Super-close racing at the super-fast Thruxton
Gilbertson gains ground at Thruxton as Rapid Solicitors 848 Challenge provides more thrilling racing.
Round 3 of the Rapid Solicitors Ducati 848 Challenge again provided some exciting racing over the Bank Holiday weekend at Thruxton with Kenny Gilbertson and Chris Northover taking a race win each.
Race one With the weather threatening, Leon Morris (Buildbase/JHP Ducati) got a great start and led the field into the first turn and up through Allard. However it was Mike Edwards (MSKworks.com) who was to lead at the end of the first lap, followed closely by Morris, Gilbertson, R Brown (Ducati Manchester), and Superbike magazine’s Northover. Morris took the lead on lap 2 and stayed there until Gilbertson made a pass as the pack approached Club on lap 4, only to cede the lead to Morris on lap 6. Racing in the series for the first time, Northover was getting to grips with the Ducati UK 848 Evo and keeping the pressure up, as Brown worked his way through the leading pack to take the lead on lap 7. In a thrilling finish, Gilbertson re-took the lead with less than two laps remaining and held on for the win, with Brown and Morris following him home, and the top five riders all finished less than 1 second apart. Race TwoA very wet race 2 went off after the feature BSB race and the Thruxton crowd were treated to the most thrilling race of the Challenge so far. Mike Edwards and a resurgent Darren Fry (Buildbase/JHP Ducati) set off at a pace the rest of the field were unable to match and by the time Fry took the lead briefly at Club chicane they had opened up a gap of over two seconds. Edwards immediately returned to the front, and behind them Gilbertson and Northover were having their own duel, as Ross Connolly (Ultimate Retail Solutions Racing), Brown and Morris battled with the rain spray behind them. On lap 7 Gilbertson and Northover put in a storming lap time to make up ground on the front pair who were playing a slower tactical game, and as the riders started their last lap there was nothing between the four. Having safely passed back markers, Edwards led Fry, Gilbertson, and Northover down to the Club complex for the last time. But in a dramatic finish Northover was last on the brakes and went from fourth to first, taking Gilbertson with him through the chicane, followed by Fry and Edwards. The riders crossed the line in that order, Northover winning the race just ahead of Gilbertson, with Fry taking third.AOR/Boast Plumbing team manager Peter Hasler, commented: “The whole team is ecstatic with the results this weekend. To get a first and second is a great way to kick-start our season and a huge reward for Kenny.”Celebrating his win, Chris Northover said: “This is the first time I have raced the 848 and what a great weekend and an awesome result in the second race. It was a do or die moment that paid off. I’ll be looking for a permanent ride now!”Despite a subdued second race, Morris still leads the Rapid Solicitors Ducati 848 Challenge with 125pts, Edwards on 97pts and Fry on 91pts. The riders now have a short summer break before heading off for round 4 at Monza on 9/10 July.Race 1 Result: 1.Gilbertson, 2.R Brown, 3.Morris, 4.Northover, 5.Edwards, 6.Fry, 7.Hopkins, 8.Poole, 9.A Brown, 10.Holden, 11.Connolly, 12.Jordan, 13.Poll, 14.Cruickshank, 15.Hasler, 16.Poyser, 17.Skipper, 18.Keen, 19.De TarnowskyRace 2 Result: 1.Northover, 2.Gilbertson, 3.Fry, 4.Edwards, 5.R Brown, 6.Connolly, 7.Morris, 8.Hopkins, 9.A Brown, 10.Poole, 11.Jordan, 12.Poyser, 13.Hasler, 14.Holden, 15.Skipper, 16.Keen, 17.Poll, 18.De Tarnowsky, 19.CruickshankChampionship Standings: Morris 125pts, Edwards 97pts, Fry 91pts, Gilbertson 77pts, R Brown 70pts, Poole, A Brown, Northover, Hopkins, Cheetham, Holden, Connolly, Jordan, Poll, Ivanov, Hasler, Skipper, Poyser, Keen, Langford, Cruickshank, Cope, Walker, De Tarnowsky
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