Smith & Hodgson share the honours in Wales
Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by Sports Events Live
After the tight technical circuit of Crail in Scotland the British Supermoto championship moved into Wales and a new track on the calendar, Pembrey. This world famous Rally Cross circuit in deepest South Wales takes some getting too but the journey is worthwhile with the excellent facilities and the ultra fast wide flowing circuit.
As the competitors awoke on Saturday, day one of the two day slide festival, they were greeted by bright Sunny conditons and a good crowd of spectators.
Michelin Premier Cup
The SJP Husqvarna duo of Chris Hodgson and Jay Smith have been dominant this year and they headed qualifying with Hodgson taking Pole by 6/10ths. Richard Sharp and Jordan Bannon made it an all Husky front row but the latter two were a good second off the pace.
Race 1 Hodgson hit the front from the start but Jay Smith was right on his tail and these two soon pulled a gap on the rest of the field, however the fast flowing track was providing some fantastic racing all through the field and after 12 scintillating laps of high speed duelling Hodgson hung on to beat Smith by the narrowest of margins, just 1 tenth of a second separating the two, a similar story occurred for the 3rd 4th place battle as Richard Sharp drafted past Bannon to get 3rd by 2 hundredths of a second and Andy Mitchell hung on to fifth beating Richard Blakeman by the comparatively comfortable gap of 8 tenths of a second!!
Race 2 Again Hodgson got the holeshot from pole, but this time Smith muscled past him on Lap 3 to take the lead, he held on until the last lap when under constant pressure from Hodgson he lost the front wheel momentarily and although he recovered Hodgson nipped through to take the chequered flag by 2 seconds. The battle for 3rd place between Jordan Bannon and Richard Sharp was relentless and in the closest ever-recorded finish in the British Supermoto championship, Yorkshireman Sharp took the honours by the incredible margin of 1 thousandth of a second.
Race 3 Hodgson had seen the pace of Smith increase all day and hit the front from the lights in his customary fashion & soon pulled out a gap over his London rival, however disaster struck on lap 5 when his engine stopped. Smith then went to on take a comfortable win but Bannon and Sharpe were still locked together but this time in the battle for second, after another 12 pulsating laps and over 13 minutes of race time Sharp again got the advantage this time by 1 hundredth of a second. Richard Blakeman finished 4th from the excellent Tom Barrington.
Overall At the end of this exciting and incident packed event the winner to the delight of the large crowd was the popular Londoner Jay Smith. Richard Sharp was a well-deserved second after his battles with 3rd placed Jordan Bannon. Richard Blakeman was 4th; Rider of the day Tom Barrington was 5th and York’s Ollie Kemp 6th.
Suter Clutch Challenge Cup
A large entry for this Elite feeder series saw a maiden victory for South African exile KTM rider Dirk Jordaan who held off two title contenders George Jarvis and Jack Fay. Popular Surrey rider Darren Lee made fourth from Andre Craddock who was well in the mix to win before a second race tumble ruled him out.
NPS GIAG/Novice Cup
Another bumper entry for the Novice Championship race saw another first time overall winner with Blaine Pearson extracting every last ounce of speed from his 250cc Husqvarna 2-stroke to keep Cornishman Simon Snowden at bay. Craig Forshaw and Steven Lowe travelled down from Wigan together loved the experience and gor 3rd and 4th respectively. Finishing 5th and getting a special prize was Scotsman Kevin McVey, he was down to race in the motocross class but managed to borrow some wheels and is now a convert.
Competitors woke to the sound of rain drumming on their vans and awnings and although when practice started it had reduced to a fine drizzle the beautiful weather of the previous day seemed a lifetime ago. A slight change to the track layout was devised to give the riders a different challenge from Saturday but this would lead to some controversy later in the day.
Michelin Elite Cup
Qualifying Hodgson had managed to get his bike repaired overnight and if people thought that the rain might split the SJP pair further it proved not the case, Hodgson headed his team mate by just 3 tenths of a second! Richard Sharp and Richard Blakeman filled the final front rows to make it an all Husqvarna line up.
