Halfway into the series and the inevitable Whatley win was recorded… After the final moto at the previous round expectations where high and after a great start in moto 1 moto 2 was to see the benchmark achieved, a clear start to finish win!!!
The day started with interpretation as the track had been over watered in an attempt to keep the dust down on the manmade hardpack track and the 18 inches of mud that sat on the surface didnt bode well with the riders. Anything could happen, and despite the organisers trying to ‘make’ the riders use the full width of the track by blocking certain parts of the track in qualification they didnt suceed and the track was to be a very narrow and tricky circuit.
Mx2 started the proceedings with a surprise Superpole winner in Nev Bradshaw on his privately entered machine ahead of championship title hopes Osborne and Tonus. Samsung Yamaha riders Ray Rowson made it to 5th and Jackson Evans a fantastic 20th only 1 second off being in 13th, showing just how stacked with young talent this 250 class is!!!
The gate dropped on the first moto and Rowsons inside gate pick didn’t pay off, he had a lot of work to do to climb back up through the field in the muddy conditions. Jackson had a better start than normal and in the first 2 laps started to move towards the points before a spill dropped him to the back and the work started over again climbing to an eventual 32nd. Ray was up to 11th at the end of lap 1 and proceeded to pick a rider off each lap until lap 5. After that progress was halted until Stephen Clarke had problems on his Suzuki allowing Rowsons Yamaha to climb a further place finishing 7th.
As the 450’s lined up expectations where hitting a peak, eyes where on the Anderson, Whatley battle that looked to be the main attraction. The music played the commentator screamed and the pack took off with a mighty thunder into turn 1… As they excited it was Snow and Whatley, the Samsung rider took no time in showing the Kawasaki rider who was in charge and stormed into the lead. The crowds where on there toes looking to see who would emerge in the chasing pack, Snow held second followed by Barr on the 350 KTM. Dougan on the Bike-It Cosworth Yamaha was pushing hard as expected on the supercross style track and then the two champions Sword and Anderson followed. Whatley had taken off like a scolded cat and was already 8 seconds clear a matter of laps into the race, then he lost the front end of the Yamaha in the mud as he went wide in a turn, remounting still in the lead he had now got Barr on the nimble 350 up his tailpipe. He was now a little flustered after throwing away what looked like a certain win and the dreaded arm-pump started. (lactic acid build up in the muscles causing a tightening and lack of use) Still he managed to pull away from Barr causing Barr to crack under the pressure of running Whatleys pace, stalling on a tight bend thus allowing the charging Ando to catch and pass him. With renewed vigar at seeing Whatley only a few seconds down the thrack the 2009 champion dug in and reeled the Samsung Yamaha in with only 1 lap to go!!! The pressure of having such a determined rider as Anderson behind left Whatley not knowing which way to go as Andos assault began. Whatleys earlier fall had lost him the race as Ando got past and stole the win in the dying stages.
Team moral was high as Whatley took to the line for moto 2. The inside gate was once again favoured and again the Samsung Yamaha came out all guns blazing, Pirelli’s hooking up to shoot Whatley into 2nd behind the Yamaha of Dougan. Anderson was only down a few places but the single lined nature of the track was proving more of a challange to him than Whatley as the youngster powered his Yamaha round the outside of Dougan and into the lead, from there on in there was no looking back for the Samsung pilot as he was not going to relinquish this one!!! Anderson took time to get through to 2nd and by this time had no hope of catching Whatley with Dougan bringing his Yamaha home for the final podium place.
Start of the second MX2 race saw both Samsung Yamaha’s on the ground in the turn one chaos, Evans coming off worse with a damaged machine. Rowson took off in pursuit of the distant pack but a mistake after gaining back 10 places cost him all his hard work and again he was at the back playing catch up. Unfortunately all the time lost on the short lap allowed the leaders to catch him and getting blue flags waved he was forced to slow to allow the guys he would of been battling with to pass eventually finishing with a no score.
The final MX 2 race had to be a good one for Rowson to keep his championship fight alive. Coming round on lap 1 behind former Samsung rookie pilot Sunny Thompson Rowson needed to prove his place on the team and displaced Thompson the very next lap. With the exception of one rider the riders now in front had all set faster lap times so passing was going to be tough and so it was that the 6th place he now held was to be his final placing. Evans had again suffered at the hand of fate having to pick himself back up off the floor and with another mountain to climb he dug in to consistently climb up the leaderboard once again showing the speed of the Yamaha crossing the line in 24th.
The race everyone was waiting for was the last on the card… former champ Anderson vs new kid on the block Whatley, the might of the PAR Honda squad against the up and coming Samsung Yamaha team. Mechanics and spectators alike lines the start straight to see who was going to emerge in front. As the dust settled it was to be Anderson, the bulldog was out to get the overall and was setting the pace. Whatley was left in the turn with a stalled engine, he fired it up and set off at blistering pace. Anderson came round with Snow, Barr, Church, Greedy on the TM, Sword and Dougan all in close pursuit. Whatley 34th at the start was up to 21st coming through the pack like a heat seeking missile!!!
By lap 5 the Samsung Yamaha was unbelievably inside the top 10 and still moving forward despite the track conditions. Anderson had pulled a comfort gap and was riding within himself while had worked his way up to second by lap 8 with Barr behind being followed by the CCM pilots of Sword and Church, Whatley was now behind Church and incredibly passed the veteran GP rider and his team mate Sword who lies 3rd in the championship in the space of one lap!!! Now in 5th with Alex Snow just in front what had seemed impossible was just eye opening for the crowds. Whatley eased his Yamaha past for 4th and was now finding some clear track in front as he laid down some seriously fast lap times reeling in all 3 riders that remained in front, right up to the final lap Whatley was pushing recording his fastest lap on his final lap and narrowly missing out on the final podium position for the moto.
Whatley maintains his second place in the championship and now has the extra confidence of having had that all elusive win under his belt, lets see what a trip across the Irish channel will produce in the sandy conditions that are strong for both championship contenders!