Barber Secures Maiden YPMRC Title
Matt Barber secured his maiden DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters Racing Club championship title at the penultimate round at Brands Hatch, in what has been a dominant year for the former Rookie champion.
Barber, who started racing in the club after a weekend onboard the Yambits-sponsored Club Bike experience in 2012, has been untouchable for much of the season, taking his tally of victories to 18 at Brands Hatch, and wrapping up the title with a round to spare.
Coming off the back of a clean-sweep of victories at Cadwell Park, Barber started Brands Hatch the right way by qualifying on pole position, after the fog that saw a race lost from Saturday's schedule had cleared.
And he looked on course to take victory in the first race, leading the way in the opening stages. However, he was soon passed by Doug Edmondson, before also being passed by a returning Rik Ballerini, racing onboard the number-seven plated, Triple X Racing TZR250.
Edmondson pulled out nearly a second's advantage at the front, but was quickly reeled in by Ballerini, who made a move for the lead on lap on lap seven. All the while this was going on Higlett was making progress from his fifth placed qualifying spot, and passed Barber for third and then Edmondson for second on lap eight.
However, he couldn't do anything about race leader Ballerini, who crossed the line to take the win with Higlett in second, Edmondson in third, and Barber in fourth.
Sacha Gyte was also crowned the YPMRC Clubman champion the same weekend, his first year in the running after his rookie season in 2014.
Gyte added another Clubman class win to his tally in the opening race, after a fierce battle with his title challenger Paul Whitby and returning Manx Grand Prix finisher Peter Moore.
Gyte crossed the line in fifth for the Clubman win, with Moore sixth and Whitby seventh and second in the Clubman class.
Andy Davies finished eighth ahead of Rookie class winner Scott Grant, with fellow rookie Giles Harwood 10th, just ahead of Tim Hall, who set his fastest ever lap of the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.
The second race of the day was cancelled due to the earlier fog, however, the club still managed to fit in the held over race from the Silverstone round earlier in the season.
Barber took the win from Higlett and Edmondson, while Gyte took another Clubman class win and Grant added another Rookie first place trophy to his collection.
Sunday saw the schedule return to normal, and had two 12-lap races in store.
Starting from pole position, Ballerini took the lead on the opening lap, but was soon passed Barber on lap two. From there, the new champion was never headed, and recorded another victory.
Ballerini took second, eventually pulling out an eight second gap on Higlett in third place, who came out on top in the battle for the final podium spot.
Fourth went to Edmondson, while Gyte's fifth place handed him another Clubman win. Pete Moore was sixth with Giles Harwood seventh and the leading Rookie. Less than two hundredths of a second back was Davies in eighth, while only three tenths further back again was Whitby, who took second in the Clubman class. Grant completed the top 10 and was second Rookie.
Just one second covered the podium in the final race of the weekend, but this time it was Ballerini on the top step of the podium again, flanked by Barber and Higlett at the chequered flag.
Edmondson was in contention for a podium finish in the early laps, and held second in the opening stages before dropping to third. However, a mistake on lap five cost him too much time to ever make up again, and he ended the race in a lonely fourth place.
Moore was fifth after a battle with fellow Manx Grand Prix finisher, albeit this time in 2014, Davies, who finished sixth.
Whitby finished seventh and took the Clubman class win, but it was a case of too little too late in terms of the championship, ahead of Harwood who took another Rookie win in eighth place. New Clubman champion Gyte took ninth place, with Grant completing the top 10 and taking 20 Rookie championship points.
The DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters Racing Club heads to Snetterton for the final round of the series, with practice getting underway on Friday 23 October, before qualifying and racing action takes places on 24-25 October.
Photography: Liz Barber