story by Steven Moxley, photos by Julie Moxley.
The 2017 Open Sports Nationals at Shakespeare County Raceway will go into the history books as one of the very best. Three days of glorious California weather with temperatures in the 70s, and no oildowns on the track during the three days. There was one oildown—an 8.50 bike rider lost fluid coming out the burnout box.
Six(!) qualifying sessions were scheduled over the two days of qualifying for round 5 of the ACU Championships. But with a few hours left, an extra session(!) was run and some riders were glad to get another shot of qualifying.
Funny Bike points leader Allan Davies led the small field with a 7.272 at 179.15 mph. On an early run, Davies ran a personal best speed of 181.01.
Phil Crossley borrowed a rear tyre off Stuart Crane in an attempt to cure his handling problem and ran an 8.045. Dave Peters had repaired his gearbox after the Bulldog Bash, where first and second gears were damaged, only to find out during qualifying that third gear was slightly damaged and ran a best of 8.472.
Davies had a bye to the final. Crossley ran 7.682 against Peters, who broke at mid-track.
Crossley had a problem coming into stage for the final and shut the motor off. Davies soloed to the winner’s circle and extended his points lead.
It was very competitive during qualifying, which led to six bikes running in the sevens out of the nine-bike field. Sean Mills was the number one qualifier with a 7.814-177.45.
Making his first appearance was former champion Kevin Osman, and he ran 7.836-185.15. Martin Walker’s 7.9551 just edged Mick Winyard’s 7.9557 for third spot.
Dave Batcheler recorded his first seven at this track two weeks earlier and ran a personal best at this event of 7.960. Earlier he ran a p/b speed of 161.95.
Scott Collier had both Stephen French and Baz Rathbone crewing for him. They had just returned from a very successful Bonneville trip, where they set a new speed record. As for this event, Collier had numerous issues and in the very last session ran 7.994-135.77 for number six spot.
Reigning ACU Comp Bike Champion Eddy Smiley has struggled of late and again at this meeting, running 8.146-168.19. Daniel Bergelin had traction problems and a last ditch effort got him in the show with an 8.369-162.31, which bumped out former champion Phil Leamon’s 8.495-157.22.
After struggling to find a gear in staging, Collier ran a jaw-dropping career best of 7.512 at 170.06 against Walker, who pulled a wheelie at 150 feet and tried to catch Collier, running a best of 8.307-175.09. Best race of the day saw Winyard take a holeshot win 7.994-177.53 over Batcheler’s personal best of 7.896-162.08. Mills ran top speed of the meet with a 188.86 when he soloed after Bergelin had a staging problem. Osman beat Smiley 7.863-185.48 to 8.139-170.73.
Mills broke in the semi-final, leaving Winyard a bye run. Collier beat Osman in the other semi.
Having reached his first ACU Championship final, Collier had a foot peg break as he was coming into stage. Winyard had a solo run and move into second place in the points.
Super Street Bike
Graham Balchin led the small Super Street Bike field with a 7.695 at 186.87. Dave Thomas was second with a 7.733-183.29. Chris Reed had an issue with AMS Boost controller and ran 8.348-178.17. Making his first appearance in 2017, Dave Smart ran a best of 8.403-173.87.
Both riders had problems in the first semi-final. Thomas struggled to get off the start line, while Reed pulled a wheelie at 100 feet and both raced to the finishline with Thomas taking the win 10.149 to Reed’s 10.215. Balchin won the other semi 7.691 to Smart’s best of the weekend 8.053-187.54.
It was an all-Kawasaki final and Balchin led from start to finish 7.731 to 8.080. The win moves Balchin to second in the points.
Mark Dainty ran 8.502 to just edge Jake Mechaell’s 8.503 and Ian Chrichlow’s 8.504 for the number one spot in 8.50 qualifying.
It was Chrichlow who won the event when Andy Haley broke out in the final with an 8.464.
Lewis Burgess was the number one 9.50 qualifier with a 9.504. Richard Sawatzki ran 9.514 just ahead of Adam Burns’ 9.520.
The final was between Sawatzki and number five qualifier Stacey Reed with the winlight going to Sawatzki 9.534 to Reed’s 9.570.
Phil Pratt originally planned to come to the track and watch, but changed his mind and brought his bike. He qualified number one 9.015 (dial in 9.01) and Louis Davies was number two 8.709 (8.70).
Pratt went on to win the event, beating Peter Austin in the final.
Reigning Outlaw Anglia champion Cliff Griffin ran a personal best during qualifying, a 7.627 at 184.18. Championship points leader Colin Millar ran his quickest and fastest since the 2014 Bug Jam event, a 7.6726-175.62, and just edged Paul Hensher’s 7.6727 for second spot.
Hensher was out the show with a transmission problem. Jedd Guy damaged his motor and was out of the show. Also out was Mat Cooper, with crankshaft pulley issue, and Kenny Murray.
Steve Wells ran a personal best of 8.216 in the first round of eliminations. In the semi-finals, Ronnie Mercer had a bye to his first final. The other semi was a cracker, with Millar taking a holeshot win over Griffin 7.814 to a Griffin’s quicker but losing 7.663.
The final was Millar start to finish, and a step closer to the championship.