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Barber Wins Through Brands Bedlam

BrandsGP Report01Matt Barber took his first wins of the season in the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters championship, taking a brace of victories as he moved into second place in the championship standings. Neil MacQueen, guesting in the class as Doug Edmondson's teammate, took the other available wins.

However, overshadowing the weekend's antics were the injuries sustained by champion-elect Graham Higlett and the returning Lee Finney, the pair crashing out in race one, which resulted in a red flag.

Rounding Surtees in the lead of the race, Higlett lost the rear of his TZR250, and low-sided. With nowhere left to go, Finney, enjoying his first race back since injuring his shoulder at the second round of the championship at Silverstone, hit the sliding figure of Higlett and crashed hard. Higlett came away with nerve damage to his shoulder, while Finney suffered a broken collarbone. Higlett is expecting to return at Snetterton, however, Finney has called early retirement on what was tipped to be his last season.

With the race red-flagged, it was rerun later in the programme, with Barber taking his first win of the season, just ahead of Andy Wheeler. The battle at the front did lose Pete Moore, who retired with front brake issues, and MacQueen, who pulled in with a faulty throttle cable.

Doug Edmondson crossed the line in third, who, after getting away at the front early on, was being reeled in throughout the race by the chasing pack. Michael Stanley finished fourth and lead Rookie, just ahead of James Sharpe, who passed Trevor Sharpe on the last lap for fifth and Clubman win. Paul Davies finished third Clubman. Paul Bowling and Kev Marshal also enjoyed a close scrap, just two tenths separating them in eighth and ninth.

Saturday's second race was held until Sunday morning, with torrential rain soaking the track beforehand. Coming through from the back of the grid was MacQueen, who splashed his way to victory, while Moore followed him through, but crossed the line three seconds back.

The battle for the remaining podium position however involved a race-long dice between Edmondson and Barber, with less than a tenth covering them at the flag. Edmondson took the remaining podium spot ahead of the 2013 Rookie Champion, with Wheeler in fifth.

BrandsGP Report02Trevor Sharpe held sixth and the lead Clubman position until the last lap, when Paul Davies made a move. However, Sharpe returned fire on the run to Clearways and took the Clubman win, with Davies second. Sacha Gyte finished eighth and lead rookie, with Bowling ninth and third Clubman.

Michael Stanley looked set to take the Rookie honours, but a hefty mechanical issue put paid to that on the last lap. He joined Paul Whitby on the DNF list, who had a torrid weekend with mechanical issues, including a DNS on Saturday, after his TZR dropped a cir-clip. Mike Wake also failed to finish, as did James Sharpe with powervalve issues.

As the sun broke through later in the morning, the wets were removed and dry tyres fitted. However, just moments before the YPMRC race, the heavens opened, and a series of high-speed wheel changes followed, only for the track to dry quickly and almost immediately, leaving the grid on a mixture of tyres and with a mixture of wet and dry sections to contend with.

Neil MacQueen rode to his second win, taking victory by over three seconds, leaving Moore, Barber and Edmondson to duke it out for the podium. Less than half a second covered them at the chequered flag, just five hundredths between Moore and Barber going for second. Moore claimed it with Barber third. Edmondson finished less than two tenths back in fourth.

Behind them, Trevor Sharpe and Wheeler enjoyed a titanic scrap for fifth, with Sharpe on full wets and Wheeler with a dry rear. In the end Sharpe got better drive out of Clearways to take fifth by less than two tenths of a second. Sharpe was also lead Clubman.

Paul Davies took second Clubman in seventh, as Bowling crashed out at Clearways on the opening lap. He was joined in the gravel by Tim Hall. Paul Whitby also retired, this time with a puncture, with Marshal also not finishing the race. John Walker was third Clubman in ninth, behind lead Rookie Gyte in eighth.

In the final race held in dry conditions, Barber took the win from Moore by less than a tenth of a second, with Edmondson third, just edging out Wheeler by three tenths of a second in some of the closest racing of the season.

BrandsGP Report03Paul Davies took his first Clubman class win in fifth, passing Trevor Sharpe on the last lap. James Sharpe chased them across the line in seventh, rounding out the Clubman podium. Whitby finally finished a race, crossing the line eighth. However, his bad luck and Davies' in-form riding has seen Davies leap to third in the Clubman standings.

Gyte was lead rookie in 10th, with Stanley unable to make the grid, after the spare bike he was loaned in race three was unavailable for the final race.

Higlett, despite missing the weekend's action, holds a healthy championship lead, and is able to secure the crown at Snetterton in September. Barber now sits second with Edmondson third.

Trevor Sharpe assumed the Clubman class lead, and holds a 26 point advantage over James Sharpe, with Davies now third. And in the Rookie class Gyte now boasts a 31 point lead over Stanley.

The next round is on the Snetterton 300 circuit on September 6-7.

Photos: E.G.B Photography

Ewens Enjoys Club Bike At Brands

Club Bike BrandsGPMark Ewens got his first taste of the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters at the weekend, taking the Yambits sponsored Club Bike to a best finish of 12th place.

