For the 2011 SMC season finale NMCC had worked tirelessly to prepare the legendary Long Buckby circuit. With the track fully graded, a wide array of new jumps and features added and the perfect amount of rain mid-week, the circuit was in pristine condition. This combined with a massive entry list and a beautiful sunny day, meant the scene was set for an epic end to the season. Back in March NMCC had kicked off the 2011 South Midland Centre Championships in similarly pleasing conditions. Some seven and a half months and eight rounds later the final championship positions were still to be decided in many classes. With racing also counting towards the club championship positions, everyone was keen to score as many points as possible and finish the year on a high.
Visiting Expert Luke Burton made his intentions clear from the start by winning the opening Expert race from James Rutter and series leader Dale Raynor. In the second race the win again went to Luke Burton, this time from Mark Boswell who as is so often the case got faster as the day went on. David Frankland this time moved up into third position. After a poor start to the final leg Luke Burton moved rapidly through the field but could only manage third at the flag, still good enough to take the overall victory. The win this time, rather fittingly as it was the final Expert race of the SMC championship went to series leader Dale Raynor, from series runner up Mark Boswell.
The Junior A group was again a heavily subscribed class with full line ups in the qualifying heats. The win in the opening final went to Ben Putnam from the 2011 O40 Champion Tony Leishman and Jack Gregory. Everything changed in the second encounter as Ben failed to finish leaving George Winn to take the victory. runner up this time was Jack Gregory, with Tony Leishman time in third. Jack took the overall win on the day from Tony in second and George in third. In contrast the Junior B class was all about consistency. Sam Hunt won the overall as well as both finals, in front of Richard Lowe and Graham Hunt.
Rob Mead took victory in the first Over 40 race, but a twisted knee saw him sit out the rest of the day. Mark Bland stepped it up to take the win in the other two and the overall, whilst for once Tony Leishman had to settle for second with Rob Warner not far behind in third. Nigel Miller really took to the new circuit design and dominated the Over 50 class winning two out of three. Second race winner Aidan Quinn also took second overall from a close battle for third between Sean Bennett and Reg Willis, the SMC Championship leader Sean taking the last podium position in the end.
The Under 40 class saw three different winners as some of the Experts went out in various races, but Luke Taylor took the overall by finishing well up in all three legs. Mark Bland took his second overall win of the day in the 2 Stroke class, winning legs two and three from Martin Streeton and Mark Elliot after first race winner Jordan Wright decided to concentrate his efforts on the Expert races.
And so as the sun finally dipped over the start line an hour earlier than normal after the clock change and the light faded, the 2011 SMC Championships also came to an end. The final Championship results will be published once they’ve been collated and verified. Bring on 2012!
report: Fraser Law