13-year-old Charlie Atkins had his first ever race at the famous TT circuit Assen in the Netherlands last weekend in the Hel Performance Motostar British Championship standard class. The Moto3 British Superbike support series was on its annual visit to the continent for the penultimate round of racing.
On the Friday morning the Goole rider quickly set about learning the 2.8 mile track with its famous final chicane that has caused many a race to be won or lost. Atkins stayed out for the full session making sure he gained valuable experience on the track and continually reduced his lap times. He finished the session with the fourth quickest time of 1:52.619.
In the qualifying session later the same day Atkins put his Wilson Racing Moto3 machine at the head of the second row. He felt comfortable on the circuit and managed to reduce his lap time by almost 1.3 seconds from the morning session.
Atkins looked forward to race one on Saturday afternoon. He made a good start running fourth and stayed with the front group of riders from the start. On the second lap he moved up to third place overtaking Shane Faber and then sitting behind Asher Durham. On the fourth lap the leader Dan Jones was almost a second ahead of Durham and Atkins, so the number 56 rider overtook on the start finish straight and went cleanly up into second position.
The following lap Jones and Atkins were beginning to make a break of the third placed rider. Atkins then overtook the race leader and current champion on lap six to go into the race lead. From then on the two front-runners pulled away. Atkins was unable to shake-off Jones and as they came across some back markers at the end of the race they caused both riders to lose time. Fortunately, Atkins held on to cross the finishing line 0.163 seconds ahead and take his first victory in the Hel Performance Motostar British Championship.
For race two Charlie Atkins was supposed to line up in the middle of the front row, his best ever grid position. Unfortunately, he had a technical problem which delayed him getting to the start so he was forced to start from the back of the grid. The race start was action packed as three riders didn’t make it past the first corners but Atkins moved up to ninth. More importantly he had tagged onto the back of the leading group of riders. As he race progressed Atkins was able to pick off a couple of riders and move up to seventh. By the end of lap eight he gained another position. On the penultimate lap he overtook his Wilson Racing team-mate and went on to complete a great recovery and finish fifth.
Charlie Atkins said, “I was over the moon to win the race yesterday! I still can’t believe it. Everything just clicked, the bike felt great and I felt great. It’s a wonderful feeling to get your first victory. The second race was full of positives too. After having to start from the back of the grid because we had a technical problem, I managed to work my way up finish fifth so I’ve got to be pleased with that. Thanks to Gary Wilson for a super bike again this weekend and also to my sponsors, Harmen Carpets, Metcalf Autos, Repair and Restore Body shop, DRM and Must Have Media Services. ”