Last week we reckoned the Main Event in Liverpool was a candidate for race of the series. Wrong! If the racing gets any more intense than it did in this evening’s Main Event at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle it’ll blow the top off presenter Christian Stevenson’s radometer!
Soft dirt and a super-technical track layout with plenty of options – not to mention the gnarliest triple ever seen in the UK – combine to stretch the Pro field to breaking point. When a rider of the calibre of Nev Bradshaw (Putoline Apico Honda) cases the triple every lap in his second heat race you know things just got hardcore.
Fair play to Nev, he cases it every lap – and once even torpedoes over the following berm – because he hits it every lap. The South African’s got some nuts – which is a good job because it gives him something to land on!
Daniel McCoy (MBO Sport ASA Yamaha) is another victim of the track with a bruising crash in his second heat race but the rock-hard Aussie still rolls out for the Main Event and is rewarded with 10th and nine points to keep his title aspirations alive.
After the disappointment of Liverpool, series leader Fabien Izoird (Apico LPE Kawasaki) picks up a bonus four points in the Head-to-Head races and then rides smart in the Main to come home third and stretch his lead out to 17 points.
“That was a very difficult track and I stayed very cool behind Cyrille and Steven – I didn’t want to take a risk like last weekend and crash,” says Fabien. “I took four points in the Head-to-Head and was third in the final so it was good for the championship but I’m not really happy because I always want to win.”
There’s another Frenchman on the podium as Cyrille Coulon (SR75-Molson Suzuki) claims second but the night belongs to Steven Clarke (Dyer & Butler KTM).
Winner on the opening night of the tour in Belfast, the 23-year-old’s had a rollercoaster rider ever since and after failing to make the Main Event in Liverpool he comes into Newcastle with a steely determination. Lap after lap he fights off the challenge of Coulon and is the only rider to hit the triple every time – even as he takes the chequered flag when his bike digs in on the take-off and he has to bail.
“That’s got to be one of the hardest races of my career,” says Steve. “Not so much for the track layout but the dirt was real soft and when you’ve got to pick a rut at high-speed it’s not for the faint-hearted. It bit a lot of people today but I managed to stay upright until the last lap and the finish line jump.
“I bottomed out on the face of the jump and it just stuck and sent me into a nose dive. If I’d stayed on I’d have landed in the backside of the landing – from past experience I know it doesn’t do any harm to jump off every now and again. I’m lucky I did and I’m glad I walked away from it.”
So that’s Newcastle nicely wrapped up – the show now rolls south to Sheffield and the Motorpoint Arena for round six next Saturday (February 15).