Following a two week break the 2015 Arenacross UK Tour moved to Belfast’s Odyssey Arena for rounds two and three. The LPE Kawasaki Racing team used the two week break to do extra testing and preparation in readiness for the Irish double-header.
Practice and qualifying for round two on Friday night saw both Florent Richier and Loic Rombaut riding well and looking strong.
After the qualifying sessions Loic had posted the fourth fastest time of the day with Florent Richier seventh fastest. In the Rookies class Jimmy Margetson was feeling more comfortable on the track and produced the fourth fastest time across the two sessions.
Friday night started with Florent Richier out in the first heat and as the gate dropped Florent rounded the first corner in fifth place but soon moved into fourth. As the race progressed Florent was pushing Elliott Banks-Browne for third and took control of the position when Banks-Browne crashed.
Meanwhile at the front, race leader SR75 Molson’s Thomas Ramette crashed allowing Florent to move into second behind Adam Chatfield (CBR/ASA Racing) at the finish.
The second heat saw Loic start in fourth place but collided with Apico Husqvarna Racing’s Steven Clarke on the opening lap. Loic remounted and recovered to finish in fifth place.
Next up was the Rookies Final and after qualifying fourth fastest during the day Jimmy was looking for a strong result. When the gate dropped there was drama as a number of riders tangled in the first turn and created a domino effect with Jimmy coming off worst.
Due to the crash the race was red flagged and Jimmy was able to make the restart, but suffered a poor jump off the line. He soon made up for it in the second turn and moved into fourth. During the race Jimmy battled hard and briefly moved into third but in the end settled for a solid fourth.
The second block of heats saw Loic in heat three where he took the holeshot into the first turn, once out in front Loic rode a solid race to take the victory.
In the fourth heat Florent shot out of the gate in second place and pushed hard for the lead but eventually settled for second place.
Next up was the Head-to-Head and both Loic and Florent won their first duels to secure a point scoring position. After losing out to Chatfield, Loic came up against Ramette in the consolation final, but the pair clashed in a racing incident and Loic injured his hand and arm in the process – Loic had to withdraw from the remainder of the evening’s events.
In the Head-to-Head Final Florent faced Chatfield and after a tight battle Florent was to come off second best. The Main Event for the Friday saw Florent make a good start in second place behind Chatfield. The Frenchman pushed Chatfield hard in the opening laps but also had to contend with pressure from Ramette in third. As the race went on Florent opened a gap over third and rode to a comfortable second-place finish.
Saturday saw the track prepped and ready to go for round three of the Arenacross Tour, and during the daytime practice and qualifying Florent finished fourth fastest with Loic eighth, while in the Rookies Jimmy qualified well for the Final.
In the evening both Florent and Loic lined up in the first heat and it was Florent who took the holeshot with Loic in fourth place. After the opening laps Loic was pushing Hard for third place and soon found his way by. At the front Florent was riding well and took the race win with Loic settling for third after a late attempt for second failed.
Next up was the Rookies Final and Jimmy produced a strong start and was third going into the first corner but a crash on the second turn saw him drop to last. While Jimmy regrouped a number of riders crashed and he was soon back into fifth and in a battle for third. In the closing stages Jimmy moved into fourth but a mistake on the last turn saw him finish in fifth.
The second Pro heat saw both Loic and Florent line up at the gate – this time it was Loic who got the holeshot and rode a solid race to take the victory. After starting behind Loic in second Florent lost out on second place to Oakleaf Motorsport’s Angelo Pellegrini and had to settle for a solid third place finish.
Before the Main Event Florent and Loic went into the Head-to-Head races but unfortunately both failed to progress past the first round.
In the Main Loic produced a great start and went into the first corner in second place while Florent suffered a bad start and was deep in the pack.
As the race progressed Pellegrini made a move on Loic and pushed him down to third place. Later in the race Ramette crashed out of the lead which allowed Pellegrini to take control at the front.
Loic closed the gap Remette but was unable to make a move and finished in third. For Florent the race saw him pick off a couple of riders to finish in seventh. “Friday night was a good night for me, I was riding well and took second place in the Main Event, so that was good for the Championship and also a good start to the weekend,” Florent Richier said.
“Then on Saturday I was feeling good on the track and riding well in the heat races. Unfortunately in the Head-to-Head I made a mistake and then in the Main Event I suffered a bad start and struggled to make passes and finished in seventh. I’m disappointed with the result but it is still solid points towards the championship and we will be back stronger next weekend.” “On Friday night everything was going well during the heat races and then in Head-to-Head me and Ramette crashed and he landed on my hand,” said Loic Rombaut, “I was forced to pull out of the event, so missed the Main Event. Then on Saturday I wasn’t sure how my hand and elbow would be, but it felt good and no pain.
“In the Main Event I got a good start in second place and tried to pass Ramette but made a few mistakes and finished in third place which I’m really happy.” “Friday night went well and I’m starting to feel better and more comfortable on the track,” Jimmy Margetson said. “In the final there was a big crash on the start but in the restart I rode well and took fourth. Then on Saturday my qualifying was much better and then in the Main I was riding well but made a couple of mistake and finished fifth.” Steve James, Team Owner on an emotional trip to Belfast: “Belfast holds strong memories for me from past years, I really like it there and always look forward to going there with the team but this year was always going to be tough for me whatever the results because there was one special person missing this year.
“Dale loved Arenacross because of the people and the social side to it and Belfast was always her favourite, so this weekend was to be very different without her, but it was a case of putting on a brave face digging deep and doing the best we could and that’s just what we did.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster weekend with many ups and downs but on the whole to have two top five results in the Rookies. Young Jimmy was awesome and he rode so well and has improved so much since the first round in Manchester and proved that a podium is well within his reach. “For Florent and Loic everything was looking so good in qualifying for them both on Friday and all was going well with both in the final but unfortunately Ramette collided with Loic in the head-to-head with Loic coming off worse and putting him out of the final.
“I was gutted for Loic and at first it didn’t look good for him being able to ride on the Saturday! Luckily Florent raced hard and used his head to finish second in the final and with the three points from the head-to-head on top this brought us level on points and joint first in the standings going into round 3 on Saturday. “Saturday again started well as after a good night’s sleep with ice on his hand and arm Loic was able to ride, he still had a little pain and had swelling to his hand and elbow but it didn’t affect his bike control in any way.
“Both Florent and Loic came through qualifying good again and had a win and a third place each in the heats but the head-to-head didn’t go to plan tonight and neither managed to score points unfortunately.
“In the final it was Loic who shot out the gate in the top three and rode an awesome race to finish third and get on the podium, it was great to see and I was so pleased for him after the disappointment of the first two rounds.
“Unfortunately it was Flo who had a bad one this time and after getting a terrible start he struggled to find his rhythm and had to settle for seventh in the end. We still came away second in the Pro Championship only 10 points off the lead and we are third in the Team Championship. And with five rounds still to go anything can happen and it’s still all to play for so we will hopefully be firing on all cylinders in Birmingham at round four this next weekend January 24.