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Donington Beckons For YPM

Donington Preview01Round four of the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters Championship heads to Donington Park this weekend, with everyone wondering the same thing; can anyone beat Graham Higlett?

The 2012 champion heads to the former venue of the British Grand Prix with a 100% record this season and a 104 point advantage in the championship standings, but the rest of the field will be queuing up behind, each eager to be the one to end Higlett's winning streak.

After a brief foray at Oulton Park, the returning Pete Fishwick will again line up on the YPM grid, and, despite taking a break from racing for the last two seasons, will be an odds-on favourite to challenge Higlett.

Edmondson, who sits second in the championship standings, will also be looking to take that first win of 2014 after a positive showing at Oulton Park, once mechanical gremlins were overcame. Joining him in the battle for race wins is likely to be Matt Barber, who led at Oulton Park before crashing out, Andy Davies, and Simon Braby, who took his first podium at the last round.

Donington wasn't kind to Pete Moore last year, the 2013 rookie runner-up crashing out in race one and injuring his shoulder. The Manxman will be looking for better look this year.

Lee Finney missed Oulton Park through injury, but the former Bemsee 250 champion will be eager to get back amongst the action this weekend, and show the form he is clearly capable of and challenge nearer the front at Donington.

Still looking for that final bit of speed is Andy Wheeler, who has impressed this season so far. Wheeler hasn't quite had the pace to challenge at the very front, but isn't far away from bridging the gap.

Donington Preview02Also impressive this season has been Rookie Sacha Gyte, who carries a nine point advantage in the Rookie championship with him to Donington. Gyte finished sixth in the last race at Oulton Park, ahead of any finishing Clubman riders, and will be looking to mix it nearer the front of the field again this weekend. However, he did crash at Donington last year on the Club Bike, and will be hoping to avoid similar fortunes this time around.

Michael Stanley and Tim Hall will both be looking to get back among the wins in the Rookie class too, and stop Gyte from pulling away in the championship.

Paul Whitby heads the Clubman Championship, after a less than fortuitous Oulton Park meeting for Trevor and James Sharpe, with James conceding a 10 point championship lead at the Cheshire circuit, to slip 34 points off the top of the standings. Whitby currently also holds a 21 point lead over Trevor Sharpe, who sits second.

However, the men to watch out for this weekend will be Paul Bowling, who found form at Oulton, and will be eager to take his first Clubman win of 2014 at Donington, along with Paul Davies, who put in three excellent rides at the previous round. John Walker also returns for Donington, which should make for an excellent scrap for Clubman honours, especially if Kev Marshal too, can string enough laps together to finish a race, having been plagued with mechanical issues for the majority of the season so far.

With no Friday practice, Saturday features a morning free practice session, followed by qualifying and one race, with Sunday hosting the usual two races.

Photo: E.G.B Photography

Unbeatable Higlett?

Higlett OultonGraham Higlett holds a 104 point lead at the top of the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters championship, after continuing his dominant run of form at Oulton Park.

Higlett boasts maximum points for his efforts so far this season, but it wasn't without effort and a stroke of good fortune at the Cheshire circuit, especially on Saturday.

A damp qualifying session saw Matt Barber snatch pole position, posting the fastest time of the session on his final lap. Impressive rides from Simon Braby and Andy Wheeler saw them join him on the front row. Higlett was fourth, alongside a returning Pete Fishwick and James Sharpe.

Race one started in dry conditions, with Barber accelerating away from pole position, barely able to keep his front wheel on the floor. Higlett was in tow, but lap after lap and Barber looked comfortable leading the way.

At the halfway point however, rain started to fall, first just misting the visors, but eventually it was sufficient enough to wet the track. With race direction declaring it a wet race from the off, no red flags came out.

One of the first to go was Mike Wake, crashing out at Lodge on lap four. Unfortunately for him the crash sent the bike backwards over the kerbs, wearing through the engine cases. Andy Davies was next to go, crashing at the second chicane a lap later. Rookie Sacha Gyte also crashed out on the same lap on the run up to Lodge.

