Round five of the Loudon Road Race Series’ season was held on August 10 and 11 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway under threatening skies. The tricky weather had riders on edge, and lots of laptops and smartphones with weather radars could be seen throughout the paddock.
Veteran Rick Doucette was unaffected by the weather, taking home the most wins on the weekend with victories in six of the eight classes in which he competes.
The feature Middleweight Grand Prix “Dash for the Cash” is traditionally scheduled as the last race of the day on Saturday and serves as a spectator favorite. With the weather quickly moving in, the riders took to the track for their warm-up lap and a light sprinkle of rain could be felt.
At the drop of the green flag, Scott Greenwood got the initial jump off the line, but Jason Carter overtook him into Turn 1 to claim the lead. Pole-sitter Eric Wood slipped into third position with Houk Nichols and quick starting Christian Smutnick slotted in line in fourth and fifth, resepectively.
As the leaders entered Turn 2, both Carter and Greenwood had a synchronized slip of the rear traction near the apex, but carried on as did Wood.
Unfortunately, Nichols lost the rear end and fell off his bike. Smutnick, who recovered from a slip of his own, had nowhere to go with the downed rider in front of him and crashed along with three other riders. The race was quickly red flagged, and everyone was up and okay.
As the rain continued to pick up, the riders were sent back to the pits to make a decision on tires for the wet conditions. Race Control held a brief Riders’ Meeting and, by majority vote of the competitors, the event was moved to Sunday.
The weather remained wet through Sunday morning, but shortly before the rerun of the “Dash for the Cash,” the sun came out and the track dried in time for the green flag. All riders arrived on the grid with the proper Slick or DOT Race tires for the conditions and the 12-lap feature was able to go off as planned.
Greenwood grabbed the holeshot as Wood, Carter, Cory Hildebrand and the rest of the expert pack gave chase. Wood, aboard his Penguin Racing Ducati 848 Evo, powered past Greenwood over the Turn 5 hill and was able to take the lead on the brakes into Turn 6. Behind the lead duo, Hildebrand began pulling away from the battle for fourth, involving Carter, Nichols and Justin Landry.
The man on the move was Joel Allen. A LRRS Series regular, Allen had not been at many events this season, but he quickly reminded his competition of his presence. Allen found himself starting deep in the pack and worked his way to ninth after the first lap. He quickly moved into fifth by the end of Lap 4, and began working on Carter. On the final lap, Allen was able to move past Carter to take over fourth position.
Wood looked as strong as he has all season and ran away for a victory over Greenwood. Hildebrand was able to take home third position in a lonely ride ahead of Allen and Carter. Riley Rodgers, Landry, Nichols, Brian Killmeier and Kristofer Knopf rounded out the top-10.
Elsewhere on the weekend, in Expert LightWeight Supersport, both Doucette and Scott Mullin failed to get their typical quick starts. The two were back in fourth and fifth, respectively, after the green flag dropped. Charles Sandoz, on his Seacoast Sport Cycle Ducati, grabbed the holeshot, followed by ECK Racing’s Peter Gaboriault and Chris Cucinotta.
The top-5 quickly broke away from the pack. Gaboriault was able to move into the lead and began looking to make a break from the group. Meanwhile, Mullin was able to make a pass on Doucette into Turn 3 on Lap 4 to set out after the leader. Doucette stayed on Mullin’s tail and they worked their way toward the front, where they slotted themselves into second and third positions, respectively.
With laps winding down, Mullin finally caught Gaboriault and tried an inside pass into Turn 3 but ran wide on the exit. Gaboriault was able to slice up the inside exiting the turn to hold onto the lead. The next lap Mullin made the pass stick in Turn 3 to grab the lead.
Doucette worked his way past Gaboriault and gave chase to Mullin. As the white flag was shown, the pair was locked together and Mullin turned his fastest on lap of the race to create a small gap and claim the victory. Doucette was second, followed by Gaboriault, Cucinotta and Sandoz. Branch Worsham, Adam Butler, Eric Connolly, Eric Johanson, Keith Beaurivage and Steven Heider rounded out the top 10.
“That was a fun race,” Mullin said afterwards. “Many times this year Ricky (Doucette) has let me lead and then worked his way by on the final lap. It felt really good to go out and earn it. I rode well and was able to pull a gap on the final lap to bring it home.”
Two events remain on the 2012 Loudon Road Race Series schedule. The next event will be Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1-2), and will include special events including the “Larry Lap,” a fundraiser lap for spectators, racers and their families around New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which benefits the New Hampshire Brain Injury Association. Another highlight will be the Supermoto Race taking place as the last race on Sunday afternoon utilizing both pavement with dirt sections and jump. Adding in the Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour, along with Pit Bike and Scooter races, makes it an event that shouldn’t be missed.