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IT WAS an opportunity to get up close and personal with a true sporting great at the weekend, and thousands of people made the most of it at the brand new Carole Nash Newark Bike Bonanza.

John McGuinness, fresh from completing a remarkable 20th TT victory at the Isle of Man event, spent hours meeting fans as well as participating in fascinating Q&A sessions with Newark Bike Bonanza compere Steve Plater on Saturday and Sunday (June 22-23).

The ‘Morecambe Missile’ told organisers how great it was to be taking part: “I’ve had a fantastic time here in Newark. “I’m especially pleased to see such a varied crowd; we have the older, established bike fans as well as the new generation who are coming through, and that really is what it’s all about.”

Along with McGuinness, the show featured many other top names from both road-racing and track disciplines with local riders Alex Lowes and Ben Wilson, TT starlet Conor Cummins and Samsung Honda ace Jason O’Halloran completing a superb line-up. The Classic TT, a much-anticipated event heading for the iconic island this August, also came in for discussion among the competitors.

McGuinness shared his thoughts: “I’m looking forward to celebrating the history of the TT with this fun new event.

“It wouldn’t do the TT justice if there wasn’t any competitiveness though and I know when I pull that helmet on the race instincts are bound to kick in.”

The special guests also lent a helping hand at the Newark Bike Bonanza awards presentation where Chris Thompson’s 1981 250 Yamaha RD250 took the Best In Show accolade.

Thompson and his Yamaha will now go into the Classic Bikers Club Bike of the Year 2013 online vote, which will be decided later in the year. The high-octane action came thick and fast throughout the weekend with champion-stuntman Steve Colley and extreme-mountain bike rider Danny Butler wowing the crowds with breath-taking displays.

Ken Fox’s world-famous Wall of Death was on top form also, as the incredible team of dare-devils defied gravity to keep onlookers thoroughly entertained. Many worthy causes were highlighted too; the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, Nottinghamshire Fire Brigade, the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership and Lincolnshire Blood Bikes were all at Newark Showground over the weekend, showcasing the vital work they undertake in road safety.

A special charity auction held on Saturday evening saw more than £1300 raised, with the money being shared between the ambucopter and the TT Riders’ Association. With all of this and much more aside, the Carole Nash Newark Bike Bonanza lived up to high expectations and looks set to establish itself as a top summer event in the East Midlands region for many years to come.

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