A tale of two competitors: Skinner vs Cook goes down to the wire

30 September 2018

It was a Dutch duel to remember in Race 2 – and it’s Cook who takes it to close in on Skinner

The TT Circuit Assen has a habit of creating classics and Race 2 of the British Talent Cup was no different. Going down to the final chicane between Rory Skinner and Max Cook, their race long duel was decided by thousandths – and it’s Cook who took the spoils. Completing the podium after a somewhat solitary but solid race was Thomas Strudwick, who took another 16 points to stay in touching distance in the title fight.

It was Skinner who took the holeshot from pole, with Strudwick attacking early but the Scot soon taking him back. Cook settled into third in the early stages but he also had Brian Hart for close company as the field all hammered around the first lap, with nothing to split them on Lap 1.

As the second lap dawned, Cook was lining up a move and he attacked Skinner for the lead, with Strudwick in third and Race 1 podium finisher Storm Stacey moving through to lead the second group. Sure enough, soon after the lead three really began to make a break for it – although Stacey was pushing hard to get back in touch with them. By Lap 6, however, he’d been swallowed back up by the second group and it looked to be set for a three-way fight for the win.

On Lap 6, Cook struck for the lead and he held onto it – with a few laps keeping the status quo. Slowly but surely, however, Cook and Skinner were able to eke out an advantage on Strudwick – and they were in clear air by Lap 10.

Lap 10 also saw Skinner strike for the lead, and the Scot took it back in style. But the tale of the race wasn’t over and the two remained glued together as the laps ticked down. On the final lap it almost looked as though Skinner had been able to pull the pin but it was to no avail, as Cook nailed the final sector to perfection, pulling alongside the points leader into the final chicane…

It was a dramatic and close final move with both bikes wobbling through the change of direction and blasting almost neck and neck for the line, but Cook made it stick and took the victory by an incredible 0.005. In the standings, that makes all the difference as he gains on Strudwick, who crossed the line third, and closes five points in on Skinner.

Just behind the duel for the win and Strudwick’s solid ride to third, it was a battle royal to decide the rest of the top ten. After Race 1 had ended in heartbreak for crasher Cameron Horsman, he bounced back on Sunday to get to the front of the big group fight and crossed the line in fourth, just over a tenth ahead of Race 1 podium man Stacey. Jack Nixon was only a further half a tenth in arrears, ahead of Jamie Davis, lightning starter Brian Hart and Fenton Seabright who completed that group down to P9.

Charlie Farrer beat Charlie Atkins and Scott Swann to the honour of completing the top ten after another close group fight, with Atkins and Swann just 0.006 apart and only upstaged by the hundredth less that decided the race win.

Now it’s time for the final showdown at Valencia, with the MotoGP™ season finale hosting the British Talent Cup season finale, too. Skinner now leads after another top weekend and he’s on 155, 12 ahead of the man who led on the way into the TT Circuit Assen, Thomas Strudwick. Max Cook, meanwhile, moves a bit closer – with his deficit now 29 points. With only one weekend remaining, it’s now sure that one of that trio will be crowned Champion.

Find out which in November when the British Talent Cup returns on the 16th to 18th at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

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