Classic Racer - - CLASSIC RACER ONTRACK - Words: Gra­ham Lawlor Pho­tos: Rus­sell Lee,

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.

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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.

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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.

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