Weather more suited to Noah and his Ark failed to deter the large turnout of competitors for the first of three 2019 IMC Snowflake Showdown Series Rounds which recently took place at Nutts Corner Circuit in Crumlin.
The continuous rain made for the most difficult riding conditions of the Championship to date. Were the Competitors, Marshalls, Officials, Photographers, Supporters or Spectators deterred? Not a jot! The lap times were still fast, the action still full and the craic still mighty. Standing water in some parts of the circuit made for impressive photographic opportunities for both rider and photographer and we would like to extend our thanks to each of them that braved the weather regardless, still finding the time to voice their enjoyment before heading home to dry out, warm up and upload their spoils of the day.
First to set the pace were the undeterred cubs of the The Honda VW Audi Bitz Sponsored BamBam Class. Joining the ranks for the first time was Paige Mullen, having been handed the BamBam Club by older brother Lewis. Paige was joined on the grid by Pole Setter Buster Sherman-Boyd, Matt Davidson, Matthew Curry, Leon Scott, Bailey Dobson, Beau McCrory, Tommy Ferris and paddock chum Alyssa Curry. Matthew Curry set an impressive lap time during qualifying to secure the 2nd spot on the grid with Matt Davidson and Bailey Dobson all within 0.5 sec. Buster would transfer his qualifying pace into each of the 3 Races. Whilst young Matt Davidson was undaunted by the wet conditions, the same could not be said for his machine and after several attempts to get back into the race he was forced to retire from Race 1. Young Bailey ‘Bomber’ Dobson (affectionately titled by Club Chairman Mark Boyd) made no apologies for being back in the mix with the front runners and proudly crossed the line in 2nd place followed closely by Matthew Curry. Race 2 and with Davidson back in the race after a very sporting gesture by Beau McCrory offering up his machine the race for 2nd was a display of the ever growing race-craft of the youngsters within the class. Dobson would secure his second 2nd place of the day with Davidson just piping Matthew Curry on the line. What is even more impressive is that the 3 cubs all had a ‘best lap time’ within 0.6sec of each other. Race 3 and the BamBam freight train – made up of Dobson, Davidson, Scott and Curry provided some of the most heated action of the day with the running order swapping several times. Unfortunately Dobson reverted back to his old MX ways and took to the grass allowing his rivals to break away with Davidson taking 2nd, Scott 3rd and Curry 4th. The notable drop in lap times for Tommy Ferris, Alyssa Curry and newcomer Paige Mullen, in such tricky conditions, deserves a special mention for the youngsters who truly have the hearts of lions – never be fooled by their small stature. 7 yr old Sherman-Boyd finished the day on the top step with Dobson and Curry 2nd and 3rd respectively. Dobson’s performance and return to form earned him the Rst-moto Bam Award of the Day and so a fab new set of RST Knee Sliders and an ‘AMAZEBALLS’ Trophy courtesy of Fran Hollywood at Made in Hollywood.
It was Michael Thompson that would set the bar in qualifying for The Hillhead Sheds Sponsored Stock 140cc VETS Class. The strong grid would welcome newcomer Coly Irwin, returnee’s Kevin Newman and Jonny Rainey and with them a display of ‘there’s life in the auld dog yet’ attitude. Thompson would continue his form in Race 1 pursued hotly by former Short Circuit Champion Nigel Robinson and Kelan Smith but managing to hold them off to cross the line first. Jonny Rainey, Martin McClintock and Geordie Barrett failed to finish. Smith would take advantage of Thompson’s absence following a spill in a different class forced him to sit out Race 2 while he frantically tried to mend the damage (no doubt questioned by his young pup “Daddy fall off?”. Kelan was followed across the line by Robinson and ex-Road Racer Darren Burns, shown above. Race 3 and the roles were reversed by Smith and Burns, Burns the victor with Robinson retaining 2nd place. Robinson proved that consistency is the key to success with his three concurrent 2nd place finishes enough to earn him a place on the top step for the Class Overall. Smith and Burns finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The Temple Tree Services Sponsored Junior Pro Class was again dominated by Fionn Stephens (above). Stephens took the flag in all three races unchallenged, clearly unfazed by the track conditions and with his usual flamboyant celebrations. Freddie Cooke decided to retire from the Pro Class following issues during the Practice Session early on in the day. Ruben Sherman-Boyd had a steady run taking the runner-up spot in all 3 races equalling the lap times set by Stephens in Race1 and 2 but just unable to bridge the gap. Leigha-Jane Browne rode well throughout the day, strong-minded and unwavering with dropping lap times in each session. Mechanical issues in Race 3 unfortunately relegated Leigh-Jane to 4th overall with Sean Dagger capitalising and securing his 2nd podium of the season so far.
