It was all smiles throughout the paddock as the FAB-Racing Minibike British Championships returned for 2022, with a fantastic weekend of racing setting up what looks to be another exciting year.
The weather seemed to be horrid in the days leading up to the event, with some unable to make the journey to the south-east, but the arrivals were treated to beautiful (although cold and windy) conditions at the Lydd Kart Circuit for the weekend, but not before some snow on Friday morning. A few special guests were also in tow, Honda British Talent Cup riders returning to FAB for the opening round to get some track time while also catching up with old friends and having some fun.
Reigning LS2 Helmets MiniGP70 British Champion Ethan Sparks initially found himself struggling with his bike not handling as well as usual, coming off in the fast back section of the circuit at the end of qualifying. Re-mounting he still managed to grab pole position and, with both rider and bike OK, set off to pick up where he left off last season, but disaster struck when he again fell off at the same corner late into the first race.
He was able to continue, but the damage was done, as Ronnie Harris swept in to take the victory, his first in the 70s after multiple podiums in 2021. Sparks was able to get things under control and win race 2, but it wasn’t easy, as the top 8 came across the line covered by less than 2 seconds, nose to tail for the last few laps in a very tense race.
There was sublime racecraft on display by all involved in the battle, the young riders showing intelligence well beyond their years as they tussled through every corner, with Harris and Luke Fitchett rounding out the podium.
In the MiniGP50s, Fitchett was the rider on form, displaying absolutely blistering pace and taking a hat trick of victories.
In race 2, he broke the lap record 3 consecutive times, becoming the first rider ever to lap Lydd on a MiniGP50 to lap in the 42 second range on his way to an utterly dominant win. However, the record wouldn’t to last very long, as 2021 Vice Champion Marco Holt was able to latch onto the back of Fitchett at the start of race 3, and while he wouldn’t be able to challenge for the lead, he was able to learn from the dominant rider, and proceeded to drop the record down to a 42.841 lap and come home in a comfortable second place.
It was the same podium in all three races, as Archie O’Brien put in some impressive performances to bring home third each time in his first MiniGP50 weekend following his domination in two Minimoto classes last year, especially considering his comparative lack of time on the bike over winter.
Race 3 in the 70s became very much the Marco Holt show. After initially struggling to find his way through a very tight pack – a similar formation to race 2 – he found a way through, as he darted around the outside of riders at the final corner lap after lap.
His meteoric rise from 5th on the grid could only go so far, however, as Ethan Sparks was able to hold him off in the dying laps to take home a second victory and the championship lead. It was, once again, a very close race with this time the top 6 covered by a second at the line, a lot of riders possessing great pace but either not able to capitalise or not able to make the gaps appear.
It was a similar story in the Minimoto classes as well, as Harrison Day, Taylor Tomlinson and brothers Byron and Austin Johnson impressed throughout the weekend, while many riders struggled to shake off that winter rust that had creeped in as they tried to get back up to speed, with qualifying and track position being far more important than outright pace.
It was a fantastic first round at Lydd for the FAB-Racing Minibike British Championships, with some great racing on display, and as we wait for the second round at Llandow in a little over a months’ time, we can look back and firmly say: it’s great to be back.
Round 2 of the Championship will be at the Llandow circuit in South Wales on the 6th to 8th of May.