Teesside Autodrome 20 & 21 August 2016
Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by www.styleimage.co.uk
Always one of the most popular rounds of the British Championship the Teesside Autodrome, located in an industrial area of Middlesboro provides a unique setting for a race track and the fast undulating course with its short but challenging dirt section is a real test for Novice and Expert alike. Another benefit to this venue is the ability to run the track in both directions, which gives fantastic variety over the weekend for the sizeable crowd of spectators.
Michelin Premier Cup
Thankfully the predicted bad weather didn’t arrive on schedule so all classes got to start qualifying in damp but drying conditions, by the time the Elite riders entered the track full slicks were the order of the day. Chris Hodgson is currently riding as well as he ever has and is so confident it looks as if no one in the UK can compete with him at the moment and so it proved in qualifying. The Cumbrian set pole with a lap almost 1.5 seconds faster than his SJP Husqvarna team mate Jay Smith who was struggling to get a suspension set up that felt right. Fife flyer Jamie Duncan managed to get his KTM into third place ahead of the Husqvarna of Richard Blakeman who completed the front row.
Race One If in the psychology of a top athlete you want to break the confidence of your opponents then Hodgson did it in race one Setting the fastest lap of the race in lap 3 he streaked into the distance visibly quicker than any other rider, eventually winning by 20 seconds from Smith who had to fight hard to keep off the tenacious efforts of Richard Blakeman. Jamie Duncan finished a distant 4th ahead of Scott Murray, the latter making a welcome return to racing after a 10 month lay off through injury.
Race Two The predicted rain appeared but only as a light drizzle that made the surface extremely slippery. Smith made some changes to his suspension get better feel and this definitely seemed to help as he managed to get his lap times to within 2/10ths of Hodgson but the Cumbrian still finished 16 seconds in front. Blakeman was 3rd ahead of veteran Andy Mitchell on his extremely rapid 300 KTM.
Race Three With the track dry again Hodgson hit the front from the start but Smith was definitely riding faster than he had all day and set the fastest lap of the day in lap 2, however pushing to try to get past Hodgson he made a mistake on lap 9 and took a small fall, Richard Blakeman nipped past whilst Smith re-started and despite intense pressure in the last two laps the burly tree surgeon hung on to second, shouting huge whops of delight as he took the chequered flag.
Overall it was Hodgson, Smith, Blakeman, Duncan and Murray.
Suter Clutch Challenge Cup
Another full grid for this intermediate level class saw some brilliant close racing all day, surprise pole position setter Tom Elam from Humberside showed it was no fluke by taking a very mature win in Race 1. However a spill in Race 2 in the tricky conditions let in George Jarvis who needed no further asking to take wins in the second and third races ahead of consistent Andre Craddock. The race had an exotic feel to it with Sri Lankan champion Sangeeth Suriyage competing well especially when he had never ridden off road or in the wet before. Overall Jarvis got the top step of the podium from Andre Craddock and consistent Darren Lee took third.
GIAG Novice Cup
A completely full grid of 34 riders with a strong Scottish contingent was testament to the popularity of the Novice class. With competitors riding a vast variety of machines it is a great way to get involved in racing in a safe and cost effective manor. The riders at the sharp end of the class take it very seriously indeed as there is a full ACU British Championship title at stake. Glaswegian personal trainer Chris Eastwood looks increasingly like the man to beat as he took top spot with three race wins, Blaine Pearson from Ashton was second on his trusty 250 Husqvarna two stroke and Steven Lowe won the Wigan battle to beat his travelling companion Craig Forshaw to the podium on his CRF450. Drew Pearson, brother of Blaine made it to 5th with newcomer Alex Price having a great debut in 6th.
Ben Robinson took the overall from rapidly improving Jamie Stables, Ben Green was third, all on Honda CRF’s.
Day Two Reversing the track at this venue gives a whole new feel to the circuit and each year riders do better either one way or the other but the mark of true skill is when you can master both. Lovely weather ensured that it would be man and machine that prevailed not the elements and we would soon see if Hodgson could repeat his Saturday dominance.
