Welcome to my 2023 Championship Season Review

POSTED: 30/11/2023

Firstly, I must thank my sponsors, who without, I would not have been able to compete this season or many before as they have been with me for many years for which I am very grateful, St Neots Motorcycle Co Ltd
  • MPM Legal
  • Wise Energy
  • M B Flack Painting and Decorating
  • D M Sudderby Ltd Plumbing and Heating
  • Renegade Bodywork
  • Barkers International
  • Artizen
  • TSM
  • F W Developments
  • Silkolene
  • RST Moto
I had not raced competitively since Valencia in February 2020 and, have not ridden much at all since then.  Having had great enjoyment racing with the Klass GP Championship in the past, I decided to take on the full Championship this year.  Races were held at Paul Ricard and Pau Arnos in France, Assen in Holland, and Cremona in Italy.
I would be riding the St Neots Motorcycle's Honda RS250R that we have developed over the past few years, gradually adding new parts as they become available to us.  With the help of FW Developments, we got everything set up pre-season on the Dyno and was ready to go.
Round One was at Paul Ricard over the weekend of 5/7th May, part of the very popular Sunday Ride Classic event.  A new circuit to me we spent free practice on Friday learning the circuit and getting some base settings for the engine and chassis.  I found the flat nature of the circuit difficult to learn, added to that the high altitude it took longer to find the ideal settings.
Qualifying on Saturday went well, improving throughout to end up on the front row in Second place on combined times.
Race one was Saturday afternoon.  A good start saw me running in second place at the end of lap one, chasing Guy Bertin and trying to get away from the chasing pack, led by Cyril Guiernet who was determined not to let me get away.  On Lap 5 Guy Bertin encountered technical issues that put him out of the rest of the weekend.  By the flag, I was able to take the victory with a 3.1 second lead.
Sunday saw huge crowds come to see the action at the track under sunny skies, a full festival feel.  With Guy Bertin out I started from pole for race two, in front of a full 44 rider grid. Another cracking start saw me lead every lap of the race, but I was never able to relax with Adriano Marino keeping me under pressure for the whole race, eventually winning by 1.1 seconds.  Taking the championship lead heading to round two at one of my favourite circuits, Assen in Holland.
May 19th/20th was the date for round 2, part of the Ducati Club Race Festival event at Assen.  The grid was shared with the German IGK championship which made a full 40 rider grid of 250cc machines.  Points would be scored for your individual championship, but overall wins were very much the target.
Combined qualifying saw us start from third on the grid, second in the championship and with only 0.2 of a second covering the first five riders, the races looked to be tightly contested.
Race one started well and over the first three laps, I climbed up to second on the road, chasing Bobby Varey from the IGK championship who had got away well at the start.  Then at about half distance, the race control put the circuit under a virtual pace condition, unfortunately, most riders didn’t fully understand it and chaos ensued. It was very difficult to hold position and not get into trouble, unfortunately trying to do the right thing saw me back in fifth place when the race went back live.  With less than three laps I had to ride hard, Guy Bertin crashed out in front of me, this was the end of his season unfortunately. On the final run to the last chicane, I was able to pass Quentin Blanc and finish second, unable to do anything about catching Bobby Varey who took the win. This gave us maximum points in our championship and the fastest overall lap.
Race two was a straight race without interruption.  The lap times were the quickest of the weekend enabling myself and Jordan Levy to pull away from the field.  We changed places on multiple occasions but I was not able to get away so settled down and followed waiting for an opportunity on the final lap.  My plan was scuppered as our final approach to the final turn saw a number of slower riders in the track making it unsafe for me to try and pass, so I had to settle for 2nd place by 0.4 of a second but more importantly, taking a good championship lead into round three.
We had a two-month break before round 3 of the championship at the end of July, back in France at another new circuit for me, Pau Arnos in the south of the country. 
We used Friday's free practice sessions to learn the new technical circuit, not dissimilar to the English circuits or Oulton and Cadwell Park.  The was no official timing available on Friday but we chipped away and improved the settings ready for qualifying on Saturday.  At the end of Saturday's qualifying, we were in pole position by 0.8 of a second and looking forward to race one Saturday evening.
I got a great start and led the field in the early stages but was under constant pressure from Quentin Blanc in the early laps.  As the race entered the final third, I was able to pull away and win by just over 5 seconds, such a satisfying result on a technical and new track.  Race two was held on Sunday.  unfortunately, the amazing weather that had proved challenging with the heat all weekend broke and wet the track.  As we heading for the assembly area the sun came out.  The grid saw a mix of wet and dry tyres, unfortunately, I found myself on the wrong ones and destroyed a set of wets, settling for a very safe 4th place finish.
After a rare outing at my local circuit of Snetterton, taking four from four wins at the Bemsee club meeting we headed to the final round at Cremona Circuit in Italy.  Another new circuit that this time I found really difficult to learn and get on with.  During practice and qualifying, we chipped and lined up 4th on the grid behind the Italian Championship riders that had joined the racing for the weekend.
Needing only a handful of points to secure the championship I rode sensibly in race one, doing my best to hang on to the faster riders for as long as I could, ending the race in 3rd place and securing the championship title.  Race 2 I was determined to hang on but unusually fluffed the start and had to fight through, by which time the leading two had pulled away. I set my best times of the weekend and again finished 3rd at the flag.
What a result, a championship win at our first attempt with Klass GP, new friends made, new circuits visited and an appetite to do it all again next season.
Once next year’s Calander is released, I will look at the viability of defending the championship, stay tuned!!

Season Results:

  • Round One Qualifying 2nd Round Two Qualifying 3rd 
  • Race 1 1st Race 1 1st 
  • Race 2 1st Race 2 2nd 
  • Round Three Qualifying 1st Round Four Qualifying 4th 
  • Race 1 1st Race 1 3rd 
  • Race 2 4th Race 2 3rd 

Championship Standings:

  • 1st Andrew Sawford 165
  • 2nd Adriano Marino 101
  • 3rd Etienne Huon de Penanster 96
  • 4th Quentin Blanc 75
  • 5th Cyril Guerinet 70
  • 6th Sebastien Lavoisey 61
  • 7th Roger Hierli 50
  • 8th Jean Paul Lecointe 49
  • 9th Adriano Delucchi 44
  • 10th Daniele Scagnetti 40
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