The domestic International road racing season ended on a sombre note last month with the International Gold Cup at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough being cancelled after two incidents at Mount Hairpin, or Drury’s as it is now known, saw a number of spectators taken to hospital, some with serious conditions. With an inquest already underway, it will no doubt raise a number of questions that the organising, governing bodies will need to address.
Both incidents were reported to have been caused by brake failure – which can happen any time and at any circuit – with riders and bikes crashing through the protective fencing that line the 2.43-mile circuit and into the crowd. On both occasions, air ambulances were called and at 3pm on Sunday, the remaining races were cancelled including, for only the second time in its history, the feature event. 1982 was the last time the Gold Cup wasn’t held and that was due to thick fog at the seaside venue.
The corner was the site for a serious incident in the 1980s but after that occurrence, the fencing had been pushed back considerably and spectators not allowed to stand as close to the action as before. Having attended the meeting – and whilst not professing to know all the details – an immediate question asked regarding these incidents would be why were spectators allowed to return and spectate there after the first crash?
Whilst Jamie Coward’s incident in the morning could have been deemed a one-off and unlikely to happen again in the same day, it would have been wise to have cordoned off the area for the remainder of the race programme – just in case. The fact that lightning did strike twice and an almost identical accident happened later in the day, this time when brake failure hit Daley Mathison’s electric bike, was incredibly unlucky and almost unbelievable. But it did and the meeting and organisation will now come under considerable scrutiny.
Being the only pure road race circuit in England, Oliver’s Mount has a special and unique place on the race calendar and the fact that it’s been in existence since 1946 speaks for itself. It still attracts star riders and big crowds but it needs protecting now more than ever especially as the last couple of decades have seen it battle against the odds, particularly the financial ones. Just like other road race events have dragged themselves off the floor, Oliver’s Mount now needs to do the same. And whilst it may not have reached the floor just yet, it’s survival is, arguably, hitting a crucial point.
What happened last month was, undeniably, a very unfortunate chain of events, something that comes with the obstacles of running a real road race, and the last thing the meeting needed. Lessons will have been learnt though and with Gary Thompson, Clerk of the Course at the Isle of Man TT Races, heading up the investigation, there can be no doubt a very thorough investigation will take place and the necessary measures put into place for next year’s action at the Mount.
Harrison and McLean impress
What racing that did take place saw Dean Harrison take an expected four wins from four starts. The Bradford rider has stepped into the shoes vacated by Guy Martin in terms of dominating proceedings at the venue and he’s won every race he’s finished at the four meetings this year. Indeed, it’s hard to see anyone beating him in the foreseeable future and whilst the races had an air of inevitability about them, once could only admire his prowess especially as he claimed another new lap record in the Supersport class.
That was largely due to the pressure exerted on him by Adam McLean. The conveyor belt of talent from Northern Ireland has slowed considerably in recent years but the 21-year old Ulsterman has shown this year he has what it takes to go all the way in the sport. He’s taken to Oliver’s Mount like many of his countryman before him and although Harrison went on to take the 600cc wins, McLean led in the early stages and set an impressive pace. He’s enjoyed an excellent 2017 and next year should see him take further strides forward.
Next up on the road racing calender is the Macau GP, find out more now!
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.