SGR Racing who featured in our Geordie Racer article have just completed their first round of the season where rider Tom Oliver scored his first Championship points, finishing in 14th place on his debut outing for the Morpeth based team at Silverstone, for round one of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship.
Images: Tim Keeton. Words: Louise Stewart-Young
The Colchester rider got the weekend off to a steady start, at a cold but dry Silverstone, by placing the SGR Racing Yamaha into 11th place on the grid during qualifying. As this was the team’s first race weekend together and the first time out in anger for Oliver on the R6 Yamaha, they were happy with how the qualifying session went, as it was a learning curve for everyone.
With a fourth row start Oliver had his work cut out for him when it came to race day. A bad start made for a tough but positive race. Oliver settled into his racing rhythm and concentrated on maintaining the ground he had made back up since the early part of the race. Finishing in 14th place and scoring two points on his inaugural SGR Racing outing was a good solid start to the season which will be built on as the year progresses.
Tom Oliver said: “I’m happy to be coming away from the first round with some points in the bag. It’s my first weekend racing the SGR Racing R6 Yamaha and we are still learning. I didn’t get a great start and I got pretty beaten up on the first lap! However, I settled into a good rhythm and held my position. I’m looking forward to more track time at Oulton Park, which is a track I love, and we can build on the solid start we made here at Silverstone.”
Stephen Kinghorn, Team Owner said: “It’s been a really positive weekend. The team and the bike have both worked really well as this is our first race weekend on the Yamaha. Tom put in a lot of consistent laps during the race and really used his head. I’m pleased to be coming away from our first round with some points on the board. We are at Oulton Park in three weeks’ time, this is a track Tom enjoys so it can only get better. I’d like to say big, big ‘thank you’ to all our sponsors and everyone who has helped us to get to this point.”
The second round of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship will be held on 30th April – 2nd May at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
The team would like to thank:
Images courtesy of Tim Keeton www.impact-images-photography.co.uk. For high res images or any further information on SGR Racing or Tom Oliver please email Louise Stewart-Young at email@example.com. Please credit Tim Keeton when using images.
In no particular order, 10 reasons to visit Oliver’s Mount this weekend for the Spring Cup. If you’ve already been I apologise for preaching to the converted and if I’ve missed something then feel free to add it using the comments at the bottom.
Images by A.T.R Photography and Charles Robertson
1. The Closeness
Watching racing at other UK venues now pales in comparison since I visited Oliver’s Mount as you just can’t get as close to the action. This never felt truer than last weekend at Silverstone where I watched the BSB through twenty foot high mesh fences, thirty meters from the track. At Scarborough the only thing between you and the riders is a waist high wooden fence. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you can smell the oil and rubber of the bikes and feel the throb of their engines in your chest as the riders race past.
2. That Hairpin
The first corner of any race is always a spectacle with whole field piling in and fighting for position but the first corner at Oliver’s Mount is something else altogether. It’s not just a corner, it’s a hairpin, a proper one, a switchback. And what’s round the other side? Sheene’s Rise with it’s 1/9 gradient. It’s amazing and you can watch it all unfold from a few feet away.
Here’s what happens when it all goes tits up:
3. It’s a Free Workout
Because the 2.41 mile circuit winds its way up, down and around the mount you’ll need to do a fair bit of walking if you want to take in all of the vantage points. The main steps down from the car park are hard enough in your leathers but the dirt paths at the northern end of the track make the Travelators from the old TV show Gladiators look flat. Watching people scramble up and down these paths makes for good entertainment between the races.
4. The Ride There
The ride down from Newcastle is a ride of two halves that starts with a boring slog down the A19 but finishes with a blast across the North York Moors. The corners are long and sweeping which means the caravans and tractors that clog the roads are easily dealt with. Don’t get too carried away though, the police are well aware of the crowd that Oliver’s Mount draws and will often have at least one camera van out on race weekend. Scaling Reservoir and the Queen Margaret Road that runs between retail park and the mount are worth taking steady, if you get what I mean. Wink, wink.
5. The Commentator
Almost as impressive as the racing itself is the commentator’s ability to seemingly never stop talking throughout the weekend and you best learn to love it as it’s piped all across the circuit. It’s not always about the racing, sometimes not even about bikes but it’s nearly always entertaining. Personal highlight; when he asked Giacomo Agostini how many notches are on his bed post and if he ever tires of signing women’s breasts.
6. The Back Straight
It’s not straight and it’s barely wide enough to get two cars down it but that doesn’t seem to stop the riders screaming along it. You’ can’t see much of the straight as most of it’s hidden by hedges but using the fence to get a leg up seems to be the done thing to give you a fleeting glimpse or let you get a video.
7. Mental Sidecar Passengers
If you’ve never seen Sidecar racing then they alone are reason enough to make the journey to Olivers Mount. Watching the passengers move around the cars beggars belief and is good to watch at Hall Bends. These guys don’t just get their knees down; arses, shoulders and heads will often touch tarmac. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
8. It’s in Scarborough
Another thing that makes Oliver’s Mount stand out from other tracks is that it’s not found in the middle of nowhere but is walking distance from a popular tourist destination. Granted, few bikers are into donkey rides or sticks of rock but bear with me here. The sheer number of hotels mean that even on race weekend it’s easy to pick up a cheap but cheerful B and B and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs and food. For me nothing beats the East Coast Kitchen in the center which offers an American Diner inspired menu. Owner Andrew Porter is a classically trained chef (as well as a true gent) so while it may be burgers and hot dogs it’s done to a top notch standard but don’t just take my word for it, it’s voted Scarborough’s number one restaurant on Trip Advisor. After stuffing your face head to The Hole In The Wall Pub who normally show the American GP after the Spring Cup (though sadly not this year due to rescheduling). Still, it’s worth a visit as the staff and regulars are sound and they pull a good pint.