With Rookie Tim Hall failing to make it past lap three with a fuelling problem, Michael Stanley ensure no Rookies finished the race, crashing on lap six, while Barber handed the race win to Higlett, crashing at the second chicane in the closing stages.

Braby took a superb second place, his highest YPM finish, with Fishwick managing the conditions expertly to take an excellent third place on his comeback.

Wheeler finished fourth, ahead of leading Clubman pilot Paul Bowling, with Trevor Sharpe and Paul Whitby rounding out the Clubman podium.

The heavy rain continued throughout the rest of Saturday, resulting the cancellation of the second race on the grounds of safety, but two 10-lap races awaited the riders on Bank Holiday Monday, after a rest-day Sunday.

Braby OultonHiglett took the win in race one but was made to work in the early stages by a hard-charging Simon Braby. With Higlett holding a commanding lead early on, Braby worked hard to reel him in and was closing by the final third of the race.

However, back-markers came in to play, and Braby lost the tow and was eventually unable to bridge the gap. He did take second place, with Barber coming through the field to third. Davies also came through the pack to fourth, followed by Doug Edmondson, who missed Saturday's races, who took fifth.

Wheeler finished sixth ahead of Trevor Sharpe, who took the Clubman win, with Sacha Gyte the lead rookie in eighth. Paul Davies put in an impressive ride to come through traffic to catch and pass both Paul Whitby and Paul Bowling to take second Clubman and ninth, with Whitby third Clubman and rounding out the top 10.

Higlett completed his hat-trick in the final race and extended his sublime 100% record. Just one second covered the fight for second, which went the way of Edmondson, ahead of Braby and Davies.

Gyte was the lead Rookie and headed a mid-pack train of riders, with a second covering him and the Clubman podium of Whitby, Davies and Bowling, after Trevor Sharpe retired at Lodge corner.

YPM On For Oulton Bank Holiday

Outon PreviewThe third round of the DFDS Seaways sponsored Yamaha Past Masters Racing Club takes place this weekend (23-26 May) at Oulton Park, with the picturesque Cheshire venue hosting the meeting over the bank holiday weekend.

With the circuit subject to strict noise regulations, a full day of Friday practice will be available, followed by qualifying and two seven lap races on Saturday. However, Sunday will see no racing action, with the paddock instead treated to a rest day, before action resumes on the Bank Holiday Monday.

After morning warm-up on the Monday, there will two extended, 10-lap races for the YPMRC, providing ample opportunity for some close and spectacular racing.

It also provides championship leader Graham Higlett with the chance to further extend his championship lead. The 2012 champion boasts an impressive 100% record so far this season, taking eight wins from all eight races. However, in a class of one at Silverstone, Higlett was pushed harder at the opening round by Matt Barber, who returns for Oulton Park and could make things interesting at the front.

Weather could also play a part, with rain forecast over the course of the weekend. While Higlett is a self-confessed loather of the rain, Barber has shown real speed in the wet last season. Changes in tyre rules may effect the outcome this season in any wet races, but on previous form it'd be hard to look past the likes of Barber.

Running at the sharp-end again this year is Doug Edmondson, who sits second in the overall championship. He will be looking to challenge for wins again, and if it rains, don't be surprised to see him taking a couple. The forecast rain may also favour the likes of Andy Wheeler, who took his only YPM win in the wet at Brands Hatch last term.

After a slow start at Snetterton, Pete Moore was well on the pace at Snetterton, and will be hoping to repeat that form at Oulton and battle once again with Barber, Edmondson and Higlett. Watch out too for Andy Davies, who took an impressive second place at Silverstone.

Oulton Preview2Lee Finney looks set to miss Oulton with a shoulder injury sustained at Silverstone, crashing out heavily while running in the Two-Stroke GP series, but Simon Braby will be aiming to bridge the gap to the front runners, after qualifying on the front row at Silverstone and a number of good rides, taking a best finish of fourth.

