2018 – UK- Round 1 – Donington Park 21 April

UK Moto Gymkhana Championship 2018

Round 1 - Donington Park (Tarmac lake)

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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.

Finishing off attack 1 were the experts and it was business as usual at the top with Rob Fox well ahead on his 2 stroke Honda. Another Honda was in 2nd, Ian Handley having a real go on his Hornet 600. Best non Honda was 3rd place John Ritchie on his Suzuki SV650.

There were a surprising number of wrong courses in this first attack, the majority of them on what looked like a simple sequence at the first obstacle. Needless to say they would be paying it close attention in their second attack.

With the threat of rain in the afternoon the lunch break was shortened in the hope of giving everyone a dry second run and so it turned out, the rain kindly waiting until just after the prize presentation before making an appearance.

Jo 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.

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.

In the women's class Joanne Finch was the clear winner, 2nd went to an unusually off form Beth Price Williams who had to pick herself up off the floor twice in the day. 3rd in class was Anita Clegg, yet another PB showing just how much she has progressed in the last year.

Unusually all the green bibs finished at the top of the time sheets, none of the yellow bibs managed to get in amongst them this time, but they will.



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.

Special mention goes to Grant Fraser who clearly has blinding speed and will be a real threat when he stays on the bike and gets the course right, to make the long trek down from Edinburgh is real dedication. Also a big thumbs up to Andi Beazley, the most watchable rider on the course. Picking the back wheel up under braking and flicking the bike through 90 degrees in the air to make the final turn was a joy to watch.

Special mention goes to Grant Fraser who clearly has blinding speed

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.

Women's Podium

 

Jo Finch 

Novice Podium

 

Jo Finch - Paul 'Noddy' Brown - Tony Dix

Main Podium

John Ritchie - Rob Fox - Ian Ashford

Podium and Ranking Points

Round 1 Results