Team GB battled with the cream of the USA and Europe over the weekend, overcoming adversity to both qualify, and finish in the top ten overall.
Team GB, with the 2019 Under-21 British QX champ and QX championship runner-up Harry Walker, Oli Sansom and Murray Graham, overcame the difficulty of being a man down to finish in ninth.
A few incidents coupled with a gnarly and boggy track claimed a number of victims in qualifying including Team GB’s Murray Graham who crashed on lap four, when in fourth, and his machine landed on top of him. Fifteen teams qualified through to Sunday, and the Americans gave a masterclass in quad racing, setting out their stall early, with each of their three riders setting the fastest times in all three sessions. They were followed by the Netherlands and Poland with Ireland seventh and GB 12th
A decent crowd lined the 1.750km track for the highly-anticipated ‘quad world cup’, with favourable weather set in for the day. Two riders per nation, from groups A, B and C, contested each of the three motos. The track though was deeply rutted and challenging, putting additional strain on all riders with, it would seem, the exception of the American riders – Joel Hetrick, Thomas Brown, Chad Weinen - who were super-smooth, quick and, it has to be said, in a different league to the European riders. They posted considerable winning margins over the rest of the field and would have finished one-two in each race if Weinen hadn’t blotted the team copybook by getting disqualified in the final leg due to course cutting.
Oli Sansom and Murray Graham were out for the home nations in the opening moto. Graham, battered and bruised from his qualifying accident, was determined to support his team. The young Scot battled valiantly until lap six, when lying in a credible 12th
, his ruptured calf called a halt to his charge and he withdrew. Struggling with his set up, Sansom held ground and finished 19th
With Murray Graham sidelined, Harry Walker was the sole Team GB runner in the second race. A good start saw him circling in fourth on lap one and then dicing with Dutch, Latvian and German riders to take sixth at the flag.
The final race of the day briefly saw a change out front with Dutchmen Joe Maessen and Van Grinsven leading the charge ahead of Jose Guerra (Argentina), Andrea Cesari (Italy), Antoine Cheurlin (France), Reid, McLernon and Harry Walker. A poor start saw Oli Sansom in 23rd
. By the end of lap five, Hetrick was back out front, pulling away and putting a distance of 10-plus seconds over Grinsven within one lap. By half race distance, Hetrick was off and Weinen up to fourth with Walker all over him and Sansom 20th
. Walker simply didn’t give up and, towards the closing stages of the race, closed down and passed Guerra to take fourth on track. He was later promoted to third due to Weinen’s disqualification. Guerra and Kevin Saar (Estonia) were also disqualified, whilst Sansom secured much-needed Team GB points in 16th
Walker’s efforts were enough to award him the best GB/Ireland individual ranking in fourth overall behind Hetrick, Brown and Van Grinsven and Sansom 30th
out of 54 of the world’s best quad racers.
Walker; “Challenging is the first word that comes to mind. It was very demanding and hard-going. It was a tough weekend for Team GB with Murray’s bad accident putting a downer on things really. Even though he tried his hardest to race, he just couldn’t. We have many positives to take away though. We bonded as a team, fought all the way an competed well. Thanks to everyone who got us out here.”
Sansom; “I was honoured to represent my country at the age of 32. I came here in the dark, thinking it was going to be part hard-pack and part sand, but the track sort of polished out and there was deep, horrible hard rough sand in most of the places where you could lose your quad, it was that deep. Then parts at the top were bone hard. Murray was unfortunate to get injured, which meant we struggled but fair play to him to even go out in the first race considering his injuries. My job was to bring points home and that’s what I did in qualifying and both races. All three of us have won British Championship races this year and so we knew we had the speed. I’m personally not happy with 19th
and I probably could have pushed harder but, with Harry and Murray being the more aggressively faster riders, I needed to finish, and that’s what I did.”
Graham; “I was riding really well in Saturday’s qualifying. I was in fourth pushing for third but four laps in and a crash put me out. I went to hospital and came out with a ruptured calf, sore shoulder and back. As it was a team event, I was determined to try and get back, rest and make sure I could ride on Sunday. I was in agony but, with a few painkillers, managed to get a good few laps in, and it up to 12th
, but then the pain was too much. Glad to see the boys bring it home in ninth overall.”
Karl Robinson, Team GB Manager; “It was unfortunate that Murray had the accident in qualifying as he was fast. He did his best though by getting back on the quad, digging deep and going out to do what he could for the team. Harry rode brilliantly all weekend, and bagged some great points. I couldn’t fault him. Oli struggled at first with machine set-up, but once he got it switched round he looked better, smoother and more consistent and, importantly, brought the points home. Fair play to all riders.”
Race 1; 1. Thomas Brown, USA, 2. Chad Wienen, USA, 3. Joe Maessen, Netherlands, 4. Mark McLernon, Ireland, 5. Antoine Cheurlin, France, 6. Davy De Cuyper, Belgium, 11. Dean Dillon, Ireland, 19. Oli Sansom, GB, 25. Murray Graham, GB
Race 2; 1. Joel Hetrick, USA, 2. Brown, USA, 3. Mike Van Grinsven, Netherlands, 4. Edgars Mengelis, Latvia, 5. Manfred Zienecker, Germany, 6. Harry Walker, GB 8. Dillon, 14. Justin Reid, Ireland
Race 3; 1. Hetrick, USA, 2. Van Grinsven, 3. Walker, 4. Valerijs Kuzmins, Latvia 5. Antoine Cheurlin, France, 6. Andrea Cesari, Italy 7. McLernon, 10. Reid, 16. Sansom, GB
1. USA, 7 points, 2. Netherlands, 28, 3. Ireland, 40, 4. Italy, 53, 5. Belgium, 55, 6. Latvia, 56, 7. France, 62, 8. Norway, 67, 9. GB, 69, 10. Czech Republic, 82
Report by Jenni Foulkes – www.quad-online.co.uk