500CC NEWS 2019
CLUB CHAIR MEN SHAUN HARVEY AND DANNY HOGG SECURE A NINTH BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS ON HOME SOIL
Chelmsford based 500cc Sidecar Driver Shaun Harvey and passenger Danny Hogg secured an unprecedented 9th British Championships title after a ferocious, fiery day’s racing at Writtle, Chelmsford on last Sunday.
The 500cc Sidecar Association once again produced an excellent venue and racing circuit for a meeting of this calibre, the event produced superb race after superb race, as riders battled to claim a British title. The final was the blue riband meeting in the UK for 250cc and 350cc solo, and 500cc and 1000cc left-hand sidecars.
All went well until the final two races when both the 350cc solo and 500cc Sidecar classes ended in controversy after officials were forced to make two big decisions.
Up until the very end of the event, the 500cc sidecar competition was simply magical. Two crews emerged as main contenders for the title, though several others could never be counted out. European Sidecar Vice-Champions Mitchel Godden/Paul Smith won their opening two races and looked in excellent form. Equally, reigning British Champions Josh Goodwin/Liam Brown won their opening two rides and looked superb. The two crews would clash twice in the heats. In the first meeting of the two, Goodwin/Brown took the honours, putting in an excellent display. However, the second meeting of the pairing saw the positions reversed, setting up the meeting perfectly for the winner-take-all final. Simon Beard, who had teamed with Sam Heath for the day, had also been in good form. He won two races, but had not been able to get the better of the leading two crews.
The first two laps of the final produced some tremendous racing. Goodwin/Brown got themselves to the front and started to establish their lead. A poor start from Godden/Smith meant that they had an awful lot of work to do to catch up. Former eight-time British Champions Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg were in the mix also. They were plugging away on the inside, hoping for a mistake. What unfolded at the end of the third lap was unfathomable, as both outfits became involved in an incident which is still being investigated. The decision was made to exclude both of the leading outfits. A series of protests followed and the meeting was drawn to a close. Eventually, Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg were declared champions after completing 3 out of the 4 laps in the final. This brings an unprecedented ninth British title to the pairing, and a tenth British title for Shaun Harvey who has also won in his younger years as passenger to another Chelmsford racer Nick Radley.
The 350cc Solo event was equally as competitive, though more experienced heads rose to the fore in this class. Sadly, pre-meeting favourite Mark Giles suffered a heavy fall in his second ride and was put out of the meeting after suffering a concussion. Reigning champion Tom Perry looked determined to hold onto his crown and claim a fourth title. He was unbeaten heading into the final.
Former European and British Masters champion Paul Hurry once again contested this 350cc title and was also in good form. He won two heats and his semi-final, only being beaten by Yorkshireman Andrew Whitaker in their opening ride. Whitaker went on to win another heat later in the day.
2017 champion Rob Finlow was quietly scoring points. He took a win in his opening ride and then finished third and fourth respectively. However, a good ride in his semi-final saw him finish 2nd to Perry.
Another experienced competitor, Dave Mears, had scored steadily also. He won a heat on his way to qualifying 4th for the final. However, disaster would strike the popular Kent racer in the final.
The first running of the final produced some fierce battles. The two front runners, Perry and Hurry, were locked in battle. Suddenly, a collision between the two left Hurry’s machine on the floor. With nowhere to go, Mears collected the stricken bike, throwing him violently over the handlebars and into the fence. A sad end to the day for Mears, who suffered some nasty injuries from the fall.
The rerun was called, but several significant factors came into play. With Mears out injured and Paul Hurry’s machine wrecked, he was forced to borrow a bike for the rerun. In the rerun, Perry got himself in front and led the race, but Rob Finlow rode a terrific wide line to dispose Perry of the lead and went onto win his second British title. Almost immediately after, Perry hit mechanical problems and was forced to retire. Possibly, he was already feeling the effects of a primary belt going and was slowing when Finlow passed him. Andrew Whitaker had got himself into second, whilst Hurry, on board unfamiliar machinery, still rode the bike to an impressive third place.
The 250cc solo class saw a real battle of the youngsters. Young Devonian Henry Atkins, who was attempting to claim a 3rd successive 250cc crown, was in superb form. He won his first two rides, but failed to finish his third. He had done enough to qualify for the semi-finals, and duly won this also.
Another teenager making waves in the sport is Charlie Brooks. He too was in good form after an exclusion in his opening ride. Just-out-of-youth wild card to the competition, Jake Mulford, was the surprise package, however. He had stormed to 3 fantastic wins heading into the semi-final stage and topped the points list. It wasn’t until the semi-final that he was beaten. This defeat was brought by Brooks.