The David Clint P&D Sponsored MiniGP Class saw the welcome return of The McGreevy Bros to the IMC grid. Both Korie and Kia competed on borrowed machines. Korie was the clear target setting a lap time 2 sec faster than his competitors. Korie translated this into two clear wins in both Race 1 and 2 but a slip off in Race 3 left the gap to Race Leader Christopher Mccallion too great to reel back and so would have to settle for 2nd. Overall and Korie had amassed enough points to be crowned the winner with McCallion in 2nd and young Jack Ferris (above)’s consistency paying off to secure 3rd. Congratulations to Korie on his BSB Chanmpionship Crown, well deserved, hard earned and expanding the dreams of all the youngsters within The IMC Paddock.
Yet again the BMW Autoparts Sponsored Junior Gearbox Class grid welcomed some new talent. No less than 19 competitors took to the grid and produced thrilling and action packed racing appropriate for competitors of much more experience and years of competition. Full of confidence after securing The 2019 Championship, Matt ‘Missile’ McCord, seen above pushing hard, set the pace for the day with a lap time that would see the top runners mixing with the front pack in the Senior Open. In the 140cc Class is was Jack Ferris that would contest McCord’s dominance, both boys lapping some 2sec faster than 3rd place competitor Ruben Sherman-Boyd. Ferris and McCord crossed the line with less than 0.2 secs between them – no mean feat given that they had to manoeuvre through a fast flowing chicane just metres from the finish line, showing both confidence in their own ability and trust in their rival. Sherman-Boyd, Lee Hara and Callum Clint put on a display of their own, pushing each other throughout the race with Clint asking a little too much from his brakes and forced to make a detour. A move which showed a degree of maturity and quick thinking resulted in a forced time penalty but was taken respectfully of his track rivals. The ‘Missile’ was first to cross the line in Race 2 managing to pull a 3.5sec gap on Ferris and Sherman-Boyd with the gap between the lads and their KTM65cc machines less than 0.3sec on the line. It was the same fraught battle further back with Callum Clint and Kai McClintock taking the fight right to the line, Clint the victor by the slightest of margins. McCord was the man out front again in Race 3. Leading from start to finish he ran a faultless race, the same however cannot be said for close rival Jack Ferris. Unfortunately for Jack he asked a little bit too much of his slick tyres in the wet conditions resulting in him taking a slide to the sidelines. After a quick remount he managed to claw his way back though the pack to come across the line in a respectable 7th. Sherman-Boyd crossed the line in lonely 2nd pulling a gap on 3rd place lad, Lee Hara. Overall a successful day for McCord, damage control for Ferris and some valuable Championship points for the remaining 11 strong group (Callum Clint, Lee Hara, Ewan Waddell, Robert Ronan, Kai McClintock, Ross Moore, Joey Ferris and Dean Graham).
In Race 1 of the BMW Autoparts 125cc Class Fionn Stephens took the lead from Isaac Mark and newcomer and MX convert Peter Willis, pictured above. Peter was competing onboard his WM Racing Bucci BR10 machine and both rider and machine impressed from the offset. Race 2 for the 2 front runners of Stephens and Mark was a carbon copy of the previous, but 3rd place was awarded to Peter’s WM Racing Team-mate, Lewis Mullen. Mullen made the change over from a 90cc 10TEN 90R BamBam to his 125cc Bucci BR10 machine effortlessly. Unfortunately a spill mid race for Team-mate Willis would result in a DNF. Fionn would again be the first 125cc machine to cross the line in Race 3 albeit by less of a margin. Mark was in 2nd with the battle of The Bucci machines being won on this occasion by Lewis Mullen. Fionn Stephens steams into the Championship lead with full marks across the board while Isaac Mark, Lewis Mullen, and the remaining 125cc competitors (Freddie Cooke, Peter Willis, Cody Miskelly, Bailey Dobson, Alex McCalmont and Matt Davidson) will be heading into the next round eager to claw back some valuable points on the leader.
Gary Scott got his day off to the perfect start in The AJM Car Sales Senior Open Class putting his Honda CRF 150cc Machine on Pole during the qualifying session, no mean feat given the level of expertise of the teenager’s fellow competitors. With a 16 strong grid Scott elevated his race-craft to a new level and made it a clean sweep in all 3 outings. Race 1 and Scott was put under intense pressure from James Thompson, above, with the pair crossing the line together, Scott just nipping the win by a hair’s breadth. The No.11 of Kenny Robinson crossed the line in 3rd ahead of Kelan Smith who shared comparable lap times throughout the session with Robinson. The order would remain unchanged for the following 2 races and so on the Overall Event Scoreboard.
