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Trials, Tribulations and Tragedy at Oliver’s Mount
Last weekend’s opening race of the year at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough was a challenging weekend for all concerned as poor weather conditions led to a succession of red flags and the subsequent delays led to just 13 of the 22 scheduled races being completed.
Heavy rain on Friday led to many of the parking areas turning into quagmires and with the course winding its way round the hillside, much of the mud slid down the bankings onto the road surface resulting in a distinct lack of grip all the way round the 2.43-mile venue. And with Saturday’s temperatures barely getting above 5 degrees it was more of an endurance test than anything else.
Obviously, no-one can do anything about the weather but at a narrow circuit like Oliver’s Mount, it makes the races even more challenging for the riders – one mistake in the dry can lead to disaster and when more factors, such as rain, are added into the pot, the risks are naturally increased.
The inevitable delays meant it was almost 7pm before the races were completed and, even then, only eight of the scheduled ten had taken place. And even though Sunday’s weather was significantly better, the organising Auto 66 Club again found good fortune in scarce supply.
Sunday was, thankfully, dry and bright but, again, numerous stoppages occurred, the most serious of which came in the feature Bob Smith Spring Cup race. The first stoppage came after Lee Johnston went down heavily on the entrance to the Memorial and the Ulsterman was lucky to escape with minor injuries. But a collision on the high speed back ‘straight’ the fastest part of the circuit, in the re-start was more serious and left Junior Manx Grand Prix winner Billy Redmayne with serious injuries.
With a lack of medical at the circuit, organisers had little option other than to abandon the meeting and, after a lengthy delay, the inevitable announcement came at 4.35pm.
Everyone feared the worst when 25-year old Redmayne was immediately taken to hospital by airmed and although initial reports were promising, the Manxman sadly succumbed to his injuries.
A full-time member of the parachute regiment, the Laxey rider was relatively unheard of when he contested the 2014 Newcomers Manx Grand Prix but he showed his undoubted potential with victory and he then went on to take second place in the main Junior race later in the week, where he lapped at 119.062mph, to firmly establish himself as one of the most exciting talents to emerge in recent years.
He returned to the Manx Grand Prix in 2015 and continued his battles with Malachi Mitchell-Thomas in the Junior and Senior races that saw the duo both comfortably lap in excess of 120mph. Indeed, Redmayne went on to win the Junior riding a Martin Bullock Honda and was lying a close second in the Senior, with just two seconds separating the duo once more, when he was forced to retire on the final lap. His fastest lap was 121.523mph, the fourth fastest ever in the history of the Manx Grand Prix.
One of those days:
It was simply one of those meetings where, despite their efforts, nothing went right for the Auto 66 Club, something that can happen anytime to a road race meeting, whether it be at Oliver’s Mount, the Tandragee or even one of the Internationals such as the North West 200 or TT.
As mentioned, when bad weather intervenes, there’s little anyone can do and at places like Scarborough, when incidents occur, the clear up procedure takes longer as, more often than not, the trackside ‘furniture’ has to be arranged. When bikes crash at a narrow circuit like Oliver’s Mount, it’s highly likely that the trackside fences can get damaged and bales need to be realigned – but safety is always paramount whether for riders, spectators and marshals.
Harrison the new king?
In what racing that did take place, it was Dean Harrison who proved to be the master as he ended the weekend with three wins and a second on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki’s. The 27-year old had a torrid time in 2015 with the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha team but one place where he did enjoy success was Oliver’s Mount and that trend looks like continuing in 2016.
He’s very much the man to beat now at Oliver’s Mount and although Devitt RC Express Racing’s very own Ivan Lintin, Lee Johnston, Dan Hegarty and Daley Mathison pushed him hard, he seemingly had all the answers. The conditions meant that, perhaps, we didn’t get to see everyone’s full potential but Harrison’s early season form suggests he’s set for a much better season this time around.
Please share your thoughts from the weekend below…
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.