A few weeks after the shock news that the Three Sisters race complex at Wigan had gone into receivership, all the British Supermoto paddock were relieved to find that round 5 of the championship was going ahead as planned. The North-West venue is still the favourite location for most competitors and its numerous track variations give real scope for organisers to vary the tracks over the two-day meeting to ensure that riders face different challenges over the race weekend.
Race Day 1 – The Michelin Premier Championship
Qualifying; Typically for July in Wigan the morning was grey and wet and most riders opted for full wet tyres for qualifying. The current fastest three riders in the UK Matt Winstanley, Chris Hodgson and Davey Todd were all in action, as well as early season pace setter Jordan Bannon. A good qualifying is essential to get pole position and all the riders now put maximum effort into this section of the day. Living less than 3 miles from the circuit Matt Winstanley is always seen as the favourite at Three Sisters but all the top riders know the circuit like the back of their hands and Matt’s favourite status is more of a perception than a reality. However, for 2017 the ex GP star is in determined mood and is desperate to regain his number 1 status, in the damp conditions his smooth style paid dividends as he set the fastest lap of the session in 52.906, however Chris Hodgson was only 1/10th of a second behind wit Davey odd a further 7/10th back. Jordan Bannon was fourth, Richard Blakeman fifth and the fast improving Brad Hardy sixth.
Race 1 Matt Winstanley took the holeshot from P1 on the grid on his Husqvarna, Hodgson stalked Winstanley until lap 7 when Todd slipped past and although Todd pushed hard in the tricky conditions, he couldn’t hang on and Winstanley had a comfortable 5 second lead at the line. Hodgson who had a few nervous moments when his ride height adjuster backed off was a further two seconds behind. The ride of the race came from Richard Blakeman who from a long way back hunted down semi-pro ice hockey star Jordan Bannon who had held fourth for most of race, Tim Johnson was sixth with this year’s rising star Bradley Hardy seventh after a great ding dong battle all race with Dean Hillier, eighth and Charlie Light ninth ahead of his LSP team mate Tom Barrington rounding out the top ten.
Race 2; The track had now dried enough for slick tyres to be used and the pace would be upped, Hodgson the multiple British Champion knew that he was in for serious competition from Winstanley and Todd, his KTM had been difficult to set up for the wet race but now it was dry he felt he could push harder. Todd got the holeshot but couldn’t hold off Winstanley who out-braked him into the first dirt section. With Hodgson just behind Todd, the three musketeers had already pulled out a gap on the chasing pack. On lap three Hodgson made a tough move on Todd and him and Winstanley cranked up the pace and slowly gapped the North-East youngster. Winstanley was being canny, slowing the pace fractionally through the tricky infield dirt sections where he knew Hodgson couldn’t pass he then rode extremely hard to the fast lunar section to compensate for Hodgson’s superior straight line speed. After 16 pulsating laps, he got to the flag just 8/10th ahead of the Cumbrian, Todd had settled for third and was distant 17 seconds behind. Jordan Bannon and Richard Blakeman battled bar to bar for fourth spot with the Cheshire youngster edging out Blakeman by 2/10th. Behind these two another titanic battled raged between Tim Johnson, Tom Barrington and Scotland’s Jamie Duncan with only 3/10th separating the three over the line. Brad Hardy was ninth with Peter Bennet in tenth.
Race 3; The track was now totally dry and the clouds had broken to give blue sky and sunshine. Jordan Bannon made a lightning start from the front row of the packed grid, however after leading for a lap he overcooked it in the dirt section and fell. Winstanley who had slipped past Todd in the second lap took advantage and hit the front not to be headed for the rest of the race. Hodgson managed to get by Todd in lap 5, Todd later complained of a loose headstock, but couldn’t catch Winstanley even though he set the fastest lap of the day in the attempt. Blakeman was untroubled in fourth place with Bannon recovering from his fall to take fifth. Brad Hardy got the better of a great fight with Jamie Duncan to take sixth whilst Tim Johnson, the very impressive Tom Barrington and Peter Bennett all crossed the line in close proximity to fill out the top ten.
Overall Matt Winstanley took the overall with his three wins from Chris Hodgson. Third was Davey Todd from Richard Blakeman Jordan in fourth, Bannon was fifth to keep up his challenge at the top of the championship. Tim Johnson sixth, Brad Hardy seventh, with Rider of the Day award winner Tom Barrington in eighth.