One to watch though will be Pete Fishwick, the only one who get close to Michael Smith during his championship winning year of 2011. Returning for a one-off ride, he's sure to get close to the front of the field.

Weather could also play a part in the battle for the Clubman championship, currently headed by James Sharpe, with Trevor Sharpe, currently third in the standings a fan of the wet. Again though, tyre reg changes could throw it all up in the air. Second in the standings Paul Whitby will be also be looking to take over at the top of the championship, but hasn't previously had good experiences in the wet, especially at Oulton Park, crashing out two years ago in the rain. Watch out for battles between those three though, as well as Mike Wake, Paul Davies and Kev Marshal.

This year's Rookie championship is providing the real excitement so far, with just one point separating Michael Stanley and Sacha Gyte at the top of the standings. Gyte's pace improved throughout the Silverstone meeting, with confidence high heading to Oulton, the scene of his first YPM experience last season on the Yambits sponsored TZR250 Club BIke. Tim Hall however, will be hoping to get back amongst the wins, missing out on a trophy at Silverstone.

The Oulton Park meeting runs from 23 - 26 May, with racing also taking place on the Bank Holiday Monday.

Photo: E.G.B Photography / Racing Line Photography

Higlett Extends 100% Record

Higlett SilverstoneGraham Higlett extended his 100% record for the season, and as a result his championship lead, after taking all four wins at Silverstone.

The 2012 champion looks untouchable at the moment, with Doug Edmondson, Peter Moore and Andy Davies the closest riders to him but some way off the blistering pace set by the current series leader.

Higlett qualified on pole, with Simon Braby and Moore alongside him on the front row. He then sailed to a race one victory aboard his Face to Face Finance sponsored TZR250, crossing the line nearly five seconds ahead of Edmondson and Moore, who spent the race locked in a titanic battle for the two remaining podium spots. Just half a second split them at the flag, and after a race long dice, it was Edmondson took second place.

Andy Davies came across the line in fourth, chased all race long by James Sharpe, who claimed a personal best ever finish in fifth and took the Clubman win. Paul Whitby claimed second Clubman in sixth, leading a five-way battle, which included Trevor Sharpe, who finished third Clubman in eighth, and Rookie class winner Michael Stanley, in 10th.

Race two was much in the same vein as race one, with Higlett taking the win by nearly six seconds this time, while Edmondson and Moore renewed their battle from race one, finishing in the same order at the flag.

Davies ended up in a lonely fourth place, ahead of a seven rider-long train for fifth place. Holding fifth early on was James Sharpe, who fended off several attempts by Whitby to make a pass. Whitby was eventually passed by both Lee Finney and Simon Braby, the two riders coming from the back off the grid after failing to make the start of race one.

Braby sat sixth heading on to the last lap, before making a move for fifth place at the end of the Hangar Straight, holding the position to the line to take fifth. James Sharpe was the leading Clubman in sixth, with Whitby second in eighth and John Walker third in ninth.

The battle for top Rookie was well and truly on in race two, with less than a second covering Stanley and Sacha Gyte at the flag. Stanley claimed his second Rookie win of the weekend and of the season, finishing 12th, with Gyte 13th.

Sunday's opening race saw a shake up of the podium, and while Higlett took his third win of the weekend, Davies took an impressive second place, less than two seconds back of the race winner as the chequered flag came out.

Moore Edmondson SilverstoneBehind, Edmondson and Moore continued to trade positions and paint for that remaining podium position, with Edmondson claiming his third podium finish and third position.

Braby and Finney came home in fifth and sixth, just three tenths of a second between them, with James Sharpe the leading Clubman rider across the line in seventh, with Walker second Clubman in eighth and Whitby third Clubman in 10th, just behind Mike Wake, the three of them involved in a  race-long scrap, with six hundredths of a second covering Walker and Wake in the results.

