April 13, 2024
Speedway Hub - British Speedway News

Bomber Command! 2023 Barracks Bonanza Grasstrack – Race Report, Results and Interviews

Despite having late, unexpected venue restrictions imposed on them and entered riders withdrawing last minute, the Dalton Grasstrack club stood up and got the job done in style by staging their Barracks Bonanza event.

Report, Images and Interviews by Mike Wood

Offering a big, fast and superbly prepared race track, the riders present responded in faith by producing top class action to thus send the large crowd home happy! Taking the eventual wins at the Barracks were Chris Harris (500cc solo), Bob Dolman (Uprights) and Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh (1000cc Right-hand sidecars).

Opening the 2023 Barracks Bonanza was a 500cc solo heat and reigning British Masters champion Chris Harris, despite stating that he was struggling to get to grips with the track, showed his true class by storming to victory ahead of young Cameron Taylor.

Also winning their opening heats were Charley Powell and impressive Dutch rider Dave Meijerink ,the later snatching victory on the line after leader Paul Cooper had lost power on the run to the chequered flag. Indeed, Meijerink was to be the star of the qualifying heats, his only defeat coming in his third outing when Harris got to the chequered flag first. After the four programmed outings, Harris, Theo Pijper, Meijerink, Stephen Green, Cooper and Powell had all amassed enough points to go direct to the ‘A’ final. The latter two of Cooper and Powell though did not have completely trouble free runs, with Paul suffering mechanical gremlins in his third outing whilst Charley slipped off in his second heat, both incidents resulting in last places!

The last available starting spots in the main final were to go to the top two finishers in the consolation ‘B’ final and in that one it was Chad Wirtzfeld all the way from Jack Roberts. Young Mickie Simpson did make a last gasp attempt to get the better of Roberts, going hard into the final turn and just failing to snatch the verdict on the line. So, to the ‘A’ race and what a fantastic contest it was to be as Powell got an absolute flyer to lead the way with Meijerink hot on his tail and Cooper in 3rd. Not having made the best of starts, Harris was now on a charge getting the better of Cooper then passing Meijerink up the inside of turn four with one lap remaining. Right on it, Bomber kept on the gas and chasing, going hard into the last corner and with Powell drifting wide, Chris saw his chance and found just enough drive to steal the victory right on the finish line by the narrowest of margins! The super Meijerink took 3rd from Cooper, Green, Wirtzfeld and Roberts. Surprisingly Pijper did not come under-starter orders despite having comfortably qualified. For second place finisher Powell this was conclusion to a frantic weekend! Just 24 hours earlier he had competed in the chair for seven times British Masters Champion Mark Cossar during the opening round of the British Sidecar Speedway Championship at Kings Lynn.

Whilst Powell was enjoying his weekend of racing, Cossar was enduring a nightmare! Suffering a crash and mechanical issues at Kings Lynn, Mark also without his regular passenger Gareth Williams due to illness was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the Barracks Bonanza event. That immediately meant that there could be no repeat of the epic 2022 Barracks final when he battled for glory with Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh. Thankfully though Blackbourn was at Sunday’s event and he was in terrific form again. Along with the fast Terry Saunters/Liam Brown they both won their opening three heats in style with Matt Fumarola/Andrew Wilson (2) and Tom Cossar/Wayne Rickards also tasting victories.

The 1000cc Sidecars certainly appeared to come to life in the third block of heats with a couple of epic scraps. Fumarola in taking his second win of the day was made to work overtime in a thriller under pressure for the entire duration from Trevor Heath/Sam Heath and Paul Whitelam/Richard Webb. Then in the next race, Saunters and Cossar were at it in an equally epic encounter.

Having seen his outfit expire and threaten to catch fire in his opening ride, Heath did not accumulate enough points to directly progress into the ‘A’ final. So, he had to do it the hard way and finish in the top two places in the ‘B’ clash instead. In that one he got the business comfortably done by chasing Cossar all the way to the flag. With the line-up now complete for the last big race of the day the question everyone was asking was would Blackbourn make amends for his narrow defeat just 12 months earlier?

Well, the answer was an emphatic yes as he produced a classy ride to lead the ‘A’ final in style from tapes to flag ahead of Cossar and Fumarola whilst Saunters had to work very hard for 4th after not making the best of starts. In this class spare a special thought for Michael Austin the man who was very instrumental in bringing racing back to the Barracks venue. With Vinny Branch in the chair they were only able to complete one heat on Sunday before their engine seized solid during the duo’s second outing!

In the Uprights class, Bob Dolman was in simply fantastic form, winning all of his four qualifying heats in style. The only other ride to score a heat victory was last years Barracks winner Tony Atkin. So that meant Dolman and Atkin were transferred direct to the final clash along with Dave Mears, Jason Prynne, Ben Phillips, Mike Dowling, Tim Mount, Nigel Coates and Luke Tuck. Maintaining his terrific form though, Dolman went through the card unbeaten by taking the final by storm as Atkin gave gallant chase with Prynne in 3rd.

So, it’s a massive well done to the Dalton Grasstrack Club for not only promoting a fantastic meeting but also hopefully lighting the fuse and firing into life what has so far been a rather fragmented start to the 2023 season!


500cc Solo A Final Sponsored by Executive Alarms and Security
1 Chris Harris 2 Charley Powell 3 Dave Meijerink 4 Paul Cooper 5 Stephen Green 6 Chad Wirtzfeld 7 Jack Roberts.

500cc Solo B Final sponsored by Standlake Motors
1 Wirtzfeld 2 Roberts 3 Mickie Simpson 4 Andrew Whittaker 5 Cameron Taylor 6 Gareth Hickmott 7 Jamie Fenn-Smith 8 Luke Harris.

Uprights Sponsored by Shires Concrete Pumping
1 Bob Dolman 2 Tony Atkin 3 Jason Prynne 4 Dave Mears 5 Ben Phillips 6 Tim Mount 7 Nigel Coates 8 Luke Tuck 9 Mike Dowling.

1000cc Right-Hand Sidecars A Final Sponsored by Abingdon Beds
1 Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh 2 Tom Cossar/Wayne Rickards 3 Matthew Fumarola/Andrew Wilson 4 Terry Saunters/Liam Brown 5 Paul Whitelam/Richard Webb 6 Trevor Heath/Sam Heath.

1000cc Right-Hand Sidecars B Final Sponsored by Tuckwells Readymix
1 Cossar 2 Heath 3 Dale Fish/Jordan Fish 4 Clint Blondel/Chris Townsend 5 Kieran Hicks/Frankie Courtney 6 Will Offen/Ricky Pay.

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