The weekend of 21st
September witnessed a three-rider contingency travel to Paris to take on 22 of the World’s best supermoto teams in the annual ‘Supermoto Des Nations.’
The composition of the team consisted of current reigning British Supermoto Champion, Richard Blakeman and fellow elite riders Jamie Duncan and Jordan Bannon. Supported by Team Manager Christine Blakeman and Assistant Manager Neil Jay the three riders would eventually put on one of the bravest rides in recent years due to the ever-changing weather conditions across the weekend in Paris.
Opening the weekend on Saturday morning all riders were greeted with glorious sunshine and with predictions for the heat to rise though the day the Carole Circuit presented the perfect conditions to set some outstanding lap times. Current title holders Team France were once again the pace setters with European and multi Work Champion Thomas Chareyre leading the team supported by the equally as rapid Sylvain Bidart and Laurent Fath would give a display of riding worthy of their title.
After the early morning practice sessions, it was down to business with qualifying races, this format elects one rider from each country to ride in one qualifying race (three races in total) and the points scoring depicts the positions for race day. Group one would see Jamie Duncan drawn with the most experienced group and there was no doubt in his mind he had a job on his hands, but he bravely battled the 27c heat to cross the line in eleventh spot. Both Blakeman and Bannon would also return very respectable results with eleventh and eighth places in their individual qualifying races.
Day one qualifying would see Team GB record 10th
Position out of the 22 Team field and in doing so fired the riders up for race day knowing that not only had they qualified, moreover they were in sight of the front row.
Sunday and race day dawned to overcast conditions, with all the teams keeping a close watching eye on the increasing chances of rain.
A three-race format would decide the overall winners and with two riders from each country taking part in each race the selection of grid positions would be critical.
As Team GB entered the grid for race one the organisers declared a ‘Wet race’ so frantic action ensued with teams hurriedly changing over to wet Michelins. The sky certainly gave indications that the monsoon like downpours would be set for the day, which in true British fashion would play into the hands of Team GB riders who are akin to riding in their home domestic championship under such weather conditions. The opening race, rider one and rider two (Duncan & Blakeman) lined up with the red lights glowing in the haze of rain alongside the best in the World.
As the lights extinguished those at the back of the field faced the plume of spray making it even more difficult to judge the entry to the very tight first left hand bend. France rider Laurent Fath took the hole shot into the first corner which led off the tarmac on to the first tricky off-road section followed by the junior rider of Team France Emerick Bunod. Third position it was team Switzerland rider Randy Gotzl just in ahead of Team France rider Thomas Chareyre.
Visibility for all was becoming an issue and Team GB rider Blakeman made the decision to make the quickest pit stop in Supermoto history to undertake a goggle change ably assisted by team mechanic James Taylor.
Finishing just outside the top ten Team GB riders pushed as hard as they could in the most slippery and difficult conditions witnessed at not only a Supermoto des Nations event, but also right across any of the Championships in recent years.
Race two, and this time riders two and three (Blakeman and Bannon) lined up, but with weather conditions gathering pace in a downward spiral tension was even higher as to what would face the riders. The Carole Circuit staff had worked hard in the interval post-race one to regrade and clean the circuit to ensure riders could remain safe and push as hard as possible for the overall win.
The spectator banking was shimmering with a plethora of colourful umbrellas which also proved that the hardened supported from across the globe were determined to stay put to see the conclusion of the remaining two races.
As the red start lights diminished the pack would once again charge into, he first corner and it was a repeat of race one with Fath and Bunod holding off the challenge of a compacted group of riders behind them. What can only be described as ‘mud bath’ in the off road sections certainly caught more then a few riders out and it was a battle of those who could stay aboard their bikes that would play a contributing factor in who would cross the finish line first. It was clear that the skill of these riders is worthy of much praise as powering out of off-road sections coated in clay like mud to then take on fast tarmac bends and long straights is the bravery worthy of Gladiatorial determination.
Both Team GB riders didn’t hold back and after what seemed an eternity in the weather conditions Richard Blakeman finished a respectable fifth position behind Team France junior rider Bunod with Bannon crossing the line just outside the top ten.
The final race of the day, which would be the decider of the overall ‘Supermoto Des Nations’ champions of 2019 and still no let-up in the weather. With Team France sitting in a comfortable position it would really be the outcome of the remaining places that would be decided.
This race would have representation from riders one and three (Duncan & Bannon). As in similar races the charge to the first corner would be all important, but as the transition from tarmac to off road began the punishment of the surface due to the weather proved very difficult for all riders concerned. Some having difficulty taking the incline to the first tabletop section. A mixture of poor visibility due to the sheer volume of debris, and the tricky conditions was starting to take its toll on all teams. However, the bravery of Team GB riders continued with the ‘never give up’ attitude returned yet again a result just outside the top ten.
The victors though, and well-deserved would-be Team France who put in a display of riding worthy of taking the title.
Team GB returned an honourable 7th
position overall (joint 6th
on points) which when up against the best 22 teams in the world is something each and everyone of the riders and team members are proud of.
Team Manger Christine Blakeman commented: ‘’Having visited the Carole circuit in the past I was more than aware that it was not only an outstanding track, but also could throw up several challenges in terms of bike set up. In particular if the weather took a turn for the worst. I really don’t think our riders could have tried any harder and I am more than proud of each and everyone of them for showing the real British spirit and never giving up regardless. I also would like to mention the FMM, FIM and Circuit Carole for keeping the event on time and running under difficult conditions. All of our efforts though would not be possible without the dedicated sponsors who contribute towards placing our riders on the grid at the most prestigious Supermoto event in the world. I was delighted also to see so many Team GB fans make the journey over to support our riders as this means a great deal to us all here at the team…thank you’’
Team GB would like to thank the following for their support:
Want to Live Afloat.com
Contract Solutions Engineering
Auto Cycle Union
Dave Clarke Racing
Rip n Roll
First Form Builders
Sky Zone Racing
Blakeman Tree Services
Karen & Darren Bayfield