After a long harsh New England winter the Loudon Road Race Series kicked off their season this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with some of the fastest racing on two wheels.
Cool spring temperatures on Saturday presented tough conditions for the riders. Despite a varying wind, cloud cover and snow flurries the races were still action-packed. Sunday's races were held in much warmer temperatures under sunny skies.
Novices, Brian Campbell, No. 121, and Brett Babaian No. 331 participated in Penguin Racing School last season and completed the Penguin Final Exam, which is a simulated race getting new racers used to start procedures, flags and on-track situations. Campbell was able to win Novice Middleweight GP and take second in Novice Middleweight Superbike during his first racing event. Babaian raced for the first time winning the Novice GTO and Novice Middleweight Superbike after a last lap pass by Campbell in the final turn.
Rick Doucette, rider No. 1, took home five wins including, Expert GTL, Thunderbike, Lightweight Supersport, Lightweight Superbike and Middleweight Production Twins. He also finished second in Heavyweight Supersport.
"It was a good weekend, with the cold temperatures on Saturday we just had to make the best of it," said Rick. "Unfortunately, I crashed out of the lead in Lightweight Grand Prix so that was a bit of a bummer, and after that I put my head down in each of my races and just tried to check out right from the start."
One of those battles occurred in the Heavyweight Supersport division, with Doucette competing on a borrowed Suzuki GSXR750 against Yamaha R6 Mounted Cory Hildebrand. The two traded the lead back and forth until ex-dirt tracker Hildebrand backed his R6 into Turn 3 while Doucette passed on the outside. As Doucette took the lead out of Turn 3 and into Turn 4, Hildebrand pulled a trademark Loudon pass cutting up the inside at the apex of Turn 4 to take the lead. In the end, Hildebrand was able to take control and earn the win.
LRRS – Dash for Cash – Middleweight Grand Prix
The Middleweight Dash for Cash event is always the highlight of LRRS weekends. The top riders, all on Middleweight machines race for a cash prize.
Scott Greenwood jumped off the line with the holeshot and into Turn 1 with the pack close behind. Shane Narbonne was pushed off the track entering Turn 1 and had to take to "The Magic Mile" oval and rejoin the pack exiting Turn 2, in last place. He put on an exciting charge to the front and turned the fastest lap of the race a 1:13.328. The run from the back of the pack was too much to overcome and Narbonne ended up in third position. At the front, Greenwood built his lead by over three seconds for the second place battle, which saw Eric Wood in his Ducati 848evo and Hildebrand's R6 going toe-to-toe. The two traded the spot until Hildebrand put on a charge and pulled a small gap on Wood. Lap seven was a complete game changer: Greenwood tucked the front in Turn 1A and his bike was too damaged to continue. That handed the lead and the win to Hildebrand, who brought home another checkered flag. The final running order was Hildebrand, Wood, Narbonne, Jason Carter and Tyler Sweeney.
"My new 848 showed up at the track on Friday in a crate. I was struggling with some gearing issues but we made a lot of progress this weekend," said Eric Wood. "With a bit more setup time, I know we will be a competitive package. The Ducati 848evo is a great motorcycle. All in all a good sold first weekend on the new bike."
"This is my first win in the Dash for Cash. It feels good and we turned fast consistent lap times for the conditions today," Cory Hildebrand said as he stood on the podium. "It's cold out here! My R6 is working great and I would like to thank Sweeney Racing Engines, all my sponsors, my parents and Bruce Group Racing for their support and help."