Rock Oil XC at Bicton

The 2017 Fast Eddy Rock Oil Championship drew to a close on Sunday with the final round taking place at Bicton Farm near Shrewsbury, the Fast Eddy crew’s favourite venue.

Although used many times throughout the season, Bicton never ceases to come up with something new and provide great racing, which is exactly what happened on Sunday.

The small woodland area was utilised to the maximum with a handful of new routes thrown into the mix along with the stubble field sections and part of the old MX track.

The weather was perfect for racing, as was the ground, with berms in all the right places around the seven-minute lap for the adult racers.

The Youth riders started the day’s events and it was good to see this race so well supported. Alfie Rickwood and Josh Williams were two new names on the entry sheet, their first ever XC race, a break from their usual MX outings.

Keelan Hope was also back in the ranks putting his MX skills to the test.

In the 85-150cc class Rickwood nailed the holeshot and was untouchable from that point onwards, he was gaining 20 seconds a lap in the first part of the race but Hope got his head down and dug deep to get within two minutes of the leader and take second place with Fast Eddy regular Cory Cookland just eight seconds adrift in third.
It was a tough course for the 65/auto riders but the battle between Jack Sandland and Alfie Davies was impressive as they clocked up 11 laps apiece. Sandland took the class win by 17 seconds over Davies with Will Barnett in third spot.

For the adults race the course was in prime condition, the Youth race riders having taken the slippery top layer off. With everyone from Expert to Novice in the same race it was helpful that the course was one of the longest ever at Bicton.

In the Expert ranks it was time for the re-match between Ben Murphy and Sam Greenslade. The previous meeting at Bicton saw them wheel to wheel for much of the race with New Zealander Greenslade taking the win at his first race in the UK. It was clear from the start that Murphy was out for revenge.

Henry Yardley showed he was back in form and fully recovered by taking the holeshot ahead of a pack of quality experts as Max Ditchfield stuck to his rear wheel while Murphy and Greenslade trailed in his wake. Harry Edmondson bought up the rear of the pack on a Sherco 300, trying the machine for the first time in race conditions.

Murphy, Ditchfield and Greenslade slowly eased a gap on the rest and by the mid-point Ditchy had caught some traffic allowing Greenslade to overtake and pull a 20 second gap with Murphy around 15 seconds ahead. Harry Edmondson eased his way through the pack to join the leader but it was all eyes on the front two as the gap yo-yoed between them.
Greenslade put in the fastest lap of the race to close within 7 seconds of Murphy then ditched it near the finish line, losing 20 seconds in the process. As the final laps approached neither rider had refulled until with 10 seconds remaining on the clock Murphy took a quick splash and left for his final lap. Greenslade had disappeared, out of fuel in the stubble field section he walked disconsolately back to the pits, his gamble had failed.

Max Ditchfield had stuck at it and was rewarded with second overall while a great ride from Harry Edmondson, fending of Henry Yardley for most of the race, saw him take third.

A testament to the quality of the Youth A riders was evident in the results as they took four of the top nine places amongst the Expert riders.

Cole Cookland clocked eight laps to win the Youth A class ahead of many Experts and all Clubman riders, another cracking ride from this youngster whose days in the Youth ranks must be numbered. Sam Davies and George Yardley both rode extremely well to take second and third in class and post 18 laps into the bargain. Will Farrow headed the Youth B ranks ahead of Carwyn Rosser and Adam James.

Jacob James was the only Clubman rider to clock 18 laps. He battled Lee hattersley for the holeshot and continued to work his way through the field, eventually taking ninth overall along with his class win. Hattersley eventually nailed the runner-up spot just less than 10 seconds ahead of Ben Key in third place.

Kev Sandland emulated his sons win in the Youth race by taking the Vets A top spot ahead of Chris Wagstaff and David Williams. In Vets B it was Mark Plain and Joe Webster vying for supremacy with Plain eventually taking the win ahead of Webster as Tony Gunn took third.

