Dan Johnson is the Expert’s Class Champion of 2023 at Lincolnshire Enduro club, and it all goes to prove that consistency in the sport is key to success.
The Leicestershire rider hasn’t had one single victory all year but has peppered the scoreboard throughout, with no less than 6 runner-up places out of the 7 events. (Actually, that’s a bit of a deviation from the truth. Dan won the one off 6 hour QE II race in the summer months). He clinched the 2023 title at the weekend with the latest of those 2nd places, but it didn’t come without a battle. An hour or so into the race, Dan was sat on the rear wheel of his nearest rival Elliot Milburn waiting for him to enter the refuelling area. When Elliot did just that, Dan made a bid for glory. However, a small mistake going into the rock garden area soon afterwards scuppered those plans ! Clipping a tyre, Dan managed to find himself on the receiving end of not only bruised ribs but a “separated” clavicle after a nasty “off” ! After so much work over the last year, The Judd Racing Team GasGas rider wasn’t going to give in too easily. Managing not only the pain, but trying to keep up a decent pace while injured, saw the additional points needed for the years spoils. Partly because of Dan’s mishap in the rock area, Elliot seized the opportunity to come through and take victory in this, the last event of 2023. Both lads were on 11 laps after the 3 hours; Elliot’s margin being nigh on 4 minutes at the end of play. This 2nd win of the year for Elliot sees him cement the runner up spot overall in the group for 2023. Third home on Sunday last was a lad not seen at the club this year, Ashley Ridings. Both Ashley and 4th placed rider, Josh Hamilton were also on 11 laps when the finish flag descended. Mark Lonsdale, who didn’t ride at the weekend takes up the other podium spot for this season.
Taking place at Ashby Puerorum, the club put in additional “re-routes” and reversed the track from the last time out at the venue. The weather was as predictable as ever, ie unpredictable. The rain that was forecast never really reared its ugly head, but that didn’t stop the terrain being somewhat sticky in places due to the onset of Autumn/Winter. Once again, the club utilised the local farming areas to offer a 6 mile route of fast sectioned of stubble X, mixed woodland and parts of the Moto X track. Looking at club records, something happened at the weekend that has only occurred once before in the clubs history. The fastest rider over all classes didn’t come from the Experts Class !! In fact, it was not just one guy who was faster but two, both coming from the Clubman class. Hayden Stansfield and Lucas Travers were the two riders quicker than anyone else through the 3 hours. Riding his Team Raw sponsored KTM, 16 year old Hayden took the winners garland, but it was close. Both lads were on 11 laps, as per the Experts winners, but a few minutes in front of anyone else on the day. Hayden crossed the line 18 seconds after the chequered flag dropped, with Lucas just over a minute adrift. Wesley Bell in 3rd spot on the day now secures the Clubman class win for the year, with the above mentioned runner up placing for Lucas affords his 3rd place overall in this years campaign. In the runner up spot for the year was Callum Woodland, who was 5th on Sunday. This class has probably been the closest throughout 2023, with just 3 points separating the riders laying in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively.
With 5 out 7 wins this year, Lee Hattersley in the Over 40’s had an overall 2023 victory in the bag well before this race. His lead hasn’t been unchallenged by any means though. Whilst he had a full lap win at Ashby, he was chased home by the same two guys who have now finished 2nd and 3rd respectively this year. Alex Shaw sealed runner up spot overall with a third spot at the weekend, whilst Alan Vissian, (who was 2nd on the day) claims the Bronze in class for this year. With his 2nd win of the year, Ian Shepherd is the Over 50’s Champ. The rider who chased Ian home on Sunday (Justin Lawson), also claims the runner up spot overall. Antony Jelley was 3rd on the day, and whilst Antony doesn’t feature heavily in the yearly standings, Neil Tapper even with a “no show”at the weekend, takes 3rd place for 2023. Six out of 7 wins this year sees Mark Peckitt take the spoils in the other ‘doyen’ class, the Over 60’s. It seems to have been a year long battle between himself and club President Kevin Bartle Sr though. Once again, Kev had to play second fiddle on Sunday, but takes the runner up spot overall. Paul Oates took ‘Bronze’ on the day.
In what constantly appears to be the biggest class of the year, Kieron Moore’s 4th on Sunday sees him claim the overall title in the Sportsman 2T division. It has been very close though. His winning margin for 2023 is just 2 points from the lad who won on Sunday, Darren Wells. Darren’s win on the day was a clear one, at least 10 minutes clear of Jodie Lambley. Finlay Harris was 3rd on the day, the top 6 lads being on 10 laps at the end of the 3 hours. The 3rd place overall in the class has been awarded to 2 riders who haven finished level on points this year. Matthew Valentine and Stuart Ellis share the spoils. The Sportsman 4T class hasn’t been as close and a clear winner emerged some time ago. Archie Juszczac may have ‘only’ finished in 3rd at Ashby but that has seen a winning margin of over 30 points for the year. Luke Howson, with just a 7 second victory on Sunday, claims 3rd overall for this year. Charlie Edwards, who doesn’t feature at the top of the leader board came home in the runner up position at the weekend, with Stephen Slater claiming 2nd overall with his 5th place.
In the Trail/Classic group, it has been pretty much a 2 horse race between Shaun Avison and Steve Kemp this year. With one more win than Steve, Shaun takes the title, but its only by a handful of points. Steve Langley was 3rd in this, the final round. That sees him with a similar placing in the division. A mention should be given to the 7 beginners who chased down the clock at Ashby. The club hopes to see you all next year.
After a long season, the club wishes to pass on congratulations to all the above winners and all other riders who have taken part this year. Thanks also goes to all helpers, committee member’s and staff, first responders, marshall’s, track setters, and Rosies Country Kitchen.
Roll on 2024 folks.
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Race Report by Martin Southwick – Images courtesy of Graeme Taylor