A turnaround of the forecast brought sunshine and slicks for Round 6 of the British Superlite Championship at Teesside Autodrome. This circuit is one of the faster more flowing venues on the calendar, however strangely it often produces better times for the smaller two-stroke Superlites than the Honda Fireblade 900 machines. This is mostly down to the lightning fast re-acceleration at medium to high speeds offered by the CVT transmission on the 600cc machines which are always in the perfect gear!
The Beautiful blue haze of 2 stroke smoke signaled the Superlite 600 drivers out first for Qualifying. Within a couple of laps they were down there last year's times and a close battle broke out for pole position. 2015 Runner-up and Champion put on an epic display all session on the timing screens swapping places fastest times, until lap eight Tony Turner No. 84 was able to post a fantastic time which held to the end of the session, securing him the front spot on the grid. Swann No. 110 and No.4 Paul Hudson completed the front row, only a few splits back from them Willie Mac no. 555 was just beaten to 4th place by the experience of No. 50 Phil Redfern.
With Grid positions settled, it soon came round to Race One. As the lights went out it was Turner who took advantage of his Pole position to get a clean Holeshot. A train of screaming Superlites followed him round the massive sweeping first bend with Swann just fending off the advances of Hudson. Tom Bamber No. 77 made a brilliant start from the last row and was instantly battling with Jody Hicks and Joe Richardson for 7th place. As Swann and Turner broke a small gap from the pack, they seemed inseparable and for a number of laps it appeared number 110 was going to find a way through. The best battle of the race however was for fourth place with Willie Mac defending advances from Paul Smythe No.33 who had made up a couple of positions from the start. They swapped places numerous times until on the last lap Willie no. 555 was able to overtake Smythe and hold him off to the flag. At the front Turner held firm under pressure to take home a well deserved first victory of the day.
After a short lunch break to refuel both car and driver the action restarted with Race Two of the British Superlite 600 championship. Another lightning start from Turner saw him take the second Holeshot with Swann seemingly attached to his real bumper, they were that close. Only a lap in Redfearn no. 50 had to retire with a puncture, a real shame as he has the pace to run at the front and it looked set to be a fantastic race watching him fight his way through the pack. No. 77 Bamber was on form again in his first lap pulling through to 5th place just behind no. 555. Jody Hicks no.24 was making up for his steady bolt out of the blocks and pulled two positions within his first lap. The spectators however were struggling to take their eyes off the battle at the front, Turner appeared to be holding his cool, but only one small mistake would have been enough to let Swann past. Despite using all his race-craft No.110 was unable to make a pass and Turner put on a flawless display of circuit racing to take the win.
Third and final Race of the day for the 600 class was ready to start at 4 PM, track temperature was pretty much ideal and a nice crowd had built up to watch the action. A lap had to be cut off the total duration of the race simply due to the drivers very nearly running out fuel in the previous two!
As the lights went out, Swann just put his nose in front of Turner at turn one, this looks set to be an epic battle with both drivers achieving nearly identical lap times at the close of the last race. Redfern was back in action and hungry to make an impact, gaining three places off the start. Within another two laps he steered himself into fourth place just behind Hudson No. 4. These two drivers have had many a battle over the years, both being veterans who started racing back in the Superlite motocross days. Joe Palfrey No. 7 had an excellent start and a thoroughly entertaining battle with Smythe for the first two laps until Paul No.33 found his second wind and made chase to the rest of the pack. At the front Swann and Turner put on an impressive display of wheel to wheel racing, however this time around it was Swann who held firm to take the final victory of the day. A short way back from them Redfern managed to get the better of Hudson to take home a well-deserved Third place from the back of the grid.
1st Tony Turner No.84 2nd Jake Swann No.110 3rd Paul Hudon No.4 4th Willie MacGillivray No.555 5th Jody Hicks No.24
The larger capacity class of Superlite, running sealed Honda Fireblade 900cc motors, have had the closest of seasons to date, with most of the rounds so far having had a different winner in each of the three races. Round 6 was no exception and over half of the field put down laptimes which had the potential to make them a winner.
As qualifying got underway Wayne Harris who has shown his potential as a race winner recently appeared to be suffering electrical difficulties which wrote off his chances. Our Current championship leader Mark Richardson no.17 was showing strong form but unable to match the fantastic time of Tom Roch No.61 who secured 3rd place on the grid for the first race. At the close of the session only 1/10 of a second was between the two fastest drivers but it was Jake Swann No.210 who pipped No.1 Macbeth to Pole position.
Fast starting Macbeth made the holeshot his from 2nd on the grid, closely followed by Swann and Richardson. Tom Roch held firm onto 4th place despite a good start from No.22 Mark Rushton, Tom in his debut season is getting faster every round and showed he also has a good racing head as he kept his cool to defend with clean lines. No59 Harris seemed to have overcome his issues and made it through to 5th place on lap 3 but shortly after had to withdraw as his gremlins returned. Back with the front runners, Macbeth came under heavy pressure from Swann and was holding him at bay until lap 3 where Swann made a solid pass and tried to break away. Macbeth was having none of it and keep Swann honest but the order stayed and Swann took the first win of the day.
Race two was almost certainly the most exciting race of the weekend, both Swann and Macbeth were delayed and late in griding up and had to start from the back. This allowed Tom Roch to make an excellent start and get away with Richardson hot on his heals. Wayne Harris wanting to make up for earlier frustrations was lapping extremely fast after starting down the grid and made it up to 3rd place by the end of the first lap. By the end of lap one Harris had actually got into the lead due to very unfortunate tangle between the two leaders Roch and Richardson. Meanwhile Macbeth ahead of Swann were charging through the pack alongside Phil Lee No.10 who used his experience to make the most of the situation up front. Swann caught Macbeth and was pushing to push when Macbeth had to retire with a rare engine failure, his first one in 4 years. This left Swann clear to chase Harris and Lee soon came through to 3rd. However Harris couldn’t believe his misfortune when his problems came back again in lap 7. Swann went on to take victory from the back of the grid followed by Phil lee getting a well earnt 2nd place.
The third race of the day turned out a much more clear cut affair, Swann made a good start and took one of his first holeshots of the season, closely followed by Richardson and Harris. Again Harris was not having a good day and had to retire, leaving the door open for Charlie Macbeth to get into 3rd position after getting a good start himself. Duncan Macbeth caught onto the back of his brother but was unable to do anything to overtake, No.10 Lee just behind them both waiting on a mistake to nip through. Swann held onto the lead for victory and the overall win of the day, Richardson a second or so adrift in second place. Charlie Macbeth held his brother and Reigning Champion at bay to take a well-deserved third place in the race and overall.
1st Jake Swann No.210 2nd Phil Lee No.10 3rd Charlie Macbeth No.52 4th Charlie Welbourne No.74 5th Tom Roch No.61
The next two rounds of the Championship are to be held at Blyton Park 3rd/4th September, one of the birth places of Superlite racing for the double header meeting of the season. Spectator Entry is free and the on-site restaurant will be serving hot food all day.