In the class for bikes produced prior to September 2006, Tim Oliver gained the overall on his 380 KTM, Steve Coombs, 570 Husqvarna was second with Damon Jasper making the trip from Kent worthwhile getting his Aprilia into third ahead of the Husqvarna mounted Bullen brothers, Justin and Geoffrey.
NPS GIAG/Novice Cup
This starter race series aimed at riders new to the sport continued to attract a big entry. Grandfather Andy Hall was overall winner with three wins from three, Manchester solicitor Keith Edwards was second with Yorkshire grunge fan Steven Norman third.
Academy Class/Mini Bikes
The combined Academy class and Mini Bike race saw a good sized field and some topsy turvy results after the top mini bike riders ran into various problems. The Academy overall winner and star of the future was 12 year old Casey Jones from Wigan, superfast on his KTM 85 he was lapping faster than many of the adult riders. Ben Bayfield was second on his KTM 85 with proud Dad Darren who competes in the Michelin series watching. Another son of an Elite competitor Kyle Bennett made tge maximum use of 65SX to take third. In the Mini Bikes, CeeJay Davies made the long journey from Scotland worthwhile taking the overall after championship leader Jamie Stables crashed his full size bike in an earlier race. James Pigney from Penrith was fast on his Stock 140 and finished second with John Buckell delighted with his third pace after three solid races.
Race Day Two – The British Supermoto Championship
Another dull grey day with early morning misty rain greeted the riders as they went through technical inspection, however the weather improved as the morning went on and the final qualifying sessions were completely dry. The versatile Three Sisters Race complex allowed a track change that gave the riders a different challenge from Saturday with a longer more technical layout, incorporating three dirt sections.
Qualifying. For 2017 the competitors get to choose two sessions to set a qualifying time from six available slots and with the track drying all the time it was a case of choosing the best track conditions and the least amount of traffic. Buoyed by his previous days three wins Winstanley couldn’t repeat his pole of Race Day 1 as he was second to Hodgson who looked very determined. Davey Todd was fractionally behind in third with Jordan Bannon taking the final front row slot in fourth.
Race One. The three top protagonist’s from Race Day 1 hit the front with Todd getting the holeshot, for lap after lap the three hammered round the 1.3km circuit wheel to wheel. On lap 5 Hodgson forced his way past Winstanley but he could only hold second for two laps before Winstanley got past again, a lap later he was in front squeezing past Todd on the ultra-fast Lunar bend. Todd pushed hard but Winstanley again showed his race craft by controlling the pace from the front, Hodgson pushed hard in third setting the fastest lap of the race in lap 11, amazingly both Winstanley and Todd set their personal fastest laps in the last lap as they fought to the finish. After 14 gruelling laps and over 15 minutes of racing they all crossed the line within 7/10th of a second. Jordan Bannon had a lonely race in fourth, wit Richard Blakeman eventually battling his way to fifth. Charlie Light got the better of Dean Hillier to take sixth and Jamie Duncan continued his fine form from Saturday in eighth.
Race Two Winstanley made a great start from Pole, ahead of Todd and Hodgson. However Hodgson was really on it and passed Todd in lap two before out-braking Winstanley two laps later. The Cumbrian then really put the hammer down to try to break clear but Winstanley hung on to his back wheel and the two inexorably moved away from Todd. By lap 11 it looked as if Hodgson would go on to win but in an outrageous move that had the large crowd gasping Winstanley moved ahead entering the first of the three off road sections, he then put on after burners on to keep ahead of Hodgson, setting the fastest lap of the race and the first sub 1 minute 2 second lap of the day in lap 13 of 14 to take the chequered flag by 3/10th. Todd was a distant 12 seconds behind in third with Scott Murray back on form with a fine fourth. Jordan Bannon was fifth ahead of the improving Charlie Light Dean Hillier was seventh with Ollie Kemp riding exceptionally well in eighth
Race 3 A huge melee at the bottom of the dirt section really mixed up the pack with seven riders down, thankfully all were ok and no red flag was needed. The front runners had avoided the main trouble and Winstanley headed Todd and Hodgson on lap five Todd passed Winstanley to take the lead. There was an obvious improvement in the youngster’s lap times over the first two races and it was later revealed he had moved onto a 16-inch front wheel, the same as Hodgson and Winstanley, borrowed from a Novice rider. The change worked allowing him to carry noticeably more corner speed around the fast Lunar right hander which is essential for a top speed down the main straight. Winstanley hung on to his back wheel but couldn’t find a way past, however in the final lap of the final race he set the fastest lap of the entire meeting, a staggering 1.01.681, 1.5 seconds faster than Hodgson’s pole time. The Cumbrian had a lonely ride in third settling for a safe third. Richard Blakeman was a solid fourth, Andy Mitchell defied the years with a sterling fifth place even though he could hardly walk, Jordan Bannon picked up sixth having been one of the riders caught up in the first lap fracas. Ollie Kemp almost hung on for a fantastic fifth but visibly tired in the last two laps and ended up seventh with the consolation of the rider of the day award, the previous days recipient Tom Barrington was eighth.
