News for 2017
JDF Racing's Cal Cooper Leads Aprilia RRV 450 Challenge after Donington Dominance.
Story by Lionel Cowin
Cal Cooper shot to the top of the British Aprilia 450 championship standings after scoring a hat-trick of wins at Donington Park at the weekend.
The 15 year old from St Jude’s was involved in some of the fiercest racing seen in the championship’s history, his winning margins being just 0.070 in race one on Saturday, 0.096 in Sunday’s opener and a “massive” 0.318 in the final encounter.
Riding the JDF Racing prepared Italian v-twin, Cooper, a Manx Sports Aid recipient, was in brilliant form from the word go, clocking the second fastest time in qualifying, a mere 0.090 away from pole.
With thick mist enveloping the track until early Saturday afternoon, the third round of the championship was restricted to just one race.
With double points on offer, Cooper lit up the Aprilia in great style in fading light and led from start to finish, the ultimate outcome resting on the rider fastest on the draw out of the final corner.
With Sunday’s starting grid for the two races of round four based on the previous day’s fastest laps, Cooper was still on the front row in third and he again powered into the lead in the first outing, never to be headed, with the drama mounting as he again dived into the final corner with just half a length to spare, getting the power on early and holding on for a great win.
A spot of argy-bargy coming out of Redgate on the run to the downhill swoop to Hollywood and Craner Curves on the opening lap of race two left Cooper languishing down the field in 13th, but some determined riding saw him work his way through the pack.
After some scary brinkmanship at the end of the run down Dunlop Straight and again at Melbourne Hairpin, Cooper finally emerged at the front again with three laps to go, using his head and throttle hand in perfect harmony for another great win.
Utilising the Supertwin 650 Open races for practice and setting up the Aprilia as well as bedding in tyres, Cooper qualified 0.203 off pole for a front row slot on Saturday.
An indifferent start left him too much to do in the first race and he came home in fifth behind Steve Tomes’ 650 Kawasaki.
In the first race on Sunday, Cooper set the second fastest lap behind TT-entrant Tomes, whose machine was just too quick for the Aprilia, but he was happy to head home the main 450-mounted opposition.
Bedding in a new rear tyre and front brake pads in the second race, Cooper bided his time before gunning it into third with a couple of laps to go, but came to grief without injury or major damage when the front end washed out at Melbourne Hairpin.