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ThundersportGB’s debut year has so far pumped zest into Britain’s racing in 2008, and as we creep up on the season end, the series raised a fair few eyebrows after completing a successful weekend's racing as a support round for World Superbikes at Donington Park.

For the most part, it was wet, windy and awkward, but very British and with all classes supplying the crowds with some hot action to dry off their raincoats, Thundersport’s GP1 & Sound of Thunder Class wanted in on the action and duly delivered.

Friday’s qualifying belonged to 42-year-old Tony Keilty. His impressive wet-weather riding was a surprise to most but not to his sponsors ‘Central Marquees’ who had predicted that a wet weekend would mean glory for Tony.
Despite sitting fourth in the Championship, Keilty’s season was lacking podium visits and pole position for both races put a noticeable grin on his face.


Come Saturday, the clock was ticking on and weather produced the Thundersport riders with the worst of decisions... intermediates or wets? With the circuit still holding water but the sky dry and windy, most riders were on wets as they lined up onto the grid.

Championship leader Gary May was sitting fourth on the grid and knew that two strong finishes from the weekend would all but end Rob Elsmere’s chances of catching him. With Reckless in a lowly 20th, it was Gary’s to lose.

From the off, it was Keilty who got the holeshot but after no more than a lap, that man Gary May was track leader and meant business.

Immediately, the tyre decisions became visible and we lost Irishman Rory Clarke on lap one after he gambled on an intermediate rear. Moments later, it was Northern Irishman Cliffy Hamilton that gave up the ghost due to the same gamble.

The circuit was drying and Keilty found it difficult to keep up the pace and with May stretching his advantage, Tony eventually gave Mick Daly the chance to do his bit, and the man on the EBS Ltd #63 machine did just that.

Daly put in a series of quick laps and did take the lead at one point whilst posting the fastest lap of the race but it was now down to mental, physical and tyre stamina as the race came to a close.

Further back, Jenny Tinmouth and Steve Jordan found themselves in amongst the action with leading Sound of Thunder runner Francis Williamson. Fran was no threat to the Championship and with SOT leader Lee Reveley retiring, it gave Lee Cutts-Bland a chance of grabbing a big chunk of points.

By the time the Chequered flag came out, May’s late charge saw him the victor by some five seconds from Mick Daly who was delighted to take second, just as Tony Keilty was to keep third.

Jordan, Tinmouth and Williamson were not far behind and an astonishing ride from Jamie Wilkins, saw him push from 22nd on the grid to finish seventh overall. With Williamson taking 25 points in the SOT class, it was now down to Cutts-Bland to work his magic, and that he did. Having gone off circuit during the race, Lee found himself stone-dead last but like a bat out of hell, he performed the ride of his life to scurry through the pack, take the second fastest lap time and finish second in class.


Paul Smyth’s charge from the rear end of the grid was greeted with a third in class, whilst Chris Norris’s fourth meant he was now third overall in the Championship.

Sunday's race was no different. Those ‘in-between’ conditions had struck us again and the tyre choice was this time even more difficult than yesterday. Pole-sitter Keilty went for what he called ‘the safe option’ and stuck wets on, Gary May went for an intermediate rear and the rest of the field were all in a similar pickle.

This time Keilty went off into the lead and was sharply followed by Steve Jordan.
May’s bad start swarmed him into Redgate corner and by the time he’d hit split one, he was in tenth.

Rob Elsmere got a much better start and had moved up to thirteenth but the question was, could his tyres last the distance as the track was drying and he knew that if he finished behind May, the Championship was over.


At the front, Keilty and Jordan were scrapping like Rossi and Stoner but it was Jordan to prevail and once again leave Tony Keilty in a battle to keep a podium position.
With Fran Williamson and Jenny Tinmouth also at it, Lee Cutts-Bland had a perfect view of the pair and must have been quietly pleased to see them tangle at the Melbourne Loop and crash, moving him up to P1 in class. Reveley, meanwhile, was struggling at the back, a rare sight.

It wasn’t long before race leader Steve Jordan was joined by Hungerford’s Gary May. Steve was powerless to stop him and the race looked all but over when the Pro-Bike #13 machine had hit the front, but he wasn’t to have it completely his own way. Nineteen-year-old Craig Morley was on a charge and had already passed the #9 of Keilty, next up was Jordan and the 2006 Superteen Champ was flying, his lap times were quicker than the two in front, and it took half a lap for him to overtake Jordan and close in on May.

Gaz had it all in hand though and produced an amazing last few laps to take the win, but all credit to Craig Morley whose season had been plagued with bad luck, he was backing it in like he’d been winning all year and let's hope he carries that form into 2009. Steve Jordan did eventually cross the line in third to leave Keilty in fourth to complete his best results of the season.

Cutts-Bland did take SOT victory and with 45 points from his weekend's work and Championship leader Reveley only taking eight. He can be very proud of his performance and still makes it mathematically possible to win the title.
South African Clint De Tarnosky made light work of a bigger bike too grabbing a trophy and has set his sights on possibly moving into the SOT class next season too.

So Gary May is the GP1 Champion after taking his eleventh win of the campaign and is still on course to take Thundersport 600 glory too as we head into our last few rounds.

Rob Elsmere could only take two points from the weekend but was first to congratulate May. He now needs to concentrate on hanging onto second overall as the likes of Kelly, Keilty and Morley all edged a little closer.

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