Ben Martindale once again ruled the roost in the Sportsman class but was followed closely to the flag by Nick Whitehead with Nick Dawson a little way behind in third. The Novice class went to Josh Lucy who had been bar-to-bar on several occasions around the course, determined to take his class win in what turned out to be a great ride. Dave Withington secured second spot with Kristian Ankritt in third.

The race was a terrific finale to the series with a cracking course and red-hot competition between riders across all classes. Bicton has played its part well this season in several guises but last Sunday saw it at its best.

 

Husqvarna 1&2 at the ACU British Extreme Enduro Final

The ACU has a new champion! Billy Bolt’s second place at the H2O Xtreme Classic over the weekend was enough to secure the title for this talented and entertaining young rider.

The title was hard-earned, not just at H2O, which proved to be possibly the toughest course of the season, but at the four previous events which began in January at Tong in Yorkshire, then moved to Cowm Quarry near Rochdale. Third in the series was Ed’s of the Valley which ran in horrendous conditions near Abbey-Cwm-Hir in Wales while Extreme Ravines in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, occupied slot number four.

The H2O event had a lot to live up to but succeeded on all counts with a cracking entry list and a course that truly was extreme with a new woodland ‘off-camber’ section that simply isn’t justified by the term off-camber. It was horrendous to negotiate across possibly the steepest hill at H2O, there are bigger but not as loose or full of trees and roots and it soon became a focal point which saw the marshals working extremely hard from the first lap onwards.

A new stream section, more climbs and descents and a general fine tuning of the course from last year’s event saw a much harder challenge for the 120 riders who chose to test themselves at such an exceptional venue.

The single race, lasting two and a half hours, began at 11.30am with the Pro Championship class riders blasting off the line and heading across the fields, through a ravine and into the woods. Eurotek KTM’s Paul Bolton took the lead but was never more than a few feet ahead of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Extreme Team Factory power duo of Graham Jarvis and Billy Bolt. The three pulled away on the first lap leaving D3 Racing’s Sam Winterburn, Husqvarna’s Danny McCanney and St Blazey MX Husky mounted Keelan Hancock in the chasing group.

With a new course layout it took a while for the riders to reach the rock garden, approached from the opposite direction to the previous year, but Paul Bolton still maintained his lead on the first lap with Bolt close on his heels and Grand Master Jarvis slightly adrift in third spot.

Even by the second lap backmarkers became part of the game for the leaders to negotiate, the off-camber claimed scores of victims and was strewn with bodies and bikes.

Both Jarvis and Bolt opted for the near impossible direct route to the top of the off-camber hill and both pulled it off with ease. Bolt eventually took the lead, followed by Jarvis as Bolton slipped to third spot but it was far from over, even by the halfway point.

Jarvis’ arm-pump wore off and his pace increased significantly, Bolt rode a couple of laps without gloves which slowed him down considerably while Bolton survived a couple of hard crashes unscathed as the running order finally sorted itself over the last 30-minutes of the race.

Jarvis had stretched a significant lead of over three minutes by the time the chequered flag was waived. Bolt had slowed without gloves but a quick stop to replace them saw him up his pace by which time it was too late to catch the leader and he settled for second spot which was enough to give him the Champions title. Paul Bolton was a further two minutes adrift in third place, all three riders were breathing hard by the end of a race that had really tested them.

Danny McCanney took fourth spot, a lap down on the leading threesome, with Sam Winterburn finishing fifth and Keelan Hancock in sixth to wrap up the Pro Championship class.

 

William Hoare nailed the Expert class win and matched the Pro’s on laps with nine to his credit as Chris Madigan and Charlie Frost took second and third a lap behind him but the overall title went to Matthew Jones who finished in fourth place. He had breather pipe problems and lost a lot of time but still did enough to take the Expert Champions title.

