Race Report: Lydden Hill
Paul Green was at the track to watch jaw droppingly close racing in Kent as the best of the English riders took the fight to the Italian Casa team.
Paul Green brings us up to speed with a fast-paced and action-packed race report.
The Lydden Hill meeting is one of the highlights of the BSSO year and features the eagerly contended Memorial Race. This year was no exception with excellent weather greeting the first visit of 2017 by the Italian Casa Lambretta team. The Kent circuit saw one of the biggest overall entries of scooters for some years showing the solid health of scooter racing in the UK.
Group 6A Automatic Specials
The Group 6 scooters were up first and Lee Bamber laid down the fact that he was a force to be reckoned with, as he won not only the first race but every Group 6A race and managed to lap in an incredible 48.01 seconds. But he was made to fight for it on Saturday by a rider we haven’t seen in BSSO races for some years – Scott Swarbrick. Scott was riding a Taylor Tuned automatic and was immediately on the pace with strong finishes despite a high speed crash on Saturday. In the second race Swarbrick edged out Bamber with a last lap move – superb racing! The auto provided the fastest laps of the weekend and certainly shows what can be done with an auto engine in high state of tune! Warren Wilkinson was a podium finisher in three
races, and on Sunday Gary Peacock had a good day riding the Retro Racing Slimline Scomadi to second and third places showing the potential of the Scomadi going forward.
Group 6 geared specials
It was very much a weekend of highs and lows for the Group 6 contenders… massive highs for veteran Stuart Day with two wins to his name, much to the delight of the whole paddock as he took his first race win in over a year. There was a low for Darren Conneely who fell victim to new tarmac on the first lap of Race 1 and went down from the race lead. Other lows included ‘Jigsy’ Fielden who crashed out on Saturday and suffered a broken ankle, and JB Tuning’s Mikey Bonett who had an expensive weekend of engine issues seemingly caused by some bad Avgas.
Doug Turner had a solid weekend with three podiums out of the four races, but it was Stuart Day who was the most consistent rider of the weekend with four top three finishes on the SRP 240 and a good championship points haul. Two of the visiting Italians took a win each over the weekend to make the trip from Italy worthwhile. The last race of the weekend was one of the best of the year with a titanic battle of passing and repassing by Championship leader Darren Conneely and visiting Italian Fuschini, with a missed gear from Conneely costing him dearly two bends from the line.
Group 4 standards
In terms of points a dominant Darren Conneely took four wins but the lead was noticeably smaller than it has been at times this year, showing the determination of Chris Geyton, Dave Bristow and Dan Lewis to play catchup. Bristow and Geyton shared two second places each over the weekend with both suffering a non-finish each. Special mention must go to Dan Lewis who was riding really well and pushing the others all the way on his home tuned Group 4.
LCGB Production Class
Almost half a grid on their own now, and still attracting new entrants all the time. At the sharp end it was DSC teammates Price and Graves with three wins and one win respectively. Mad Dog Stewart Mackenzie on the Vespa was in the contention on Saturday with a second place but it’s Graham Tatton who is now snapping at the heels of the DSC duo and lapping within tenths of a second of them. Tatton is one of the most stylish riders and always good to watch as he hangs off the scooter. Stuart Day continues to get to grips in the class with four fifth places, but was joined by the talented Gary Peacock who had put aside an auto scooter to use the SRP production bike for the weekend with the two being very evenly matched.
Behind the leading pack, the newcomers are getting closer all the time, and there are battles throughout the field as the likes of Tim Simpson and Pat Wickham continue to get closer. Bob West had one of his occasional outings on the old Taffspeed chassis. Andy Barnes had an excursion into the gravel again, but thankfully both he and machine were pretty much unscathed. For the Class
Championship Price consolidated his position but teammate Graves is still in touch and there’s very little between them.
The non-championship Open Class was joined by the Casa Lambretta team with their eagerly awaited 265cc special and a very trick Piaggio Zip that was fast in the hands of Fillipo Bennini. The 265 had some technical issues over the weekend, but once sorted Fuschini was fast and indeed took a race win on Sunday. Lee Bamber had his race head on again and took three wins over the weekend and had some amazing races to the wire with the visiting Italians as well as Scott Swarbrick.
BSSO Memorial Race
This has very quickly become the race that everyone really wants to win. In the last few years scooter racing has lost several riders who have passed away including Jon Uffindell, Mark Hullah, Dave Webster and James Campen. The race was established in order to commemorate these and other riders and is an all comers race open to all machines. The race was won by Lee Bamber from Italian Fillipo Benini who were trading fastest laps and pushing each other hard. Bamber set fastest lap of the weekend in this race at 48.01 seconds. Luca Zani took third place followed by the autos of Swarbrick and Wilkinson, with Damon Tunnicliffe just behind guesting on a Casa Lambretta machine. So an absolutely fabulous weekend of racing, I struggle to recall a meeting with more last-lap wins, decided by hundredths of seconds and a whole load of gasps from spectators.
Words & Paddock Images: Paul Green Photography: Lee Hollick
Dean Conneely leading the group. PPat Wickham (64) pushing hahard.d
Above left: ‘So it’s straight on at the lights, and left at the chip shop?’ Middle: Dave Wilson on his Scomadi. Right: Double trouble.
You sure this is the way to Bridlington?
Casa – new concepts.
Above left: Pit smiles. If you can’t enjoy it... what’s the point? Above right: Casa scooters look fast just standing still. Right: Chris Geyton readies himself for the battles still to come.