Higlett Dominates Eventful Donington
Graham Higlett dominated an eventful Donington Park meeting for the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters, taking all three wins and extending his 100% record this season.
At the previous round at Oulton Park it seemed the nearest challenger to Higlett's dominance was Matt Barber, who led the opening race before crashing out of the lead as the rain began to fall, handing the win to Higlett.
And it was Barber who again looked most likely to halt Higlett's winning run, qualifying on pole, three tenths of a second ahead of Pete Moore and half a second ahead of championship leader Higlett.
The opening race started how it would carry on. Contact at turn one on the opening lap saw Sacha Gyte and Paul Bowling head towards the gravel, with only Gyte able to rejoin. And as the field arrived at the Melbourne Loop on the opening lap, three of the front runners went down, handing the advantage to early race leader Higlett. Doug Edmondson, Moore and Barber were the three riders involved, allowing Higlett to ride to a comfortable victory, his 12th of the season.
More than half of the field failed to finish, or start, as was the unfortunate case for Pete Fishwick and Simon Braby, the pair plagued by mechanical gremlins. Also suffering from mechanical issues was Kev Marshall, who didn't complete a lap, before Martin Peason, Mark Elleray and Neil Hesman also retired early on.
With Andy Davies and Mike Wake riding lonely races in second and third and John Parbury looking secure in fourth, a titanic mid-pack battle emerged. Paul Whitby and James Sharpe battled it out for Clubman honours and fifth place, before Gyte recovered from his early off-track excursion and joined the fray. However, Rookie championship hopeful Gyte would crash out of fifth on the final lap at Goddards, handing the position to Whitby.
Behind those three was Trevor Sharpe, John Walker, Club Bike pilot Barry Drummond, Paul Davies and Michael Stanley, all providing the spectators with some superb racing. Walker unfortunately crashed out in the closing stages at McLean.
At the chequered flag Higlett took the win, 12 seconds ahead of Andy Davies, while Mike Wake took his first ever podium finish with an excellent third place.
Parbury was fourth ahead of the Clubman podium of Whitby, James Sharpe and Trevor Sharpe, with Drummond taking the win in the Rookie class after Gyte's crash.
Higlett was again the victor in Sunday's opener, crossing the line five seconds ahead of Barber, who came through from the back of the grid to finish second, leaving behind him a four-way scrap for the final podium position.
Andy Davies held the position for the majority of the race, but was pushed to the line by Edmondson, Fishwick and Moore, with just two seconds separating the four of them.
Parbury and Wake were seventh and eighth, before the battle for Clubman honours crossed the line, which saw Trevor Sharpe and Whitby locked in a battle for the race win throughout, half a second covering them at the line, with James Sharpe third Clubman in 11th.
Fourth and Fifth in the Clubman and 12th and 13th overall was Paul Davies and Bowling, half a second splitting them at the chequered flag, as Michael Stanley took the win in the Rookie class, ahead of Drummond and Gyte, Walker, Pearson and Elleray.
The third and final race of the weekend saw Higlett extend his winning run, but the story was of Pete Fishwick taking a hard-fought second place.
Fishwick was less than four seconds back of the race-winner after eight laps of the Donington Park GP circuit, and crossed the line just over a second ahead of Moore and Andy Davies, who were third and fourth.
The Clubman podium occupied positions nine, 10 and 11, with Whitby closing down the early lead pulled by James Sharpe to battle for the win onto the last lap. Whitby held the advantage starting the final circulation, until James Sharpe found a way passed into McLean. Trevor Sharpe followed through and passed Whitby at Coppice and onto the back straight, before the Melbourne Loop saw both Sharpes take a tight line, with Whitby attempting a pass around the outside. A three-abreast charge into Goddards ended with Whitby taking the win from James and Trevor Sharpe, just seven tenths separating the three at the line.
With Michael Stanley absent from the final race with a fuel issue and Hall retiring, Gyte and Drummond went head to head for Rookie honours. Drummond eventually came out on top in the scrap, but when penalised for a jump start was docked 10 seconds, handing the win to Gyte.
Higlett leads the championship on 350 points, a whopping 155 ahead of Edmondson, with Andy Davies third.
Whitby leads the Clubman championship from Trevor and James Sharpe, while Gyte holds a slender four point lead over Stanley in the Rookie championship.
The next round for the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters is Cadwell Park on July 18-20.