Juan Knight put in a terrific performance on a Gas Gas UK machine and was a long way clear of Andrew Reeves in second place and Grant Churchward in third. John Shirt took a creditable fourth having recently revived his riding passion and loved every minute of the race. Mick Boam took sixth in class but had done enough to take the Vets Champion title.

Fred Adams dominated the Clubman class, his good form seems to know no end. He really has impressed all who have seen him this season. Not so impressed was Ash Bell who took second behind Adams but in a class field of Clubman riders it was a decent result. Brad Lilburn was once again in the mix and took a solid third place just ahead of Lewis Ellis, both riders having had tough but determined rides.

Chloe Richardson showed how it should be done in the Sportsman class by taking the win ahead of Richard Hawes and Luke Evans. Although all three completed only half the number of laps that the Pro riders did, they possibly had the hardest race of all but they upped their game and battled onwards. It was a very tough course for Sportsman riders.

Dawson Marriott lead the Youth riders home with yet another impressive victory to his credit. The ever-improving Tom Knight charged to second place with Paul Bolton’s protégé Suff Sella from Israel in third. This was Sell’s second attempt at the H2O Classic and the improvement in his riding capabilities over 12 months was impressive.

As Billy Bolt crossed the finish line the celebrations began. Jarvis had won the race but Bolt had his first Champion title to his name and it has been a long time coming but obvious to everyone that he has the ability to gain many more titles in the years to come. With Lee Edmondson on the spanners the pair make an unbeatable if somewhat crazy combination but they certainly add plenty of fun to the sport, which can be overly serious at times.

Congratulations to Graham on his win and massive congrats to Billy on his first Championship but, looking back over the season, the whole series has been of the highest standard and thoroughly deserving of the ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship title.

This is in no small part due to the influence of Paul Edmondson who has persevered in his quest to raise the bar and make the series inclusive for all standards of rider. He succeeded with flying colours.

 
 

Fast Eddy Racing Rock Oil XC Championship. Round 4 at Deuxhill, Shropshire. Report: Tim Tighe  Pics: Jacob Tighe

Fast Eddy Racing’s first visit to the Deuxhill venue in sleepy Shropshire, just south of Bridgnorth, was interesting to say the least.

The venue obviously has potential although due to farming commitments some of the land originally planned as part of the course was not available for use, which severely shortened the lap. What was available was mainly dusty field sections but the heart of the venue proved to be a wooded area with a stream section that provided great entertainment throughout all three races.

Max Ditchfield posted a significant win in the afternoon race at the head of the Expert class that broke Ben Murphy’s stranglehold on the Championship. Ditchy started well and fought off challenges from Jordan Ridgway, Derek Bawn and Harry Edmondson early on as Murphy encountered problems in the stream section. Twice he crashed on consecutive laps and ended up facing the wrong way in the stream, losing his goggles in the process.

On a dusty track losing goggles was not a good thing, not just for following other riders but also around some of the longer sweeping curves riders were riding into their own dust as it slowly blew across the course.

The layout of the course was changed for the final race and it was a work of genius as riders went through the stream section three times and had a steep climb or tricky gully to negotiate.

It was so tricky that Fast Eddy himself jumped in and rode bikes out of the gulley when all seemed hopeless, and it was entertaining to see his little legs scrabbling for grip as he pushed riders and bikes up the steep exit slope.

With Ditchy in a solid spot at the head of the field it was all eyes on Harry Edmondson to see if he could close the gap and stay ahead of Murphy at the same time in the closing few laps of the race. Harry did it in style and took a very well-deserved second spot as Murphy pipped Bawn to the post for third place with a pass on the final lap.

James Palmer rode exceptionally well to take fifth overall but much more importantly, he won the Youth A class with ease as Cole Cookland and Charlie Chater finished second and third in class following a tremendous battle from the moment the flag dropped. All three Youth A riders were up in the rankings, beating the Clubman riders into submission.

Jacob James was on top form to win the Clubman class against stiff competition from Lee Hattersley and Ben Key, all three riders posting 22 laps over the two-hour race with just over 40-seconds between them at the finish.

