A week after visiting England’s second city, iFly Lanes Kawasaki made the visit to the 2008 European Capital of Culture, Liverpool. The Merseyside city’s Echo Arena played host to the matinée finale of the 2013 Arenacross season on Sunday afternoon, which was arguably to be the best round of them all.
The team’s ill veteran rider Eric Sorby was replaced by French colleague Romain Berthomé, while the team also added Ryan Voase to the roster for the last round.
For the riders, the fun started late on Saturday afternoon when signup was completed at the same time as finishing touches were made to the track. It then resumed at 7:30 on Sunday morning with the first practice session.
Berthomé finished the Pro qualifying session in third, while Voase ended sixth. In his Pro session, James Harrison finished eighth, while the Rookie session saw him take pole. Ben Putnam settled into fifth.
After a four-hour break and a 20 minute delay, the afternoon’s racing got off to a roaring start. In the Rookie class, Harrison returned to form. Taking the lead early, he led for all but one lap, regaining the Rookie class crown in the process. Putnam, fifth in the first few laps, soon found himself in second too. He remained there until the end, taking second in both the race and the championship.
In the Pro class, the second heat saw a fantastic battle between team riders Harrison and Berthomé for second place before Harrison found himself on the floor for a restart in sixth. In the fourth heat, tables were turned with Berthomé in second but running into trouble early on that forced his retirement from the race. Harrison found himself in a battle for fifth, eventually ending a place down, while Voase provided a solid performance throughout in seventh.
The LCQ saw the end of the team’s evening in the Pro class. With Berthomé in third, a great battle developed for the last position into the main. After passing Adrien Lopes, Berthomé made a stab at the lead, but with a lap remaining, he also found himself down in the dirt with no way to recover the positions lost.
With the four-round championship over, iFly Lanes Kawasaki sees Harrison crowned 2013 Arenacross Rookie Champion, setting the tone for the outdoor season ahead.
Says team manager Graham Harrison: “It’s been a really good last event for us, we enjoyed it in every way. We’re glad to have a few new riders on board, all the lads have done really well. Ben had an excellent race during the day, he was back on form and got second in the main event. James got the win, so I’m really pleased about that. He had a better performance in the Pro class as well, he was third until a small mistake in the last lap which put him back to sixth and which pushed him back to the LCQ, but in real terms that’s the best we’ve had so far in the Pro class.
“We’ve had a good French rider, Romain, step in for Eric, he did a really good effort. He had some really bad luck; he had a puncture in one of the qualifying races and in the LCQ he fell off and never made it to the final. Speed-wise he was doing well. We also had Ryan on board as an extra rider, he had one of the best results of his season and we thank him for joining the team.”
Ben Putnam (#01): It went good today. In practice I liked the track and thought it was quite good. In qualifying I struggled a bit and got a fifth. In the main I had a bit of luck and a few people fell off, kept it safe and slowly caught up to second, so I’m happy with that.
James Harrison (#153): It’s been another good weekend, really. Rookies went well, I was fastest in qualifying, and in the main event I made my way to the front and won the Rookie final to win the championship. In the Pro heat I was in third with two corners to go and with my other result would have been in the main, but I ended up clipping a hay bale and crashed. I’m happy with how I rode today, it’s just a bit of bad luck today.
Ryan Voase (#2): Today wasn’t brilliant but I had a lot of fun. I hit the start and then went down on the first lap, but I made it through the night and enjoyed it.
Romain Berthomé (#917): I had a great first heat, I was second but then someone crashed in front of me and I ended fourth. In the next heat I was second again but I then had a problem with my rear tyre so I had to stop. In the LCQ I crashed like a novice rider. I didn’t get into the final but I’m happy with my speed, and I hope to come back next year for a better result.