2020 St George Summer Night Series
Round One Report – Sydney Motorsport Park
By Nick Edards
Images: Half Light Photographic, RbMotoLens
Last Friday saw Sydney Motorsport Park host their first official bike race meet under the newly installed lighting system.
St. George Motorcycle Club’s Under Lights Summer Series kicked things off with Round One at 1830 and racing wrapped up just four hours later. In that time three classes had 10-minute practice/qualifying sessions and three quick-fire sprint races each throughout the course of the evening to make for a highly successful first outing.
With sunset kicking in almost on the dot of 2000 and cloudy skies contributing to a quick transition to darkness, the second half of the event would have been impossible without the very effective new floodlight system installed around the entire GP circuit.
St. George MCC had already conducted a couple of night sessions over the past months to work out the logistical challenges of running under lights. Those preparations paid dividends on race night, with everything going off smoothly and efficiently.
The original schedule was for each race to be seven-laps with a contingency plan to trim race lengths if required in order for the track to be cleared by 2230.
A couple of minor track clearance interruptions during the evening did mean that the last rotation was trimmed to five-laps per race, but otherwise the night went off without a hitch.
Michael O’Brien – St. George Assistant VP
“The St. George MCC has been at the forefront of making this happen with ARDC and the great support of Pip Harrison from MA. There was months of work, many meetings, a few debates and here we are. I was personally more nervous than if I was riding and the tension with the senior officials was obvious. The night went pretty well to plan, a few small incidents saw the schedule delayed a little and the strict times of operations leaves us with a few conversations to be had to make sure we can keep to our plan at these night race meetings. What will the race format look like next time? It will be the same classes but maybe we’ll adjust race lengths, formats and race starts… we might throw a Le Mans start or a Handicap race start to keep the riders and crowd guessing. Overall the event was a huge success on and off the track, not just from the riders point of view. I have received many many good reports from officials, media and the spectators that came along to this inaugural night race. Many thanks to everyone involved in this journey, we only got here because of everyone’s efforts. Bring on January 8.“
Apparently the P in VP stands for ‘Pest’ as Michael is always chasing people and pushing boundaries – exactly what’s needed to make something like the Under Lights series happen.
Here’s a look at the on-track action over the three classes, Black Dog Unlimited Division 1, Pirelli Unlimited Division 2 and the Pirelli 600s.
Black Dog Unlimited Division 1
In Black Dog Unlimited Division 1, Glenn Allerton was dominant on the Next Gen Motorsports BMW S 1000 RR, posting three wins from three races with his fastest lap under lights as the track cooled.
Lachlan Epis, also riding a Next Gen BMW as a test ahead of his BSB ride on a BMW in 2021, came home second in all three races.
Yanni Shaw was struggling with bike set-up on the Specialist Height Access/Airoh Helmets GSX-R1000 in the first two races but still managed to card a fourth place finish in the opening race, followed by two third place finishes after upping the pace under the lights.
Brendan McIntrye bought the Western Motorcycles Suzuki GSX-R1000 home just eight-hundredths of a second behind Epis in Race One in a promising start to the night, but a crash in T3 early in Race Two ended his evening prematurely.
Heading towards Round Two of the Summer Series Allerton leads the Black Dog Unlimited Division 1 field on a perfect 75-points. Epis second overall on 60, with Shaw third having claimed 53-points. Timothy Griffith and Nick Marsh completed the top five on 49 and 48-points respectively.
Glenn Allerton – P1
“St. George MCC’s first night race was something totally new. The quick format made for entertaining racing and the atmosphere at the track was awesome, lots of spectators coming and checking out the bikes, and for me the racing was great at night. I personally can’t wait for the next race as it was the best way to spend a Friday night.”
Yanni Shaw – P3
“It was an awesome night of racing. The fact that it’s under lights brings a whole different atmosphere. I have to hand it to St. George Motorcycle Club for pulling it off.”