‘Fabulous’ weekend, but engine gremlins strike

Whitby's Dave Atkinson and passenger Mike Aylott compete at Donington'picture: Derek Donsworth, www.dcd-images.co.uk
Whitby's Dave Atkinson and passenger Mike Aylott compete at Donington'picture: Derek Donsworth, www.dcd-images.co.uk

Although Whitby driver Dave Atkinson had not raced since the last round of the British Championship, for his passenger Mike Aylott it had been a completely different story.

Mike had travelled on his annual pilgrimage to the Isle of Man to team up with his regular TT ride Conrad Harrison.

Team AWR have had a substantial summer break from racing meaning the first time out on circuit, since the last round of the British Championship, would be at Donington Park.

A new race engine was fitted and various modifications were made to parts of the bike.

Saturday saw a beautiful start to the day and qualifying saw the boys put down excellent laps. Dave and Mike weaved their way through the slower traffic and started to increase pace but got tangled in among a more competitive group of bikes that slowed their flying lap, meaning that they could only qualify eighth.

Atkinson andAylott made a great start and catapulted their way to seventh place.

There was a formidable scrap all through the pack with constant jostling of places, however Team AWR made their way up to sixth and once clear of traffic were starting to chase down the outfit in front.

But the gap was unassailable due to a retirement of the second place bike in the last lap, so the team were unexpectedly promoted to a fabulous fifth place. The team were delighted and were finally starting to see the potential of the new bike and looking forward to Sunday’s racing.

The first session was 10 minute warm-up to check settings and make sure all machines were running perfectly but the team’s session was brought to a premature end when the engine developed a terminal fault by dropping one of the engine valves.

As the time ticked by, it became evident it was going to take a monumental effort to get the Team back out on circuit in time but people from other teams plus three from Team AWR’s all worked flat out to get the bike out on circuit with only seconds to spare.

Unfortunately Dave and Mike missed the siting lap so could not join the grid on in the eighth slot, lining up at the back of the grid.

As the lights went out, they launched the bike off the line passing a handful of bikes before the first corner, the skilfully nipped through the pack and by lap 3 they were chasing down the extremely experienced and multiple TT winning pairing of Rob Fisher and Rick Long.

However as they were just about to start the overtaking battle a great rush of steam came from under the fairing bringing Team AWR’s race to an early end.

Dave said: “It’s been a fabulous weekend and Mike and I are really starting to get to grips with how each other race. I am looking forward to our next meeting at Croft where I hope we can see then end of our mechanical issues.”