After a busy two week break, the iFly Lanes Kawasaki team returned to the LG Arena in Birmingham for the penultimate round of the 2013 Arenacross championship. With temperatures distinctly warmer than at the previous round, things got heated in the arena fairly sharpish.
Qualifying got underway mid-morning with James Harrison qualifying in pole in the Rookies and seventh in the Pro class. Second Rookie rider Ben Putnam clocked in in fifth place, while veteran Pro rider Eric Sorby, who had been ill for most of the previous week, had to make do with fifth in the Pro class, trying to preserve his energy for the evening.
Things went from bad to worse for Sorby later that night. Starting in third in the first heat, Sorby found himself under pressure from Martin Barr and Gordon Crockard, but fought back to end in fourth. But this is where the evening ended. Sorby had to withdraw from the rest of the evening after feeling faint and being sick, as the preceding
week’s bout of flu took its toll.
Harrison did not fare much better. Although the second Pro heat went well with Harrison ending in sixth place, the subsequent Rookie race ended before it really began. Going down at the start, Harrison found himself at the bottom of a pile-up. Although he tried to restart, the bike was too damaged to continue safely and he had to forego a chance at the Rookie win. With his race bike out of action, Harrison had to make do with his practice bike for the remainder of the evening. Shut out at the start both in the fourth heat and the LCQ, Harrison worked hard to make progress, finishing the LCQ in fifth.
The star of the evening though was Putnam. Safely skirting the start corner pile-up in the Rookie final, Putnam found himself in sixth after the first lap. Ruthlessly working his way forward, the youngster soon moved into third place. Aiming for second, he closed the gap to just a bike length at the finish line, taking third place and his
first podium for the team.
Commented team manager Graham Harrison: “It’s not been the best of nights, practice went really well for James and Ben, Eric’s been suffering from the flu so we weren’t sure if he was even going to ride. He did ride, but he was ill after the second heat, so he had to pull out and didn’t do any of the other races. James qualified first for the Rookies and had the biggest crash ever in the final on the first corner. He didn’t manage to finish a whole lap; James is ok but the bike’s badly damaged. For the Pro races he was on his practice bike which was ok but not quite as good as the race bike. Ben had the best result of the night, he was third overall. We’ll just recuperate this week and hope the final round will be good for us.”
Eric Sorby (#917): It’s not been a good weekend for me, I felt ill yesterday and it got worse throughout the night. I didn’t ride many laps in practice because I just didn’t have much strength. I raced the first heat and finished fourth, but by the end I couldn’t see straight, everything was blurry. I passed out and afterward went to the doctor, obviously I couldn’t continue for the rest of the night. It’s a shame but it was for my safety. Hopefully I’ll be back next week stronger.
James Harrison (#153): The day was going all good, riding decent in the Pro group, pole qualifying in the Rookies. My first Pro heat went good, I got sixth, which was my best heat race result in the Pro class. In the Rookie final I came together with a few riders on the start which resulted in a big first corner crash that I was on the bottom of, I got up to finish the race but my bike was twisted too bad to carry on. I’m happy with my speed, and glad we can drop a round.
Ben Putnam (#01): Today went good, the start was difficult, there was a pileup and I had to work my way through it. I came out quite high up, I stayed there and trickled though, stayed safe and didn’t fall off. It’s the first time I’ve been on a podium for the team and want to thank them, my dad, and the sponsors for everything.
Images courtesy E22Sports/Nuno Laranjeira