The “Cathedral of Speed” had a terrific line-up for the eighth round, and the promise of great racing. Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes made their only appearance as “wild cards”, and immediately put the cat amongst the pigeons in qualifying session one. They were one second clear of the Santander Salt outfits of Kershaw/Clark and Ellis/Richardson, and looking good.
Qualifying session two gave everyone the chance to really stretch their legs, and again Reeves/Wilkes were fast. They were using this as a shakedown going into the final World Championship race of the season, with eyes on the title. It was late on Friday afternoon, under cooling grey skies, and would be the deciding factor as to who started on pole.
From the word go, Reeves/Wilkes banged in a quick time, but Todd Ellis was within half a second, and just ahead of Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark. That was how it stayed, except the Santander Salt bikes switched places, with Kershaw grabbing second fastest from Ellis. The Christie brothers, Sam and Adam claimed fourth fastest ahead of Holden/Cain and Blackstock/Rosney.
Race One – A full grid, the prospect of a multiple world champion locking horns with the British Championship leaders, and glorious race conditions, all made for an exciting prospect. Kershaw/Clark and Ellis/Richardson would have to go with the pole men Reeves and Wilkes to stand any chance of success. There was no way they could give him an advantage from the line in this ten-lapper.
Todd Ellis made the corner first, but Tim Reeves slid underneath to grab the lead on the exit. At the end of the opening lap, the seven-times world champion had established a one second lead over the chasing field.
Behind and charging hard was a three-way scrap between Ellis/Richardson, Kershaw/Clark and Benny Streuer/Kevin Rousseau. These three crews were tripping each other up, allowing Reeves/Wilkes to power the “Berlin Express” into the distance.
Sam and Adam Christie were having a sound ride in fifth, having relegated a fast-starting Chris Walker/Ashley Hawes. John Holden/Lee Cain came next, ahead of their SBR Racing team-mates Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney. Reeves and Wilkes were supreme at the front with a seven second cushion on lap six. Lap eight, and Streuer was by Ellis, and on Kershaw's case. With neither Reeves nor Streuer eligible to score points, Kershaw was chipping away at the title lead at this point in the race, with Ellis throwing everything at catching him up.
Chris Walker was another go-getter, and he had a fantastic battle with the SBR teamsters Holden and Blackstock to move into a fine sixth.
The fight for second was magical between the three crews, with Kershaw and Ellis both nailing Streuer in the final turn.
Result – 1/ Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes (Adolf RS Yamaha), 2/ Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clark
(Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha), 3/ Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson (Santander Salt Honda)
4/ Benny Streuer/Kevin Rousseau (Kawasaki LCR), 5/ Sam Christie/Adam Christie (CES Powerbiking Yamaha), 6/ Chris Walker/Ashley Hawes (TAG Racing Yamaha),
7/ John Holden/Lee Cain (SBR Kawasaki), 8/ Lee Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (SBR Yamaha), 9/ Martin Kirk/Shellie Smithies (MK Racing Yamaha) 10/ Alan Founds/Jake Lowther (Cloud Vapers Yamaha)
Race Two – With the reverse grid in place, and Reeves/Kershaw alongside each other on row five, this was always going to be interesting. It actually turned out to be one of the most gripping and entertaining races this season.
Martin Kirk and Shellie Smithies shared the front row with Ben Holland and Lee Watson. This JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant pair had been discounted from the race one results sheet because they had been given special permission to race a Kawasaki 636cc engine to keep their weekend alive. They had generously donated their own 600 lump to team-mates Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood for a similar reason. However, they were allowed to start this race from their actual ninth place result slot from race one.
From the lights, Kirk/Smithies made an amazing start and held the advantage from an absolute melee behind, with five abreast going into the first turn.
Flying through, and right with them, Ellis/Richardson nailed the lead halfway round the lap, as Benny Streuer went too. Martin Kirk was later to retire with gremlins on lap three.
The smart money said that Reeves/Wilkes would be in front at the end of lap one, but nothing was further from the truth. They had to be brutal to make headway, and tried the grass both sides of the track to find a way past the traffic.
Kershaw/Clark fell victim to them from the start and found themselves in sixth after one lap. Like Reeves, Kershaw was embroiled in the thick of it, and it was lap two before he made third place, passing Tim Reeves in the process.
Reeves continued his amazing fight through the pack, eventually hitting the front on lap six after a determined defence by Steve Kershaw. In doing so, he went a full second under the existing Birchall Brother's lap record, setting a new standard.
Todd Ellis meanwhile, was four seconds clear at the front at this point, but at the close, he trailed Tim Reeves by three seconds.
The battles down the field were too numerous to describe, but one noteworthy scrap was the race-long fight involving Holden. Blackstock and Walker. It finished in that order.
Sam and Adam Christie were also very consistently fast, rewarding themselves with a fine fifth place.
Starting from the very back of the grid, Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood battled through to claim ninth at the flag.
Result – 1/ Reeves/Wilkes, 2/ Ellis/Richardson, 3/ Kershaw/Clark, 4/ Streuer/Rousseau,
5/ Christie/Christie, 6/ Holden/Cain, 7/ Blackstock/Rosney, 8/ Walker/Hawes,
9/ Stevens/Charlwood, 10/ Founds/Lowther.
Standings – Ellis/Richardson 341, Kershaw/Clark 311, Blackstock/Rosney 160, Bryan/Hyde 154, Biggs/Schmitz 135, Stevens/Charlwood 133, Holden/Cain 132,
Walker/Hawes 124, Gray/Pitt 110,
The next round comes from Donington Park 4-6th October