2017 Hartwell Motorcycle Club Championships – Round 1 – Broadford, February 11-12, 2017

By Marty Thompson, Images: Cameron White

A massive number of riders faced challenging conditions for the first round of the Hartwell Club championships for 2017, held at The Broadford State Motorcycle Complex’s tight and undulating road racing circuit.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Greg Bailey Memorial - Brook Coombs, Steve Rubinic - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Greg Bailey Memorial – Brook Coombs, Steve Rubinic – Image: Cameron White

The temperatures varied from the high 30s with almost 100 per cent humidity during fridays practice, to hot and dry conditions in the mid thirties on Saturday. The weather culminated in a cold and often wet day on Sunday, which made for difficult conditions for all the riders over the weekend.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Thunderbikes - Kym Grosser - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Thunderbikes – Kym Grosser – Image: Cameron White

Upon arrival on Saturday, I was greeted with an overflowing paddock, something akin to the swelling numbers of the 1990s. Pit tents adorned the carpark, with riders packed tightly together looking for places to plug in their tyre warmers.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Greg Bailey Memorial - Wayne Kulmar - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Greg Bailey Memorial – Wayne Kulmar – Image: Cameron White

The journey from the pit exit to the pit tents in the outfield with hot sticky race tyres made for some ghastly sounds, as the stones scrapped and crunched under the guards and bodywork of those unlucky enough to not have the luxury of the pit sheds.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Superbike - Brook Coombs, Steve Rubinic, Alex Katakouzinos - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Superbike – Brook Coombs, Steve Rubinic, Alex Katakouzinos – Image: Cameron White

Being the first meeting for the modern bikes this year, there were several riders who were a touch lacking in track time, fitness and bike set up. Not to mention riders who had upgraded their machinery in the off season and were debuting their new racebikes at this first round.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Superbike - Wayne Kulmar - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Superbike – Wayne Kulmar – Image: Cameron White

A few riders had also opted to do the World Superbike Support races at Phillip Island, which will be held at the end of this month, and as such had not entered for the first round at Hartwell.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - 600 - Adam Stockdale - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – 600 – Adam Stockdale – Image: Cameron White

However, that didn’t detract in any way from the racing, with the largest number of entries I’ve seen in recent years, making up for any lack of a rider here or there in a class. From the Juniors through to the Superbikes, there were packed grids in every race.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Sidecars - Justin/Melissa Foot, Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Sidecars – Justin/Melissa Foot, Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell – Image: Cameron White

In addition, there was a large number, comparitively, of sidecar outfits who turned up to provide some strengthened competition in the sidecar races.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Sidecars - Damien Edis/Melanie Schluter - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Sidecars – Damien Edis/Melanie Schluter – Image: Cameron White

This is an encouraging sign for a class of racing that has seen dwindling numbers in recent times and also made for great viewing for those who came along to get their dose of bike racing as spectators.


Sidecars

It was exciting to see the sidecars run with a larger contingent of outfits than previous rounds. The sidecars, although always lower in grid numbers, manage to be a highlight for those spectating, putting on some spectacular racing as always.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Sidecars - Justin/Melissa Foot, Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Sidecars – Justin/Melissa Foot, Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell – Image: Cameron White

The crowd was kept entertained with lots of wheelspinning and inside wheel lifting action. It was also a highlight to see the Beare family back at the track after the tragedy of last years Isle Of Man.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Sidecars - Declan and Noel Beare make a return - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Sidecars – Declan and Noel Beare make a return to sidecar racing – Image: Cameron White

The teaming of Duncan Rogers and Rod Bell were as always difficult to beat. They took four wins from the four starts to complete the weekend with a perfect score and were a definitive cut above the remainder of the field. They led from flag to flag and left the rest of the field to fight it out for the minor placings.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Sidecars - Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell take chequered flag from Justin/Melissa Foot - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Sidecars Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell take chequered flag from Justin/Melissa Foot – Image: Cameron White
Sidecar Overall Results: Race 1 – R2 – R3 – R4 – Total Points
  1. Duncan ROGERS/Rod BELL – 25 – 25 – 25 – 25 – 100
  2. Justin FOOT/Melissa FOOT – 20 – 20 – 20 – 20 – 80
  3. Damien EDIS/Melanie SCHLUTER – 18 – 18 – 18 – 18 – 72
  4. Declan/Noel BEARE – 14 – 17 – 17 – 17 – 65
2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Sidecars - Justin/Melissa Foot, Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell, Damien Edis/Melanie Schluter, Declan/Noel Bear - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Sidecars Justin/Melissa Foot, Duncan Rogers/Rod Bell, Damien Edis/Melanie Schluter, Declan/Noel Bear – Image: Cameron White

