Qualifying – On the fast Cathedral of Speed circuit, there was something of a surprise when a returning Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, current world championship leaders, took provisional pole on their 600cc Adolf RS chassis'd Carl Cox Motorsport Yamaha.
This was later bettered by the newly crowned British Champions Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark .
Whilst Reeves and Wilkes's outright speed was well down on the 1000cc Santander Salt Kawasaki of Kershaw and Clark, the multiple world champion was very fast through the turns and tighter sections, and ran them very close indeed.
With their world championship lead slashed to one single point ahead of the decider, Tim Reeves needed track time to establish the cause of his mechanical woes.
Continuing mechanical issues here in Holland with overheating oil led to a replacement engine being fitted for the opening race. As things turned out, the problem was solved, more than justifying the trip to Holland.
Race One – There was drama from the word go, when Kershaw and Clark stopped on the sighting lap with an intermittent electrical fault. They were then forced to sit the race out with heads in hands.
Reeves flew off the line, and had a momentary first turn scrap with Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde for the lead.
Once ahead he never looked back, but was chased hard by a terrific battle between Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki), Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Kawasaki) and Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson (Santander Salt Honda).
There was contact on a couple of occasions between Stevens and Bryan, as well as several passing moves. Eventually, the 600 of Stevens prevailed, with Bryan spinning out twice in the final lap.
The Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki crew looked much more like their old fighting selves, as they waged war with the vastly experienced Bryan and Hyde. Their reward was a fine second place.
The Santander Salt Honda of Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson was always in the hunt, and both he and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney on the Dave Holden Racing Suzuki profited from the unfortunate Bryan, with Ellis claiming the final podium place.
Behind all this drama was an extremely accomplished and consistent ride by Ian Guy and Jed Pilmoor-Brady. This pair have enjoyed a good season together, and would be well in the top end of the table had they contested all the rounds.
Simon Gilbert with stand-in passenger Eamon Mulholland was strong in seventh ahead of Gary Horspole/James Connell.
Reeves's advantage at the flag after eight laps was a huge thirteen seconds, giving him confidence for the upcoming world clash.
Result – 1/ Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes (Carl Cox Motorsport Adolf RS Yamaha), 2/ Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki), 3/ Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson (Santander Salt Honda), 4/ Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney (Dave Holden Racing Suzuki), 5/ Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Kawasaki), 6/ Ian Guy/Jed Pilmoor-Brady (Yangi Motorsport Suzuki), 7/ Simon Gilbert/Eamon Mulholland (Draper Racing Yamaha), 8/ Gary Horspole/James Connell (Sleaford Quality Foods/Baker Plant Kawasaki),
9/ Bryan Gray/Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha), 10/ John Holden/Lee Cain (Silicone engineering/Barnes Racing Kawasaki)
Race Two – With electrical problems fixed, Kershaw and Clark started the reverse grid race from the back, as Reeves and Bryan quickly scythed through the early starters. Simon Gilbert was quick away too from Horspole, with a bundle of 600's making their presence felt. Gilbert and Mulholland were eventually to bring it home in a fine fifth place.
Kershaw gobbled up more places and eventually eased past Reeves to lead. Moments later, there was smoke, a hand in the air, and a blown engine for the Santander Salt bike. Gary Horspole crashed and capsized on the contamination and out came the red flag.
In the restart it was almost a lights to flag victory for Reeves, but he was chased all the way by a precocious Todd Ellis, who at one point looked like he had the measure of the multiple world champion.
Stevens and Charlwood had an excursion onto the grass, assisted by Lewis Blackstock. This dropped them back, and the best they could muster was seventh place, whilst Blackstock and Rosney finally fought through to third.
Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde were constantly in the mix at the front with several exciting moments, before they too recorded a solid score with fourth.
Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes chalked up victory number two, albeit just three seconds ahead of Ellis this time out.
Result – 1/ Reeves/Wilkes, 2/ Ellis/Richardson, 3/ Blackstock/Rosney, 4/ Bryan/Hyde,
5/ Gilbert/Mulholland, 6/ Biggs/Schmitz, 7/ Stevens/Charlwood, 8/ Nicholls/Cole
Standings – Kershaw 456, Ellis 299, Bryan 266, Stevens 235, Horspole 174, Gray 145, Gilbert 140, Birchall 130, Nicholls 127, Biggs 116
Cup Points – Ellis 394, Stevens 334, Gray 270, Biggs 214, Birchall 150, Peach 143