2018 VMCC-BHR 250cc Championship 1st, 2018 ACU Girder Fork Championship 1st
The final round of the 2017 VMCC-BHR season took place at the popular Cadwell Park circuit over the 24th/25th September. Merv was returning to the BHR paddock for the first time since the Mallory prang. He only entered the ACU Girder fork races this time, partly down to fitness & partly to the lack of competition in the Pre '63 250cc class.
Practice went well in the early morning damp conditions, but by the time of the first girder race the track had dried. Merv had a comfortable no drama race, whilst slowly easing back into the short circuit pace. He took a steady race win some 26 seconds ahead of the Velocette MAC pairing of Dave Burrell, and Sam Page. Dave Dale in his first Cadwell race brought his 1938 Rudge Special home in 9th place.
The second of Saturday's Girder fork races gave Merv another win whilst again upping the pace. Dave Burrell again took 2nd spot, but this time Arron Rogers completed the podium with third on his Norton International. Dave Dale also improved things by moving up the order to take 5th position.
Sunday dawned a much brighter & warmer day. A few races had been left over from Saturday, so these started the programme before we moved into Sunday's action proper. Mike Farrall had Joined the Girder fork grid today with his rocketship 585cc D-Type based Rudge. In the opening race he duly blasted off the line to an early lead, followed by Merv in second. Places remained the same for a Rudge 1-2, with the consistent Dave Burrell completing the podium. Rudge mounted Dave Dale again took another top six finish.
The final girder race of the season was looking to be a repeat result, however Farrall was absent from the grid so left the way clear for Merv to round out the weekend on the top spot. This time round Dave Burrell couldn't quite make the runner up spot, with Arron Rogers demoting him to third. Dave Dale however moved up the order by taking 5th place in the final race of the season.
It was good to see Peter Greig out racing his Lucas-Rudge in the 250cc class, after getting back in the swing of things with a season of parading. He had a weekend of mixed fortunes though & went home with some repair work to do before next year!
The CRMB Belgian classic trophy was held at Gedinne over the weekend of 18th - 20th August. Merv was back out in action for the first time since his start line accident at Mallory Park at Easter. The weather was a mixed bag over the weekend with most of Friday's qualifying practice held in wet or damp conditions. From the two sessions, and despite not being up to full fitness Merv put the recently re-built Rudge on the second row of the grid in 4th Position overall, for the mixed group 1 (Rigid) & group 2 (Suspension) Vintage races.
Saturday afternoon saw the first of the weekends two vintage races, and fortunately the forecast rain held off until later in the day. Merv got off to a good start to the six lap race, although out dragged off the line by the larger machines. By the end of lap one he was in 3rd overall & 2nd in the Group one behind the Vincent Grey flash of Mike Hawthorne & the BSA of Belgian Marc Delaunoy. Merv consolidated his second place in the Group 1 lapping consistently over the remaining 5 laps, to confirm his second place on the podium. Merv was pleased with the result, despite his aches & pains making it difficult to get off the bike after the race!!
Youtube Video of race 1 : https://youtu.be/YpHNEwV9dKs
Sunday provided the best weather of the weekend, with the sun shining from the outset. The day's vintage race was the third event on the programme with a 9:20 am start time. Merv prepared himself for this one by covering his injury areas with iboprofen gel! The grid was as per yesterday, and again he got a good start slotting in to third overall at the end of lap one. With the iboprofen gel working he moved up to second & then the lead over the following circuits, lapping some 2 seconds a lap faster than Saturday. The penultimate lap saw group 2 leader Hawthorne decide to open up and take the overall lead, unfortunately for him he was loosing oil from the breather & the vincent almost seized, dropping him back through the pack. As they went into the final lap Merv led the BSA of Delaunoy, however the big BSA had plenty in reserve & opened the taps on the last lap to go a full 6 seconds faster to take the win & Merv taking the Rudge to another 2nd place podium finish.
