Narbonne Conquers the Elements in Loudon Classic Victory
The 97th running of the Loudon Classic was chock full of intrigue and storylines. Defending champion Scott Greenwood is always fast and at the front of the Middleweight Grand Prix class, and in adverse weather conditions, Greenwood is an absolute master. The conditions of the race were looking to be in question all day long as heavy rains in the morning were forecast to “mostly” stop in the afternoon. A host of other riders, including multi-time winner Shane Narbonne, were looking to unseat the reigning champion of the longest-running motorcycle race in the United States. The 2020 Loudon Classic featured a $5,000 cash purse and was sponsored by New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Michelin-Motorace with a special bonus to the top placing amateur qualifiers by Brian Fernald Construction.
Due to the high likelihood of partial wet/dry conditions, race officials changed the official race distance from 20 to 14 laps. When the riders rolled out to the grid, one look at the tires selected by the field not only showed how tough the conditions were, but also made it impossible to guess the race result. Going across the front row, Narbonne opted for full slicks while both Scott and Sam Greenwood rolled out on full rain tires. Filling out the front row was Paul Duval on a set of intermediate tires. The remainder of the field was similarly split with choices, with some riders opting for rain fronts and slick or DOT rears. The paddock was abuzz with chatter about who made the right choice.
The warmup lap revealed a track that was nearly 90% dry, and the sky for the time being looked clear. The Greenwood clan started to do a rain dance, and riders with dry tires were praying for it to hold off. When the green flag dropped, Narbonne shot out of his pole position to take immediate command of the race. Scott Greenwood followed behind but was unable to match the early pace of Narbonne, especially on acceleration. Duval and Tyler Wasserbauer dogged Scott Greenwood for several laps before he finally had to relent, and Scott Greenwood was out to salvage points in what was going to be a long race. Wasserbauer took over the second-place spot from Duval, and the two looked to be locked in a battle to the end.
Meanwhile, a determined – and current Loudon Road Race Series #1 plate holding – Rick Doucette was recovering from a disastrous start that had him outside the top 10 and putting on a charge for the ages. As the race passed the halfway point, Doucette had worked his way into a distant fourth, but he caught two riders off in the distance and put his head down, running the fastest laps of the race in the process. In the final two laps, Doucette went deep on the brakes and made consecutive passes to secure a well-earned second spot. Wasserbauer held on to third, and Duval moved to fourth. Kip Peterson rode a lonely race to fifth place while Elijah Block put on an epic ride to battle ahead of 600cc machines on his KTM 450 motard bike. Top amateur Anthony DiCecca fought hard to 12th place overall and secured some well-earned bonus money for his efforts.
The other two premier classes each featured $1,000 in purse money and were also run in partially wet conditions. The Street and Competition Unlimited Grand Prix pole sitter was Narbonne, making his return to the class on a Suzuki GSXR1000. When the green flag dropped, David Dayon rocketed to the front from his second row starting position, followed by teammate Scott Mullin and Narbonne. The track had already dried more than 80%, and Narbonne decided to pull out of the race on lap two rather than risk a mistake before the Classic. Soon thereafter, Mullin took over the lead and set sail. Mullin is an exceptionally smooth and experienced rider and rode flawlessly to the end. Dayon was a solid second place and current championship leader Eric Wood finished third.
In the Seacoast Sport Cycle Lightweight Grand Prix class, the front row was filled out with familiar competitors at the front. Doucette grabbed the pole position just ahead of rival Charles “Jesse” Sandoz. The front row was filled out by Harlan Hildebrand and Sandoz’s teammate Brett Guyer. At the start, Sandoz grabbed the hole shot with Doucette in tow. Block was making a charge through the field and worked his way past Doucette and Sandoz but had his efforts spoiled by a red flag. On the restart, it was again Sandoz and Doucette, but this time, Doucette pushed his way into the lead, however, the young supermoto-mounted Block was determined to go forward, and after passing Sandoz on the penultimate lap, he managed to get under Doucette in the tight RH turn three and hold him off to the finish to secure his first victory in the class.
Round four of the Loudon Road Race Series takes place Sept. 19-20 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.