A stylish double-win at Castle Coombe
Leon Morris secured the 2011 Rapid Solicitors Ducati 848 Challenge Championship with two typically assured race wins at Castle Combe. Having lead the Championship from the first race of the season, Morris (Buildbase/JHP Ducati) wrapped up the season in fantastic style by setting fastest lap, pole position, and leading both races from beginning to end, to leave no-one in doubt as to his championship credentials.
Celebrating their 60th anniversary of motorcycle racing, Castle Combe welcomed the Ducati 848 Challenge paddock to the friendly circuit, along with four-times World Champion Carl Fogarty and the Ducati BSB teams of Moto Rapido and Rapid Solictiors-Bathams Ducati.
Race 1 had Morris on pole just in front of his last remaining title contenders Robbie Brown (Ducati Manchester) and Mike Edwards (MSKWorks.com), with a resurgent Darren Fry (Buildbase/JHP Ducati) completing the front row. A barnstorming Peter Hasler (AOR/Boast Plumbing) got the best of the starts making up 7 places from 10th, as Morris led from the front row into Quarry Corner, Hasler, Aaron Brown (Ladybirds Ducati) and Ross Connolly (Ultimate Retail Solutions Ducati) in tow. The race lost Kenny Gilbertson (AOR/Boast Plumbing) to a low side crash on lap 3 as he was pushing to break into the leading three. Morris lead the all the way to the chequered flag and the knowledge that the same result in race 2 would secure him the title.
After a nervous three hour wait for the second race Morris again lined up in pole position, virtue of the fastest lap in race 1, and once again took it to his challengers with a trademark run down to the first corner. A tight, but largely incident free race would see Morris lead all the way, Edwards pushing as hard as his gearbox would allow and Brown struggling with a setup to get grip from the rear tyre. Aaron Brown maintained his good form from race 1 to secure fifth place behind Fry and ahead of Gilbertson and Connolly, but as the riders took the chequered flag it was to Morris that all the attention turned.
His brace of wins rounded out a commanding, season-long performance and Morris rightly took the Championship title. In a gesture of pure sportsmanship it was Edwards who was first to congratulate him, both riders sharing a moment to reflect on how close the season has been, after which Morris was given a champions parade around the Castle Combe circuit.
Reflecting on his title, Morris said, “After being runner-up last year, winning the 848 Challenge this year feels fantastic. It’s been some of my hardest racing of my career and at times I have had to settle for the consistency of points, so it’s just a huge relief to have won the title. My team have been fantastic, as have everyone we have raced against this year, and what a great way to push on with my racing career.”
Tim Maccabee, MD of Ducati UK was on hand to present the podium trophies, and commented, “Huge congratulations to Leon Morris and his team on winning the Rapid Solicitors Ducati 848 Challenge. The quality of the riders we have had this year has been very high, with the likes of Mike Edwards, Kenny Gilbertson and Robbie Brown contesting all season, so the title has been hard fought and richly deserved.”
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