The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Racing duo of Graham Jarvis and Billy Bolt tightened their grips on the 2017 ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship at Cowm Quarry on Sunday by taking the top two spots in the Pro class around the toughest course ever laid out at the venue.
Usually the steep hillclimb at the heart of the venue is the centre of attention but for the afternoon race it was quite the opposite as crowds gathered at an perilously deep hole that the Pro, Expert and Clubman riders had to negotiate and it didn’t fail to deliver the thrills and spills everyone anticipated.
It wasn’t the only new section. Site operator John Whittle had been busy over the last few months making considerable adjustments to the course and adding new rock gardens everywhere. The start area had a very different layout with riders leaving the line, hitting a sharp right-hander, negotiating a log section at speed before entering a narrow tunnel before exiting onto the course proper. Watching over 100 Sportsman riders squeeze through in the opening race was literally getting a quart into a pint pot!
At 9.30am the racing got underway and the veterans were first off the line with D3 racing’s Karl Greenhall showing he still has some speed, in short bursts, taking the holeshot ahead of Mick Boam on his Rock Oil Beta and Neil Crayston who was again mounted on his electric KTM.
Within yards Boam had the lead and he stretched a comfortable gap in a couple of laps, easing over the rocks as if they were tarmac. He was smooth and composed, for most of the race, and went on to take his second win of the series. He was matched on laps only by fellow Vet Kiaran Hankin, both riders posting nine laps but Boam had a healthy lead of just under five minutes. Third overall went to Youth rider Dawson Marriott who is getting closer each race to taking the overall win but as consolation he won his class by a mile. Third in the Vets went to Vince Harker who finished just seconds behind Marriott.
With a clear winner in the Youth ranks it was a free-for-all for the remaining podium places. Harry Edmondson was in the running initially but on his fourth lap he was taken out hard by another rider on one of the hills then snapped his gear selector which put him out of the running completely. Will Stansbie took the runner up spot, a lap down on Marriott, as Tom Knight put in a terrific performance to claw his way to third in class.
With over 100 Sportsman riders it was anyone’s guess who would win but Luke Owen eventually took the win despite a very poor start and several ‘incidents’ as he described them. Calming himself and getting good lines, riding very smoothly around most of the course he finished ahead of a pack of Sportsman fighting for a podium place. Darren Heyes just pipped Ryan Crayston to second place by 50 seconds, demoting Cranston to third but with a great ride all the same.
The start area was packed with riders and spectators for the afternoon race and it was well worth the wait to witness a spectacular start from the Pro riders.
Lee Sealey on his Yamaha Offroad Experience machine used every ounce of experience gained from his Super Enduro outing to get to the log section first and bounced across most of the section, the only rider to even attempt such a move. His claim to fame was brief as he DNF’d after two laps but it got the race off to a great start.
Even though Sealey’s efforts were impressive, Eurotek KTM’s Paul Bolton was alongside him as they hit the narrow tunnel with no sign of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team riders Billy Bolt or Graham Jarvis, in fact, Grimbo was last off the line.
Paul Bolton took the lead as Billy Bolt quickly moved through the pack ahead and by the time they entered the new rock garden just before the huge hole it was Bolt who headed the race. Paul Bolton remained in second spot as Jarvis had worked his magic and was a bike’s length behind in third with D3’s Sam Winterburn catching the leading three.
Bolt, Jarvis and Bolton traded places for the first hour, Jarvis suffering from arm-pump, until he suddenly came good and moved up a gear to put nearly five minutes between himself and the chasing pair. All three made mistakes, Jarvis and Bolton having to make second runs at the huge hillclimb and it was one of these mistakes that allowed Billy Bolt to take second spot and pull nearly 40 seconds over Bolton in third.
Jarvis was long gone at this point, nearly five minutes ahead of them, riding as strongly and smoothly as ever to take his fourth win of the season and second Eddy’s X-treme win of the year. Billy Bolt is a quick learner and he had none of his trademark spectacular crashes as he picked his lines and pushed hard for a well-deserved second place. Paul Bolton is a pure competitor and pushed as hard as he could right to the finish line and third place.
Keelan Hancock is always near the front of the pack and fourth overall was a good result. Gary Daniels, one of the most underestimated riders in hard enduro, really showed his mettle by taking fifth in a tremendously talented field, a cracking ride for a very talented rider.
Sam Ludgate took sixth place on his Appleyard Beta but it didn’t matter because he was the first Expert rider home at the front of a tough set of Expert competitors around an ultra-tough course. Zac Sherwin matched Ludgate on laps but was a minute adrift in second place while Ben Wibberley took third in class.
Fred Adams finished an amazing 20th
overall as the first Clubman rider to pass the chequered flag. With a huge Clubman class behind him that was quite an achievement and his second Eddy’s Xtreme class win this year. Lewis Ellis and Ashley Bell joined Adams on the podium in second and third places respectively.
Each event in this Championship outshines the previous. Tong was terrific but Cowm was really something special. Paul Edmondson and his team, alongside John Whittle, made the course something that any promoter in the world would be proud of. With not a tree in sight virtually the whole venue is viewable from a single point but the course was packed with spectators at all the tricky sections and as a spectacle it will be hard to beat.
Round three of the Championship takes place in Mid-Wales in just over two weeks time near to Saints Well, LD1 6PT and will be a forest based ‘hard enduro’ rather than an extreme, in the words of Fast Eddy, although I’m sure many riders will question that after a lap or two.