DONINGTON CRMC CLASSIC FESTIVAL
The Donington Park Festival has rapidly developed into one of the world’s leading celebrations of classic motorcycle racing. This year’s event again saw large crowds flocking to the East Midlands circuit to enjoy the extensive displays (including the VJMC organised National Bike Club Show), retail stands, track parades and to meet and mingle with star names including Donington 1998 500 GP winner Simon Crafar, Phil Mccallen, Steve Parrish, Sammy Miller, Jim Curry, Charlie Williams and Alex George. Running through all three days was the CRMC’S 48-race programme, featuring riders and teams from as far afield as New Zealand, northern Norway and eastern Germany, many of them attracted by the opportunity to compete in the concurrent final round of the 2017 FIM Europe Vintage Road Race Championship. In addition to the regular CRMC club/ ACU race schedule, there were four Lansdowne rounds, a race marking the 40th anniversary of the Honda MT125 championship and a parade of racers who had taken part in the first Donington meeting when the circuit reopened in April 1977. All in all, the event provided something for everyone. Sunday’s feature race was the 10lap Hercberg International Wheatcroft Trophy, with Classic Racer again providing £1000 of prize money, half of it going to the winner together with the superb trophy. Rotherham’s George HogtonRusling exploded on the CRMC scene a few years ago as a hugely talented, but sometimes unpredictable, teenager but has developed into a rider who makes racing look ridiculously easy, whatever the conditions. Having convincingly won
Saturday’s treacherously slippery Scitsu Instruments/acu Post Classic 350 round on the Gourlay TZ350, he blitzed the Hercberg XR69 Suzuki to comfortable Wheatcroft victory over Ant Hart (TZ350) and Lee Hodge, who was on board the latest bike to emerge from the Minnovation Racing workshops – a P&M Kawasaki 1260. The win sealed victory for Hogton-rusling in the CRMC King of the Classics championship and for good measure he also extended his lead in the Classic Racer Syndicate UK 1300 Series on the Hercberg Triumph triple as well as recording numerous other victories in the CRMC club classes. With all grids full, spectators were treated to an exhibition of everything that is good about CRMC racing, with many of the club championship classes producing ultra-close finishes, even during Sunday’s sometimes difficult track conditions. Among so many notable performances it seems almost unfair to highlight one but the weekend’s Classic 500GP battles between Richard Molnar (Molnar Manx) and the Minnovation G50s of Joe Barton and Lee Hodge were as exciting as you’d see at any level of motorcycle racing, culminating in Molnar’s enthralling victory in Sunday’s Minnovation/acu Classic 500 race.
1 1: Three hard-earned wins saw Dean Stimpson (78, Izzard Racing Manx) extend his lead at the top of the Lansdowne GP championship but he was pipped in Saturday’s wet leg by an inspired ride from Sam Clews (90, ACR Manx), who took his first Lansdowne victory.
2: Team Simson AWO brought seven riders and around a dozen of their extraordinarily rare machines to the meeting. Furthermore, they came to race, not parade, these unique race bikes that were built under the most difficult of circumstances in 1950s East Germany. Here, Dieter Messerschmidt hustles the R5/4 through Robert’s Chicane in the 250 European event.
3: Honda 125 anniversary race podium with “Mr MT” Jerry Lodge in the foreground and former Honda UK boss, Gerald Davison (white shirt) flanked by top three finishers Ash Beckett (second place), winner Ant Hart, and Gav Kidwell.
1 2 1: Richard Molnar celebrates another victory on Brian Camp’s 500 Molnar Manx.the young Lancastrian described the weekend’s dices with Minnovation’s Joe Barton and Lee Hodge as the most enjoyable racing of his career.
2: Donington was the UK swansong for the beautiful methanol-burning SBR Commando before returning to New Zealand after its four-meeting tour of CRMC and BHR meetings. Twenty-one year old British rider, James Flitcroft, again caught the eye with some storming rides, earning himself Saturday’s Rider of the Day award.
3: Alex George is on hand to present the prizes on the Scitsu/acu P/C 350 podium. Left to right: Ant Hart (TZ350, second place); winner George Hogton-rusling (Gourlay Yamaha TZ350) and third place finisher Mark Cronshaw (Minnovation TZ350).
4: Forty years after winning the first-ever Honda MT125 UK Championship race (and a then very hefty £200) Charlie Williams was still going hard at it in the anniversary race, finishing twelfth and earning the rider of the race award from original series creator, Gerald Davison.