Thunderbikes
2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Thunderbikes - Kym Grosser, Fergus Gibson - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Thunderbikes – Kym Grosser, Fergus Gibson – Image: Cameron White

Although Nathan Spiteri’s BMW and Fergus Gibson’s booming KTM took a win a piece, it was Kym Grosseron and his delicious Ducati 1199 who took the overall win for the weekend and the points lead in the championship with his consistent runs.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Thunderbikes - Kym Grosser - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Thunderbikes – Kym Grosser – Image: Cameron White

Kym blitzed the field in race one, then backed it up with two second places in the next two races and laid it all out in the final race to take his second, and overall, win.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Thunderbikes - Nathan Spiteri - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Thunderbikes – Nathan Spiteri – Image: Cameron White

I haven’t spoken to Nathan, but suspect he was lacking tyres on his immaculately prepared BMW, as he did double duties in the Superbike races as well.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Thunderbikes - Kym Grosser, Fergus Gibson, Jayson Porter - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Thunderbikes – Kym Grosser, Fergus Gibson, Jayson Porter – Image: Cameron White
Thunderbikes Overall Results: Race 1 – R2 – R3 – R4 – Total points
  1. Kym GROSSER – 25 – 20 – 20 – 25 – 90
  2. Fergus GIBSON – 20 – 17 – 25 – 18 – 80
  3. Jayson PORTER – 15 – 15 – 18 – 17 – 65
2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Thunderbikes - Jayson Porter - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Thunderbikes – Jayson Porter – Image: Cameron White

Juniors

If you have never watched the Juniors, I’d encourage you all to get out there and have a look. These young guys and sometimes girls are often only about waist height and look like they are barely old enough to be out of a kindergarten, yet they can ride!

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Luke Power, Jack Cousens, Ned Faulkhead, Cooper Corbett, Charlie Grimes - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors Luke Power, Jack Cousens, Ned Faulkhead, Cooper Corbett, Charlie Grimes – Image: Cameron White

I mean they can really ride. These are the young faces who are the future Gardners, Doohans, Beatties and Stoners of Australia.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Charlie Grimes - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors – Charlie Grimes – Image: Cameron White

Get on board with them now and you can say, “I watched him/her when they were riding a junior bike in the Hartwell Championships 15 years ago…”

Juniors 85cc

In the 85cc class, it was a battle between former ARRC front runner from the mid ’90s David Couzins’ son Jack and young Luke Power.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Luke Power - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors – Luke Power – Image: Cameron White

Luke taking the overall with three first places and a second and the famous Couzins name taking a win and three second places.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Jack Cousens - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors – Jack Cousens – Image: Cameron White

With both Luke and Jack lapping their 85cc bikes around Broadford around the 72 second mark, they were sure as hell riding the wheels off them. Some seniors on large capacity bikes should be watching these young guys and learning!

Junior 85cc Overall Results: Race 1 – R2 – R3 – R4 – Total Points
  1. Luke POWER – 25 – 20 – 25 – 25 – 95
  2. Jack COUSENS – 20 – 25 – 20 – 20 – 85
Juniors 160cc

In the 160cc class, Ned Faulhead was hard to beat, taking all four wins for the weekend and the class lead in the championship.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Ned Faulkhead - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors – Ned Faulkhead – Image: Cameron White

Cooper Corbett was going well with three second places and right up till the latter part of race four was looking like he would secure second place for the weekend.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Cooper Corbett - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors – Cooper Corbett – Image: Cameron White

However a DNF ended his run, putting him back to third place for the weekend and allowing young Charlie Grimes to take the second step on the rostrum.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Juniors - Ned Faulkhead, Cooper Corbett, Charlie Grimes - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Juniors – Ned Faulkhead, Cooper Corbett, Charlie Grimes – Image: Cameron White
Juniors 160cc Overall Results: Race 1 – R2 – R3 – R4 – Total Points
  1. Ned FAULKHEAD – 25 – 25 – 25 – 25 – 100
  2. Charlie GRIMES – 18 – 18 – 18 – 20 – 74
  3. Cooper CORBETT – 20 – 20 – 20 – 0 – 60

