Held under the vast, cloudless Lincolnshire sky at George Pickering's Greenfield oval, the final round of the DTRA National Championship was also the ultimate round of the inaugural DTRA European Championship, which meant that we had a bumper 30 bike entry in the Sideburn sponsored Vintage Class. With riders coming from Germany, Switzerland and France to join most of the British regulars (and some welcome irregulars). There were going to be 18 disappointed riders not making it to the final.
The two German entries were special machines; #51 Martin Huening's Panther framed XR750 would prove to be a handful on the tight cornered, hard packed clay of the Greenfield short track oval, whilst the beautiful, rigid Aermacchi of Andreas Steinhofer #599 (below) was much better suited.
Photo: Gary Inman
The finale of the 3 round Euro Championship was set to be a nail biter, with both Martin Huening and #47 (Mr DTRA) Anthony Brown on equal points having each won a race and come second in the other and Swiss rider (and head honcho of the Swiss Dirt Track Riders Assoc) Michel Colaizzi #98 close behind having finished third in both preceding races.
The National four-stroke Championship was also going to be decided, with only one point separating the top two riders, yours truly #72 and Dimitri Coste #67, going into the race. Sean Kelly #33 had an unassailable lead in the two-stroke championship.
The National & Euro races would be run together as points earned by riders in both championships couldn't affect the podiums in the other.
The 9 heats delivered some thrilling races. Dimitri set fastest heat lap and won each of his 3 races, the most impressive being his back row start when he overhauled both Mike Fisher #80 and Michel Colaizzi on the last lap having already seen to Sean Kelly on lap 3 and 5 other riders on the opening lap.
Mike Fisher was fastest 2 stroke of the day aboard his Bultaco, but the mongoose among the cobras was first time DTRA racer Simon Bird #555 aboard his DT360 Yamaha, who took 2 seconds and a first place, even beating the vastly experienced Anthony Brown, retaking him with two laps to go after AB had snatched the lead on lap 1 from the second row.
There were notable performances from John Jacka #410, Dave Webb #140, Rick Bearcroft #39 and Jon Dyer #101 all of them enjoying the track and conditions.
The final heat was the most thrilling, with Lucia Aucott #209, Adam Brinkworth #8 and Nick Ashley #59 each repeatedly occupying third spot, dicing all the way, changing ownership every corner until Brink just got it from Nick on the run to the line, by which time Ed Lonergan #151 had joined in the battle for 5th but was bested by Lucia on her Ossa.
Regrettably some of the faster bikes didn't survive to make the final. Martin Huening's fabulous Harley, #4 Paul Harrison's Honda and the Astros of Fisher and Derek (father of AFT pro rider Ollie) Brindley #25 were all sidelined by mechanical issues in heat races and so didn't score sufficient points.
The final took place with the setting sun bathing the track in a glorious orange glow. Anthony Brown on his Triumph framer got the holeshot and led all the way, setting fastest Vintage lap of the day en route to the chequered flag and the European Vintage Crown.
He was chased by Sean Kelly who took the two-stroke honours to go with his National Championship. As he was contesting the Euro races too he must have ended up in the top 6. By my reckoning Sean must be the unofficial National overall combined classes champ too. Good work from the 25 year old Bristolian.
Flying Frenchman Dimitri Coste came in 3rd on track, second 4 stroke thereby clinching the four-stroke National title and earning him 4th or 5th place in the European standings.
Swift Swiss Michel Colaizzi took 4th spot, pushing Simon Bird into 5th on the way through.
The three Triumph twins of Dave Webb, me & Rick Bearcroft crossed the line all covered by half a second, followed by Lucia on her Ossa demoting Nick Ashley's Bultaco on the penultimate lap.
Sadly Brink & Andreas suffered mechanicals and DNF.
So, an exciting finale to the season, and the results came out looking like this:
DTRA rnd 7 Vintage Two-stroke podium
1st Sean Kelly - Suzuki 2nd Simon Bird - Yamaha
3rd Lucia Aucott - Ossa
DTRA rnd 7 Vintage four-stroke podium : 1st Anthony Brown -Triumph
2nd Dimitri Coste - Triumph
3rd Michel Colaizzi - Triumph
The championships ending thus (my calcs - unofficial):
European Vintage Championship 2019:
1st Anthony Brown - Triumph
2nd Michel Colaizzi - Triumph
3rd Martin Huening - Harley Davidson
DTRA Vintage 2stroke Championship 2019
1st Sean Kelly - Suzuki
2nd Mike Fisher - Bultaco
3rd Ross Jackson - Yamaha
DTRA Vintage 4stroke Championship 2019
1st Dimitri Coste - Triumph
2nd John Harrison - Triumph
3rd Rick Bearcroft - Triumph
So Triumphs have it pretty much sewn up, but if two-smokers are you thing, take your choice.
Massive thanks to Lord Brown, Anna and everyone who helps to run the DTRA, too many to name, plus congratulations all my fellow Vintage riders who come and make the races such fun.
Thanks also to the wonderfully supportive Sideburn magazine for sponsoring the Vintage Class again this season.
All photos: Braking Point Images except where stated