The Cool-FAB Racing Minibikes British Championship went North to Frizington in Cumbria for Round 7 where the Rowrah circuit played host.
A circuit that provided a new challenge for all riders in the 2019 season. With an undulating layout, blind corners, fast and flowing corners, long straights and hard braking zones. It was a real test of bike and rider skill.
Changeable weather, high winds, wet, and dry, added to the demand of the weekend making every session count towards the races.
Championship leader Evan Belford, his closest rival Eddie O’Shea and arguably the rider on form - Bailey Stuart-Campbell, fought it out all weekend to gain the upper hand.
O’Shea qualified on pole position ahead of Stuart-Campbell and Belford. O’Shea had to convert that pole into race wins to close the gap of 66 points to Belford with 2 Rounds (6 races) remaining. If Belford finished the weekend more that 75 points ahead, he would be crowned Champion for 2019. Stuart-Campbell had emerged as a contender for 2nd in standings, so he was out to pick up race wins. With so much at stake, there was tension in the air and the MiniGP70 riders were ready for whatever was thrown at them.
The points gap changed to and fro during all three races. O’Shea leading in Race 1 had to fending off Belford and Stuart-Campbell. With all three riders pushing their machines to the maximum, mistakes were made. Stuart-Campbell took advantage of O’Shea running wide only to do the same himself later in the race. Stuart-Campbell made a lunge on O’Shea on the final lap into Turn 4, tagging O’Shea. Both stayed on, O’Shea taking the win ahead of Stuart-Campbell and Belford.
Sunday’s Race 2 was damp after rain early in the morning. O’Shea pulled the early advantage but was quickly caught by Stuart-Campbell and Belford, both make it past in quick succession before Belford made his way into the lead and didn’t look back, crossing the line 6 seconds ahead of Stuart-Campbell with O’Shea further back in 3rd. Race 3 could see the title wrapped up if Belford won the race and O’Shea was lower than 2nd.
Belford made his way into the lead past O’Shea early in the final race. Stuart-Campbell making his move a few laps later. After seizing up his chances he made his move on Belford into Turn 9. Then soaked up the pressure from Belford to take his 2nd win of the season. Belford scoring 2nd with O’Shea in 3rd. This meant the title would roll onto Round 8 at Tattershall. Belford taking a 70 point advantage to the final round over O’Shea and Stuart-Campbell. He will only need to score 6 points in Race 1 to wrap up the Championship.
Four riders were all within a chance of taking the title in 2019. Championship leader Harrison Crosby, Ryan Hitchcock, Josh Bannister (returning after breaking his elbow at Whilton Mill) and Kyle Payne. 28 points covered them all going into the weekend.
Kyle Payne asserted his authority early in the weekend, taking pole position ahead of Crosby. It would be a disaster for Crosby, crashing out in Race 1 but remounting to finishing in 10th. Bannister still struggling slightly with his injury from 4 weeks previously didn’t score. Hitchcock only managing 7th after a weekend of bike issues. This left Payne to take the win ahead of Lucas Brown.
The damp conditions for Sunday’s Race 2 gave Hitchcock the opportunity to work his way up the grid. Finding grip in the slippery conditions, he took the race win ahead of Payne and Crosby.
Kyle Payne stamped his intentions early in race 3, commanding the lead ahead of Crosby, slowly increasing the gap lap-after-lap. Hitchcock slipped off his bike at Turn 4 late into the race, he remounted to finish in 10th. This left Bannister in a comfortable 3rd, which he would hold until the end. At the chequered flag, Payne crossed the line ahead of Crosby and has emerged as the closest challenger to Crosby’s Championship lead. Sitting just 2 points behind after starting the weekend 28 points back. Four riders can still take the Title with 41 points covering the four riders with 75 points still to play for. Although for Hitchcock (-23) and Bannister (-41) it will be difficult.
Sullivan Mounsey had a strong weekend, finishing no lower than 5th, including a 3rd place finish. Tasking his biggest points haul of 2019.
Junior LC40 Elite – Johnny Garness was crowned the champion after Race 2, holding off Mason Foster once again to take the win. He celebrated by stopping on the circuit during the cool-down lap to put on a championship t-shirt, which was warmly received by everyone a very nice touch.
AC40 Pro – Mason Foster would wrap up a title for himself, taking victory in Race 1 ahead of Ethan Sparks to crown himself Champion for the second season running in the class. He would take victory in Race 3 but only manage 3rd in Race 2. Ethan Sparks the only other rider to win in the class picked up the honours in that race.
AC40 Rookies – A new rider emerged as the “one to beat”. Marco Holt on bike number 58, took his first win in Race 1, following that up with a 2nd in Race 2 and a commanding victory in Race 3. Archie Gibbs would retake the Championship lead from Ollie Sims, having a consistent weekend, including a win in Race 2 and 2nd in Race 3.
The finale of the Cool-FAB Racing British Minibikes Championship will return to Lincoln at Tattershall on the 12th & 13th of October. With the MiniGP70, MiniGP50 and AC40 Rookies classes still to be decided, it should be an unmissable event.