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Shropshire racers are back on the pace

By James Driver-Fisher | Grassroots | Published:

Shropshire’s two and three-wheeled club racers finally put mechanical problems behind them to come away from round two of the Wirral 100 with positive podium finishes.

Barry Furber got in some vital laps at Oulton Park before heading off to the Isle of Man. Picture: Steve Snelling

Bishop’s Castle’s Barry Furber arrived at Oulton Park, in Cheshire, keen to get in a few more laps – and a few more of the signatures he requires on his licence – before he heads out to the Isle of Man TT for the third time.

The 33-year-old used the meeting to sort out some electrical issues with his Kawasaki ZX10, which he will be riding in the Superbike TT, Senior TT and Superstock TT, and the new engine he has fitted into his Suzuki 650, which he will ride in the Lightweight TT.

Furber said: “Both bikes worked well on the day and filled me with confidence, ready for the TT in a few weeks.

“The pace was good in the 650 race. I started sixth on the grid and quickly moved up into third place.

“The front three stayed close all race as we moved away from the rest of the pack.

“I was happy to bring it home in a safe third and get a vital TT signature.

“It was much the same story in the second race although I managed to go one better and bring home a trophy for second place.”

Furber admitted the competition was also ‘hot’ in the Powerbike class, as swapped over to his quicker Kawasaki.

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“I qualified down in 18th on a packed grid but used the races to get the bike set up right and build some confidence for the TT, eventually finishing 13th and 14th,” he said.

“I’m now concentrating on the TT as it draws ever closer.

“There are still improvements being made to both bikes but I’m in a good position to push for great results this year.”

Furber said his only setback was not racing at the North West 200 in Northern Ireland this year, which takes place from tomorrow to Saturday, due to a lack of funding.

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He said: “I’m putting everything into the TT, it’s the ultimate road racing event and I’m ready to take on all the challenges that lie ahead.

“I really am excited about it this year and my expectations are set high.”

Furber will head out for TT practice week, which runs May 26 to June 1, followed by the superbike race on June 2, superstock on June 4, lightweight on June 6 and senior on June 8.

The Morgan brothers were also back in action at Oulton, which they used to test out their sidecar that had been dogged by machinery problems for the last two years.

The Morgan brothers finally put their mechanical woes behind them to seal to podiums. Picture: Steve Snelling

Driver Kevin and passenger Steve said it appeared all their efforts had proved fruitful as they powered their way to a pair of top three finishes.

Kevin said: “With numerous changes made since last time out, we were confident we had resolved the problems.

“We lapped reliably and consistently in free practice to secure a fifth position on the grid for the first race of the day.”

A good start saw the pair jump immediately up to third position into the first corner, a place they held throughout the seven-lap race.

By dipping down into a time of 1min57s, they also gained their fastest lap of the race.

Race two started even better with the brothers, from Ruyton-XI-Towns, near Shrewsbury, squeezing into second by the first first corner.

After losing the position on back straight due to the superior top speed of the Christie brothers’ F1 machine, the pair still increased their lap times and crossed the 30 seconds ahead of their nearest F2 machine rivals, cutting another two seconds of their own fastest lap.

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped and contributed over the winter, and also those that made the trip to Oulton Park,” added Kevin.

Chris Lewis was pleased to be only 0.7 seconds off his own personal best lap times. Picture: Steve Snelling

Chris Lewis, 64, from Pontesbury, who is still working his way back from a bad crash last year, said he was pleased to only be 0.7 seconds off his own personal best lap times.

Lewis, who finished seventh and fifth in the Forgotten Era class, and 14th and 16th in Open 500 class, said: “I still feel as though I’m getting up to speed after last year’s crash but there was some good racing in dry, sunny conditions.”

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Motorsport journalist and entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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