After the first and second rounds of ETB/NAST at Santa Pod, with its new status as a National Championship, it was all move to Shakespeare County Raceway for round 3. Unfortunately due to insufficient entries at these meetings the Gas class has not been run so far.
With the SP events being dominated by Phil Pratt and Gary Hester we were denied the spectacle of this pair fighting it out again as Phil was missing from the entries. Chance for Gary to add some much needed points in an effort to catch up. With 15 entries as round 1 there were a lot of points to be had.
Many racers had arrived on Friday to enjoy the pleasant but cool conditions and leisurely prepare for the first day of qualifying. For NAST the Moors were in force, as always, together with Mike and Sylvia Nelthorpe with the Aprilia before debuting the 2-stroke monster Polaris at ‘Race Rock and Ride’. Dave (the hat) Smart with the recently lowered Suzuki TL and Robbie Dobbie on his revamped Honda SP1 were joined on Saturday by NAST Gas champion Alfie Udall who again found himself in ETB due to lack of Gas entries. Leo Lester also arrived on Saturday with his R6 and a Suzuki TL in the back of his new race transporter together, surprisingly, with his wife despite the expectation of giving birth sometime in the next 8 days! Usual Twin members missing for various reasons were Peter Harrison (new job commitment and lack of transport), Chris Mott (impending house move so everything in boxes), Tim Boutle (in America) and Simon Clamp (in France).
First round of qualifying saw Gary Hester in number 1 spot but a surprise 2nd place to Robbie who, together with Alfie, had been moved to ETB/NAST. Alfie was struggling with a new setup and an expensive gearbox rebuild after an awful lot of damage after his last outing at the Pod. In session2 Gary was pushed into 4th place and the Moor’s were starting to make good with a 2nd place for Giselle. Before the 3rd qualifier could be run the track was on hold for a cleanup. Not fluid this time but lead shot! almost the length of the strip a junior dragster had deposited a tube of the small objects after a cap had come off. Damn and ballast, our 4th session was looking doubtful but we did get to run a third despite another delay while the cause of a total lack of power was investigated and all the computers had then to be rebooted. A quiet evening followed as the band in Kenny’s bar did not appear. It was also time for Leo to disappear as his wife did not think an airfield a suitable place to bring her next child into the world (their son was born the following day and all are well – congratulations).
With quite a strong but warmer side wind we were out at 10.30 as the 4th qualifying session had not been completed on the previous day. Yvonne and Chris Mott joined us for most of the day as spectators. Again Robbie surprised everyone (especially himself) by claiming number 1 spot with Alfie sorting his problems in 4th and Dave (the hat) keeping the front wheel on the track for once in 5th. Only one more qualifying session for ETB/NAST due to delays caused by an oil-down, several blocks taken out by a car crossing the centre line, another car wiping the barriers at the top end and of course, being a Bank holiday, the inevitable rain which eventually finished the day’s activities about 4pm.
After heavy rain overnight it was not looking good for the eliminations. The track crew valiantly began drying the track only for a shower of rain to destroy all their efforts. Again they got on with the job but now an even heavier shower followed by hail left the track in an even worse state. However they were not going to give up, and despite a few racers leaving and many more packing up and thinking that it was only a matter of time before the event was called and time to leave, the strip drier was fired up. It was now a desperate effort to get ready for the first round of eliminations which were run at 3.45. An amazing effort by the track but it was not to end there. After running most of round 1 an oil-down the length of the left lane should have signalled the end but no, out came the crew again and before the 5pm curfew we were running again. The shutters finally came down when almost at the end of round one the out of shape ‘Jap Series Pro’ car of David Greenhalgh almost took out his opponent in the opposite lane and ended in the Armco barrier. Reluctantly we all packed away for the second time that day and made our way home in the sunshine.
Phil Pratt still leads ETB with Siobhan Moor number 1 in the NAST championship. (Despite having more points than Siobhan Alfie’s Gas ‘bike does not comply with ET construction rules (subject for AGM) but he is currently 7th in ETB).
Next round is ‘Race, Rock and Ride’ where again there is a very healthy 16 ‘bike field, unfortunately insufficient Gas entries again so Mike Nelthorpe on the Polaris is relegated to ETB/NAST.
Don’t forget SuperTwins Challenge Cup – first round soon.