Gyte took the win in the Rookie class, with Tim Hall keeping himself in contention for the Rookie crown taking second, with Stanley third rookie.

The final race of the weekend saw some of the closest action of the weekend. Higlett disappeared to take his most convincing win, finishing six seconds ahead of a thrilling battle for the remaining podium positions, with four riders going at it.

At the line, less than a second covered positions two to five, with Davies second and Edmondson third, just ahead of Braby, who recovered after he was clattered into by James Sharpe off the start, and Moore, the pair finishing fourth and fifth.

Finney and Wake went at it for sixth and seventh, ahead of a scrap for top Clubman honours, which saw Walker just fend off the attacks of Whitby, half a second the difference at the line, to take his first Clubman win of the season.

Trevor Sharpe claimed third Clubman and kept his title challenge on track, crossing the line two tenths of a second ahead of James Sharpe after a last lap scrap that came down to the chicane, and Gyte, who had been involved in a battle with Trevor Sharpe until contact with James Sharpe, who was attempting to make a move at turn three and dropped him two seconds back, claimed top Rookie honours.

Gyte's wins in the rookie class on Sunday mean he is now just one point off the championship lead, with Stanley leading the way, while James Sharpe leads the Clubman championship by 10 points from Whitby.

Higlett's perfect weekend means he boasts 200 points and leads the championship, with Edmondson second on 140.

Photos: E.G.B Photography

YPM Set For Silverstone

Silverstone PreviewThe DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters Racing Club is all set for its second round of the 2014 season, as the riders head to prestigious Silverstone circuit, with racing taking place over the weekend of Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 May.

Using the new Wing Complex, the British Motorcycle Racing Club will also become the first motorcycle racing organisation to host a meeting using the International layout of the iconic motorsport venue.

After a dominant display at the opening round, where he took all four wins, Graham Higlett will be looking to extend his championship lead this weekend, as he bids for a second YPM title.

Matt Barber, who was Higlett's nearest challenger at Snetterton, looks set to miss Silverstone, with the university commitments an understandable priority for the degree student. Looking to challenge for race wins at Silverstone will be Doug Edmondson, who was never off the podium at Snetterton, and Lee Finney, who will be looking to kick-start his championship challenge.

Simon Braby also showed his pace at the opening round, and is likely to put up a strong showing at the Northamptonshire venue, along with Andy Davies on his 101 plated TZR250, while Pete Moore will be eager to get back to the form he showed last season and challenge for race wins, after a disappointing showing at Snetterton by his own high standards.

Silverstone Preview03Arriving heading the Clubman class championship standings is Trevor Sharpe, but Paul Whitby and James Sharpe will be looking to try and change that this weekend at Silverstone. All three took Clubman class wins at Snetterton, with James Sharpe taking two, but a DNF for both James Sharpe and Whitby means they have the work to do if they're to overcome Trevor Sharpe at the top of the Clubman standings.

Paul Bowling and John Walker will also be looking to return to their competitive best at Silverstone and open up the fight for top Clubman honours. Unfortunately Kev Higgerty will be absent from proceedings after breaking his back at Snetterton. Len Whalin, a Clubman podium finisher at Snetterton, also looks set to miss the action this weekend.

Snetterton hosted a closely fought battle for top rookie, with Michael Stanley's consistency paying dividend as he came away leading the championship. However, he will have his hands full at Snetterton, with Sacha Gyte and Tim Hall both taking wins in the rookie class at the season opener.

Also looking to return to action at Silverstone will be Kev Marshall. The former 350 rider has swapped to a TZR for 2014, but unfortunately mechanical gremlins plagued his weekend at Snetterton. Also returning to the YPM fold at Snetterton was Martin Pearson, who too has laid his mechanical issues to rest, and will be looking to kick-start his season at Silverstone.

Photo: E.G.B Photography

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