Racing on the full, prestigious Brands Hatch GP circuit, Ewens was faced with one of the more challenging race weekends than pilots of the Club Bike have endured in the past. After Friday practices on the Indy, he then qualified in 17th on Saturday morning.

However, in his first race, he was faced with a red flag situation after a crash at Surtees. The race was rerun in dry conditions later that day. He finished 13th.

Sunday however saw the opening race, held over from Saturday, held in soaking wet conditions, before the paddock and track dried before the second race. But as the field changed to dry tyres, the heavens opened moments before the race, making for frantic wheel changes. With the wets fitted, the rain abated, and the track began to dry quickly, making for an unpredictable track for Rookie Ewens.

Thankfully, the track dried fully for the final race, with Ewens taking the Yambits Club Bike to 12th, adding to the two 12th placed finishes he scored earlier in the day.

He is now looking for his own TZR250, aiming to join the grid full time in 2015.

Full race report coming soon.

Photo: E.G.B Photography

YPM Bound For Big Brands Bash

Brands GP Preview01The DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters racing club is set for Brands Hatch this weekend, as the club gathers for the annual meeting on the prestigious GP layout.

Fresh from his maiden win at Cadwell Park, Manxman Pete Moore will be looking to mount the top step of the podium again this weekend, but can expect to face stiff competition from Graham Higlett. Higlett saw his impressive win-streak come to an end in Lincolnshire, but can wrap up the title this weekend if results go his way.

Matt Barber had an impressive Cadwell meeting, battling in each race with Andy Wheeler, but was unable to challenge at the very front. He'll be looking for better things at Brands, where he took his first YPM win last season, albeit on the Indy circuit. However it was on the GP circuit where he made his YPM bow on the Yambits sponsored Club Bike. Wheeler also has fond memories of Brands, also the venue of his first race win.

The Club Bike, kept on track with the help of the Yamaha parts specialists, will also be in action again this weekend, piloted by Mark Ewans. He'll be competing for Rookie class wins with Michael Stanley, who heads the Rookie championship after four excellent rides at Cadwell Park. Scha Gyte will be looking to get back to his competitive best after a spate of crashes and mechanical issues, while Tim Hall will be looking for more with new machinery this weekend.

A returning Paul Whitby will be looking to recover ground in the hunt for the Clubman Championship. James Sharpe currently leads the chase by 10 points, but both Whitby and second in the standings Trevor Sharpe have gone well at the Kentish circuit in the past. After a strong showing at Cadwell, Paul Bowling will also be one to watch out for in the Clubman class, along with a returning Marc Prentice.

Brands GP Preview02However, all could come down to who handles the weather the best. With rain forecast for Sunday's races, the order could well be a surprise.

The sixth round of the championship takes place on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 August on the Brands Hatch GP circuit, with two races on both days plus qualifying on Saturday. Practice takes place on the Friday on the Indy circuit.

Photo: E.G.B Photography

Moore Takes Maiden Win

Cadwell Report01Pete Moore took his maiden race win at the fifth round of the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters championship, taking victory in the second race at Cadwell Park.

The Manxman looked strong from the start of the weekend, qualifying second, just four hundredths of a second slower than championship leader Graham Higlett, who arrived at Cadwell Park with a 14 race win-streak.

In the opening race Higlett extended that winning run after a close, race-long battle with the returning Andy Bown, who reminded everyone of the pace he was capable of running at and the pace he showed during his last outings in the class.

At the flag however, Higlett had managed to pull a two second lead and took his win number 15 of the season with Bown second. Ben Miles, taking part in his first meeting of the season, rode to third, ahead of Moore, Matt Barber and Andy Wheeler.

Seventh went to lead Rookie, Michael Stanley, a graduate of the YPM Club Bike who suffered a huge crash at the Lincolnshire circuit 12 months ago, on the club's TZR250. But he had clearly forgotten all about that as he battled throughout the race with James Sharpe, the pair just ahead of Paul Bowling, Trevor Sharpe and Kev Marshall. Stanley's performance was also enough to earn him the BMCRC Rookie of the Day award.

James Sharpe took the Clubman class win, with Bowling second and Trevor Sharpe third. Also enjoying a scrap through the race was Nick Kennett and Paul Davies, the pair just three tenths apart at the flag, as well as Sacha Gyte and Club Bike pilot Lee Huff, who were separated by just a tenth at the end of the race.

Cadwell CurryDespite a dry race for the Yamaha Past Masters, torrential rain throughout the day caused delays, and ultimately saw the second race held over until Sunday morning. However, the weather abated for the annual Cadwell Curry, with the YPM paddock again coming together to enjoy Louth's finest Indian takeaway.

After a wet warm up, the track dried, for the most part, in time for the opening race of the day. Starting from the second row of the grid, Moore got the holeshot into Coppice, and as the chasing pack rounded Charlie's Two, Moore was off and running down the Park Straight.

