RAIN and a track contamination put the brakes on the region's motorcycle racing stars start to the 2012 season at Brands Hatch.
Superbike riders Graeme Gowland and Barry Burrell both endured a tough opening race of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at the Kent circuit, only to have the second race of the day cancelled.
It was a difficult start for both riders as they began their season in the rain yesterday afternoon, Gowland starting 14th on the grid on his WFR Honda while Burrell lined up 19th on his Buildbase BMW.
Gowland’s race went a similar way to his opening round at Brands Hatch last year when he crashed out on the opening lap after a tangle with another machine.
He was taken to the medical centre but found to be unhurt.
Burrell, meanwhile, struggled throughout the race, finally crossing the line in 19th place, and both were keen to make amends in race two.
Things did not go to plan, however, as a crash in the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship involving several riders left the track contaminated. Marshalls worked hard to clear the problem and the BSB riders were given an eight-minute free practice session to evaluate the track.
The unanimous decision was taken to postpone it to a later round.
South Shields teenager Josh Corner and Northumberland team boss Steve Kinghorn were both left disappointed when their races were subsequently cancelled as a result.
However, one rider who did get to enjoy his first round of the year was Burnopfield youngster Chrissy Rouse, who now leads his class in his rookie season of the Triumph Triple Challenge.
With his first race on Sunday evening, the 16-year-old finished second in class and ninth overall.
He then went one better in yesterday afternoon’s race, scoring a Premier class win and crossing the line second overall.
He said: “It is a great start to the season for me.
“I am over the moon to be leading the class after my first ever race in this championship.
“I am loving this new bike, the Daytona 675 suits me and my riding style and I think this is going to be a good season.”
All the riders will be back in action this weekend when the series heads to Thruxton in Hampshire.