Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Oliver Brindley v The World
When we booked the flights we didn't realise the DTRA's rising star, Oliver Brindley would be competing. Chris Carr, who helped organise the Superprestigio and chose who was invited, contacted the DTRA and said the 2015 UK champion would have a place. 2015 DTRA champ Aidan Collins (who is interviewed in Sideburn 23) chose not to take up the offer, preferring a young up and comer to have the chance to grab the opportunity. After an initial no from the Superprestigio, who - it seems - wanted the champion or nothing, DTRA chief, Anthony Brown negotiated an invite for 16-year-old Ollie Brindley to be the British representative.
The event was a double-header - the GNC finale on Friday night, the Superprestigio on Saturday night.
So, on his 17th birthday, after spending a week racing and preparing at tracks in California, Ollie lined up in his first ever AMA Pro GNC2* event. In an incredibly pressurised qualifying period made up of two short timed sessions of only FOUR x 10 second laps of the tiny, rough track, Ollie was number qualifier out of a class of 46 riders, many of whom have been riding the GNC2 class all season. So, that's a combined practice AND qualifying session of just 80 seconds of riding. You have to be on it for the get-go.
The heat race didn't go according to plan, and Ollie didn't make it through to the semis, and his GNC debut was over much earlier than he wanted, but he made his mark and knew the mistake he'd made. One of the great things about Ollie, and his dad Derek, are they don't get hung up on any failures. They shrug and move on, learning from it. Easier said than done, but the best way.
Relatively few of the GNC stars were invited to compete in Saturday's Superprestigio, only a total of 16 from both GNC1 and GNC2, including former champions; the current GNC2 champ, Davis Fisher; the winner of the Peoria GNC2 race, Jesse Janisch; the winners of Friday's two classes - Briar Bauman and Dan Bromley.
Like the Spanish Superprestigio, there are two classes. Here it was pro flat track and All Star, but there was a very meagre bunch of 'All-Star' non-flat trackers, nowhere near as memorable as the star-studded Barcelona line-ups. It didn't affect the quality of the racing (but the crowd was much thinner for Saturday than it was for Friday's GNC Finale).
Ollie was put in the All-Stars class, avoiding the pro flat trackers - like Mees, Johnson, Halbert, Coolbeth, Smith, Bauman... He would race Franc Serra, Roger Hayden, Larry Pegram, Toni Elias, Jake Gagne, Aaron Colton... The young Brit qualified fourth in his class. Veteran road racer and flat tracker, Pegram was quickest.
The evening started badly for Ollie, he seemed to stall out of his first race. Then he totally missed his second race, but won his third and then won his 8-rider semi to put him in the 8-rider final.
By now the tiny, tight track was a rutted mess. Ollie was in podium contention for much of the 12-lap final, but eventually came fourth behind Pegram, Roger Hayden and Joe Roberts. It was enough to send him to the grand final (like he had made at the 2014 Superprestigio in Spain), and an opportunity to gain invaluable experience racing the current heroes of the sport - Mees; Baker; Coolbeth and Smith - riders with ten (right?) GNC titles and dozens of National wins between them.
The 15-lap superfinal was brutal, but Ollie stayed out of danger while staying in touch with the leaders and finished sixth, ahead of fallers Hayden and Smith.
The lad done good. And he'll be at the Spanish Superprestigio in December looking to impress again.
If any companies out there wants to sponsor Ollie, email us firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll put you directly in touch. The lad is going places. G
PS I won't say who won in case you watch to watch on fanschoice.tv when they post it.
PPS Read a nice write up on Ollie's Californian warm-up races on the Poppawheelie blog
* GNC2, like Moto2, is the class below the premier class. It was formerly known as Pro Singles and is for up and coming riders looking to progress to GNC1, the class formerly known as Expert.