UK Moto Gymkhana Championship 2018
Round 1 - Donington Park (Tarmac lake)
It doesn't seem more than 10 minutes since we finished the 2017 season yet here we are at the start of a new season with some new rules, lots of new faces and more competitors than ever, this year we even have a couple of press journalists doing the season and charting their progress in their magazine. With a new sponsor on board in the form of Devitt Insurance it's going to be a cracking year.
Round 1 was on the huge Donington Park tarmac lake allowing us to run a big open course with the usual deceptively easy obstacles to catch out the unwary.
Racing got underway in beautiful sunshine, as ever the novices going first. Some of the newcomers looked instantly at home in this very different and technically demanding discipline, there will be some to watch of the coming rounds.
At the end of the first set of attacks the novice leaderboard had a very different look to it, Tony Dix claimed this year's CBR600 wasn't much faster than last year's Diversion 600 but the results would say otherwise with him topping the time sheets for the first time. Joanna Finch had a typically aggressive run into 2 on her KTM690 Duke, only a quarter of a second down with the ever reliable Steve Laughton in 3 on his R6.
Again it was the novices away first, ex racer Paul 'Noddy' Brown improved his morning time by over 6 seconds to jump to the top of the novice timesheet for his first win. Tony Dix couldn't improve on his time so slipped to second, still a PB and pretty impressive in only his second season and his first event on the CBR. Joanne Finch scored not only her first podium with 3rdplace but also the first time a woman has ever finished on the podium in UK Moto Gymkahana. We're pretty sure that this won't be the last time we see it either. So not only was it was firsts and Pbs for all on the novice podium, it was also a first for UK Moto Gymkana because for this season there is a new 'orange bib' class between novice yellow and expert green, all 3 riders scoring the first ever orange bib ranking points.
And so to the final run for the experts, Ian Handley was within a tenth of a second of his morning time but sadly for him it wasn't quite enough as others improved enough to push him down to what is still his best ever result of 4th overall.
The biggest improver was Ian Ashford on his CBR 600, after an uncharacteristic foul up in the morning he improved by no less than 15 seconds to move into 2nd place, yet another PB. 3rd place was still John Ritchie, improving on his morning time in his usual attacking style and yet another PB. With no real pressure Rob Fox absolutely blitzed the second attack, improving his already event winning time by nearly 3 seconds to win by just over 5 seconds.
As for the journalists, we'll leave it up to them to tell you how they got on, read about it in MotorCycle Monthly and Motorcycle Sports and Leisure.
And so to the next round we go, June 2nd and again at Donington. Let's see if anyone can challenge Rob Fox. Although he looks odds on favourite I've got a feeling there's a challenge coming his way. The novice and women's classes are going to be closely fought, expect the podiums to be different each event.