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The Final Round of the 2019 Cool-FAB Racing Minibikes Championship returned to Lincoln at Tattershall. There was the small matter of wrapping up the MiniGP70, MiniGP50 and AC40 Rookies titles.
Rain was expected throughout the weekend, the only exception being Saturday. The wet track on Friday and Sunday provided a tough challenge for all riders, with the surface being very slippery, a calculated and smooth approach was needed to master the conditions.
Tensions were high for the riders competing for a championship, the main focus, particularly on Saturday, was to see if the Premier Class title could be wrapped up.
Evan Belford held a 70-point advantage coming into the final round of the series over Eddie O’Shea and Bailey Stuart-Campbell - who were both tied on (320) points. With 75 points still to play for at the beginning of the weekend, all Belford had to do was finish inside the Top 10 in Race 1 and he would be Champion for 2019.
He put himself in a prime position to wrap up the title, qualifying on the front row of the grid, alongside pole-sitter, Stuart-Campbell. The early stages of the race, Belford slotted into 2nd behind Stuart-Campbell, as the #99 rider was setting a lap record pace. Belford followed him to gap the rest of the field.
Belford would come under attack towards the end of the race. O’Shea - after making a poor start - working his way through the pack, began setting new fastest laps to catch the Champion elect. However, with 3 laps remaining the red flag was called due to a crash at the fast-final corner. An incident involving Owen Mellor and Carter Brown - both riders were thankfully unhurt.
The red flag meant the race wouldn’t be restarted and Evan Belford was crowned the 2019 MiniGP70 Champion. Bailey Stuart Campbell opened up a 9-point gap over O’Shea for 2nd in the standings with his race win and the #114 of O’Shea scoring 3rd.
Sunday was held in wet conditions; Belford deciding not to take part. Race 2 was a crash-fest. O'Shea, Alfie Davidson and Ollie Walker all crashing from the lead and remounting at various stages. Davidson would find himself in the lead again with 2 laps reaming, holding off Owen Mellor and Dylan Mellor - to score his first race win in the class ahead of both the Mellor brothers.
Eddie O’Shea won the final race of the season ahead of Dylan Mellor and Davidson but Stuart-Campbell’s 5th position, sealed him 2nd in the standings, 2 points clear of O’Shea.
The Top 3 in the standings along with James Cook and many others will move on to the British Talent Cup in 2020. Belford has been the stand-out rider all year. After missing Round 1 due to a crash in practice, he fought back, taking 11 victories on his way to the title. While his rivals started strong and faded and new ones emerged, Belford was the one consistent rider all season, a strength that took him to the title.
Four riders all stood a chance of taking the title. 41 points covered the Top 4 in the standings, Crosby and Payne separated by 2 points at the top. All four had been the stand-out riders of the year in one of the most hotly contested championships. It was all to play for in what would be one of the most dramatic finales in Cool-FAB Racing’s history.
Josh Bannister set out his stall for the weekend with pole position for the races ahead of Hitchcock, with Payne and Crosby in 4th and 5th.
Bannister would command Race 1 on Saturday taking the victory ahead of Lucas Brown and Hitchcock. Payne finished 4th ahead of Crosby, the difference of 2 points, this put both equal on points going into Sunday's races.
Race 2 – Bannister took control once again, winning the race. Hitchcock finished in 4th ahead of Payne and Crosby. Carter and Lucas Brown completed the podium.
16 points covered the top 4 in the standings going into the final race of the season. The stage was set for a thriller.
Bannister had to win the race - with Payne and Crosby having to finish outside the Top 3 to become Champion. He set off at the front to do just that, he left Lucas and Carter Brown, Hitchcock, Payne and Crosby to fight amongst themselves. Lap 5, Carter Brown lost the rear at Turn 5, Crosby lucky to stay on the bike after crashing into Brown’s stricken machine. Hitchcock was less fortunate and went down, in doing so being removed from the championship battle.
The fight was now on between Crosby and Payne, sitting 3rd and 4th. All Crosby had to do was beat Payne to become Champion. Once he made his way past Lucas Brown into 2nd, he started the final lap with a comfortable advantage over Payne, then disaster struck. Coming out of Turn 5, Crosby lost the rear of the bike and threw himself over the handlebars, leaving Payne to take 2nd, behind Bannister. Payne became Champion by 7 points ahead of Bannister and Crosby after the #69 rider remounted to finish 4th.
A dramatic end to a spectacular championship. Bannister, Crosby and Hitchcock may have won more races during the season but Payne went on a run of 11 podiums including 3 race wins heading into the final round. His consistency brought him into the title fight and that form ultimately brought him the crown.
AC40 Rookies – Another title to be decided was the youngest category. Archie Gibbs holding an 18-point lead over nearest rival Ollie Sims in the standings entering the final round. Sims would be involved in a terrifying incident which saw him hit by another rider in Race 1, thankfully he was OK. Gibbs took the chance to extend his lead in the standings, he done so by finishing 2nd. Gibbs clinched the title in Race 2 and ending the season with a final win in Race 3. Luke Fitchett and Sims were strong contenders but couldn’t stop Gibbs.
LC40 Elite – Champion Johnny Garness commanded Race 1, scoring his 18th win of the season ahead of rival Mason Foster. Garness wouldn’t take part in both Sunday races, this allowed for 2 new race winners in the form of Clayton Edmunds and Ronnie Harris.
AC40 Pro – Mason Foster ended his season in style, the Champion scoring his 19th and 20th wins across the weekend, only missing out in Race 2 to first-time race winner – Clayton Edmunds.
From Round 1 at Llandow to the final Round at Tattershall, the Cool-FAB Racing season has been filled with non-stop action and excitement. Congratulations to all of the Champions. As the curtain comes down on a fantastic 2019 season, 2020 promises to be even better.
1 year ago