The CRMC gets out after a long winter with a jam-packed programme of action
And so with a bang, not a whimper, the year’s CRMC championship gets underway. Classic Racer’s Graham Lawlor and Russ Lee were on hand for the fun and games.
The Easter holiday period saw most of the UK experiencing a prolonged deluge, so the CRMC’S chilly but largely dry weekend at Pembrey came as something of a relief as they began their 2018 season in South West Wales. A long oil delay on the Saturday meant that day’s programme had to be trimmed but the meeting still provided plenty of action, with 29 races for the well wrapped up spectators to enjoy, including three lengthy outings for every club class. As always, the new season saw the return
of many of the usual suspects, together with some new faces including a healthy crop of orange-jacketed newcomers. A surprise late entry came from well known British Superbike/superstock rider, Hudson Kennaugh, who took a last minute diversion to Pembrey after the Tonfanau meeting was cancelled due to waterlogging and the threat of further heavy rain. On board Graham Veryard’s TZ350 for the first time, at a track he’d never even seen before, the man from Durban, South Africa quickly got on the pace and capped his weekend with a win in Sunday’s final race. Sunday featured two ACU championship races, both of them resulting in desperately hard earned wins for Mike Cooper on his Team Craven TZ350 and Manx 500. The Hercberg International combined ACU Post Classic and Peter Williams Trophy race produced a tremendous scrap between Cooper (TZ350) and George Hogton-rusling (Suzuki XR69 1100) after early leader Kennaugh had dropped back and then retired. All was geared up for a
grandstand finish until the red flag came out with two laps to go, at which point Cooper was leading by 0.228 seconds. The Minnovation ACU Classic 500 race began with a first lap red flag but the nine-lap rerun was a flag to flag cracker that saw Cooper and Richard Molnar (Molnar Manx) never more than a few feet apart. The pair swapped places until Cooper slipped past his younger rival at Hatchets Hairpin on the last lap and held on to win by just 0.277 seconds. Early season can often see the sidecar entry a little on the low side and Pembrey was no exception, but the dozen or so 750 and Unlimited class outfits that made the trip got down to some committed scrapping, with Doug/andrew Street (MRE Imp) and Mike Bellaby/dave Gristwood (D&D Moorespeed BMW) taking the overall wins. In the 750 classes Matt Kingsmill/paul Sands were consistently the best of the bunch on their MRE BMW. The CRMC circus moves on to Snetterton on April 28/29, by which time it is to be hoped that winter finally will have released its grip on the UK’S weather.
Doug/andrew Street (76, MRE Imp) looked well on their way to repeating their 2017 Pembrey hat-trick after comfortably winning the weekend’s first two races but they failed to appear for the final leg, which saw victory going to Mike Bellaby/dave Gristwood (D&D Moorespeed BMW).
Mike Cooper (24, Craven Manx) leads Richard Molnar (25, Molnar Manx) in their titanic Minnovation ACU Classic 500 battle. Cooper’s experience was possibly the key deciding factor as he edged Molnar out by a few feet after a superb dice. The battle will resume at Snetterton on April 28/29.
Back in the 1980s Mark Astle was one of the leading riders in the then hugely popular singles class on a Honda XBR 500 special. After a near 30 year break he was back on the track at Pembrey, on board this immaculate standard XBR example in the Junior Production event.
Right: Martin Purvey’s spotless TZ250 deservedly won the parade bike of the meeting award.Above: Squadron Leader Symon Woodward would have loved to notch up a win on the weekend that marked the centenary of the RAF but just fell short of his objective. Here he leads John Warwick in an all RD250 battle in the post classic 200/250 event, but it was Warwick who eventually narrowly took the honours in all three races.Left inset: Ervin Wallace has spent the winter building this gorgeous Suzuki Katana and it goes as well as it looks, with the man universally known as ‘Erv the Swerve’ taking three top-two finishes in the PC Superbikes. Richard Llewellin (Ducati Pantah) is the man behind Louigi Moto and he celebrated his birthday with a clean sweep of wins in the A/C PC 500s on board this gorgeous example of his own work.to cap his weekend he was awarded rider of the meeting in recognition of his achievement. Above: It’s all smiles on the Hercberg ACU350/ Peter Williams Trophy podium with victor Mike Cooper flanked (left) by runner-up George Hogton-rusling and third place man, Kevin Wholey (Gourlay TZ350).Left: A thoughtful (or possibly exhausted) looking podium after the superb Minnovation ACU Classic 500 race. Mike Cooper (centre) cradles the winner’s spoils while runner-up Rich Molnar (left) thinks about what might have been. Lee Hodge (right, Minnovation G50) completes the podium.
It was a good weekend for Olie Linsdell. He dominated the Classic Clubman 500 class on the Flitwick Motorcycles Royal Enfield and also had three strong rides on this Rob North T150 in the Classic/post classic 750 class, culminating in victory in the final leg.
Left: Intense concentration shows in the eyes of George Hogton-rusling (44, Gourlay TZ350) and Hudson Kennaugh (69, Veryard TZ350) as they battle for victory in the opening CRMC PC 250/350 GP race. Former BSB front runner Kennaugh quickly adapted to a track he was seeing for the first time but it was CRMC 2017 Rider of the Year, Hogton-rusling, who narrowly won this one.