The second weekend round of the ACU GBXC British Sprint Championship really hotted up as EWC winner Beta factory rider Steve Holcombe was joined by a newly enthused David Knight supported by Honda UK and a recovered Husqvarna Factory rider Danny McCanney, all of which added to the mix as Sherco’s Factory rider Tom Sagar, Colwyn Bay KTM’s Brad Freeman, and Mounter KTM’s Daryl Bolter fought for dominance in a Championship class of 18 riders. Josh Gotts flew the flag for TM as Jake Subachus and Luke Flack were supported by Mick Seward’s MPS Racing Sherco set up.
Paul Edmondson took a huge risk opting for Selattyn as the venue for the second weekend of the Championship, the venue can be a nightmare in wet weather, but it was a risk that nearly paid off as the H2Ovenue on the outskirts of Oswestry basked in bright sunshine with only a handful of brief hail and rain showers on Saturday. Riders skill and speed were on display throughout the day. Sunday was a completely different ball-game as rain and low cloud covered the venue all day long. The Enduro test remained unaffected on Sunday and if anything, rode even better than Saturday as lines were established, but the MX test was a trial of guts and determination across all classes.
The event proved to be one of Fast Eddy’s finest with two excellent Special Tests, the Enduro test through woodland was proper ‘old school’ and was one of the best tests in recent memory. There was time to be gained on this test. Starting on the rolling hillside the course plunged in and out of a ravine before entering thick coniferous woodland, peppered with fallen logs. Many obstacles had a chicken run around them and it was surprising to see that Steve Holcombe took this option in the opening few tests of Saturday morning but still managed to come out ahead of the chasing pack.
One particular set of logs, set in a V formation, proved to be very tricky and even the Championship boys took a while to adjust to them, although Billy Bolt’s Trials skills proved to be invaluable as he went over them feet up. At the end of the woodland section was a very tough downhill, nicknamed ‘Arm Pump Alley’ for good reason, it was full of rocks and roots on a steep downhill, which ended in a very sticky quagmire which had been covered in logs to assist riders but which soon became as slippery as the mud itself.
The MX test was massive and ran mainly on the existing MX track but plunged into the ravine where it wove its way along to exit up a huge hill and back onto the top of the venue. It was a fast test with just nine seconds covering the top 11 riders at one point.
Steve Holcombe took all the Enduro test wins on Saturday morning and lost out only once in the afternoon. He posted the only sub-60 minutes combined time as Danny McCanney found his form to take second overall. Knighter was always in the top three reckoning and trailed his IOM comrade by just 11 seconds. Holcombe took the E3 class win followed by Billy Bolt and Mark Roberts while Knighter headed E2 from Tom Sagar and Josh Gotts. McCanney topped E1 from Jake Subachus and Luke Flack, two good rides from the Sherco boys. Brad Freeman retired with a shoulder injury picked up in midweek practice after three tests and Daryl Bolter’s meeting with a tree put him out of the running for the rest of the event. Respect to Frazer Norrie and Fraser Flockhart who made an extraordinarily long trip South to compete in the event.
Dan Mundell had a great first day taking the Expert win the Enduro and second on the MX tests with a total of 58 seconds clear of Charlie Frost. Consistency was the key for Mundell who won it in the woods but lost out by 14 seconds on the MX test to second placed Tom Elwood. Charlie Frost took second on the Enduro test and third on the MX for third overall. Mundell lead the E1 group followed by Alex Walton and Ben Murphy while over in E2 Tom Ellwood had a terrific day and topped the group from Roger Holland and Kev Murray. Charlie Frost’s efforts paid off as he won the Expert E3 class ahead of Lewis Belfield and Keelan Hancock.
Clubman E3’s Fred Adams took the overall Clubman win and was followed in class by Danny Culkin and Scott Hoskins. Sam Skyrme topped the E2 class from Ben Handley and Rich Cookland while Brendan Griffiths in his first season of Sprinting won the E1 section followed by Chris Pryce and Jake Purcell.
In the second group of riders who started the day on the MX test and ended it on the Enduro test the battle between Henry Yardley and Harry Edmondson continued from the first two rounds at Rogers Hill Raceway. Edmondson took the MX test win but Yardley fought back to take the Enduro test and the overall win by the end of the first day with Harry second in class and Jacob James third.
Andrew Reeves pushed hard in the Veterans and managed to wedge himself between the two Youth riders and win his class ahead of Andy Daniels and Karl Greenhall. Ben Key continued his excellent form in the Sportsman class and kept Josh Noon at bay for most of the day, eventually taking the class win from Noon and Aaron Webb in third place.
A three-way battle ensued in the Ladies class with Rosie Rowett taking the win with Kate Smith in second and Gemma Holtham third.
Riders awoke to a very different day on Sunday as rain lashed the venue from top to bottom. The MX test became extremely slick but as previously mentioned the Enduro test or at least the woodland section of the test was still in great shape. Because of the adverse conditions both tests were cut to four runs each for each group.
Holcombe continued to dominate the Championship class but the race behind him was very close as Knight, McCanney and Sagar were within a hair’s breadth of each other. McCanney squeaked it by three seconds over Knight and the results in each sub class remained the same as Saturday with the exception of Charlie Evans who managed to grab third in E2.
Charlie Frost excelled in the testing conditions and won the Expert class outright but was pushed hard by Lewis Belfield throughout the day. Brad Williams completed the E3 domination of the Expert class with third overall. Alex Walton won the E1 group and Kev Murray the E2.
The E3’s dominated in the Clubman ranks also as Scott Hoskins and Danny Culkin took the top two overall spots with E2’s Sam Skyrme in third. Ryan Phillips got to grips with the conditions to take the E1 win.
Andrew Reeves’ hard work paid off and his years of experience were invaluable in the tough conditions as he won the Vets and took the overall win in Group B. Henry Yardley once again reigned supreme in the Youth ranks and was matched by Rosie Rowett in the Ladies class who took her second win of the weekend. Aaron Webb took the Sportsman win, demoting Ben Key to second spot for once.
It was a tough weekend. Saturday was a pleasure to watch and ride, Sunday not so much but it was a proper event with two excellent tests that required skill and speed, equally matched by guts from riders on Sunday.
The tests were terrific, the Enduro test especially so since it has been a long time since riders saw a test as good. The event was well organised and well planned event and the poor weather was planned for, there were 4x4 towing vehicles on hand to get everyone off the paddock field.
A great event.