Holmfirth racers Jonathan and James Lodge took on a different challenge at Oulton Park – and were winners.

The brothers, more usually seen on the track at British Superbikes meetings, entered the three-hour National Endurance championship round at Oulton Park.

The event is a gruelling non-stop race around the Cheshire circuit and the Lodges faced some tough competition from top names such as ex-British Superbike Cup champion Gary Mason, the reigning Superstock 1000 champion Hudson Kennaugh and Gary Johnson, who is TT Race winner.

The added twist was that for James it was his first ever race on a 1000cc bike, but the pair hit the ground running.

“We had a long qualifying session on Friday which allowed James to adjust to the 200bhp Kawasaki ZX10R,” explained Jonathan.

“The 1:40.9 set by myself put us second on the grid behind Mason and Stefan Capella riding for Prime Factors Racing, who are the newly crowned National Endurance champions.

“Despite it only being James first time riding the Diesolift/Unipart Rail Kawasaki 1000, he had good pace and was quick straight away.

Jonathan Lodge in action during the three-hour endurance race at Oulton Park
Jonathan Lodge in action during the three-hour endurance race at Oulton Park
 

“Looking at our combined times and consistency we knew we had a good chance of winning if the pit stops all went to plan.”

The race started at 9.50 so track conditions changed over the three hours of racing, but the pair dealt with all that was put before them.

“It was a Le Mans start where I had to run from the side of the track and jump on the bike been held up by James,” added Jonathan.

“I got away pretty cleanly and was third after the first lap.

“With the race starting so early the track was still cold and we had an issue with the rear tyre tearing in the first stint and the last 15 minutes was pretty difficult as the bike was sliding everywhere.

“After the first 30 minutes and the first rider change over, we were around 22 seconds back on Prime Factors in second place, but a further 20 seconds clear of third, but James was consistently faster than Prime Factors’ Stefan Capella and soon caught and passed him in his stint.”

The pressure was then on to hold the lead just for the small matter of a couple of hours.

“We were in the lead by just 1.4 seconds at the 1 hour point and another good pit stop and rider change put me back out for the second stint in which we gained 23 seconds on the Linxcel team with Hudson Kennaugh and Steven Neate at the 1 hour 30 point,” said Jonathan.

“Although we where now a good two seconds a lap slower than the fastest time of the race, we were consistently strong all race long, but a fast stint by Kennaugh caught us up and the gap was back to under a second at the 2 hour mark.

“Another swap and an early pit stop put us just 10 seconds in front of Prime Factors again at the two and a half hour mark, but they still had a stop to go and we where nearly a minute clear of Linxcel, we knew just a clear steady last stint by James would finish with us on top spot.

“James had just left the pitlane when the safety car was called out, but fortunately it had helped us even more and at this point nearly a lap clear of second place so all James had to do was bring it home for our first National Endurance win.

“It was a long game of cat and mouse and its a very different type of riding to short sprint racing.

“And it’s a true team effort with the guys in pitlane and both riders all needing to work as one to keep any time lost to a minimum.

“It was a good experience for both of us and some useful time on a Stock 1000 for James before he rides it at the Silverstone BSB round in a few weeks time.”