It was described as the most picturesque motorcycle racing venue in the country – along the Foreshore of Newcastle Harbour where the 2015 Watson Demolition and Earthworks Australian Supermoto Championships were staged last weekend.
An estimated 20,000 plus people witnessed some of the exciting racing staged over the two days.
Depending on where fans were watching from there were two contrasting and equally spectacular backdrops – the road section within metres of the working harbour which at different times had everything from massive commercial shipping, ferries, fisherman in tinnies to kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, while the testing motocross styled dirt section was in an amphitheatre underneath the historic Fort Scratchley and looking towards some of the city’s iconic landmarks.
While there were obviously many motorcycle enthusiasts among the crowd, many onlookers would have simply turned out for their regular walks through the city’s harbourfront parklands.
The premier S2 class was won by English rider Chris Hodgson ahead of Whitsunday rider Andrew McLeish and another Englishman Lewis Cornish.
Hodgson, a nine-time British champion has a wealth of Supermoto time under his belt, but his FS450 certainly didn’t, Hodgson confirming that he didn’t even change the position of the levers on the stock machine before going out and winning the national championship.
Chris Hodgson – “I was here since the Thursday before and I am flying back tomorrow, so I’ve really enjoyed it. There was tough competition from an Aussie guy, Andy McLeish and another guy from England, Lewis Cornish. The bike was absolutely amazing you know, I just took it right out of the box and rode it – I didn’t even move the levers. It was going to be sold straight after the race and there were loads of people wanting to buy it! Considering I was up against motorcycles where people had spent $20,000 on them and I was fastest all weekend on just a bog standard Husky. It still had the big spark arrestor in the exhaust! The track was absolutely amazing; the off-road component, the venue with the water there in the background, everything. I think because it was in the city, it brought everybody there. They reckon there were about 20,000 people there over the weekend.”
McLeish had excited the fans by getting the holeshot in all four rounds, but he won only the last one as Hodgson made his only mistake of the weekend with a heavy spill from which he recovered to finish fourth in the race.
Local Aaron Watson went one better than the runner-up finish for the past two years by winning all rounds of the S1 class ahead of perennial contender Charters Towers clubman Ross Taylor, with Lee Stephens of Cessnock third.
Watson and his brother were the major sponsors of the meeting and carried out much of the work to carve out the race track.
Last year’s Junior champion Kye Thomson from North Brisbane stepped up to win the S3 class, also on maximum points, beating now dual womens champion Tayla Jones from the ACT and West Wyalong’s Matthew Davies.
Tayla Jones was the only 2014 champion to retain their crown doing so with a clean-sweep in the Womens ahead of Prue Maeyke (Central Queensland) and Georgia Murray ( (Whitsunday).
Georgia Murray had also caused a few red faces among the males when she won the Clubman class, for those S2 riders outside the top 28 riders qualifying for the championship proper. Her two round wins got her ahead of Nick Osborne and Brian Little.
Three veteran classes saw no slackening of the intensity on the track, even with clear-cut winners in each class there was plenty of dicing for placings behind those winners.
Long-time local dirt track star Paul Caslick dominated the Over 45s, beating Steve Coppock and Ward Freeland.
Caslick’s title win was even more impressive considering that he suffered a heavy fall in the first race of the program when he was struck by another rider and momentarily knocked out.
Tough as a bit of old steel however, Caslick bounced back to win all four races in his category, and also gathered enough points for seventh place in his cameo appearance in the S2 class.
Paul Caslick – “Winning another Aussie title is unreal! I’ve been so busy with work lately – I didn’t even know the Vets was a championship until they called it out at presentation! That would have been, in atmosphere, the best Australian championship I’ve ever been to. The location was pristine, you’re surrounded by water and Newcastle city. You’ve got the cathedral up on the hill, you’ve got Fort Scratchley, where the city was defended in the war, you had the Newcastle Knights playing on Saturday but there was still a great crowd there watching us. It showcased the sport really well, and it really showed the area is screaming for it.”
S1 placegetter Ross Taylor came up trumps in the 40 to 45 years class, ahead of Darren Webb and Rob Jones; and former motocross star Danny Ham won the 35 to 40 years class beating Brad Trivett and Luke Traill.
The non-championship 10-lap Dash for Cash to wrap up racing on Sunday produced a win for McLeish over Cornish and Warren Gill after several of the selected hotshots had succumbed to the tortures of the two days.
In was not just the racing, as the weekend became an ‘event’, boosted by several displays by Yamaha stunt rider Dave McKenna and the spectacular air display by Red Bull ace Matt Hall in the skies overhead at high noon on Sunday.
While all competitors were lavish in their praise of promoter Graeme Boyd for finally making his 20-year dream become reality Boyd was equally enthusiastic in thanking the various officials and sponsors whose involvement had made the event possible.
Now, pending the final wash-up with Council and other authorities, Boyd will not rest on his laurels with a round of the Asian Supermoto Championship, and maybe ultimately a round of the World Supermoto Championship, perhaps not as far-fetched an idea as was thought before last weekend.
Check out the course riding with Danny Ham onboard video
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