Building the Weston Beach Race course is certainly no mean feat and for 2019 renowned track builder Johnny Groves from Shape and Scape is back with new ideas to make this year’s race, which takes place on October 18-20, better than ever.
Moving approximately 200,000 tonnes of sand to create a course as big as that of the Weston Beach Race whilst considering ambulance lanes, spectator areas, safety and the environmental aspects is an absolutely massive task. Shape and Scape took on the overall management of the Weston Beach Race track build fully last year and Groves, along with RHL Activities’ Gareth Hockey, has a lot of ideas for the 2019 course design with a main goal of improving its flow. In 2018 Groves was looking to extend the lap length again like in historic times and says he, along with the Shape and Scape team, learned a lot that they can expand on for this October’s race.
The Weston Beach Race plays an important role in the care of the Weston-Super-Mare beach, as it’s been proven that moving back the sand, which has been subject to the sea erosion over the year, helps the organisms within the beach. In fact, the race forms part of the council’s environmental programme for the conservation of the area. Whilst considering how the sand will need to be distributed after the race, the Shape and Scape team plan a challenging course this year with plenty of obstacles, but with a little more flow to keep bottlenecks with such a mass of riders to a minimum and to make the racing even better.
“It was a challenge last year and we learned a lot; we changed the layout from previous years to try and create more of a longer lap like we had in historic times, but you can’t do one thing without losing a bit somewhere else. I think the more experienced riders enjoyed it last year, but I think it was a lot harder for some of the others. For 2019 we are keeping the same layout with the dune section and a motocross section too and there will be the same amount of obstacles, but it will have a bit more of a flowy design. We are also preparing for split timing loops to combat course cutting,” said Groves.
“Obviously once you start adding corners, you start having to add extra ambulance lanes, so the course design is very involved. A big part of the work we do at Weston is to help the condition of the beach to replenish it by moving back the sand for the following holiday season. There’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t see, in fact flattening the course to some extent is more challenging than building it as we need to ensure all sand levels are correct to allow for the natural movement of the sand for the following year. We also do a lot of drainage work as the water table is quite high at Weston. Hopefully the ideas we have this year will provide a fun and flowy, yet challenging track with the big dunes and difficult parts that the Weston Beach Race is famous for,” continued Groves.
The course building begins on October 8 and concludes on October 25 with the enormous task of construction and then the breakdown of the massive dunes. Groves has vowed that this year’s track will be a real spectacle – daunting, challenging, fun and flowing – to live up to the famous Weston Beach Race name.
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