600

The always hotly contested 600 class was as entertaining as always, and with laptimes not far off the Superbikes at Broadford the racing is always exciting to watch. Although there is a noticeable drop in numbers on the grid from the heady days of the mid- to late-’90s.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - 600 - Ashley Daff, Graeme Koschmann, Gavin Mudie, Adam Stockdale, Glenn Nankervis - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – 600 Ashley Daff, Graeme Koschmann, Gavin Mudie, Adam Stockdale, Glenn Nankervis – Image: Cameron White

The evergreen Graeme Koschmann was almost unbeatable over the four races, only being pipped once in the first race by Ashley Daff.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - 600 - Glenn Nankervis - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – 600 – Glenn Nankervis – Image: Cameron White

Glenn Nankervis, the current serving president of Hartwell, returned to racing late last year and was again out on his YZF-R6 and deserves a special mention for running 4th for the weekend. For a dinosaur who has been used to twirling the spanners for the riders, he goes alright.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - 600 - Graeme Koschmann, Gavin Mudie, Ashley Daff, Glenn Nankervis, Adam Stockdale, Terry Dixon - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – 600 Graeme Koschmann, Gavin Mudie, Ashley Daff, Glenn Nankervis, Adam Stockdale, Terry Dixon – Image: Cameron White
600 Overall Results: Race 1 – R2 – R3 – R4 – Total Points
  1. Graeme KOSCHMANN 20 25 25 25 95
  2. Ashley DAFF 25 18 20 20 83
  3. Adam STOCKDALE 16 17 18 18 69
  4. Glenn NANKERVIS 17 16 0 17 50
2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - 600 - Ashley Daff, Graeme Koschmann - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – 600 – Ashley Daff, Graeme Koschmann – Image: Cameron White

Superbike

Being the first meeting of the year showed, the laptimes were a few seconds off the normal pace of this class.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Superbike - Brook Coombs, Wayne Kulmar, Steve Rubinic, Alex Katakouzinos - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Superbike Brook Coombs, Wayne Kulmar, Steve Rubinic, Alex Katakouzinos – Image: Cameron White

Some regular front runners such as Chris Ognenis and Scott Mcgregor didn’t fire up, and with Dean Archbold, Ben Gotch and Andrew Ord not being able to enter, this somewhat reduced the need to be firing out 57-second laptimes in order to win.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Superbike - Brook Coombs - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Superbike – Brook Coombs – Image: Cameron White

However, Brook Coombs proved he was no slouch and reeled off consistent laptimes around the 60-second mark to take the four wins and clean sweep the weekend.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Superbike - Steve Rubinic - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Superbike – Steve Rubinic – Image: Cameron White
Superbike Overall results: Race 1 – R2 – R3 – R4 – Total Points
  1. Brook COOMBS – 25 – 25 – 25 – 25 – 100
  2. Steve RUBINIC – 17 – 16 – 20 – 20 – 73
  3. Wayne KULMER – 16 – 17 – 18 – 18 – 69

Greg Bailey Memorial

My favourite race of the Hartwell series is the Greg Bailey Memorial. A 20-minute plus one lap race, it not only tests a rider’s speed, but also their physical endurance and ability to manage tyres over a longer distance, than the shorter sprint races in each class.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Greg Bailey Memorial - Starting Grid - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Greg Bailey Memorial – Starting Grid – Image: Cameron White

Steve Rubinic was on fire for this race, taking pole and then going on to lead every lap for the entire race.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Greg Bailey Memorial - Steve Rubinic - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Greg Bailey Memorial – Steve Rubinic – Image: Cameron White

A special mention goes to Alex Katakousinos, who finished 4th, but took the fastest lap of the race with a 59.3 on the 17th lap. Given the conditions being a drying track and cool temperature, this was a mighty effort.

It was a tight battle for the positions behind Steve after he had cleared off, with Brook, Wayne and Alex all fighting hard.

2017 Hartwell Championship - Rnd 1 - Greg Bailey Memorial - Brook Coombs - Image: Cameron White
2017 Hartwell Championship – Rnd 1 – Greg Bailey Memorial – Brook Coombs – Image: Cameron White
Greg Bailey Memorial Overall Results: Pole – Race – Total Points
  1. Steve RUBINIC – 1 – 25 – 26
  2. Brook COOMBS – 0 – 20 – 20
  3. Wayne KULMER – 0 – 18 – 18

Roll on March 11th and 12th, were Round 2 of the Hartwell Championships will be run at the picturesque Mac Park at Mt Gambier on the S.A./Vic border.