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Barber Wins Through Brands Bedlam

BrandsGP Report01Matt Barber took his first wins of the season in the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters championship, taking a brace of victories as he moved into second place in the championship standings. Neil MacQueen, guesting in the class as Doug Edmondson's teammate, took the other available wins.

However, overshadowing the weekend's antics were the injuries sustained by champion-elect Graham Higlett and the returning Lee Finney, the pair crashing out in race one, which resulted in a red flag.

Rounding Surtees in the lead of the race, Higlett lost the rear of his TZR250, and low-sided. With nowhere left to go, Finney, enjoying his first race back since injuring his shoulder at the second round of the championship at Silverstone, hit the sliding figure of Higlett and crashed hard. Higlett came away with nerve damage to his shoulder, while Finney suffered a broken collarbone. Higlett is expecting to return at Snetterton, however, Finney has called early retirement on what was tipped to be his last season.

With the race red-flagged, it was rerun later in the programme, with Barber taking his first win of the season, just ahead of Andy Wheeler. The battle at the front did lose Pete Moore, who retired with front brake issues, and MacQueen, who pulled in with a faulty throttle cable.

Doug Edmondson crossed the line in third, who, after getting away at the front early on, was being reeled in throughout the race by the chasing pack. Michael Stanley finished fourth and lead Rookie, just ahead of James Sharpe, who passed Trevor Sharpe on the last lap for fifth and Clubman win. Paul Davies finished third Clubman. Paul Bowling and Kev Marshal also enjoyed a close scrap, just two tenths separating them in eighth and ninth.

Saturday's second race was held until Sunday morning, with torrential rain soaking the track beforehand. Coming through from the back of the grid was MacQueen, who splashed his way to victory, while Moore followed him through, but crossed the line three seconds back.

The battle for the remaining podium position however involved a race-long dice between Edmondson and Barber, with less than a tenth covering them at the flag. Edmondson took the remaining podium spot ahead of the 2013 Rookie Champion, with Wheeler in fifth.

BrandsGP Report02Trevor Sharpe held sixth and the lead Clubman position until the last lap, when Paul Davies made a move. However, Sharpe returned fire on the run to Clearways and took the Clubman win, with Davies second. Sacha Gyte finished eighth and lead rookie, with Bowling ninth and third Clubman.

Michael Stanley looked set to take the Rookie honours, but a hefty mechanical issue put paid to that on the last lap. He joined Paul Whitby on the DNF list, who had a torrid weekend with mechanical issues, including a DNS on Saturday, after his TZR dropped a cir-clip. Mike Wake also failed to finish, as did James Sharpe with powervalve issues.

As the sun broke through later in the morning, the wets were removed and dry tyres fitted. However, just moments before the YPMRC race, the heavens opened, and a series of high-speed wheel changes followed, only for the track to dry quickly and almost immediately, leaving the grid on a mixture of tyres and with a mixture of wet and dry sections to contend with.

Neil MacQueen rode to his second win, taking victory by over three seconds, leaving Moore, Barber and Edmondson to duke it out for the podium. Less than half a second covered them at the chequered flag, just five hundredths between Moore and Barber going for second. Moore claimed it with Barber third. Edmondson finished less than two tenths back in fourth.

Behind them, Trevor Sharpe and Wheeler enjoyed a titanic scrap for fifth, with Sharpe on full wets and Wheeler with a dry rear. In the end Sharpe got better drive out of Clearways to take fifth by less than two tenths of a second. Sharpe was also lead Clubman.

Paul Davies took second Clubman in seventh, as Bowling crashed out at Clearways on the opening lap. He was joined in the gravel by Tim Hall. Paul Whitby also retired, this time with a puncture, with Marshal also not finishing the race. John Walker was third Clubman in ninth, behind lead Rookie Gyte in eighth.

In the final race held in dry conditions, Barber took the win from Moore by less than a tenth of a second, with Edmondson third, just edging out Wheeler by three tenths of a second in some of the closest racing of the season.

BrandsGP Report03Paul Davies took his first Clubman class win in fifth, passing Trevor Sharpe on the last lap. James Sharpe chased them across the line in seventh, rounding out the Clubman podium. Whitby finally finished a race, crossing the line eighth. However, his bad luck and Davies' in-form riding has seen Davies leap to third in the Clubman standings.

Gyte was lead rookie in 10th, with Stanley unable to make the grid, after the spare bike he was loaned in race three was unavailable for the final race.

Higlett, despite missing the weekend's action, holds a healthy championship lead, and is able to secure the crown at Snetterton in September. Barber now sits second with Edmondson third.

Trevor Sharpe assumed the Clubman class lead, and holds a 26 point advantage over James Sharpe, with Davies now third. And in the Rookie class Gyte now boasts a 31 point lead over Stanley.

The next round is on the Snetterton 300 circuit on September 6-7.

Photos: E.G.B Photography