The all-new Oakleaf Motorsport team arrived at Manchester in good spirit for the opening round of the UK Arenacross series.Their first competition on the Honda and first outing following their withdrawal from the British championship (with Kawasaki).
The team were confident of good results with the signings of Angelo Pellirgini, Romain Beila and rookie star Joe Clayton – who you may have seen featured on DBR’s Facebook page over the Christmas period.
The morning practice sessions went well for both riders with the fastest lap time of the day set by Angelo Pellirgini. And with Romain around seventh the guys were really happy with the set-up of the Oakleaf Motorsport bikes.
It was a great start to the day and it gave the team a really chilled afternoon in Manchester, relaxing having some well needed food to stock up on energy for the night time racing.
Pro Heat races
Romain was out first and made a blistering start in heat one, in the top five after the first corner, he looked fast and aggressive but in control as he picked his way through the riders on a tight track, finishing second at the chequers.
This gave Romain a massive confidence boost for heat two and again a great start, which is key in this tight indoor arena event. He worked hard with some good lines, picking his way through the pack and keeping out the way of others mistakes. After three laps he found himself leading the race with a good three to four second lead, which would have given him a great start for the Main Event.
But two laps to go he made a silly mistake and dropped it just before the finish jump. Romain managed to keep the engine running, re-mounted and took the finish flag just outside the top three, giving him fourth gate pick for the Main.
Angelo rode constant in his two heats but struggled on his starts, getting held up, but he managed to pull his way up through the tight pack in both races to give him a position of fifth for the Main Event gate pick.
With four points at stake in the head-to-head, again the natural instinct of both racers showed only confidence, the downfall was they both had to race each other in the first two-lap sprint.
They both where told nothing dirty from team principle Shaun Anthony as they’re team-mates but that never stopped them putting on a great show for the crowd.
Both went for gold but only by a wheels’ length did Angelo manage to beat Romain to put him in the second round. Race two saw Angelo v Greedy. After witnessing what Greedy had done to Kullas earlier, Angelo made sure he played it safe on the start – following him for the first lap, then sticking the pass on him fair and square to take the win.
This moved Angelo to the final against SR75-Molson’s Coulon where again Angelo was second off the line but he was to keep the inside through the rhythm section to nail the pass and lead all the way to the flag, taking the first 2015 head-to-head win.
Pro Main Event
With the final upon the team, again there was a nice relaxed atmosphere prior, but the tension of knowing all the hard work through the day was down to this last race.
The gate dropped and the 13 fastest riders of the day where bar-banging into the first corner with Angelo in fourth and Romain further back in ninth. They set their rhythms early and were both on a charge.
Angelo had pulled his way through up to second and was chasing down SR75-Molson’s Thomas Ramette in first position, and looked strong until two laps to go – crashing in the whoops hard! He laid in the track dazed as the rest went by.
Romain, by now, was up into fifth and that’s where he stayed as he took the chequers, with Angelo crossing the line in last place.
All was still good within the camp with a feeling that both riders showed some serious quality all day and night – just that one mistake meant no sign of a Oakleaf Motorsport Podium on their debut outing in the Pro class. But for sure the guys looked like hot contenders for the rest of the series… Look out Belfast!
With Joe Clayton – last year’s podium finisher – on his debut for his new team, nothing but a big smile followed him round all weekend. He looked one of the fastest in practice and was dialed-in, ready for the night’s Final.
With gate pick three he was in the middle of Featherstone and Osmaston, and Joe got sandwiched going down the start straight and had to shut off. Entering the first corner close to last place, he showed really good maturity, staying calm and picking his passes lap by lap, pulling his way up to third and debut podium for the Oakleaf Motorsport team. Well-done Joe!