Youtube Video of race 2 : https://youtu.be/PhFRyUudmqw
Next outing is Cadwell Park 23rd/24th September
Mallory Park was the venue for the opening round of the 2017 season for the VMCC-BHR Championships over the Easter weekend of 15th/16th April. In an opposite to the last years final meeting, there was a good Rudge turnout with 4 Rudge entries, Merv on his 250cc, Dave Dale on his 1938 Special, Dave Mead on David King's Special, & sidecar exponent Adam Pope on the VMCC 'Bailey' 250cc. This season the Unlimited to 1948 championship has been 're-branded' as the "ACU girder fork" championship, what quite this change in direction will bring remains to be seen, but it now outlaws any pre 1949 machines without girder forks which is very odd!! However despite this the entry was on par with that of the old 'pre '49' class.
Saturday's opening race for this 'new' class was a Rudge benefit with Merv taking the 250 to a convincing win over Andy Hunt (500cc Cotton-JAP) with Dave Burrell (350cc Velocette) 3rd. Rudges filled the next three places with Mead, Dale, & Pope taking 4th, 5th, & 5th respectively.
Next up for Merv was the pre '63 250cc race which was an easy win in what has now unfortunately become a poorly supported & uncompetitive class. Due to some race stoppages & delays it was not possible to get all of Saturday's programme in, so the second of the girder fork races was held over till Sunday morning.
The held over girder fork race was the first event for Merv & the other Rudges on the Sunday morning, this was a mixed grid race concurrently running with the Suoermono championship & the pre '82 Japanese championship, so quite an odd mix of machinery! However at the lights Merv got of to a great start & pulled into an early lead of the girder fork field, only for the red flags to come out as one of the Supermonos went down at the exit of the esses. The bikes lined up on the grid for the re-start with the girder forks at the rearmost of the grid. The lights went out and off they went, unfortunately in the mêlée of the start Honda rider Chris Smallbones' bike cut out on him, and as Merv & the others came from the back of the grid avoiding action was needed but Merv had nowhere to go being between two other riders & ploughed into the back of the stranded machine !! The red flags immediately came out once more as the riders were attended to by the medical team.
Fortunatly Chris escaped without injury other than some serious bruising, Merv however was not so lucky & suffered a cracked pelvis, broken ribs, and a broken collarbone. After spending six days in Coventry hospital he was allowed home & he is now recovering. Obviously this has put him out of action for a while, so it remains to be seen where he will be next out! The bike will also need some serious attention!
Cadwell Park hosted the final round of the VMCC-BHR Championships over the weekend of the 24th/25th September. Again Merv was the only Rudge entry, such a difference to the good turn out we had at the June meeting, having said that the overall entry for the weekend was full to bursting point.
Sadly the competition in the pre '63 250cc class was lacking, allowing Merv to take chequered flag hassle free all weekend, although Saturday only saw one 250cc event. Delays & races stoppages in other events meant a number of Saturday's second races were held over to the Sunday morning. Meanwhile the Pre '48 Unlimited class had a healthier entry, with Merv taking two wins on the Saturday from Arron Rogers (500 Norton) & Simon Lewis (500 Triumph) respectively.
As previously mentioned Sunday started with the running of Saturday's held over races including the 250cc event in which Merv took the win once more, as he did again later in the day. The Pre '48 race saw Merv take the top spot once more from Arron Rogers, with this time Keith Riley (350 Velocette) taking the final podium position.
Unfortunately Sunday's action was curtailed after one run through of the race programme. A serious incident in the over 50's race required the assistance of the Air ambulance, and after a lengthy delay it was decided to call it a day.
Well that's it for this season, next year will start no doubt with the regular VMCC-BHR test day at Mallory Park
Last weekend saw the penultimate round of the VMCC-BHR Championships take place at Mallory Park. The meeting was significantly down on entries, likely due to it being holiday season, clashing with the Manx GP/Classic TT, and also the CRMC meeting at Snetterton. Despite this there was good on track action, and good mainly good weather to boot.
Again as at Lydden, Merv was the only Rudge in action and without much completion in either the Pre '63 250cc or the pre '49 Unlimited classes he cruised to a near perfect record with 7 wins from 8 starts. The copybook was blotted in Saturday's 2nd pre '49 race when he slipped off at the hairpin on the opening lap. An oil spillage earlier in the day had meant there were two lines round the hairpin, either the long way round the outside or tight to the kerb on the inside. Merv had been using the inside line on the previous race before lunch, however a sharp shower during the lunch break had washed the slimey substance to the inside catching Merv out. Fortunately no damage to man or machine, meant there was no preparation required for the following race!