Setting a string of quick lap times, his best a one minute 46 on lap four, despite a damp Hall Bends and Barn, saw him pull an unassailable lead.

That left Higlett and Bown to settle the order of the remaining two podium places, the pair inseparable throughout the race. However, a coming together at Mansfield on the last lap saw both crash out, handing second to Miles with Barber claiming third, less than a tenth of a second ahead of Wheeler.

James Sharpe, setting his fastest lap of the race in the early stages as he chased Wheeler and Barber, put enough of a gap into the chasing pack to claim a lonely fifth place and the Clubman win, while Stanley also rode to a lonely sixth place and took the win in the Rookie class.

Trevor Sharpe fended off the attention of Bowling and Marshall to take second in the Clubman class, with Bowling third.

Despite coming from the back of the grid in race three, Higlett came through the field and returned to winning ways, crossing the line one and a half seconds ahead of Miles. Bown was absent from proceedings, with the bike too badly damaged from the spill in the earlier race.

Barber was again third ahead of Wheeler, with Moore struggling to fifth after intermittent issues with his powervalves.

James Sharpe took sixth and the Clubman win, passing Trevor Sharpe and Michael Stanley in the closing stages, after the pair chased down the gap James Sharpe had put into them in the opening few laps. Stanley was lead Rookie in seventh with Trevor Sharpe second Clubman.

Cadwell Report02A close battle also ensued for the remaining Clubman podium position. Bowling took the final pot in the end, with he, Davies and Marshall split by less than a second. Club Bike pilot Lee Huff unfortunately crashed out at the Gooseneck on the opening lap.

With the powervalve issue solved for the final race, Moore looked set to take his second win of the weekend, again storming into the race lead. He held the lead for six laps, and started the final circulation at the front of the pack. However, Higlett's drive through Charlie's Two saw him get the drive on the back straight, where he made the pass and held the advantage to the line, aided by Moore's off-track excursion at the Mountain. He rejoined and held on to second.

Miles took third, with Barber setting his best times of the weekend to chase him round and take fourth, with Wheeler in a lonely fifth.

An excellent start for Trevor Sharpe saw him hold sixth for the opening couple of laps, chased by Stanley, Bowling and Marhsall, with James Sharpe in contrast making a terrible start.

Come the midway point and Stanley had found a way past the number four machine and had started to pull away, while James Sharpe had moved into eighth. A lap later and it had developed into a two way battle for sixth with Stanley leading James Sharpe, with Trevor Sharpe chasing.

A last lap move around the outside at Mansfield however relegated Stanley back to seventh and saw James Sharpe take sixth and his fourth Clubman win. Trevor Sharpe took eighth and his third runner-up finish in the Clubman ranks, with Bowling third.
Higlett still leads the championship, with the potential to wrap the series up at Brands Hatch in a few weeks time. James Sharpe has moved into the Clubman championship lead, while Stanley extended his Rookie championship lead with his trophy haul from the weekend.

The next round is on the famous Brands Hatch GP circuit, with Friday practice on the Indy circuit on August 8, with qualifying and racing on the GP layout on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 August.

Photo: E.G.B Photography / Racing Line Photography

Higlett Looking To Extend Winning Run At Cadwell Park

Cadwell Preview01Graham Higlett heads to Cadwell Park and the second round of the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters championship with the series lead and 100% win record, a run he'll be looking to extend at the Lincolnshire venue.

Preliminary checks of the weather forecast however hint that this could be one of the most fiercely contested rounds of the season.

Despite the warm weather, showers are forecast for the weekend, which will upset Higlett's rhythm, as he openly admits to not being a fan of the wet weather. Two of the favourites to challenge Higlett's dominance again are Matt Barber and Doug Edmondson, with both riders proving fast in both the wet and dry. Others likely to challenge the front also include Pete Moore, who comes to Cadwell with upgraded suspension as he looks to improve his lap times further, and Simon Braby, who has impressed so far this season with a number of podiums. Andy Davies and Andy Wheeler will also be tipped to join the fray at the front. Sadly Mike Wake won't be present after his excellent podium at Donington Park.

Clubman honours look set to be hard fought over the weekend too. Championship leader Paul Whitby will be absent from proceedings, leaving previous points to be had, with both Trevor and James Sharpe, who sit second and third in the standings, looking to overhaul Whitby's lead. Expect close racing at the front of the Clubman battle, with John Walker certain to be in the fray along with a confident Paul Davies and pushing on for Clubman wins. Watch out too for a returning Marc Prentice, while Paul Bowling and Kev Marshal will be in the mix, too.

The closest championship being contested is that for the 2014 Rookie crown, with five points separating Sacha Gyte and Michael Stanley. After mechanical issues at Donington, Tim Hall will also be looking to do battle for top Rookie honours, along with Club Bike pilot Lee Huff.

The action starts with Friday practice on July 18, with qualifying and racing on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 July. The class will also be convening for the annual 'Cadwell Curry' in the paddock on Saturday evening.

Photo: E.G.B Photography

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