2016 SEASON REVIEW – LEE BOWRON LTD XR CHALLENGE
Greg Speight (#5) enjoyed a succesful year at the wheel of his Demon Tweeks XR2 – Photo: Rachel Bourne
The season started at Oulton park and hot favourite for XR2 Championship honours was Mike Heath who took two outright wins, one in the wet and one in the dry. Justin Roberts also showed promise with two good 3rd place finishes.
Come the next round at Oulton the tables were turned and it was Greg Speight who took two outright victories in his newly acquired ex-Craig Brookfield championship winning XR2, with his rival Mike Heath only managing two 3rd places finishes with Ralph Fernihough keeping Heath at bay to secure two 2nd place results.
The Anglesey circuit in North Wales was our next venue for the championship and the battle continued between Heath and Speight. This time Speight took two victories with Heath managing a great victory in Race 3 from the back of the grid, while Steve Poole also started to show his form with 5th, 3rd and 2nd place finishes.
Greg Speight continued his winning ways back at Oulton Park in August with victory in Race 1, but a disappointing result in Race 2 in wet conditions left him with a 4th in class result, with Heath having a non-finish due to a coming together with a competitor who drove into the side of him. Heath managed a 2nd in class finish in Race 2 behind the ever improving Ben Atkinson.
The championship was looking good for Speight who had a very good margin on points over Heath heading off to are next meeting at Anglesey. All Speight had to do was to finish, but disaster struck when Greg did not finish one of the 3 races due to various engine problems. Mike Heath gained 3 well deserved outright victorys, so the scene was set for a gripping last round at Oulton Park.
With Speight taking pole position for Race 1 and Heath a further 5 places down, there was a slim chance that Speight could take the XR2 Championship crown. While Heath and Speight were busy in battle, Justin Roberts took a brilliant race victory in that race with Speight only managing a 4th place, but Heath had a disaster when he had a coming together with a fellow competitor which dropped him well down the grid, finally finishing 10th in class.
All Mike had to do in race two was to finish and this would secure his 3rd championship crown, and with Greg believing his championship aspirations of being now gone he just settled himself down to having a good race. Again it was Justin Roberts who disappeared off into the distance to claim another brilliant victory, while further down the field Mike Heath pulled off the track on the first lap to retire when a carburettor union pulled out which ended his race. This was unknown to Speight as all he had to do was finish 3rd or higher. With a well deserved 2nd place he claimed the XR Challenge XR2 Class title.
This year's XR3 championship was between 4 drivers – Lee Bowron, Mike Taylor (last year's champion) Ryan Bowron and newcomer to the XR3 class and past XR2 champion Mike Blackburn.
In very wet conditions at Oulton, Ron Loftstadt showed them all how to cope in the adverse weather with a great victory with Mike Taylor and Ryan Bowron next up, whilst Lee Bowron retired. In Race 2, the tables were turned and it was Lee Bowron who took victory from Ryan Bowron and Mike Taylor.
The Lee Bowron winning streak continued to the next meeting at Oulton again, as Lee took victory in both races with son Ryan taking 2nd spot after a great battle with Mike Taylor.
Anglesey in May saw the first the first appearance of the season from Mike Blackburn and he took victory in his first race, with Lee Bowron taking victory in Races 2 & 3.
Blackburn took several more victories throughout the year including an outright victory at Oulton and although he was the man to beat, he could not match the consistency of Mike Taylor the took the XR3 honours for the second year running.
The successful cost effective XR Challenge will be back again in 2017 with more cars and drivers.