Last weekend the BMC Racing team were in action at Mallory Park for the final round of the EMRA championships. Simon was in with a shot at the Formula 400 title, and Leon was there to have some fun on both the ZXR400 and R6 machines. The weather wasn't too bad, a little windy but it just about stayed dry for the whole day.
In qualifying, Leon was only out in the F600s, where he managed to qualify second just behind Jody Lees. But that meant that he didn't get a qualifying time in the F400s, and would start the first F400 race from the back of the grid. Simon qualified well in the F400s though, and put himself comfortably on the front row in third place.
Let's start with the F400s (who were out with both of the 125 classes, so it was going to be a messy affair), with the F400s setting off a short time before the 125s. Anyway, race one was an exciting first lap...Leon flew off the line, from the back of the grid, and was soon hot on Richie Welsh's tail going as they went up to the hairpin for the first time. Then coming down the 'Elbow' he saw an opportunity to pass him, which according to the commentator was an extremely close move indeed...I remember hearing him say that they had probably swapped paintwork as Leon completed a well executed pass on Richie. Richie then briefly flirted with the idea of retaking the lead going in to 'Edwinas' but soon realised it was a lost cause as Leon steadily pulled out a comfortable lead to take a very convincing victory. In fact, his lap time of 56:112 was over two seconds quicker than any other F400 rider. Simon, however, had a real battle on his hands. For pretty much all of the race he found himself in a three-way battle for second position. He was clearly 'on it', and pushing really hard as he managed to take third position midway through the race. But backmarkers had their say right at the end of the race (as they usually do at Mallory), and Simon lost out on the third place that looked certain to be his. Which meant that Simon needed a miracle in race two if he was to be crowned the F400 champion. Still, a first and a fourth place for BMC is a great result.
Race two was a similar story really. Leon flew off the line to lead the race from lights to flag for a double F400 victory. And again Leon's lap times of low 56's was almost two seconds a lap quicker than any other F400 rider. Simon had an uphill struggle if he was going to win the championship, but he got stuck in right from the off. Going in to 'Edwinas' I noticed a rider at the front go down...it was hard to see who it was. I knew it wasn't Leon as he was out in front, but it could easily have been either Richie or Simon. It was, in fact, Reece Baldwin who was third in race one. He was in second place at the time and both Richie and Simon seemed to take avoiding action. This incident left a huge gap out front for Leon by the end of lap one, and left Simon having to battle it out with Richie for the remaining podium places. The race soon settled down though as Richie managed to edge out in front of Simon. But Si's lap times were less than a second behind Richie's, so he stayed in touch for most of the race. The onslaught of GP 125 riders seemed to disturb Simon's rhythm but a third place finish and a second place in the championship in his first full season is a fantastic achievement. So, congratulations Simon...you did yourself and the team proud!
Let's turn our attentions to the Formula 600s. Race one was a very close affair indeed! There were only two riders in it in fact...Leon and Jody who finished nearly sixteen seconds ahead of anyone else. And it was nip and tuck between them right to the end, with Jody just taking the win by a whisker on the line. Oh, and Leon got the fastest lap of the race.
So that left everyone expecting another close fight in race two. However, this was ruined when the marshals didn't allow Leon out on to the grid for the warm-up lap...and would therefore have to start the race from the back of the grid! This was very odd as I could see clearly that they were holding Leon and that the grid hadn't even been formed yet. Ridiculous! Anyway, that left Leon with one hell of a task if he was to get anywhere near the front. I have to say though, it was just as entertaining watching Leon come from the back of the grid as it would have been watching him fight it out with Jody. What we witnessed was actually a remarkable ride from Leon who was clear on the top of his game. The way he carved through the pack was a joy to behold, a truly top class ride indeed. He took his frustration and chanelled it brilliantly in to putting in some very fast and consistant lap times. With about three laps to go Leon had cleared the pack and was making good headway on Jody, who was also having a great ride out in front. Leon was gaining on every circuit but simply ran out of laps for us to be treated to any battle with Jody. And his lap times showed just how quick he was going! Again he was the fastest man on track, only this time he was the only rider to drop in to the 53's...over half a second quicker than Jody! A great ride to watch, definitely one of Leon's finer moments.
So there you have it, another succesful day of whizzing round in circles on tarmac. Well done to everyone involved...a great way to end another EMRA season...
(What a couple of stunners!)
(The team help Leon get ready for the F600s.)
(Le 'on it' Jeacock.)
(The team watch the display.)
(Leon in action on the ZXR 400.)
(Leon takes time out to mingle with his fans.)
(Simon flies down the 'Elbow' on his way to third.)
(Another trophy for the collection.)
(Time to give back last years barrow load of trophies.)
1 year ago