9. You Can Ride It Yourself
During race weekend the roads of the circuit are closed but by Monday they’re reopened and there’s nothing stopping you going for a lap of the course yourself (albeit no faster than 30mph). Only when you ride the course can you appreciate the steepness of Sheene’s Rise or the tightness of Mountainside Hairpin. While there Oliver’s Mount Restaurant found at the north eastern end of the mount is certainly worth a visit. Beside that is the War Memorial with stunning views of the town and out to sea.
10. Jefferies Jumps
If you want to see what massive balls look like then head to Jefferies Jump where riders and their machines become air born at speeds that’ll make your ride to the mount look snail like. You’ll know when you’ve found it because there’ll be rows of people lining the fences with cameras and phones to record the spectacle. But enough of my talking, this ten second clip will show you all you need to see.
Photos are courtesy of Alan Robinson and A.T.R. Photography. For more of his photos check out his Facebook Page by clicking here.
Out of the eight riders that failed to finish the crash fest that was Sunday’s Argentenian GP, Jorge Lorenzo got the least of my sympathy. I wasn’t pleased to see him crash out, certainly not, but once it was clear he was fine I can’t say I was sad to see him go. Despite being one of the most talented riders of a generation and untouchable on his day I only have respect for him and even that is given begrudgingly. I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way but I get the feeling I’m not alone.
If I were a Rossi fan my dislike would be easy to understand. In their eyes Lorenzo joined the Yamaha garage and was gifted a bike developed by the man he was to depose. To make it worse he copied his leathers, logos, and bike set ups and also started to copy his trademark celebrations too only they’ve never been funny, occasionally go wrong and are more likely to make you cringe than laugh. As Rossi became less competitive things may have simmered down but as The Doctor regained form they were soon at it again, finally boiling over at Sepang in 2015 where Lorenzo decided to stick his oar into the infamous clash that did not involve him. While the Spaniard denied arguing with Race Direction immediately after the race his lawyers did file an intervention in Rossi’s appeal to The Court of Arbitration for Sport , hoping to influence the penalty decision and snuff out Rossi’s title hopes before they even arrived in Valencia. Luckily, Lorenzo’s intervention was thrown out but not before it cemented his status as a prize bell end among Rossi fans.
Even if like me, your blood doesn’t run yellow, or any other colour for that matter, and you’re a fan of the racing first and foremost you probably still don’t want to see an on from Lorenzo at the front of the grid. Why? Because that almost guarantees a Lorenzo win and that makes for boring viewing, a race led from start to finish by one man where the only thing that alters is the gap by which he leads. Granted, those performances may be a masterclass in precision and skill but if I wanted to watch something retrace it’s lines with machine like accuracy I’d buy a Scaletrix set. The “Metronome” nickname given to him by commentators could not be more fitting but I don’t mean that as a compliment. A metronome may be consistent and keep perfect time but who wants to watch one when you’ve got the Moto GP equivalent of Keith Moon in Marc Marquez, wild and seemingly out of control yet still keeping the same beat as the metronome. The only time Lorenzo’s racing has had me on the edge of my seat was the final round of the 2013 season. Trailing Marquez by thirteen points he knew his only chance of taking the title was if Marquez made a big blunder so Lorenzo took the lead, slowed the pack and tried to goad Marquez into making a mistake. Even though that race showed a fight in Lorenzo I’d been itching to see I remember not being impressed but more annoyed by his tactics that I thought were a bit underhand, so on that day I was a Marquez fan.
For me Pedrosa is a similar rider to Lorenzo in that he’s successful just a bit vanilla, yet I’m quite happy to see him on the podium and a big part of me would still like to see him win the premier class title he surely deserves. So why the difference in feeling between him and his fellow countrymen? Maybe I need to go back to the start. When I started watching the GP it was 2010, I’d recently passed my bike test and Marco Simoncelli had just moved into the premier class. Like most people I was immediately drawn to him. He was a ruthless racer on track but seemed a likable man off it with warmth, sincerity and a personality as big as his hair. Lorenzo however came across as a completely different character, seemingly void of personality, arrogant and rarely smiling. He was the opposite of Super Sic and the two rarely saw eye to eye. Fast forward six years and Simoncelli is sadly no longer with us and there’s still little sign of Lorenzo’s personality or a genuine smile from him which is odd considering that last year he was paid a reported $7.5 million to be flown around the best circuits on which to race the fastest bikes in the world. I’m not for a moment saying it’s an easy life, I can barely begin to imagine the sacrifices he must have made and the pressures he must face but if that were my job I’d have a smile bigger than the Jokeresque one worn by Marquez and eyes that beemed brighter than Rossi’s. Two men who clearly love what they do and are more likable for it.
With a move to Ducati firmly on the cards he has a golden opportunity to convert some of the haters by lifting a fourth Moto GP title on the Desmosedici and while that would be impressive it still wouldn’t have me rushing out to buy one of his race rep helmets. For me Lorenzo has always been impressive, he’s just never been likeable. Would Jorge be bothered if he read this? I doubt he’d lose any sleep over it put it that way. His job isn’t to entertain people or win a popularity contest, it’s to win motorcycle races and no one can deny he’s good at that, best in the world some might say.
Words: Anthony MacLeod