Oliver’s Mount Gold Cup Review

The crowds didn’t let the weather dampen their spirits at the Oliver’s Mount Gold Cup event

Mike Norbury

RACING returned to Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough at the weekend with the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup back after a two-year absence.

It was a weekend of contrasting weather conditions for all the riders, although it was Lee Johnston who walked away with the prestigious trophy.

The Ashcourt Racing rider put in a faultless ride in treacherous conditions on Sunday, which threatened to curtail proceedings at the famous 2.43-mile venue. Having led from the start, he eventually took the chequered flag at the end of the eight laps by three seconds from Mike Norbury, with David Jackson taking third. Brad Vicars, Joey Thompson and Joe Ackroyd completed the top six.

Johnston became just the third rider from Northern Ireland to lift the International Gold Cup, following in the footsteps of Ryan Farquhar and Michael Dunlop, and joined legendary names such as Barry Sheene, Giacomo Agostini and Carl Fogarty on the trophy which was first awarded in 1950.

Sunday’s race schedule differed greatly from Saturday’s action around the woodland circuit, with large crowds lining the fences bathed in sunshine.

It was Johnston who came of on top in the feature Supersport 600cc race as he brought his Yamaha YZF-R6 home ahead of Norbury once more, this time by the reduced margin of 1.6s.

Now based near Halifax, Johnston sat in third place in the early stages of the race as, Jackson set the pace ahead of Norbury. But once the Ulsterman moved to the front at half race distance, soon pulling away.

With the fastest lap of the race, 1m50.766s, more than half a second quicker than anyone else, the 30-year old was able to ease off on the eighth and final lap with Norbury maintaining station in second.

In the dry, sunny conditions, Vicars came through for third ahead of fellow Manx GP podium finisher Stephen Parsons as Jackson slipped back to fifth ahead of Ackroyd.

Johnston also took second in the Classic Superbike race after starting from the back of the grid on Phil Reed’s RC45 Honda and overhauling 20 riders! By the time he’d moved up to second, David Bell had opened up a substantial lead and he took a comfortable win on his OW01 Yamaha.

Circuit debutante Paul Jordan was on course for second place before he was forced to retire the Mistral Racing Kawasaki in the closing stages and that allowed Pete Boast to take third ahead of Daniel Ingham and Barry Furber.

The closest race of the day came in the Lightweight encounter as Ian Lougher, Dominic Herbertson and Joey Thompson fought tooth and nail throughout the eight laps.

Vicars ran with them at the beginning before retiring and although Herbertson and Thompson tried all they could to find a way by Lougher, the Welshman held on to extend his record as the most successful rider ever around the Oliver’s Mount circuit.

Julian Tillotson and Justin Collins won the Supersport ‘B’ and ‘C’ finals respectively with Phil Harvey coming out on top in the 400cc race after Thompson retired whilst John Lowther/Tom Christie got the better of Conrad Harrison/Andrew Winkle in a shortened Sidecar race.

The heavy rain forecast for Sunday, unfortunately, proved to be accurate and it was 12.30pm before any action could take place but the organisers did a sterling job to ensure eight races took place – one for each class – with the marshals deserving special praise for enduring the elements on an extremely wet day.

The sidecars started the action and after missing Saturday’s races, Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie got the better of Lowther/Christie by 5.2s to pick up the Ian Bell Trophy, awarded by Ian’s son Carl, for their efforts.