Le Mans Comes To Knockhill
Endurance racing makes its debut at Fife circuit.
The inaugural Knockhill 100 endurance race got underway on Sunday, with 20 two-rider teams from Superbike, Clubman and Formula600 classes lining up for a Le Mans style start. It was a race to complete 100 laps of the 1.27 mile track, with each rider allowed to do a maximum of 30 laps per stint, forcing at least two pit stops. for each team.
Qualifying was run over two sessions, one for each team member, with an average of the two quickest times deciding the starting positions. It was local brothers Greg & Sean Gilfillan who qualified quickest, with an average combined time of 50.873 seconds to grab the number one slot on the starting grid.
Willie Monie & Scott Shand qualified in second with an average time of 51.223 and Adrian Clark & Donald MacFadyen in third spot with a 51.884 lap.
Rather then the traditional grid formation, the Le Mans style start sees the bikes line up on one edge of the track, with the riders lined up on the other. When the flag drops the riders have to sprint to their machines, fire them up and take towards the first turn.
It was Monie who got off his mark quickest and he led the pack into the top of Duffus Dip, followed closely by Gifillan and Sam Munro.
Matt Paulo also got off to a flier, jumping up from fifth spot to get away with the leaders. Paulo grabbed the lead on lap 8 , and set about building up a decent gap before his pitstop. Teammate Willie Bergin was running his F600 Kawasaki, so any lead that Paulo could give him at the handover, would be invaluable.
100 laps around the tight twisty circuit is no mean feat, with no spot to get a rest around the lap, the riders were working harder than usual, and the heat was adding to the difficulty. Scottish Championship and KMSC races are usually run over 10 laps, so doing 30 laps in one go was always going to be a test of fitness as much as outright speed.
Greig Gilfillan took over from his brother just short of the 30 lap mark and when he grabbed the lead back just before the mid-way point, things were looking good for the Fife brothers. Perth rider Rory Skinner took the lead briefly just after lap 50, but Gilfillan got back in front and looked like he had the pace to take the victory. But disaster struck on lap 78 when he crashed out at Scotsman. Brother Grieg was allowed to re-join, but he was down in 9th spot, with only 20 laps left so any hope of victory was gone.
Skinner was running in second spot when he pitted on lap 80 and handed over to teammate Sam Munro to complete the final run. Leader Paulo handed back to Bergin at the same time while a late sprint from Paul McLung took him up to third before he handed over to Lewis Paterson.
With 10 to go, Munro grabbed the lead back from Bergin and held on until the chequered flag to take victory for the Munro / Skinner team. Bergin / Paulo finished in second, with McLung / Paterson on the final step of the podium.
Elsewhere, Cowdenbeath rider James Purvis finished where he started in 14th spot with teammate Mark Farrell, and Perth man Torquil Paterson and teammate Angus Green made it up to 12th from 18th on the grid.
Bike racing returns to Knockhill in July, when the British Superbike Championship makes its annual visit on 6th, 7th & 8th of July.
Full KH100 photo gallery HERE