The Discount Beds Belfast Sponsored Stock 140cc Group 1 was highly competitive from the offset. In qualifying it was Luke Johnston (header image above), who took Pole Position from Kyle Cross and James Thompson. Cross would go on to take the chequered flag in Race 1. Johnston having given Cross a contest throughout had to settle with a hard fought runner-up spot with Thompson securing the final spot on the podium. Cross was chased a little too hard in Race 2 by Johnston with Johnston overstepping the limits of the track conditions resulting with a few extra scuff marks on his leathers and relegation to 8th. Thompson held off an eager Ajay Carey and Nigel Robinson for 2nd. Race 3 and Johnston was back in pursuit of Cross but just didn’t have enough left in reserve to secure a win and had again to settle for 2nd. Thompson was out of the running in Race 3 and Carey didn’t wait for an invitation to the 3rd step on the last podium of the day. Cross called upon his vast Minibike experience and put it into action to secure a clean sweep of wins with Johnston and Carey taking up the runner-up spots and some valuable points.
The EUROL Lubricants Stock 140cc Group 2 produced a mixed bag of results for the 18 competitors that took to the grid. Pole setter Michael Thompson failed to exploit his advantage parting from his machine during the 3rd lap of Race 1. Lee Hara took full advantage of Thompson’s misfortune taking the flag following a faultless performance from start to finish. This performance earned him not only a win but also The GCM&E Star Rider Award. The youngster has excelled all expectations in what is his first season of racing and has become somewhat of an obstacle for his much older and more experienced competition in their quest for success. Callum Clint secured a well earned 2nd and William McKee 3rd. Andrew Stewart showed his first glimpse of promise bagging a very respectable and confident 4th. Race 2 and it was change at the front with William McKee putting on a strong performance to take his second win of the season, relegating Hara to 2nd and Pole Setter Thompson to 3rd. Race 3, the final race of the day, proved to be the most manic with no less than 5 DNF’s. It was again all change at the front with Michael Thompson finally translating his qualifying performance into a worthy win taking the flag from Andrew Stewart and Jonny Browne. Disappointingly for Thompson his DNF in Race 1 spoiled his chances of an Overall Podium and it was consistency for William McKee that earned him the rights to the top step. Lee Hara was 2nd and surprise of the day Andrew Stewart earned himself that all important first ever Overall podium finish.
We would like to extend our thanks once again to our Class Sponsors for their support and encouragement of the Championship.
Congratulations and thanks must be extended to everyone that braved the weather to support the event. We hope you all dried out with a smile on your face. Speedy recovery to both riders and machines that took a slide on the rough stuff!
Attention now moves to Round 2 of The Snowflake Showdown which takes place on Sunday 3rd November 2019 @ The Iconic Mondello Park. Mondello Park proved highly popular in what was the first Minibike Event ever to take place at the circuit and we know that excitement is mounting for Round 2 among competitors and officials alike. Entry is FREE to spectators.
Report and images from Fran Hollywood/Autosport Pics.
Overall Results for Round 1 are as follows:
Honda VW Audi Bitz Sponsored BamBam
1 Buster Sherman-Boyd
2 Bailey Dobson
3 Matthew Curry
Hillheadsheds Sponsored Stock 140cc VETS
1 Nigel Robinson
2 Kelan Smith
3 Darren Burns
Temple Tree Services Sponsored Junior Pro
1 Fionn Stephens
2 Ruben Sherman-Boyd
3 Sean Dagger
A J M Sales Ltd Sponsored Senior Open
1 Gary Scott
2 James Thompson
3 Kenny Robinson
BMW autoparts Junior Gearbox 125cc
1 Fionn Stephens
2 Isaac Mark
3 Lewis Mullen
BMW autoparts Junior Gearbox 140cc
1 Matt McCord
2 Jack Ferris
3 Ruben Sherman-Boyd
Eurol Lubricants Ireland Stock 140cc (Group 2)
1 William McKee
2 Lee Hara
3 Andrew Stewart
Discount Beds Belfast Stock 140cc (Group 1)
1 Kyle Cross
2 Luke Johnston
3 Ajay Carey
David Clint P&D MINIGP
1 Korie McGreevy
2 Christopher McCallion
3 Jack Ferris