Race Report by David Vardy from VrDMotorsport:
Brands Hatch pays homage to one of the UK’s most unique and exciting race circuits. The Short track used in the season opener is the one loved the most by every race who graces its tarmac.
The start line heads into Paddock Hill Bend flat out as the riders bank right into the unknown as the circuit drops by over 30 metres in altitude. As quick as the drop tests the riders nerve, a full throttle now gaining altitude into the long hairpin right around Druids really tests the grip levels and skill of those pushing for victory.
A sharp right into Graham Hill bend can be taken at speed with a wide exit but get it wrong and you will be sliding up the bank to get a closer look at the paddock grandstand and an early shower.
A fast left leads into the kinked Surtees right hand corner that needs the perfect line to lead into the long hairpin of Clearways to gain maximum speed as you return back to the start line. What appears to be a simple layout really brings the best out of those racing it with is altitude drops and long sweeping corners. This weekend had everything to kick start the Thundersport GB Championship with a thrilling race weekend.
Wind the clock back one year and Jordan kick started his season with a strong points finish making the podium twice and missing out by a single place on the final race. Jordan would return to Brands Hatch with a clear mind and a focus that this season he would challenge himself to achieve the goal he set himself at the end of season awards, to better his runner up prize of 2016.
The weather reports provided confusion across the paddock as the rain came in short bursts with varying temperatures allowing moments of dry lines to appear before the damp cold returned. Full wets seemed the sensible option but there may be a quick change before the track was open just in case the weather shifted once more.
Jordan would begin his season with our new tyre partner, Dunlop. After testing their tyres over the winter break it was clear the option to run Dunlop tyres in 2017 would provide a new level of grip and a strong chance of giving Jordan the control he demands with the attacks given on every corner.
Will White would be the familiar face Jordan would be chasing down during Qualifying. White provided a strong test during 2016 with front running performances every time he took to the track. There would be new blood joining the championship for the first time and the unknown quality would be interesting to observe as we took stock of who the runners and riders would be come race 1. Even more exciting to see would be a top ten time finish covering a wide spectrum of Manufactures as Yamaha, Triumph, Kawasaki and Honda were all represented and even an MV Augusta would be knocking on the door.
Jordan remained consistent through qualifying in his times finishing with a best of 49.889 to lead the second row for race 1. The pace of White could not be matched at this stage as he took pole for the first race with a time of 49.425.
The front row would consist of a pair of Triumph’s clearly enjoying the conditions and circuit design of Brands Hatch sandwiching one of several Kawasaki’s in the front pack.
Jordan would sit focused in P4 at the head of row 2. He was beginning to develop a trademark in 2016 as the one to catch off the line so the goal would be to bring Yamaha into the party as quickly as possible.
The team would spend little time preparing the bike for Race 1. A more strategic approach to setting the bike up to the conditions and Jordan’s race craft would be a far cry from last years frantic garage times of hunting for wiring faults and potential issues. The team felt the gremlins of 2016 had left and now it would be possible to push forward.
The team would also welcome our friends from Mission Motorsport for race 1 as we begin our collaboration with this great cause. More to come on this story in the future as we support our injured warriors on their road to recovery through Motorsport as a means to develop skills and expertise.
After all the setup had been completed and the team coming together to kick start 2017, all that would be left was Jordan and his Yamaha. Nothing else mattered.
The conditions were not summer for sure but it was not torrential so Jordan knew he needed to get the tyres as warm as possible ready for lights out to get maximum grip into Paddock Hill bend.
Jordan did just that and would jump into P2 and right onto the back wheel of Will White as they descended towards Druids.
White would keep a gap of 0.2 seconds between himself and Jordan until the latter picked up the pace and the leading pair would cross the line on Lap 6 with just 0.040 seconds separating them.
The Thundersport Championship highlights the close racing that is on offer through this championship and Rushby and White would showcase this over the coming laps to great effect.
Lap 7 through 9 the gap separating the lead pair would be less than 0.1 seconds. Neither rider would be willing to give up the chance to lay down the gauntlet. The pace was immense and backmarkers were now being caught meaning the battling duo of Rushby and White would not only be focused on each other’s machines but now battle their way through heavy traffic for the remainder of the race.
Jordan would come out victorious using the back markers to full effect pulling 0.5 seconds ahead of White on Lap 10 with a further half second on Lap 11 before the gap was then increased to 9 seconds as they crossed the line between traffic on Lap 12.
White would press through the traffic and put in strong lap times to reduce the deficit with Jordan also backing off to cross the line with a gap of 2 seconds.
Jordan would be measured on speed an amazing 26th fastest but with his incredible consistency in speed through the full circuit, win the overall race outright and begin 2017 at the top of the podium.
Despite Jordan running the 26th fastest bike in Race 1, his overall sector speeds carried him to the top of the time sheets for the perfect lap meaning he would be given the best shot at continuing the great start to the weekend.
Jordan would wake on Saturday morning with a clear focus. After dropping places on the Sunday at Brands last year he was clear that he would be the man to beat despite the weather now dropping in temperature and mixed rain conditions meaning the full wets of Dunlop would be tested on this day.
Race 2 began with Jordan’s heading first into Paddock Hill this time and pull a gap of 0.5 seconds from White which he would maintain for the first half of the race. A classy ride by Jordan showed his craft in mixed conditions and his calm attitude under the weighted pressure now of leading the race from the lights.
As the race drew into the second half Jordan would increase his overall lead to 4 seconds giving him a comfortable gap to navigate through the back markers once again.
Through the traffic Jordan would see his lead reduced to 2 seconds but a comfortable margin to take two out of two so far and a deserved victory once again.
There was a new challenge coming on this day though with Andrew Dudgeon now showing his race pace coming from the very back of the grid to take the fastest lap time and time again and cross the line in seventh place. This could make the final race very interesting with Jordan now running on older tyres for the finale of what had become a perfect race weekend to date.
Race 3 would begin the same as the earlier race that day. Jordan would head into the first corner in the lead with white chasing to gain a victory he was pushing for on this opening round. White would pass Jordan and cross the line in P1 at the second lap but Jordan would quickly regain the lead and bring Alex Laurys through with him dropping White down to 3rd position.
Laury’s would push Jordan all the way and the leading pair would come across the line side by side at Lap 4. Laury would lose his bike exiting Clearways on the next lap leaving Jordan to push on in the lead with White now regaining his second position.
The earlier accident would bring out a Red Flag after Jordan had passed the start line meaning his advantage increased on that lap to over four seconds but the bikes came to rest allowing the riders to regroup and start again.
Ryan Varley on the Honda would become involved in the scrap for first position after the restart and take second position from White but his pace would not bring him into the 4 second gap Jordan had created at the head of the pack during the melee.
It was on Lap 8 that the charging Dudgeon would make his appearance as the lead group navigated through the back markers.
With Jordan’s tyres now providing less grip as well as the battling pair of White and Varley also dropping pace, Dudgeon would charge through and take the lead on Lap 9.
Jordan would try to keep pace but the power deficit and grip levels meant he could only watch Dudgeon disappear into the distance and the sensible option would be to hold position and take the points on offer in P2.
Had Jordan pushed hard there was a potential for an incident and his lap times were still quicker than those behind so he maintained position with great maturity and crossed the line with a second position finish giving him almost the perfect start to the season.
After the issues the team faced through 2016 this was a fantastic result to come away with two overall victories and a deserved second position to give Jordan a clear lead in the championship heading to the first of two trips to Donington on the 24/25 March.
As usual we would like to thank all of our sponsors and team for making this possible. We are lucky to be supported by some great national companies, who offer financial backing for our racing costs.