Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Lougher makes it 129 wins at Scarborough

Knox-Armour protected Ian Lougher returned to the race track with some intent as he extended his tally of wins at Oliver's Mount to 129, with three more successes in the 60th Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup meeting at the Scarborough circuit.

The Blackhorse Kawasaki team boss was in superb form throughout the weekend, also recording three second place finishes, a third, a fourth and a seventh, completing every race he started in his first outing since the Ulster Grand Prix in August.

His wins came in both 125cc races for the Stu Reed Trophy and in the second heat of the 600cc David Jefferies Cup.

Saturday dawned with blue skies albeit with a typically autumnal chill in the air. With practice and qualifying over, the first of the day's 11 races got underway at the scheduled time of 1.00pm. Races one and two were the opening heats of the Darran Lindsay Trophy for Superbikes, both over four laps. Ian was in the second heat, opting to use his Superstock Ninja ZX-10R for the 'big bike' classes. And at the conclusion of his first outing of the day he finished fourth behind third placed John McGuinness.

Ian was soon out again for the first leg of the 125cc Stu Reed Trophy race. Fans around the circuit were eagerly awaiting the sight of Ian on the Repli-Cast UK Racing 125GP machine of Nigel Percy. Ian last rode the bike in 2009 with a wildcard entry at Silverstone where his technical input was invaluable to the team at that time. At the end of the first lap it was Ryan Farquhar on a KXF450 by half a second from William Dunlop with Ian coming through from fourth to move into third. Farquhar had increased the lead to three-quarters of a second a lap later, as the positions remained the same, with Chris Palmer fourth. But at the halfway stage Ian, who had only just stepped on to the bike for practice earlier in the day, had now moved ominously into second and had reduced the gap dramatically between himself and Farquhar to 0.343 of a second. Lougher took the lead at Drury’s and now led by 0.361 seconds as they went into the penultimate lap. Ian held on brilliantly to take the win at the flag from Farquhar by 0.25 seconds with William Dunlop third.

Ian was then straight into action on the Ninja ZX-10R in the first leg of the Darran Lindsay Trophy races. At the end of the opening lap of eight it was Ryan Farquhar from Guy Martin, John McGuinness, Michael Pearson, and Ian Hutchinson, with Loughercompleting the top six. Michael Dunlop went out on lap three with machine trouble as positions remained the same. Farquhar still led at the three-quarter race mark with Ian Hutchinson now third ahead of Pearson. At the chequered flag Lougher brought the Ninja ZX-10R home in a safe seventh just behind Derek Shiels.

Ian then had time to catch his breath before coming to the line for the second heat of the David Jefferies 600cc Cup over four laps. In this one he had a trouble free run as he coasted to first place, just over five seconds ahead of Michal Dokoupil.

After the heats of the David Jefferies Cup came the first 8-lap leg, the penultimate race of Saturday's programme. Ian Hutchinson was in pole position and held the hole-shot into Mere Hairpin and up Sheene’s Rise. Two miles later it was still Hutchy in the lead by 1.38 seconds from Guy Martin with Ian third, then Dokoupil and Michael Dunlop with Stephen Oates in sixth. Lap two and the lead was up to 2.42 seconds as Hutchinson broke the lap record at 81.96mph with positions the same.
On to the fifth lap of eight and the lead had extended to 4.56 seconds with Michael Dunlop now fourth, Ian meanwhile was safe in third on the ZX-6R and at the chequered flag he maintained his position to finish a fine third and bring his first day's racing to a satisfactory close.

Unfortunately Sunday's weather wasn't so kind with rain persisting on and off for most of the day. Ian's first event of the second day was the second leg of the Darran Lindsay Trophy. In Saturday's first leg Ian finished seventh behind Farquhar, Martin, Hutchinson, Pearson, McGuinness and Shiels, however this time around he addressed the balance on all but Farquhar who again took the win with Ian a fine second, almost 2.5 seconds ahead of Ian Hutchinson. Guy Martin was a retirement on the third lap.

Next up for Ian was a run on the ZX-6R as he took part in the second leg of the David Jefferies Cup. Winner of the first leg was Ian Hutchinson by some 7.7 seconds from Guy Martin. This time though Hutchy was pushed all the way by Lougher who was just over a second behind at the finish. The two were well clear of third place man Guy Martin who was a further 10 seconds back.

As the riders came to the line for the feature Gold Cup race, the programme was running behind schedule due to the weather conditions. Thus the organisers decided to reduce the race by two laps to eight. As in the David Jefferies Cup race a little earlier, it was again Hutchinson who set the pace with Lougher the only one able to forge a challenge. Despite Ian's best efforts, Hutchinson again took the honours with Ian a brilliant second on the Superstock Ninja ZX-10R, the first Kawasaki rider home and with a fastest lap of the race at 77.01mph to reward his efforts. Third was Ryan Farquhar, another twelve seconds in arrears with Michael Dunlop fourth.

Ian was straight back on track again as he jumped from the big bike on to the smaller Repli-Cast UK Racing 125GP machine for the second leg of the Stu Reed Trophy. Having won the previous day's first leg, could Lougher do it again? The result was never in doubt as Ian took victory by 13.5 seconds from the KXF450 of Ryan Farquhar who in turn was well clear of Chris Palmer in third. Again the fastest lap went to Ian at 69.86mph.

So a successful Gold Cup meeting for Ian Lougher for whom the Oliver's Mount success story continues, can he make it 130 wins next year? It would take a brave person to bet against it!

It's a return to the British Superbike Championship scene next weekend for Blackhorse Kawasaki when Victor Cox and David Pearce will once again be in the team colours for the latest round of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 and Junior 600 Championships at Silverstone.

Photo: courtesy Simon Charity

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