The weekends results have sealed the top spot in both the pre '63 250cc Championship & the Pre '49 Unlimited championship with the final round still to go at Cadwell Park on 24th/25th September.
The VMCC-BHR championships moved on to Lydden in Kent over the weekend of the 16th/17th July. Following on from big Rudge showing at Cadwell for 50th anniversary meeting, Merv was the sole Rudge entry at Lydden. Despite this the weather was good and the racing entertained the crowd. It was a mixed weekend despite Merv taking 7 wins from 8 starts. Saturday was where all the drama was, after a win in the opening pre '63 250cc class the unlimited to 1948 race looked to be going the same way for Merv until unfortunately the red flags came out when Alan Lewis suffered a spill at the hairpin. As they lined up on the grid for the re-start Merv had to pull off the line with a broken clutch cable, so back to the paddock for repairs.
Next up was the second of the days 250cc races, and again with the clutch cable fixed all was going well for another class win & also leading the field of the concurrent pre '73 specials class. However 3 laps from the end the rear brake anchor bolt worked its way out resulting in the brake jamming on for the last 3 laps but despite a slowing lap times he continued on to claim the pre '63 honours. With some straightening out of the chain adjusters & the 'borrowing' of another anchor bolt from the rear of the Tim Johnson Rudge we had on display, all was back together for the final pre '48 race to claim maximum points.
Fortunately Sunday was trouble free with 4 wins over the 2 classes. The next round is at Mallory Park, Sunday/Monday 28th/29th August.
Cadwell Park hosted the VMCC-BHR 50th anniversary meeting over the weekend of 24th-26th June. Fridays action was on-circuit parades with the highlight being the 50th anniversary parade featuring some riders & machines from that first meeting at Cadwell 50 years ago, accompanied by period machines from the usual unlimited to 1948 class. Saturday & Sunday were non-championship race days with mixed class races differing from the normal BHR programme. However the unlimited to 1948 vintage machines were all grouped together in their own races, and it was pleasing to see a full grid of machines being brought out to celebrate the milestone event.
Saturday's first vintage race was a sight to behold as the large entry assembled on the grid, although unfortunately Sam Rhodes parked his KTT Velocette before the start. As the race got underway it was a Rudge benefit with Mike Farrall heading the field on his big 580cc D-Type machine followed by Tony Perkin on his 1938 Special. Merv was having to carve his way through the field on the 250cc from a back of the grid starting position as the big bikes got the jump at the start. At the end of lap one he was fourth chasing down Simon Clover (Norton ES2), with the 4th Rudge of Richard Lambourne (Tony Perkin 1938 Special) in 7th. By lap three Merv was up to third & hunting down Perkin, to which he grabbed 2nd place on the final circuit exiting Charlie's only for Tony to nip by again at the hairpin. However Merv got a good exit from Barn corner toward the line for a grandstand finish just pipping Tony by 0.01 of a second at the line for a Rudge 1-2-3, Richard had also propelled himself up the order to claim 5th on Tony's spare machine.
Race two saw Merv get a great start to take second place behind Sam Rhodes at the end of lap one, with Mike chasing in third, Tony 4th & Richard 6th. Positions remained the same for lap 2, but there was drama for Merv as he crossed the line with a massive lock to lock tank-slapper, which fortunately straightened itself out, before Mike needed to decide which side to go!! Obviously this lost Merv time and he dropped back to third behind Mike who went on to take the lead from Rhodes. At the finish it was another Rudge benefit with Mike taking the win, from Sam Rhodes (Velo) & Merv. Tony and Richard took 4th & 6th on the pair of '38 Specials. Later investigation found the tank slapper had been caused by the top steering cone loosening itself off!!, surprisingly Richard had also discovered a similar problem, although fortunately for him to no ill effect in the race!
