For a circuit measuring just 0.93 miles, with average lap speeds of less than 60 mph, one would think Three Sisters Racing Circuit near Wigan (basically a Kart track) would be pretty safe for motorcycle racing - but how wrong can you be! Factoring in the 12 bends, no run offs, broken surfaces in parts, extreme tyre wear, damp patches and a tricky inverse cambered hairpin and you end up with three seasoned Earlystocks visiting the Accident & Emergency ward with broken collarbones, ribs and shoulder blades! At a ratio of one broken Earlystock rider per sister, plus some mechanical breakdowns, the grid was looking pretty depleted at the end of the weekend.
For the survivors however, the weekend represented a superb riding challenge and aside from the numerous painful mishaps, the prior comments of..."Mickey Mouse circuit ".."miserable unfriendly organisers"..."The Earlystocks are treated as Lepers"...couldn't have been further from the truth. In fact the organisers were superb to the point of allowing extra practice, extra races for a tenner and they even laid on an evening trophy awards cermony with photographer where you got to kiss the hostess!. What a great venue. ...apart that is from all the bloody crashes!!!
After practice, which was just an opportunity to learn the circuit more than anything timed, things got pretty messy; (Note the club operates a ballot system where you pull numbered clothes pegs out of a bag to get grid positions - basically they run on a shoe string budget and this keeps the costs down). The messiness all started with an opportunity to enter the Formula Odd-Balls race....this did not mean you needed to walk with a limp and possess asymmetric testicles, but more spend a tenner to enter. Neil-Mad Mucka- Myatt, had decided against this, but on hearing Longy had invested his tenner to get more track time, and not wishing to be disadvantaged in the championship challenge, decided to lob a note into the entry box too...
Well race 1 was a reasonable competition, although starting from the back of the grid having pulled peg #12 from the bag, meant Tom Benford got into turn 1 first and with overtaking extremely difficult, held it to the line; Longy and Mad-Myatt finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. However, things went sour in the Formula Odd Ball race.....an event hosting bikes up to 750 ranging from classics, to SV650's to ZX7's - a good combination to be honest.
Anyway, after a traumatic start where Mad, Longy and Rob all, (again from the back of the grid), ended up sandwiched and banging elbows off the start line, Longy got up to 5th spot from 20 or so starting, and in hot pursuit was Mad-Myatt and a couple of modern 750's. Anyway, Longy stupidly changed down rather than up to exit the double right hander after Lunar Bend onto the start/finish, nearly high-siding it, at which point Mad-Myatt got through with another rider - which is where things went pear shaped.....because a bit further into the lap at the ultra tight left hand hairpin (The Valley), the 750 made a move on Mad who, not to be out done, squeezed the brakes a tad extra just as he hit an inverse camber mid track...at which point he went down like a sack of spuds shoulder first snapping just about every bone in sight. Lying pretty motionless on track, Longy thankfully took avoiding action and inevitably the red flag came out....Mucka Myatt was then slowly, very slowly in fact, scraped up and eventually whisked off to the local Cuckoos Nest for a heavy dose of Plastic Padding.
Race 2 was pretty similar to race 1, albeit Tom only just fending off Longy by 1/10th of a second at the line. The track is in fact so unbelievably tight, but amazing fun, that overtaking seemed almost impossible when you were lapping at a similar pace to someone - but I'm sure with more track time there would be one or two viable spots, but nowhere is obvious. Longy did try a few moves on The Boy Benford including coming into the righthander after Cowards Summit, but Benford had the race line and Longy lost the front to avoid a collision. And then, after a desperate move into Lunar it was over, but very close never the less. A good tight race....for some at least....
After a huge downpour the night before, practice was on a surface with numerous damp patches. Most of the Earlystockers weren't allowed out, but Aidy Skaife #313 on the LC250, had only entered Sunday's meeting so was out in the mix. Unfortunately just 2 laps in at the right hander after Cowards Summit, his front end let go and he hit the deck hard - another collarbone gone!
Race 3 on Sunday's proceedings, was a good one for Longy. With both Benford and Longy running on totally knackered tyres (the circuit absolutely kills your tyres!) and with Longy starting a row ahead of Tom after fixing the ballot (sorry Tom, I bribed the official to give me a better starting position....this is the truth!!)...Longy actually managed to get into turn 1 first for a change and held it to the line to win by 5 seconds. It actually felt great to get an outright win - the last one being at Mallory in April.
Unfortunately, it was not the same story for Ian O'Reilly #366 riding the immaculately turned out Moto Guzzi 950 Le Mans. Once again at the ultra tight, inverse cambered entry at The Valley where Mucka-Myatt hit the deck, his front end let go on the brakes and the ribs of Reilly took a severe battering. To make matters worse, Longy had tipped Ian off earlier there was a huge trophy to be won for the best turned out bike of the meeting - and his bike would certainly have been in the running. Longy will know when to keep his mouth shut next time.....!
This incident was nothing but trivia in comparison...basically Longy's bike wouldn't start - which was actually pretty devastating as Sister Long and partner had travelled all the way to the circuit to watch the race 2 action! What a bummer - sorry sis! And Ed Wright had painstakingly serviced the seriously binding brakes on the GPz 750 Kwacker. Root cause was possibly flat battery or fuel starvation - not exactly clear yet - but mysterious. A trip to the S&M garage is now on the agenda. Anyway, another win for Tom who rather bizarrely had fitted Longy's worn out rear tyre to make it harder for himself???!! followed by a great 2nd spot from Rob Paget #219, who rode superbly all weekend on his Yamaha SXR600 (I'd never heard of one before this!) and our cockney friend Alec Gilfillan #216 on the Suzi GSX1100.
All in all a crazy weekend....a great little race track, run by a fantastically friendly club but marred with some pretty nasty off's. It remains to be seen whether Mad Myatt will be appearing on the grid at Mallory in a full body cast to keep the championship alive - I wouldn't put it past him...!!!!
It must be mentioned that Peter Stringer #229 aka Rumpole of the Bailey, won the 750 class in race 2 and gets maximum championship points!! Congrats Pete - all that gym work, dieting and power napping is paying off. Keep it up...!