By Giles Spencer
Erith teenager, Casey O’Gorman opened his account in the British Talent Cup in fine style, winning the first race of the season at Donington Park in Leicestershire over the weekend.
Held as a support race to the British Superbike Championship, the BTC is a breeding ground for young talent riding identical Honda NSF250R Moto3 machines, to come up through the ranks to Superbikes or MotoGP.
O’Gorman turned 13 on the Friday but had no time to celebrate as he got to grips with the track in the blistering heat for the two practice sessions, setting the 5th quickest time overall and top rookie.
Saturday morning qualifying saw the South London schoolboy knocking seven tenths of a second off his previous best time from the day before to snatch pole position with a time of 1:15.759, despite a last lap effort from second place qualifier, 18 yr old, Charlie Farrer.
Saturday afternoon saw the first of two races over the weekend for the youngsters with O’Gorman reacting quickest to the lights to lead into the first corner and hold the position over lap one.
Six laps in and County Durham rider, Farrer sweeps under O’Gorman and into the lead at McClean’s as the front quartet start to break away from the chasing pack.
A lap later and things go from bad to worse for O’Gorman as Franco Bourne and fellow SP125 Racing rider, Harvey Claridge go past to relegate him to 4th.
Fighting straight back, O’Gorman rides the outside line around Claridge at the next corner and in a spectacular move takes both Bourne and Farrer around the outside into the Roberts Chicane to regain the lead down the straight and onto the 8th of 24 laps.
O’Gorman and Bourne make a break from the pack to have their own battle with Farrer making the most of the backmarkers to join them a few laps later.
Being passed once again by Bourne and Farrer, O’Gorman ups his pace on lap 15 to take back the lead and set the new lap record in the process.
Perfect timing with a couple of lapped riders sees O’Gorman stretch out the biggest lead of the race at 1.3 seconds with only six laps remaining.
Holding on to the lead, O’Gorman keeps his cool to take the chequered flag and 25 points, 0.450 seconds ahead of Bourne with Farrer a fraction further back in third.
Starting Sunday’s race on pole courtesy of setting Saturday’s fastest lap, O’Gorman, once again, made the holeshot off the lights to lead into the first corner.
Seconds later, one of O’Gorman’s main rivals, Charlie Farrer tumbled out of contention at the Craner Curves at high speed leaving Claridge and Bourne to put the pressure on.
Lap six and two riders come together further down the pack bringing out the red flags with a ten lap sprint race set for the re-run.
As has become the usual, O’Gorman had the best reactions on the re-start to lead the pack although Claridge and Bourne were determined to keep with him.
Seven laps to go and Claridge makes his move into the Old Hairpin to take the lead.
Fighting straight back, O’Gorman attempts a pass around the outside of Claridge coming out of Starkey’s Bridge only for disaster to strike as Claridge, having fallen victim to this move before, moves out to the edge of the track, bumping O’Gorman onto the outer edge of the curb and sending the youngster sliding ungraciously down the grass to end his chances.
With Bourne taking the win from Claridge the points table sees Bourne leading on 45 points, 20 ahead of O’Gorman in 4th, on equal points with Bailey Stuart-Campbell in 3rd.
“I was excited at the start of the weekend and was confident going into (Saturday’s) race.” said O’Gorman, “It was harder than I thought to pull away and was struggling a bit in sector two (from the Old Hairpin to Coppice).”
“It was a good feeling (winning the race). I went into the weekend expecting to take the wins.
“When they brought the red flags out on Sunday’s race I was just starting to gap them and I lost that gap.
“When Claridge came past me, he ran me right out to the curb and bumped my handlebar and I crashed. I reckon I could’ve won that race.
“I’m all ready for Snetterton now. I’ve never been there before but I’ve watched races on YouTube!”
The next rounds of the Championship are at Snetterton, Norfolk, on the 21-23 August.
Pictures: Bonnie Lane
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