Battle of the Champions part 3 started off with the announcement that Jack would not be racing. He had not sufficiently recovered to race. Defending champion, Argo, was under the weather all through the race weekend with limited track time. The prospect of an enthralling light to flag race was not looking forthcoming.
Most of the excitement happened in the first Lap with Pre-race favorite and pole sitter, David, getting off the line very well. So did Gbenga who was already second by turn 1. With only David ahead of him, would he be able to keep up with the consistency of pace David had threatened to all week along? Sama of Throttle Heads Racing who had been struggling all week long with his launch starts, due to a slipping clutch dropped to P6. David’s team mate, Armstrong of CC racing, gained three places to move up to P3 and gave himself a fighting chance to go with the top two.
The second lap saw Gbenga take the lead coming out of turn 4 and immediately started breaking away from David. While Armstrong thought long and hard about going under his team mate at turn 7, probably decided against as taking out a team mate would have been quite the disaster. Sama was eventually able to take P4 from Argo after the latter had run tight defensive lines through the previous two corners. Will his poor start cost him a podium? With clear track ahead, Sama was pushing to make it a three-way fight for P2. Argo was riding in P5 and his 24-7 team mate, JayDee on the Tuono, was in P6 with Babatunde in P7. Babs, who was riding in his last BT, had an issue on the home straight at the start of the second lap which must have cost him a potential battle with JayDee.
Gbenga crossed the line for the start of the third lap with his lead visually extended further. David had also broken the challenge of his team mate who dumped the bike at turn 3 with Sama inheriting P3. Could Sama make up the gap deficit to David? Surprisingly, the former gained time on the latter through turns 8 and 10 but had no answer anywhere else. And so it played out until, lap 8 where it seems David found more time or perhaps Sama was running slower but the gap extended for the two more laps.
Onto lap ten and the pace of the race started to drop. David retired when his rear tyre lost pressure – not the first time this weekend. Sama was in P2, the defending champion who had a very lowkey race up to that point was in P3. JayDee and Babs were riding within themselves to ensure they brought the bikes across the finish line. This was especially true for Babs as it simply enjoying the occasion, not unlike the more illustrous Jorge Lorenzo a few weeks back on a Honda.
With the contest over after David’s retirement, it was a procession till the last lap. While the race did not thrill with battles, this was a race that was almost equally as exciting with the way Gbenga executed his race strategy. He had shared less than 24 hours before the race that his plan was to get out front and try to get away from the chasing pack. Get away he did. It never looked like he would ever relinquish his lead.
It was a case of perseverance for Sama as he did not finish the race last year due to a mechanical fault. Curiously, it was third time lucky as it was the first time he ever completed a race at this track.
It was redemption for the winner, Gbenga, who came into 2018 as a rookie and overwhelming favorite for the win last year until he suffered a painful off at turn 6. It was a long road to recovery for the man from BKG racing. What a way to cap an eventful 12 months.