Peter Linden and Cormac Conroy took a fantastic pole position at last weekend Imola 4hrs, the first round of the European Classic Championship (ECC). The pair qualified first, in mixed conditions, but because of the ‘no pushers ‘rule started from 45th position, with the other no-starter motor entries.
The 54 starters all got away cleanly in the mid- 20Cs, but overcast conditions, at 15.20, for what was to be a fantastic race. !
Team no 111, the German Classic Endurance Team (Frank Heidger and Christian Ganter) took an early lead closely followed by Taurus and Hampe, with Christian Haquin at the helm. On lap 3, still with only moderately warm tyres, Haquin slid off whilst pushing for the lead, handing the challenge to the MotoBel Guzzi and Team Taurus. Meanwhile Linden had set fastest lap whilst carving through the traffic to pass Motobel on lap 6 and to take the lead on lap 9. It was truly a performance to be proud of.
Linden pushed hard at 2 min 08/09 pace pulling a 21.6 second lead over MotoBel by stop 1 at 42 minutes. Conroy, an able and successful BSA Rocket 3 racer delivered a fast and measured performance to deliver an increased lead of 26 seconds over MotoBel, with Italian Team Fusco trailing them by stop 2.
The field was slowed during rota 3 by light rain, which most teams successfully negotiated; one however fell, necessitating 4 pace car laps. This was timed awkwardly for the team as it has to pit under the pace car (to avoid violating the max. 45 minutes stint rule) which cost the team nearly 4 minutes. This dropped the Team to 4th – and with the field being so competitive, it would be impossible to retake the lead, which had been gifted to MotoBel, with Alf (Mick Godfry and Patrick Banfield) second and Team Glam (James Clark and Bob Collins) in third.
Now the fight was really on – but Conroy’s progress was hampered by a failing plug cap and a failing gearlink crossover mechanism. Both were changed at stop 4 and, whilst at 5th . Linden once again took the helm and was told to pull the pin, which he duly did, delivering another fastest lap (a low 2 min 08secs) whilst chasing Alf and Glam . The drama wasn’t over yet though, Mick Godfrey had got the signal to defend hard and in doing so, took a new and final fastest lap of 2 min 07.5 secs to hold second at the final stop.
Any worries that the new soft compound Conti front would not last the distance were dispelled when Cormac set his fastest lap (2 min 10.3) during the Team’s last rota to retake second place from Alfs P&M Kawasaki ten laps before the flag.
To close; what a fantastic performance by the riders, pit crew and sponsors – without any part the result just could not have happened – the tyres were great, the riding outstanding and the pit crew 1st class. Second after round one is a tremendous position to be in, and with a fastest lap a full 3 seconds ahead of the round 1 winners, and tyres lasting the full 4hrs, we are perfectly set for the season.
Mettet is on the weekend of 31st May/1st June, when Peter Linden will join Stephane Mertens on the Sweatshop Phase One bike for the 2 x 2hrs event.
During the race Sweatshop Phase One chose to stop under the pacecar( which was lapping unpredictably slowly) to avoid violating the 45 min riding time rule and thus handed the lead to MotoBel. MotoBel did not make a similar stop and (I believe) mistakenly, went for a 48 mins.
This, if the race director had spotted, it would have resulted in a stop and go. Now this is the good bit – because the director didn’t see it, the MotoBel team boss agreed to Russell’s request to hold the bike for a self imposed 30 second penalty at their next pitstop – which they duly did. OK, they still took the overall advantage, but it was sporting nevertheless.!!
The final top ten;
1st MotoBel, Moto Guzzi
Christophe Charles Artigues/ Laurent Sleurs, 104 laps, 25 points
2nd Sweatshop Phase One, P&M Kawasaki,
Peter Linden/ Cormac Conroy, 103 laps, 20 points
3rd Alfs Classic Endurance Team, P&M Kawasaki
Mick Godfrey/ Pat Banfield, 103 laps, 16 points
4th Fusco Ducati TT2
Giancarlo Rossi/Duilio Daniani, 103 laps, 13 points
5th ACR1, RAU Kawasaki Z1000,
Ralf Wobker/Ronald Matthier, 102 laps, 11 points
6th Glam Racing P&M Kawasaki
Bob Collins/ James Clark , 102 laps, 10 points
7th Road Runner, Bakker Suzuki,
Henk v.d. Mark/Dirk Brand, 99 laps, 9 points
8th TT Racing, Moto Martin Suzuki,
Bruno Arzner/Thomas Wagner, 99 laps, 8 points
9th GWCRT Racing Moto Feeling, Godier Genoud Replica,
Patricia Audebert/Patrick Rigaud, 98 laps, 7 points
10th Team Project 34, Moto Martin Suzuki,
Thomas Hofmann/Thomas Schuler, 98 laps, 6 points