxton was a challenge. The team worked hard as always and we got closer but just not close enough." Fraser Rogers: “Challenging weekend for us, one that we are not used to. It started off really well, 3rd in the wet and 1st in the dry, then we went on to go inside the lap record in the qualifying session so I was really confident for the races to commence. Unfortunately I was taken out in race one, and I couldn’t shake off the group and everyone was lunging quite harshly and then in race 2 the pace was a bit faster and the bike was working well but I had the same thing again, I could not get through the group and I couldn't attack so i just had to bring it home which gave us a few more points towards the championship. I want to thank the amazing team that gets behind me every single race weekend, Ian, Myra, ‘The Data Guru’, Derek, Alex, Richard from Maxton and the legend that is Dave Jenko.”