THE BOB SMITH SPRING CUP TAKES PLACE AT SCARBOROUGH'S LEGENDARY OLIVER'S MOUNT THIS WEEKEND AS THE 2021 MOTORCYCLE ROAD RACING SEASON GETS UNDER WAY
PIC: LENNY HARTLEY/OLIVERS MOUNT
Majestically situated above the popular seaside town of Scarborough sits Oliver's Mount, a part of town that most days of the year is home to public playing fields, family picnics, a cafe, and the viewpoint at the memorial that give unrivalled views of the town's South Bay and the ruins of the castle above. Across just four weekends over the warmer months, Oliver's Mount closes the public roads that encompass the park and transforms itself into a race circuit.
A race circuit that's steeped in history, where legends of the sport of motorcycle racing have ridden and won and where modern legends of the circuit have made their own mark. Agostini, Read, Saarinen, Hailwood and Sheene; Grant, Huewen, Gardner, Whitham, Fogarty, and the modern gladiators of the circuit such as McGuinness, Martin, Lougher, Harrison, and Johnston have all tasted success around the 2.43-mile circuit that is no wider than your average British B-road and RICH Energy are proud to support this unique series of events around the most spectacular of circuits.
Welshman Ian Lougher is the most successful rider around the unique ribbon of tarmac with 141 wins to his credit, comfortably clear of the chasing pack, of which Silicone Racing's Dean Harrison is the only rider still active that can get close to the ten-time TT winner's incredible win tally. Currently, with 94 wins to his name, Bradford man Harrison is the current lap record holder at 1m 43.362s, set aboard his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZX-10R in June 2017.
As England’s only true road racing circuit, Oliver’s Mount is not for the faint of heart. Selecting first gear and dropping the clutch as the flag drops, it's a frantic short dash straight into the left-hander known as Mere hairpin to take you up the steeper-than-it-looks Sheene’s Rise to Quarry Hill then through right and left of the Esses and to the long run that is Back Straight before tipping left into Memorial and past the monument to the fallen of the First World War; next is the sharp right of Drury’s Hairpin that signals the descent to the finish line but not before negotiating the tricky Mountside Hairpin and the spectacular Jefferies Jump before Bottom Straight then it's hard on the brakes into the slow but necessary right-left-right of Farm Bends and back across the line to begin another lap or, if you're fast enough, to take the spoils of victory.
This weekend sees the action return to 'the Mount' as the traditional Bob Smith Spring Cup opens the 2021 season and with a huge entry list, it's set to be a spectacular weekend of racing. Silicone Racing's Harrison and Ashcourt Racing's Lee Johnston, fresh from securing back-to-back Gold Cup wins at the circuit and 6 out of 7 wins in 2020 taking his total to 16, will undoubtedly renew their battle for top honours. The pair broke the lap record no less than thirteen times between them back in September at the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup meeting, a feat that's likely to be repeated in '21.
PIC: EDWARD J HALL/OLIVER'S MOUNT
As successful as Harrison and Johnston are, there are a host of young pretenders looking to take the fight to the experienced duo as well as battling for class victories in the integral support races. DC Racing's Mike Norbury and Dom Herbertson, the former on two victories and the latter with a flurry of podiums finishes are two such riders that will be eager to increase their presence as wil Jamie Coward, the Yorkshireman will be keen to add to his fourteen wins to date.
Another Yorkshireman in the shape of Joey Thompson has been a revelation since he took on the challenge of Oliver's Mount. 16 wins and numerous podium finishes, including an excellent 3rd place at the Gold Cup, have set the standard for each visit. Under the watchful eye of Ian Lougher and only his second year of competing at Scarborough, Jim Hind has firmly established himself as one to watch as one of the rising stars of the road racing scene. With 6 wins to his name already and two Lightweight Manx GP victories, including the lap record, the future is certainly bright for the Lincolnshire rider.
Many eyes will be on the Wilson Craig duo of former factory Honda rider and Roads specialist Davey Todd, who makes his return to the Mount after a three year hiatus and former WCM Grand Prix rider, Chris Burns. The Geordie rider makes his Oliver's Mount debut after a decade away from competitive racing and is poised to become the first MotoGP-era rider to tackle the fabled circuit since the 500cc legends of the 70s and 80s.
This year see's a strong Northern Irish presence at Scarborough as the experienced Adam McLean and Paul Jordan return along with the popular Neil Kernohan. Throw into the mix such exciting talents as Tom Weeden, local man Brad Vicars, Rob Hodson, and Scarborough specialist Stephen Degnan to name but a few, they all add their skills to the spectacle.
Sidecar racing is always a spectacle around the tight, twisty road circuit and this year will be no exception as Lee Crawford, fresh from a clean sweep of wins at the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup meeting, Conrad Harrison, father of Dean and four-time runner up last September, and triple podium man from 2020 Steve Ramsden, all return to resume battle for 2021.
It's a real mix of experience and youth for 2021 and with some exciting racing in prospect, it will certainly be a meeting not to me missed.