Lee Johnston bags prestigious Steve Henshaw Gold Cup at Oliver's Mount

Lee Johnston (number 13) leads the way into a bend at Scarboroughs iconic Olivers Mount course during the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup weekend ''''PICTURES BY JOHN MARGETTS
Lee Johnston (number 13) leads the way into a bend at Scarboroughs iconic Olivers Mount course during the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup weekend ''''PICTURES BY JOHN MARGETTS

Racing returned to Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount at the weekend, with the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup back after a two-year absence.

And although it was a weekend of contrasting weather conditions, it was Lee Johnston who walked away with the prestigious trophy.

The Ashcourt Racing rider put in a faultless ride in treacherous conditions on Sunday, which threatened to curtail proceedings at the famous 2.43-mile venue.

And having led from the start, he eventually took the chequered flag at the end of the eight laps by three seconds from Mike Norbury with David Jackson taking third. Brad Vicars, Joey Thompson and Joe Ackroyd completed the top six.

Johnston became just the third rider from Northern Ireland to lift the International Gold Cup, following in the footsteps of Ryan Farquhar and Michael Dunlop, and joined legendary names such as Barry Sheene, Giacomo Agostini and Carl Fogarty on the trophy which was first awarded in 1950.

Sunday’s race schedule differed greatly from Saturday’s action when the North Yorkshire venue saw the large crowd lining the fences bathed in sunshine.

It was Johnston who came of on top in the feature Supersport 600cc race as he brought his Yamaha YZF-R6 home ahead of Norbury once more, this time by the reduced margin of 1.6s.

Johnston sat in third place in the early stages of the race as Jackson set the pace ahead of Norbury, but once the Ulsterman moved to the front at half-race distance, he soon pulled away.

With the fastest lap of the race, 1m50.766s, more than half a second quicker than anyone else, the 30-year-old was able to ease off on the eighth and final lap with Norbury maintaining station in second.

In the dry, sunny conditions, Vicars came through for third ahead of fellow Manx GP podium finisher Stephen Parsons as Jackson slipped back to fifth ahead of Ackroyd.

Johnston also took second in the Classic Superbike race after starting from the back of the grid on Phil Reed’s RC45 Honda and overhauling 20 riders.

By the time he’d moved up to second, David Bell had opened up a substantial lead and he took a comfortable win on his OW01 Yamaha.

Circuit debutante Paul Jordan was on course for second place before he was forced to retire the Mistral Racing Kawasaki in the closing stages and that allowed Pete Boast to take third ahead of Daniel Ingham and Barry Furber.

The closest race of the day came in the Lightweight encounter as Ian Lougher, Dominic Herbertson and Joey Thompson did battle.

Vicars ran with them at the beginning before retiring and although Herbertson and Thompson tried to find a way by Lougher, the Welshman held on to extend his record as the most successful rider ever around the Mount circuit.

Julian Tillotson and Justin Collins won the Supersport ‘B’ and ‘C’ finals respectively with Phil Harvey coming out on top in the 400cc race after Thompson retired, while John Lowther and

Tom Christie got the better of Conrad Harrison and Andrew Winkle in a shortened Sidecar race.

The heavy rain forecast for Sunday fell and it was 12.30pm before any action could take place, but the organisers did a sterling job to ensure eight races took place.

The sidecars started the action and after missing Saturday’s races, Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie got the better of Lowther and Christie by 5.2s to pick up the Ian Bell Trophy.

Aside from the Gold Cup, Johnston sat out the remainder of the day and that allowed Norbury to take the spoils in the Supersport A race, with the Spada Racing rider a deserved winner after strong rides all weekend.

He beat Vicars into second as Don Gilbert took third and there were first time winners in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ races with Daniel Forbes and Richard Telford taking their maiden victories at the Mount.

Rain wasn’t going to prevent veteran Lougher from taking to the grid and he duly wrapped up the double in the Lightweight race as he took a staggering 140th victory at the venue with Vicars and Herbertson completing the podium.

Bell repeated his Classic Superbike victory from Saturday, Furber taking second on this occasion as Boast again finished third and it was Mark Purslow who got the verdict in the 400cc race with Ingham in second and Newcomers Manx GP winner Andy Jackson the first of the Moto 3 riders in third.