Melton motorcycle racer Ant Hart hits back with French victory

Hart tops the Paul Ricard podium EMN-190516-144708002
Hart tops the Paul Ricard podium EMN-190516-144708002
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Defending champion Antony Hart celebrated another top weekend on the Continent with a race victory in the International Classic Grand Prix Championship.

The Melton motorcycle racer and his team headed to the south of France for round two of the championship at the famous Paul Ricard circuit.

A charging Hart in a race of his own in France EMN-190516-144718002

A charging Hart in a race of his own in France EMN-190516-144718002

It was a chance for the Hart team to make amends for the bad luck of the opening round when gearbox failure caused an accident which left them without points.

And the weekend started well as Hart set the second-fastest time in the first qualifying session behind Mike Edwards, with Ian Simpson in third.

With just 0.6secs between the three riders, second qualifying was expected to be close and the session brought much of the same.

The trio once again lapped within a second of each other, with the Leicestershire rider ending up third on the starting grid.

“I got held up on my fast lap so I knew I could go quicker and therefore I was confident for a good result come raceday,” Hart said.

In the first race, Edwards soon retired with an engine failure, but Hart became delayed by a battle with a local French rider which lasted a couple of laps.

By the time had cleared the Frenchman, Simpson had pulled a substantial lead which proved impossible to catch leaving Hart to settle for second place, with Jean-Paul Lecoint in third.

Hart added: “We made some changes to the bike for race two, and I was determined to get away with Simpson as I knew I had to stay with him if I wanted a chance of victory.

“My start wasn’t great when the lights went out and I was third into the first corner.

“By the time I’d passed Lecoint and got into second, Simpson was more than two seconds clear and I had a feeling it was going to be a repeat of race one.”

Hart pushed on and slowly started to catch the former British Superbike champion.

By mid-race distance he was on his tail and managed to pass him with three laps to go.

“With his experience I knew he would have a go back and sure enough on the last corner he came up the inside of me,” Hart continued.

“I knew he’d struggle to make the apex, though, so I cut inside of him on the exit and beat him to the line by half-a-second.

“It was a great way to finish the weekend, the bike performed faultlessly and the team were elated.”

Hart will have to skip the next round because of date clashes with another championship, but will resume the International GP series at Donington Park in August.