Race One The weather was deteriorating from practice and qualifying and with a tighter Chicane in place the lap times dropped from Saturday but amazingly only by 4 seconds showing just how fast in the wet these bikes and riders are. Hodgson got his customarily fast start but Smith was in his wheel tracks lap after lap, on Lap 11 Smith took the lead and held it to the flag. However after a steward’s investigation following reports from sector Marshalls he was controversially demoted one place for course cutting, he was adamant that he had found a legal fast line but the officials stuck to their decision so Hodgson got the win.
Race Two Was a comparatively easy win for Hodgson after Smith made a mistake in the off road, it was now getting very, very wet and many of the riders were struggling to get through the gloopy off road. The more experienced riders with a strong MX background coped better and Richard Sharp repeated his first race result with a fine third place ahead of Richard Blakeman.
Race Three The riders were sent out for two warm up laps on two different course variations by the Race Director as the rain had intensified even further. After a brief discussion on the grid it was deemed necessary to abandon the race due to the high level of standing water, which was just too dangerous to race in. All the riders agreed with the decision and amazingly it was the first cancelled race in 7 years of top flight Supermoto racing.
Overall The results were taken from the first two races giving Hodgson the overall, Smith was second, Richard Sharp third, Richard Blakeman fourth Jordan and Bannon fifth.
Andy Mitchell dominated the National races with three wins for the veteran burly Yorkshireman he was pressed hard by George Jarvis, Darren Lee got third, Robin Brown had an excellent fourth ahead of the immaculately turned out Andre Craddock on his TM.
Ashley Middleton rode really well on his aging Honda to take overall in the Clubman cup ahead of another veteran Honda piloted by the equally veteran Mark Stephens. Marcus Gale from Southampton was the third spot on the podium with Scot Ally Grant fourth and Paul Robey an impressive fifth.
Results Day One
Michelin Premier Cup 1st Jay Smith (Husq) 99pts – 2nd Richard Sharp (Husq) 92pts -3rd Jordan Bannon (Husq) 86pts – 4th Richard Blakeman (Husq) 79pts – 5th Tom Barrington (Honda) 75pts – 6th Ollie Kemp (TM) 72pts – 7th Andy Mitchell (KTM) 70pts – 8th Chris Hodgson (Husq) 70pts – 9th Tim Johnson (Husq) 69pts -10th Charlie Light (KTM) 64pts.
Suter Cup 1st Dirk Jordaan (KTM) 95pts – 2nd George Jarvis (Husq) 95pts -3rd Jack Fay (Husq) 86pts – 4th Darren Lee (KTM) 85pts – 5th Andre Craddock (TM) 84pts
Novice Cup 1st Blaine Pearson (Husq) 102pts – 2nd Simon Snowdon (KTM) 99pts – 3rd Craig Forshaw (TM) 86pts – 4th Stephen Lowe (Honda) 86pts – 5th Kevin McVey (Kawasaki) 80pts
Results Day Two
Michelin Elite Cup 1st Chris Hodgson (Husq) 70pts – 2nd Jay Smith (Husq) 64pts -3rd Richard Sharp (Husq) 60pts – 4th Richard Blakeman (Husq) 56pts – 5th Jordan Bannon (Husq) 52pts – 6th Tim Johnson (Husq) 49pts – 7th Tom Barrington (Honda) 48pts – 8th Charlie Light (KTM) 47pts – 9th Dean Hillier (Husq) 48pts.
Open National 1st Andy Mitchell (KTM) 70pts – 2nd George Jarvis (Husq) 64pts -3rd Darren Lee (KTM) 58pts – 4th Robin Brown (Husq) 58pts – 5th Andre Craddock (TM) 52pts
National Clubman 1st Ashley Middleton (Honda) 97pts – 2nd Mark Stephens (Honda) 97pts -3rd Marcus Gale (KTM) 82pts – 4th Ally Grant (Kawasaki) 82pts – 5th Paul Robey (Husq) 78pts