Michelin Elite Cup
Local BSB rider and ex Supermoto regular made the 10-minute journey from home to compete on a borrowed Husqvarna and fancied his chances at wresting top spot from Hodgson. It looked like he might have half a chance after qualifying just ½ a second behind the champ. Jay Smith got third and the popular Scott Murray fourth clearly getting faster after his long lay off.
Race One Hodgson led from start to finish but it was anything but easy as Davey Todd was on his rear wheel for the entire 12 laps of the superfast track, however the youngster had to settle for 2nd finishing less than 1 second behind at the flag. Jay Smith tried everything he could to get on terms but had to settle for third after a battle with Scott Murray.
Race Two was almost identical to Race 1 but Hodgson managed to gap Todd and pull a steady lead to the flag, after early battles the race settled into a regular rhythm and the race order from Race was repeated at the flag
Race Three The race pattern was well and truly set for the day with no riders making a mistake or able to find extra speed and Hodgson again won from Todd, with Smith 3rd, Murray 4th and Jamie Duncan 5th .
Overall Hodgson, Todd, Smith, Murray and Bannon.
Veteran Andy Mitchell came out on top after an exciting 3 National races, he managed 2 wins from 3 but a mid race puncture in race 2 scuppered his chances of a maximum. Darren Lee rode consistently well to gain second and Michelin rider of the day, whilst Fifer Ryan Chalmers was a fine third ahead of Grant Fraser another rider who went well on the reverse circuit. Ashley Middleton was fifth to maintain his National Clubman title challenge.
Results Day One
Michelin Premier Cup 1st Chris Hodgson (Husqvarna) 105pts – 2nd Jay Smith (Husqvarna) 94pts – 3rd Richard Blakeman (Husqvarna) 92pts – 4th Jamie Duncan (KTM) 82pts – 5th Scott Murray (TM) 75pts – 6th Jordan Bannon (Husqvarna) 74pts – 7th Tim Johnson (Husqvarna) 72pts – 8th Michael Ford (Honda) 67pts – 9th Andy Mitchell (KTM) 52pts -10th Owen Connell (Honda) 48pts.
Suter Cup 1st George Jarvis (Husqvarna) 100pts – 2nd Andre Craddock (TM) 96pts – 3rd Darren Lee (KTM) 86pts – 4th Tom Elam (KTM) 86pts – 5th Grant Fraser (TM) 83pts
Novice Cup 1st Chris Eastwood (Honda) 105pts – 2nd Blaine Pearson (Husqvarna) 90pts – 3rd Steven Lowe (Honda) 85pts – 4th Craig Forshaw (Honda) 80pts – 5th Drew Pearson (Husqvarna) 73pts
Mini Bikes 1st Ben Robinson (CRF) 105pts – 2nd Jamie Stables (CRF) 94pts – 3rd Ben Green (CRF) 92pts – 4th Gary Pigney (Open) 82pts – 5th Anne Savage (Stock) 52pts
Results Day Two
Michelin Elite Cup 1st Chris Hodgson (Husqvarna) 105pts – 2nd Davey Todd (Husqvarna) 96pts – 3rd Jay Smith (Husqvarna) 90pts – 4th Scott Murray (TM) 84pts – 5th Jordan Bannon (Husqvarna) 77pts – 6th Richard Blakeman (Husqvarna) 74pts – 7th Jamie Duncan (KTM) 72pts – 8th Tim Johnson (Husqvarna) 68pts – 9th Dean Hillier (Husqvarna) 66pts -10th Michael Ford (Honda) – 59pts.
National 1st Andy Mitchell (KTM) 95pts – 2nd Darren Lee (KTM) 93pts – 3rd Ryan Chalmers (Husqvarna) 90pts – 4th Grant Fraser (TM) 81pts – 5th Ashley Middleton (Honda) 80pts
National Clubman 1st Ryan Chalmers (Husqvarna) 90pts – 2nd Ashley Middleton (Honda) 80pts – 3rd Jason Saunders (TM) 52pts – 4th Jordan Nutter (KTM) 28pts – 5th Paul Robey (Husqvarna) 46pts
Best National B – John Oakes (SWM)
Best Over 45 Andy Mitchell (KTM) 95 points
Best Two Stroke Andy Mitchell (KTM) 95 points