Sundays races were scheduled to run to the same programme, however due to some delays on Saturday a few races had been held over, so it was announced there would only be one race per class but longer distance. Following this the Vintage race was scheduled for 6 laps, leaving people marginal on fuel, so much so that we brimmed the tank in holding area just prior to going out on circuit. At the end of lap one it was three Rudges at the front with Mike leading Tony & Richard, with Merv back in 6th again having to pull through from a back of the grid start as well as conserving fuel! Mike & Tony maintained position throughout the race, with Sam Rhodes & Merv moving up to 3rd & 4th respectively. confusion was had as the chequered flag came out at the end of lap 4. Unknown to the riders the format had been changed back to two - 4 lap races for the vintage machines as originally programmed!!
The final race gave the Rudge team another clean sweep of the podium positions. Mike took another win, with Merv in second & Tony third. Richard gained another superb fifth place with Sam Rhodes splitting the Rudges by taking 4th.
The annual Bob McIntyre memorial classic races were held at East Fortune over the weekend of the 18th/19th June, where Merv was in action in the 250cc class, after having missed last year through injury. The Rudges always prove popular with the Scottish fans, and this year was no exception, with them marvelling at how a 1930's rigid bike competes with European & Japanese machinery from the '60s & '70s. Fortunately the weather gods were on our side this year & the rain which came down on the Friday stayed away until the very end of Sunday's programme. Merv was hoping to only use one bike over the weekend, to save the other for the following weekend's BHR 50th anniversary at Cadwell. The No 2 machine was chosen & completed practice with no issues, however during the qualifying the magneto decided it had had its day, so Merv had to pull in, but fortunately had set a time which placed him third on the grid.
Race one saw the untried No 1 machine wheeled out for action, with Merv settling in to third place behind the super fast Suzuki T20's of Jonathon Cutts & Loris Hunt respectively. However Cutts' machine cried enough at railway & promoted Merv to a second place finish.
Race two saw the absence of Cutts, so obviously his problems were terminal, at the start Merv got away well and proceeded to have an early dice with Hunt, before the sheer speed of the Suzuki took over, but giving the Rudge a brace of second places to the delight of the crowd.
Sunday saw a three race programme for each class. The first of the 250cc races again saw Merv with a good start & an early battle, before consolidating another 2nd place, however towards the end of the race Wattie Brown on another Suzuki was getting stronger after Saturday issues & was homing in on the Rudge. Fortunately Merv saw him closing in, and upped the pace somewhat to maintain a comfortable margin at the flag.
Race two saw Brown having got to grips with the Suzuki & he got off to a good start at the head of the field with Hunt. After the initial jump, Merv managed to close in somewhat, but was unable to do anything about the Suzuki speed so took third place behind the Suzuki duo, with race three producing the same result.
Dougie Lambourne took to the track in the racing parades over the weekend on the ex-Adam Easton 1939 Ulster racer, and seemed to be enjoying himself. So much so that he had entered the parades at next weekends BHR 50th at Cadwell Park where the Stratford-Rudge team headed next.
Darley Moor hosted the second round of the 2016 VMCC-BHR season over the weekend of 21st/22nd May. Merv was the only Rudge representative in action at the the Derbyshire circuit, which is not always the most popular of venues. Even so, where are all the Rudges disappearing to again? Only a season or so ago we regularly had more in action, and there was promise of more coming out of the woodwork!
However onto the weekends events, Saturday was forecast to be rain all day, but we were lucky and escaped with just overcast skies until the last couple of races. Merv was entered in the Pre '49 unlimited & pre '63 250cc races, which had been scheduled one race after another & the last two in each running of the programme. This gave us a pretty hectic weekend with a 'splash & dash' between races, with the spare machine always at the ready.
The first pre '49 race had a delayed start due to oil being dropped on the track during the sighting lap by one of the bikes from the concurrently running BEARS series. After the clean up, another sighting lap took place resulting in a shortened race distance from 7 laps to 8. The race proved a Rudge benefit with Merv taking the win in the pre '49 class from Grant Sellars (500cc Norton). Next up in the back to back race action was the pre 1963 250cc race, and again as usual this was being run concurrently with the pre 1973 250cc Specials. Scheduled for 8 laps the race was red flagged on lap 5 whilst Merv was comfortably leading the pre '63, & second on the road to Charles Davies from the pre '73 class. The result was taken from lap 4 with the same positions.
