77 riders mounted on Pre-70 and Twin-shock bikes started the now traditional 2 + 2 lap format trial set out around the Woodbridge & D MCC Moto-X track at Blaxhall. Two laps of 12 sections, laid out on gravel and wooded banks were to be attempted prior to a lunch interval during which the sections were reversed, two more laps were then to be ridden. Unbroken sunshine and a light wind after a fair bit of overnight rain gave rise to perfect riding conditions, and sections with plenty of grip for what was the opening round of the 2016 Eastern Centre Championship for the Pre-70 classes.
On the hard route of the Pre-Unit class, last year’s winner, Matt Neale (Ariel 500) was in good form, having dabs on the climbs of sections 4, 6 and 10 for a first lap total of three. However he was not to go unchallenged, James Williams ( Royal Enfield 350 ) also dropped just three marks on lap 1, and Kevin Hood ( Royal Enfield 350 ) was just a couple of marks behind, having failed to get up the stepped climb midway through section 6. He dropped his only mark of the morning session on his second attempt at the short steep climb of section 4. Neale dropped a two on his second attempt at section 6, but Williams only had a single dab, on the twisting climb to the exit of section 9, on his second lap to hold the lead at the lunch interval. By the end of lap three Neale had taken the top spot after going clean, Williams taking singles, again at section 9 and on the climb through the trees at section 11, Hood had by now slid out of contention, being five marks further adrift. All three went clean on their final laps, giving Neale the win by the slenderest of margins.
Robert Clarke (BSA 290) and Kevin Goldsmith (Royal Enfield 350) were the only Pre-Unit mounted riders on the intermediate and easy routes respectively.
In the Unit class Gary Baker (Triumph 200) went clean throughout the morning session, Chris Collins (BSA 250) was holding second place after losing two marks on his first attempt at section 6 and taking a dab on his second go at the tight twisting section 7. After the turn around both riders lost their only marks on their third attempts at section 7, Baker took a dab over the fallen tree near the exit. Collins also lost his marks crossing the same tree, but suffered a lot worse than Baker, he somehow managed to pull his plug lead off with his leg, killing the engine and having to take a five. Baker having put in the best hard route ride of the day took the spoils.
On the Intermediate route, Kevin Bishop (Triumph 230) only had a single dab on section 2 on his first lap, before going clean for the rest of the day on his way to a clear victory. Second placed rider Bob Clarke (BSA 350) had suffered most of his losses in the tight stuff of sections 5 and 7, despite this he finished well ahead of the rest of the field.
On the easy Unit route both of the two contestants started out with a clean and both then dropped fives on their first runs through section 2, with both cleaning the next four sections it looked like they were in for a close contest. However, Brian Cook (BSA 250) then went on to drop another ten marks over the second half of his first lap, while Chris McKenzie (BSA 317) only added three to his score. Both riders fared better on lap 2, both posting their best lap scores of the day. At the interval McKenzie held the lead by a nine mark advantage, a lead he was to increase further during the afternoon on his way to a clear victory.
On the hard route in the Two-Stroke class Graham Brown (James 246) was the sole contestant, he dropped a couple of dabs on his first lap, one on the climb in section 4 and the other on the twisting exit climb of section 9. His only other loss was a five on his final attempt at section 1.
On the intermediate route all three competitors started the day in close contention, with a three dropped on section 7 being his only loss, Roger Finch (Sprite 250) held the lead at the end of their first lap. Graham Braybrook (BSA 186) was just a single mark behind and Trevor Hill (BSA 185) another couple away on a total of six. Hill put in the best second lap, having just a single dab, which lifted him into second spot as they headed to the lunch break. Braybrook, with a second consecutive lap of four had dropped into third place putting him out of the contest. With a two mark lead going into the afternoon session Finch fought hard to maintain it, having a clean lap followed by two dabs on his last, meanwhile Hill had two lap scores of one, leaving Finch to take the win
On the easy route last year’s runner-up, Eddie Hood (Francis Barnett 197), went one better by taking a relatively comfortable win, the tight muddy turn in section 7 taking five of his total of six marks lost. Chris Chapman (Wasp 250) lost seven marks in the mud and a few singles here and there to take a very comfortable second place.
On the hard route in the Twin-Shock class Mark Banham (SWM 280) took an early lead, opening his day with a single dab on his first lap, a feat he would twice later on. Despite a somewhat lax second lap for eight, including a five on section 9, he easily won his class. There was a day long close battle for second spot, Graham Palmer (Yamaha 175) just managing to hold on to the narrow advantage he gained on the first lap to hold off the challenge from Richard Norman (Suzuki 250) .
Twenty two riders contested the intermediate route, the top four riders going home with single figure scores. Winner Kevin Plummer (Fantic 156) had only two scores recorded against his name, a two on the cambered turns of section 6 and a one in the mud at 7, both on his opening lap. Second spot went to David Cordle (Honda 250) who was only two marks behind, having dabbed his way through section 7 all day, despite cleaning the rest of the trial.
On the easy route again four riders achieved single figure totals, Brian Neale (Honda 125) coming out on top with three marks lost. A five lost on his final attempt at the tight turns through the trees at section 5, costing John Lea (Honda 200) the lead he had held since lap 1.
Results can be found at http://www.woodbridgemcc.co.uk/
Report by Trevor Andrews
Photos by Phil Smith