Ian Simpson and Peter Lindén made a great start on the job of defending the Team’s European Classic Championship. After qualifying second against notably stronger competition they raced to a very hard fought third place in the 4hrs race. Team Force won and Neate Racing were second.
Against my expectation, the competition, in both depth and strength was up. Forty teams were on the line, many now with the security of two bikes, and almost all from the top ten had well known national champions, or ex- world champions aboard.
At the top, Greg Fastre was as fast as ever, fresh from his second place at last weekend’s Le Mans24hrs race. Sam and Steven Neate raced at a pace better than ever before. Mike Edwards and Mick Godfrey went superbly on Alf’s Kawasaki, Roadrunner (Dirk Brand and Henk van der Mark) and Taurus was very fast too.
The fifth to fifteenth region was stacked with talent as well… Cormac Conroy came back with a bang, joining Patrick Banfield on a pair of Kawasakis to finish a very creditable 7th, plus the Team Monex entry qualifying well in 6th and finished in 12th .
In the race, Lindénstarted well and settled in fourth for most of the first 40 minutes. The Neates led, followed by Force and Taurus. Monex lay fifth, until a stop and go ended their challenge.
There was excitement right from the warm-up, with team Force pitting after the sighting lap for adjustments and Cormac pitting with a slipping clutch.
After stop one, Sweatshop Phase One were in third, with Simpson pushing hard. Force were leading the Neates.
After stop two Sweatshop slotted into second place behind Force.
During rota three the pace car arrived in response to Mick Godfrey crashing Alf’s Kawasakiand the detached tank catching fire. The pace car intervention resulted in the top three closing on track to 8 seconds separation; Force, Neates and Sweatshop.
The latter part of the race was uneventful; with good pit work and faultless riding the team were able to secure third, some minute or so behind the fast charging Neates and two laps ahead of Nocki Classic Team in fourth.
Steve Boam and Steve Clarke had an awful race, chasing what turned out to be a dropped carb needle for at least half the race distance.
The sweatshop Phase One Team were content with getting points on the board (the team’s fourth consecutive ECS rostrum position) but will be working hard to be even more competitive at Spa.
Mettet 4 hrs next, 27th– 29th May…….RB