Overall The large crowd had been treated to another fantastic all action day at Three Sisters with full grids and battles all the way through each group race. An amazing spectacle of action for the £5 entry fee, with some of the best racing you could see anywhere in Motorsport! The local hero Winstanley pleased his fans with the overall win, young Davey Todd in second showed his immense talent as he combines Supermoto with BSB and Irish road racing, Chris Hodgson, as he has proved year after year rode with his head to maintain his title challenge by picking up third. Jordan Bannon was fourth with Richard Blakeman fifth, these two riders now jointly lead the British Championship. Charlie Light was sixth, Dean Hillier seventh, Ollie Kemp eighth, the luckless Scott Murray ninth with fellow Scot Jamie Duncan in tenth.
Results Race Day One
Michelin Championship 1st Matt Winstanley (Husq) 105pts – 2nd Chris Hodgson (KTM) 94pts -3rd Davey Todd (Husq) 92pts – 4th Richard Blakeman (Husq) 82pts – 5th Jordan Bannon (Husq) 80pts – 6th Tim Johnson (Husq) 73pts – 7th Bradley Hardy (Husq) 71pts – 8th Tom Barrington (KTM) 67pts – 9th Jamie Duncan (KTM) 66pts -10th Charlie Light (KTM) 62pts.
Evo Championship 1st Tim Oliver (KTM) 98pts – 2nd Steve Coombs (Husq) 97pts – 3rd Damon Jasper (Aprilia) 92pts – 4th Justin Bullen (Husq) 60pts – 5th Geoff Bullen (Husq) 54pts
GIAG Novice Cup 1st Andy Hall (Husq) 105pts – 2nd Keith Edwards (Honda) 94pts – 3rd Steven Norman (KTM) 92pts – 4th Darius Zbyrowski (KTM) 80pts – 5th Craig Whittaker (KTM) 67pts
Mini Bikes 1st Ceejay Davies (85SX) 93pts – 2nd James Pigney (Open) 88pts – 3rd John Buckell (Stock) 84pts – 4th Anne Savage (Stock) 74pts – 5th Danny Boj (85SX) 70pts
Academy Class 1st Casey Jones (KTM) 105pts – 2nd Ben Bayfield (KTM) 84pts – 3rd Kyle Bennett 88pts – 4th Harley Sharp (Husq) 80pts – 5th Oliver Keam (KTM) 74pts
Results Race Day Two
British Championship 1st Matt Winstanley (Husq) 148pts – 2nd Davey Todd (Husq) 144pts -3rd Chris Hodgson (KTM) 140pts – 4th Jordan Bannon (Husq) 126pts – 5th Richard Blakeman (Husq) 118pts – 6th Charlie Light (KTM) 114pts – 7th Dean Hillier (Husq) 106pts – 8th Ollie Kemp (TM) 104pts – 9th Scott Murray (TM) 98pts – 10th Jamie Duncan (KTM) 97pts
Over 45 1st Andre Craddock (TM) 78pts – 2nd Andy Mitchell (Husq) 70pts – 3rd Andy Goodsell (Husq) 46pts – 4th Andy Hall (Husq) 46pts – 5th Mike Whittemore (KTM) 18pts
Clubman 1st Chris Eastwood (Husq) 73pts – 2nd Ross Mailer (TM) 64pts – 3rd Steven Lowe (TM) 61pts – 4th Blaine Pearson (KTM) 47pts – 5th Andy Goodsell (Husq) 46pts
Novice 1st Tom Laycock (KTM) 64pts – 2nd Mitchell Bullen (KTM) 54pts – 3rd Andy Hall (KTM) 43pts – 4th Steven Norman (KTM) 30pts – 5th Ben Millar (KTM) 13pts
Best Two Stroke – Tom Laycock (KTM) 64pts
Race report by Jaki Bradley – Pictures by Styleimage