The long awaited 2019 DTRA Flat track season kicked off in fine style in King's Lynn at the weekend. It's a great venue that always produces fine evening races under floodlights. This year was no exception, the setting sun making the whole event wonderfully atmospheric as the inters, pros and Hooligans battled heroically into the dark on Saturday evening.
The Sideburn Vintage class ran on Sunday. It was cold, but the racing was hot.
Lots of new old bikes and some familiar and welcome faces have joined in with the Vintage fun.
Excuse me, but I'll deal with the Triumphs first because they're closest to my heart.
David Webb #140 has replaced his Dad's lovely BSA Spitfire Hornet with a fabulous Triumph T140, sporting a great Gary Nixon style scallop paintjob. David retained the struts from the Beeza and fitted them on the Triumph, preferring to ride it rigid. He was straight on the pace, just as we'd expect.
New to the class, Carl Swateridge #257 was also on an another stock Oil In Frame Triumph, so hastily prepared that it was still sporting a licence plate and horn. That didn't slow Carl, who was at the pointy end in all his races.
Another new to the class rider was Mark Rozier #176 (middle, above) riding a pukka Trackmaster Triumph previously owned by former Vintage Champion, Guy Sutherland.
Ed Lonergan#151 was back out on his Triumph framer after a lengthy engine rebuild by Fast Harry #4 (who himself was back on his dinky and effective Moto Morini 350 v twin).
Always welcome on track, Frenchman Dimitri Coste #67 rode his own early Trackmaster with his typical verve.
Lucky Luke #61 evidently spent the winter sorting his Triumph and getting in some practise as he was on the pace. Jason Wood #199 had his pre-unit running without leaks, Norm Joss #97 returned with the 500 Hannum framer sporting a new paint job, Rick Bearcroft #39 rode his show standard Triumph like the wind, helped by a fresh ignition system and I was relishing being back on my own 750 oif TR6R.
10 Triumphs, 4 of which are former US race bikes. Praise the lawd and listen to the roar.
It's been a long time coming but we finally welcomed Jeremy Skipp #64 onto the Vintage grid aboard an AMF era (Aermacchi) Harley 350. Jeremy barely finished fettling his new ride as the rest of us were lining up, then he blitzed all the old hands as if he's been riding the bike for decades. The man's a natural, who I predict will be a podium regular.
The comparative lack of cc's was no disadvantage to Harry or Jeremy against the big twins.
Harley Davidson was also represented by Peter Koren #63 on his gorgeous old Sportster. Indian/Royal Enfield by Paul Murrell #60 & BSA by Jon Dyer #101 on his B44 single.
New to the fray was Pro Rider Vince Hurst #95 on a 500 Ariel single, who laid down some quick lap times first time out on the bike.
After years of under representation by two strokes we're seeing a few more coming on board. Mike Fisher #80 & Ross Jackson #130 have been wielding their respective Bultaco and Yamaha to good effect for years, as has Sideburn Ambassador Hubert Bastie #2 on his Husky. They were joined by other regulars Mike Herman #20 who debuted his 1971 (?) CZ and Darren Legg #124 who has changed out his OSSA for a lovely Champion framed Yamaha shod with period correct K70s; attaboy Darren!
Young gun Sean Kelly #33 has built a RM400 Suzuki which he was using to good effect.
Darren's OSSA has passed on to (Sideburn 32 cover star) Lucia Aucott #209 who joined in as the first female rider in Vintage! Up 'till now Vintage was the only DTRA class not to be co-ed / unisex/ whatever, but now, happily Lucia has put that right. Brava!
How did it all pan out? Well, Mike Fisher set fastest lap every time he was on track on his Champion framed Astro, and Rick Bearcroft was the only four-stroke to win a race, narrowly beating Mike in heat 2. Otherwise, the two-strokes took all the wins and filled the podium in the final, Ross Jackson #130 taking the top step in style just ahead of Mike Fisher and Sean Kelly.
Paul Harrison #4 was first four-stroke across the line in 4th place on his Morini, followed by Carl Swateridge who was deservedly awarded Sideburn Vintage Rider of the day (his first Vintage race, on a street bike, effectively) and the hard charging Jon Dyer.
Lucia #209 made the final, proving how much she likes her new bike and regrettably but not unexpectedly, the flamboyant Dimitri crashed out on the first lap and then enjoyed riding back up through the pack, but not unlapping himself. Does he do it on purpose just so he can get more overtaking in?
A great meeting, some thrilling dices, a healthy mix of machines with 11 different marques represented and proof that size isn't everything. Seven races, six of them won by two strokes. Can't wait for round 2 at my favourite track, Peterborough.
But first it's off to the premier European Championship round at Hells Race in Holland. Yippee kye ayy!
Photos by Gary Inman (statics), Adrian Mortimer/ @afoxamongstthechickens (action)
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