The opening round of the European Classic Series 2017 has kept its promises on the prestigious Donington Park circuit on 6 and 7 May. More than 50 teams had made an appointment for this first trip "overseas" in the history of this endurance championship reserved for classic motorcycles. Among them, many local crews, riding off championship, but determined to shine on their lands.
For the first free practice session, weather conditions were typically English: cool and wet, but the sun made its appearance on the day of the race. Other good news was that all the teams were able to take part in the race, including the "back-up" teams, whose participation was not guaranteed due to the high number of machines on the track.
During the trials, Team Alf's dominated with their Kawasaki, ahead of the Suzuki of Team Force (Fastre - Le Bihan) and Sweatshop Phase One (Linden - Simpson), confirming the dominance of the teams of the European Classic Series. The test sessions were held on a congested runway and under near-winter temperatures (7 degrees), but in front of a crowd, especially in the paddocks. Some of the teams had to pay for these difficult conditions, such as the Laverda Classic Racing (Janssen - Van Ruitenbeek), which suffered a crash in the first qualification but could still take part to the race thanks to a last minute reserve rider.
During the race, the temperatures climbed slightly and the sun made its appearance. The conditions were ideal and warmed up the whole paddock and the spectators. The holeshot was signed by Greg Fastre on the Team Force Suzuki. He took advantage of the bad start of his main rivals (Alf's and Phase One) to take off while the starring team consisting of Jamie Whitham, Steve Parrish and Michael Neeves on a GSX 1100 SD Katana crashed and abandoned in the first round. As for number 80 (Detournay - Repair), they were confronted with ignition problems from the start and had to give up after only six laps.
The first hours of the race were dominated by the Team Force, but they were also forced to abandon on engine problems, leaving the final victory to the Neate Racing team. A first victory which the Neate family pursued for a long time, although they are used to first places and are ECS champion in title. The team Taurus, officially 'back-up' before the start of the race, took the second place in front of the SCERT Suzuki. An unprecedented podium for this first race which has seen many twists, crashes (e.g. Dirk Brand of the RoadRunner Team) as well as mechanical problems. This was especially the case for the Sweatshop Phase One, forced to cross the finish line pushing the bike just to score some points ...
Next stop in a setting as prestigious as Donington: Spa-Francorchamps, on June 30th and July 1st. More information: www.europeanclassicseries.eu