Luke Harris, who only has a few years over these teens himself, had also scored well heading into the final stages of the meeting. He had won his final heat against relative veteran, Yorkshire’s former British champion David Knowles. Knowles was trying his best to stay on terms with the flying youngsters.
In the final, it was Atkins who took the win, becoming the first 250cc rider since Mark Wadsworth in 1991 to claim a third title in a row. Atkins is only the ninth rider to have won three British titles in-a-row and joins an elite list which includes Wadsworth, Steve Schofield, Alf Hagon and James Shanes.
The Lefthand sidecars saw a welcome return to the class for former British Champions Will Penfold/Ricky Pay, who have been concentrating on the sidecar speedway scene. They won their opening three rides in great fashion. In their final ride, they couldn’t get the better of Rob Heath/Kyle Fish, and had to settle for second. Heath/Fish were riding excellently. They won their first two races and failed to finish their third. A victory over Penfold/Pay heading into the final gave them a psychological edge over the three-time British Champ.
The six outfits produced another superb final. Penfold/Pay managed to get to the front, but Heath/Fish had enough pace to pass them and claim their first British Championship title. It has been a title that has been a very long time coming for Rob Heath, who has been racing in the class for well over twenty years. And for passenger Kyle, it was a meaningful title, twice won by his Great Uncle John in the late eighties and early nineties.
The small 500cc solo support class provided some highly competitive races, with some top class riders. Eventual winner Paul Cooper won four out of the five races, only being bested once by Charley Powell, who duly finished overall as runner-up.
BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP GRASSTRACK THIS WEEKEND
The 500cc Sidecar Association and the City of Chelmsford are hosting the 2019 ACU British Grasstrack Championships next Sunday (July 7th). It's the second successive season that the club have organised one of the ACU blue riband events and if 2018 is anything to go by, bikesport fans are in for a real treat. Almost one hundred of the best riders from all across the UK will all converge at the club's home track at Kings Farm close to Writtle for a day of high speed wheel-to-wheel action on both two and three wheels. Enthusiastic club members have been working solidly for the past two weeks on creating a top class 550 metre oval track close to Hylands Park, the home of the now defunct V-Festival in preparation for the event. And such is the hype around the championships even the national TV companies have shown an interest.
Four different classes will be represented in the Championships itself. The 500cc International and 1000cc Left-hand classes along with the 250cc and 350cc solos take centre stage. They will be supported by a small but quality 500cc Solo field who will be just as eager as the championship classes to stand on top of the rostrum at the end of the day.
Being the 500cc Sidecar Association it's obviously the 500cc Sidecars that headline the proceedings. And what a line-up we have including club chairman and multiple-British Champion Shaun Harvey and passenger Danny Hogg. Chelmsford resident Harvey and Hogg have stood on top of a championship rostrum for a record eight times. But hot on their tails are ex-European Champions Josh Goodwin/Liam Brown who have taken the spoils for the past four years. They are six-times champions, love the Chelmsford track and probably start as favourites on the day. Current European Runners-up Mitch Godden/Paul Smith will no doubt be eager to add a National title to their CV after running so close for the past three seasons. But the whole class is full of potential spoilers including Aaron Vale/Stephen Vale, Natasha Bartlett/Kim Kempa. Both crews rode in the European Semi-Final in Germany this weekend just gone and along with Goodwin/Brown all qualified for the European Final. They join Harvey/Hogg and Godden/Smith who qualified via last season’s British Final. For the 500 sidecars it's not only the British Championships at stake here. It's also the European qualifier for 2020 with entry to the 2020 European Final awarded to the top two points scorers of the day. The British Championship is decided on one big final at the end of the day.
The other sidecar class is the 1000cc Left Hand Championships. These monster one litre multi-cylindered will definitely see a new champion crowned this year with the reigning champions missing from the line up. If you are a betting man then you might like an special-bet on a Penfold winning the title with half of the crews piloted by members of the Penfold family. Will Penfold/Ricky Pay have won the title on three occasions, the last time in 2016 and would love to make it four. And the 2018 runners-up Rob Heath/Kyle Fish would love to move up a step after getting the taste for a championship rostrum last year.