Due to further delays in proceedings the days second pre '49 & 250cc events had to be held over until first thing Sunday morning. This however was a blessing in disguise, as the end of Saturday saw the rain close in, whilst Sunday saw welcome bright & sunny weather! The held over pre '49 event saw Merv settle in to an early class lead, again over Grant Sellars, however on lap 4 Merv disappeared from the running having retired over the far side of the track. With the 250 race up next some quick co-ordination was needed to get on the Grid. Roy got the 'No 2' machine started and warmed up in the holding area whilst Clerk of the Course, Phil Reaney arranged for Merv to be picked up in the Course car. The timing transponder was still on the stranded No 1 machine so Phil got a spare from the race office & radioed the number through to the timekeepers! With all this in place Merv made it onto the grid just in time to complete the sighting lap! The No 2 machine proved as trusty as usual & took a comfortably win in the Pre '63 class, whilst also heading all of the pre '73 field.
On our return, the No 1 bike was back in the paddock & on its stand thanks to the machine recovery team of Dave & Darren! Work began on replacing the cause of the retirement, which was a twisted timing belt for the magneto drive. With that fixed it was onto Sunday's races proper, and the No 1 machine was back in dominant action taking all four race wins in the Pre '49 Unlimited & Pre '63 250cc respectively.
Next meeting is the SCRMC Bob McIntyre memorial at East Fortune on 18th/19th June, followed by the BHR 50th Anniversary at Cadwell Park 24th - 26th June, where there will also be a Rudge club stand.
The first round of the 2016 VMCC-BHR season took place at Mallory Park at the weekend, with three Rudge riders in action. Merv was joined by Tony Perkin & Mike Farrall on their 500cc & 585cc machines respectively.
The Saturday started off dry but chilly for practice in which Merv took out the 'No 1' machine which had showed good promise with its new engine at test day, one year on from its intended debut. All seemed to go well until the final circuit when it cut out exiting the hairpin with what appeared a fuelling issue. This prompted the use of the 'No 2' machine in the opening pre 1963 250cc race, which as usual ran concurrently with the pre 1973 250cc 'specials'. The pre '63 were gridded behind the pre '73 so Merv had to contend with a bit of traffic on the opening laps, but comfortably led the pre '63 class & taking the class win 2nd overall at the flag to Stu Noble (Ducati).
After some investigations to the carb & adjustments to the float level, Merv took out the no 1 bike in the opening unlimited to 1948 race where he was joined by Mike & Tony. At the end of lap one it looked as though we were going to be on for a Rudge 1,2,3 with Mike leading Tony, only for Merv not to come through as the same problems plagued again on the hairpin exit. Mike went on to take the win from Tony, with Arron Rogers in third on his Norton.
On to the 250s again & another outing for the no 2 bike, this time on a damp track as the weather had decided to close in for the afternoon. Again positions resumed with Stu Noble leading overall from Merv in 2nd at the end of the opening lap, but by lap 3 Merv had hit the front and led for the next couple of laps in a close battle with Stu, before he regained the lead on the final circuit to take the flag but with Merv still comfortably taking the win in the Pre '63 class.
A few delays from a couple of race stoppages meant Saturdays second unlimited to 1948 race was held over till Sunday morning, but this was a blessing in disguise as the sun was out despite a very cold night. The Rudge team were again out in force in this one, and Merv hoping the problem with the no 1 bike was resolved was looking for a result this time out. Unfortunately after a good start, this was not too happen as again the problem reared its head, this time on the right hander of 'Edwinas' resulting in Merv having to pull off track. However Mike & Tony kept the flag flying producing another 1-2.
For the 250cc races it was back to the no 2 bike & the first outing produced another pre '63 win with second place overall from again Stu Noble on his pre '73 class Ducati. However the second 250 outing of the day produced an overall win for Merv after taking the lead in the early stages of the race, surprising in this race the challenge came from Charles Davies on his Pre '73 class Ducati who took the honours for that class, just 0.69 down on Merv at the flag.
For the first Sunday programmed up to 1948 race Merv took out the trusty no 2 bike & this time claiming a result with 3rd place in the Rudge 1,2,3 headed by Mike & Tony.
Next Round is at Darley Moor on 21st/22nd May
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