Wet conditions met the MotoGP paddock and British Talent Cup as it arrived in Valencia for the final round of both championships. It seemed apt that the final round of the British Talent Cup should take place in typically British weather conditions with the early part of the weekend a complete washout! But the action on track was anything but damp and dismal with a championship to decided the British Talent Cup Moto3 spec machinery ensured close race-long battles in this all-important 3-way face off for the title, and it didn't disappoint!
(Pictured Rory Skinner #11)
Off the line, it was Strudwick who took the holeshot, confident in the conditions and putting in an impressive first lap. Behind him, Skinner played it a little safer to slot into second place, with Cook in fifth. He wouldn't stay there long, however, putting the hammer down and making his way through as others fell foul of wet conditions.
The first key name to fall from the fight at the front was Fenton Seabright, with the star of Round 1 lowsiding his bike in the conditions, he got back up to continue but was out of the leading group. Then there was an even bigger shockwave that changed the colour of the race and championship, with Strudwick suddenly falling out the lead and out of contention for the Cup. Rider ok but left to dejectedly walk away, the crash left him unable to contest the title, with the points different too great.
(Pictured Rory Skinner #11 and Max Cook #5)
That crash left Rory Skinner at the front, but Cook, now free from the pack and recovered from his tough start got into a serious rhythm and was in quick pursuit. From a 3.8 seconds the gap, it began to shrink and shrink until Cook was tucked in behind the number 11, and the Englishman made a move down the Start-Finish straight in some classic Moto3 slipstream riding. Safely ahead, he then unleashed his rhythm once again and began to pull away until crossing the line in clear air.
Skinner didn't fight back but took a safe 20 points to extend his lead and leave himself in the driving seat for Saturday's, Race 2, season-closer, with the fight for third then lighting up the track. An incredible battle throughout much of the race saw Joshua Whatley come out on top and the 13-year-old pulled the pin to perfection. Four tenths clear of the multiple-rider scrap heading into the final lap, Whatley took the final podium by eight tenths at the flag for another impressive rostrum finish.
(Pictured (left to right): Rory Skinner - Max Cook - Joshua Whatley)
Just missing out was on the podium was Cameron Horsman in P4, with Jack Nixon completing the top five. Franco Bourne,a little further back, took sixth, with Brian Hart in P7. Jonathan Campbell, Harvey Claridge and Charlie Farrer completed the top ten, the latter despite a crash. The rest? A testament to the conditions, they joined Strudwick and Seabright on the list of DNFs!
('Dancing in the rain!')
24 points in the lead, Rory Skinner, heads into the final race of the season with only Cook able to stop him.
With conditions much improved from the Friday’s race, an incredible duel was to decide the outcome of the first ever British Talent Cup championship.
(Pictured (left to right): Max Cook #5, Brian Hart #9, Cameron Horsman #23)
Off the line, Strudwick took the holeshot from pole, with Skinner slotting into second and Max Cook making a better start in Race 2 to shadow them both in third. But bit by bit the duo of Skinner and Strudwick gapped the number 5 bike of Cook and another classic duel was born.
(Pictured Rory Skinner #11 battling with Thomas Strudwick #8)
As Skinner took the lead, Strudwick struck back and the two played a perfect cat-and-mouse game at the front in some classic moto3 racing antics. In the latter stages, it seemed like Skinner was going to play it safe and take second, but the Scot then dug deep again and came back for another attack and was back in the lead. It seemed like it could be a done deal, but Strudwick having kept his powder dry in the unseasonably wet Valencia played it perfectly to slipstream past Skinner on the race to the flag. The photo-finish gave him the final win of the season and fans another incredible show, but second for Skinner was more than enough to secure him his ultimate goal: the title of British Talent Cup Champion.
(Pictured: Rory Skinner #11 and Thomas Strudwick #8 as they race to the line)
Max Cook, completed the podium - not the win he needed take the Cup but securing another rostrum finish ultimately finishing just 1 point behind Strudwick in 3rd in the championship. Just behind him, another great fight raged to the line, with Brian Hart and Fenton Seabright completing the top five.
(Race 2 Podium (Left to right): Rory Skinner, Thomas Strudwick, Max Cook)
Cameron Horsman took sixth in another strong race, ahead of Scott Ogden, Jack Nixon and Jack Hart. Race 1 podium finisher Joshua Whatley was just outside the top ten after a tougher race in the dry. But the day belonged to Rory Skinner.
(British Talent Cup Champion - Rory Skinner #11)
From everyone at Muc-Off, many congratulations to all the competitors that made for such close racing all season long: Rory Skinner, Thomas Strudwick, Max Cook, Joshua Whatley, Brian Hart, Cameron Horsman, Jack Nixon, Storm Stacey, Scott Odgen, Charlie Atkins, Scott Swann, Fenton Seabright, Jack Hart, Franco Bourne, Jamie Davis, Rhys Irwin, Lewis Paterson, Charlie Farrer, Jonathan Campbell, Ross Turner, Harvey Claridge, Sam Laffins, Elliot Pinson in the British Talent Cup as well as the entire dedicated and talented British Talent Cup Engineers, Mechanics and staff for making it all possible.
(The talented British Talent Cup team that make it all happen)
As the sun sets on a stunning debut season for the British Talent Cap and a newly crowned champion, Rory Skinner. Now it's time to celebrate and reset, ready for another exciting season of competition and competitors in 2019 and we can't wait for it to get back underway!