The 250cc Solos provided possibly the best race of the day in 2018 and the classic encounter between Henry Atkins and Luke Harris in last year's Final has been watched many times on the internet. Atkins was crowned British Champion after an brilliant duel between the pair in which they swapped places on numerous occasions in the four laps. Both have returned to renew their friendly rivalry in 2019 with Atkins keen to make it a hat-trick of titles. They will be joined by young Jake Mulford who has just stepped up from the youth ranks. Mulford has been given a wildcard for the event, his first British Final in the adult class and one that is more than capable of springing an upset. Dave Knowles is always on the pace as is Charlie Brooks who joined Atkins and Harris on the podium twelve months ago. As with all classes this weekend, the whole field is full of potential race winners so expect some close racing throughout the event.
In the 350cc Solos Midlander Tom Perry will be looking to hold on to the title he won in 2018. Like many of riders taking to the track at Chelmsford they share their time between racing on the grass and on the shale for many speedway clubs throughout the country. The Stoke Potters captain will be looking to add to his three titles he has already won since 2015. The 2017 champion and last season's runner-up Rob Finlow is amongst the favourites to challenge Perry as is the Paul Hurry. The latter was at the centre of controversy at Chelmsford last season when he excluded from the final for touching the tapes. Hurry is in great form on the 500 solos in 2019 having just finished in second place in the European Semi-Final which was recently held at Midshires. He will want to put the events of 2018 behind him and look to regain the title he last won in 1995.
350cc specialists Mark Giles, Dave Mears, Mark Taylor and Andrew Whitaker add real strength in depth to this class and once again as in all classes this is going to be a close run championships.
To add to the already packed programme the club have a 500cc Solo Class full Grasstrack talent. Charley Powell is on great form at the moment after winning the Masters Qualifier a couple of weeks ago. He will be joined by a specially invited small field of 500cc talent. European Finalist Paul Cooper better known as Cooperman sounds like a super hero and anyone racing at Chelmsford on Sunday should be put in that category. You’ve gotta be brave to open the throttle to the stops around a grass field.
Stephen Green whom last season moved up from the uprights into the premier 500cc Solo Class. Green has been mixing it with the best in the country and will be no doubt be flying around the Chelmsford track. He’s not tried the track but has tried the venue this season demonstrating his art at the recent car show that was held a couple of weeks ago at the Kings Farm venue. Anybody that witnessed him sliding the bike around the show arena will be surprised to know that was around quarter speed. With speeds hitting 70+ mph up the straights grass track racing is not for the faint hearted. Callum Walker, Stuart Mears, Martin Sturgeon, Garteh Hickmott, Adam Filmer and Graeme Brown complete what is superb support class.
A day not to be missed. With over 40 races at the King’s Farm venue in on the outskirts of Chelmsford. Just behind Hylands Park and signposted from junction 15 off the A12. Practice begins at 11 and racing is from 1pm. Only £15 for adults with kids under 16 going free. It really is a great day of racing for all the family.
Jamie Fenn Smith
Paul Whitelam Jnr
Josh Goodwin/Liam Brown
Shaun Hughes/Louis Bennett
Simon Beard/Sam Heath
Mitch Godden/Paul Smith
Aaron Vale/Stephen Vale
Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg
Dan Berwick/Josh Russell
Phil Rowlands/Tom Rowlands
James Hogg/Scott Goodwin
Natasha Bartlett/Kim Kempa
Scott Dunn/Tom Smith
Chris Neame/Luke Russell
James Hartley/Shay Minihane
1000cc Left-Hand Sidecars
Rob Heath/Kyle Fish
Alex Balman/Mark Hopkins
Billy Penfold/Josh Penfold
Chris Berwick/Kayleigh Booth
Tom Penfold Jnr/Ryan Barker
Steve North Snr/Steve North Jnr
John Morris/Dan Woodbridge
Will Penfold/Ricky Pay
Tony Penfold/Carl Bell
Jay Sullivan/Steven Bickley
500cc Solo Support
COUNTDOWN TO THE
2019 ACU BRITISH GRASSTRACK CHAMPIONSHIP
The countdown is on and the rider invites are out for the 2019 ACU BRITISH GRASSTRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS. The country's best 250cc and 350cc solos and 1000cc Left-hand Sidecars are coming to Essex. Their aim is to join that list of Britain's elite grasstrack racers and add their name to the list of grasstrack legends that have raced throughout the years.
For our own 500cc Sidecars it's a massive day as it's not just a National Championships. It's the qualifier for the 2020 European Sidecar Championships, their chance to represent the UK in Europe's premier grasstrack event.
Rider lists will be available nearer the date.
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