St George MCC 2017 Honda MCA Clubman Race Series – Round 1 SMSP, February 11-12
By Michael O’Brien
Despite temperatures approaching 50-degrees there was a strong turnout for Round 1 of the Clubman Series
A great turn out considering the very dooming weather for the first round, over 140 riders turned up with over 170 bikes entered into the seven classes of racing.
Unlimited, 600’s and Bears were full and the high speed Sydney Motorsport Park was in superb condition for the riders to attack at every chance.
With the introduction of the practice race starts to practice and qualifying, this gave new riders the chance and experience to test their methods. With majority of riders taking this opportunity and finding it very beneficial.
If the lap times within qualifying were an indication of the racing ahead, oh my… some testing of riders may be required… And they didn’t disappoint.
600cc & 600cc Retro
The full field was packed with talent and a few new bikes, while the racing was its normal high revving action for five laps.
With Hayden Spinks taking the first race and Tom Toparis in second, Race 2 was the reversal of this result with Lachlan Epis keeping them honest.
Despite all three at some stage setting a lap record, it would be Hayden ending up with the fastest, with a time of 1:36.777.
Good luck to Lachlan for the year ahead in the World Supersport 600s.
Unlimited & Unlimited V-Twin & Retro
With a full field, new bikes scattered throughout and a few riders getting bikes setup for the national series, the boys were here to put a show on, and that they did.
Mitch Levy on his new YZF-R1 set a lap record of 1.34.171 and took the first race win, closely followed by Lucas Vitale and Brett Harpur in Race 1. The top 15 riders finished within 30 seconds of second place.
Race 2 was much the same racing with Lucas Vitale taking the win, with Dominic De Leon getting the better of Brett Harpur to turn the tables from Race 1.
The mixed bag – 400cc/700cc Twin Sport/125cc, 250cc & Singles/250, 300 & R3 Production
This class ranges from 400cc to 750 twins through to 250s, single-cylinders and the more modern 300s. From the outside, you would think, ‘How can this work?’, but it does and is one of the best classes to watch.
Ryan Sellen set a new lap record of 1:45.955 on his 450 single-cylinder and took the wins in both races. This included knocking off the ever improving Brian Bolster in both races, and by .022s for the lap record. Brad Lumb continued to push the boundaries on his 400 Honda finishing third in both races.
Oli Bayliss made his first start racing with St George on his Ninja 300, and was clearly showing the talent of his father had been passed down. I can’t wait to watch his progress throughout the year.
The boys will also be happy to hear that Ryan is hopping onto his new ZX-6R, that he’ll be racing in the national series, so good luck Ryan. He’s a kid to follow.
The battle between David Burch and Harry Boyadjian continued, with a total of 0.062s separating the boys after two races.
It was a great spectacle to watch, well worth the entry fee. David Burch set a lap record in both races, with the new record now at 1:38.263
Mark Woolford, Jean-Gabriel Laine and Nenad Ljilja battled it out for third place in both races, with Mark Woolford gaining the upper hand and finishing third overall for the round.
The 600 Clubsport was another category to see a huge grid of 35 starters, including a handful of new riders. It is great to see this class growing from meeting to meeting.
Simon Rees swept up all the races in this category, setting a lap record of 1:38.472 in Race 1. It’s an incredible time for an older machine, with the on-track surface just touching on 70°.
Colin Lewis, Carl Kitson and Grant Davis batted it out all day chasing Simon, with only a second covering second to fourth. Colin finished second overall, with Carl and Grant in third and fourth respectively.
Wow, it’s great to see the next generation of superstars in the making. This is one race that stops the paddock, with exciting racing, particularly as St George has always been a supporter of Juniors.
With the Sydney Motorsport Park Grand Prix track now licensed for the Juniors, it is brilliant and to see the smiles on their faces at the end of each race and was worth the exhaustive efforts for the track license.
It’s just incredible to see the combined age classes of 9-12 and 12-16 year-olds racing…
There was a great turn out from the BEARS category, who as always are great supporters of the Honda MCA Series. And with the differing motorcycles out on track, it is always nice to have them change the tune, with their Triumphs, Ducatis, and such.
The first race was a closely contested five-lapper, with Dean Hasler just getting the better of Con Kokkoris, closely followed by Heath Griffin. Dean set a new lap record of 1.37.362 on his way to victory.
The second race was a little bit messy for the first laps, with a few riders struggling with bike setup and changing conditions, which saw Heath Griffin get a two-second lead and hang on.
Nick Marsh (checking track temperature in picture below) and Con Kokkoris close on the rear wheel, kept Heath honest. Heath came away with a three point lead over Dean Hasler for the championship.
The race meeting faced conditions never before seen by riders and officials, with the heat causing Saturday to be cut short and extra time added to Sunday.
A big thank you goes to all the officials that battled the heat and kept at it to let the riders do what they do.
There were also a few articles in pit lane that are not normally seen, such as blow up pools, portable air conditioning units, fans with blocks of ice… you name it. It resembled an Australian backyard BBQ…
Sunday’s racing was cut short due to a major incident and unfortunately Matthew Brown passed away on the Tuesday through the head injuries sustained in the single bike accident.
Our prayers and wishes are with the family as they continue to stay strong through this difficult time.
St George Motorcycle Club has retired the number 182 in Matthew’s honour. Full noise Matty Brown.
St George Motorcycle Club also thanked all their partners for 2017 for their support.