The Wigan micro-climate played its hand over Easter weekend and a full house of conditions were on offer to challenge the competitors for the start of their season. Hardened Superlite fans turned out in respectable numbers and where the weather was disappointing, the action was certainly not. If anything the varied circuit conditions brought out some of the most spectacular motorsport you could hope to witness.
Throughout testing on Easter Sunday the drivers had the chance to experiment with tyre options between the rain showers which proved invaluable for the Championship racing on Monday. Heavy Rain greeted the drivers for their warm-up session on Monday morning but the promise of an improving forecast kept spirits high ready for the all-important Qualifying session.
With some standing water and occasional showers, all drivers were out on their full wet tyres for Qualifying, the best times resulted from smooth flowing lines and careful use of horsepower. The 600 Superlite class which consist of Twin cylinder 600 two strokes running through a CVT transmission are always fast in the wet and didn’t let themselves down. Paul Hudson, No.4 started the session on strong pace and registered his best time on lap 6 to earn himself 2nd on the grid for race one. Yorkshire favourite Tony Turner was slowly cutting his times and claimed 3rd spot from Phil Redfearn, No.50 on the last lap. However these drivers couldn’t do anything to prevent Jake Swann of Kent from taking the first pole of the season in his favourite conditions.
The infectious sound of the 900 Superlites sang out next as they fought it out across 12 Laps of Qualifying. Reigning Champion Duncan Macbeth set the fastest time early on and looked set to hold it until Mark Rushton, No.22 set a blistering time in Lap 8 to take the lead in the live timing. Jake Swann the reigning 600 Superlite Championship, who took on the challenge of the 900 Class for the season, put an impressive time to take 2nd place from Duncan just before the end of the session. New drivers Charlie Macbeth and Tom Roch showed great promise with 6th and 7th spot on the grid respectively ahead of the rest of the pack.
With the grids all set and clouds starting to break up, the Championship racing got underway in furious style. Turner in car 84 took the holeshot in the 600 Class however Swann No.110 held the inside line for the second bend and made the pass stick before the technical uphill section. Paul Smythe No. 33 battled hard for position and held a solid 5th place to start his season just ahead of fellow racer Jody Hicks. Redfearn No. 50 was unable to capitalize on his early form to finish 3rd behind Turner with Swann taking the first victory of the season.
After his fantastic Qualifying the pressure was on local driver Rushton to perform in Race One of the 900 Championship. As the lights went out it was Rushton ahead into Turn one with Macbeth and No. 17 Mark Richardson hot on the chase. No.210 Jake Swann had a terrible start and joined the field from the back. Just behind the leading pack it was Phil Lee No.10 from Bren Simpson in car No.11 who at times seemed to be sharing the same piece of tarmac it was so close! Despite the best efforts of No.1 Duncan Macbeth, it was Rushton who took the Chequered flag with the fastest lap of the race at the end to show off his form.
The circuit was finally showing a dry line and the slicks were emerging in preparation for the second race. These conditions combined with some interesting tyre choices made for some of the best Superlite racing you can get. Once again in the 600 Championship it was Tony Turner with the holeshot who then took charge of the pace for the first half of the race from Redfearn and Swann in third. You couldn’t believe that three cars could be so tight at such speed yet no paint was swapped at any point. Turner appeared to have control until one lack of concentration allowed both his close rivals through on the same corner on lap 4. Both Redfearn and Swann then spent the next 6 laps swapping places, even coming three abreast down the mountain section either side of Joe Palfrey No.150 who had just been caught up from the back. At the flag it was Redfearn who held Swann by 3/10ths of a second, with Turner a close 3rd place.
The Honda powered 900 Superlites lined up for Race two with Rushton, Macbeth and Richardson on the front row. All three made great starts but Macbeth just got his nose in front to take the holeshot. With hot qualifier Jake Swann starting from the back for this race, we expected some action and give him his due he didn’t disappoint. While Macbeth made good of creating a safe lead from Rushton, Swann made some cracking overtakes to pull from 7th to 3rd in 5 laps. The spectators didn’t know which way to look as the action unfolded, all drivers putting on a fantastic show in the challenging conditions. Simon Nutter No.19 who changed car for the season was starting to find form and finished a respectable 5th behind Richardson.
Both classes were wide open before the final race of the day with different winners in each race so far, the atmosphere was tense and sun just coming out to add to the mix. Out of the gates first this time in the 600s we had Phil Redfearn No.50 from pole position, who made a clean transition into the first lap. It was clear to see from the outset he was not going to have it easy, with 6 drivers all nose to tail in the leading pack. Just off the podium, fourth place was shared by Hicks, Gordon Knox No.47 and Smythe during the race, some fantastic overtaking saw Paul Smythe come out on top of this battle to take 4th place. Despite throwing everything he had, Tony Turner couldn’t quite mount a challenge and had to settle for a solid 3rd. However at the front the action did not relent for one moment, Redfearn held some smooth lines to maintain his lead until lap 7 where Swann No.110 managed to pull off a diving overtake round the outside to take the lead. Redfearn made some brave attempts to regain the top spot but it simply wasn’t enough and Swann took the flag and the Overall Points win for the day.
The Third and final points scoring race of the day in the 900 Championship was all about the battle for 2nd after a super smooth Duncan Macbeth made a solid start and pulled a surprise early lead. The hard charging Swann had a lot of work to do after an accident on lap one saw him off circuit and at the back of the pack, however he managed to register the fastest lap of the race on his comeback. This left Richardson and Rushton to do battle, it could have gone either way on many occasions, the two drivers’ fastest laps of the race were only one thousandths of a second apart, the smallest increment that the timing system can register! Some top quality clean racing from both drivers resulted in Rushton ahead of Richardson which sealed them into second and third respectively in the overall points aswell. Macbeth earnt himself the overall win and a great start to the defence of his title with a supreme display of driving from lights to flag.
The Superlite Championships move onto Blyton Park in Lincolnshire for Round Two of the series on April 23/24. Spectator entry will be free of charge for this event and the paddock, as always, is open to meet all the drivers and learn more about this cost effective form of motorsport.
British 600 Superlite Championship – Overall Points
1st No.110 Jake Swann 102 Points
2nd No.50 Phil Redfearn 97 Points
3rd No.84 Tony Turner 92 Points
4th No.33 Paul Smythe 79 Points
5th No.47 Gordon Knox 78 Points
British 900 Superlite Championship – Overall Points