Kev Sandland’s move to a KTM seems to have paid off. His long-awaited win in the Vets finally came true as he beat Chris Wagstaff into second spot by just 10 seconds. Mike Windsor took third.

Earlier in the day the Vets B, Youth B, Sportsman and Novice riders had their shot at glory. Even by mid-morning it was really hot and although the woodland offered some shade it also had the stream to contend with.

Shaun James and Andrew Whieldon had a cracking race in the Vets B class but it was Youth B rider Dan Leadbetter who took the overall win with a terrific ride that saw him post 20 laps, matched only by fellow Youth B rider Will Farrow in second spot. Carwyn Rosser completed the Youth B line-up.

James and Whieldon were never more than a couple of bike lengths apart and that’s how they finished at the head of the Vets B class with Mark Glover grabbing the final podium spot just seconds ahead of Mark Plain.

Ben Martindale was head and shoulders clear in the Sportsman class wile Rob Latham took second and Andy Rich third but there was not much between them by the finish flag.

Josh Lucy had an outstanding ride to win the Novice class by a clear lap over Ash Williams in second spot and Dan Laight in third.

The Youth race started the day and it was won by Sion Evans (85-150cc) once again as this talented youngster posted 12 solid laps. He was matched on laps by Cole Cookland who was just over 30 seconds adrift at the end of the race while Callum Millward took third in class. Jack Sandland put on a great show to take third overall and win the 65cc bracket ahead of Wilf Barnett. Young Alfie Dawson displayed true grit in the Auto class, managing seven laps to his credit.

Deuxhill had been in the pipeline for a while but timing was crucial. Some of the fields were out of bounds but it was an interesting little venue with some great features and plenty of potential for the future if more land can be incorporated into the track.

It was hot, dusty and fun throughout the weekend and hopefully the first of many visits to this cracking little venue.

 

Fast Eddy Racing Rock Oil XC Championship. Round 3. At H2O near Oswestry. Report: Tim Tighe  Pics: Jacob Tighe

Ben Murphy blitzed the third round of the Fast Eddy Racing Rock Oil XC Championship last Sunday as H2O baked under the sun and riders found relief in the tough woodland sections of the course, for once, welcoming the shade. Murphy ignored the tremendous heat to put in an excellent performance that saw him a lap clear of his closest competitor by the finish.

It was a hot and dusty day at this outstanding Oswestry venue, new sections were added to the course as the MX track lay unused. The valley and woodland were the primary focus of attention and they provided more than enough for riders to go at on the hottest day of the year.

In the relative cool of the morning the youth race ran around a slightly shortened course and it was Sion Evans who grabbed the glory. The course might have been shortened but it still held some impressive hill-climbs that the youngsters were not fazed by at all, many opting for the Expert route to the top and making it lap after lap

Evans took the overall win and topped the 85-150’s ahead of Francis Davies and Lucas Holdcroft as Jack Sandland put in a great performance to take the runner-up spot and win the 65 class from Alfie Davies and Rhys Jones.

In an effort to beat the heat both adult races were combined, starting at 11.15am and running for two hours. The course was reset to maximum length following the kids race and the final race of the day got underway as the temperature rose.

Jake Brittain lead the Expert pack off the line and out towards the open fields with Max and Jack Ditchfield in his tyre tracks while Ben Murphy was comfortable inn third spot, until halfway around the first lap when he took control and never looked back. He was soon lapping slower riders but used his head to pick sweet lines and conserve energy to get to the finish line over a lap clear of his rivals.

Jack and Max Ditchfield had their own battle for supremacy with both riders holding second spot at times but it was Jack who crossed the finish line ahead of Max on this occasion.

Fourth overall was Cole Cookland, riding in the Youth A class, and what a ride! With the top three Experts long gone it took some determination to press on as hard as Cookland did to take fourth overall and top spot in his class ahead of vastly more experienced riders. His was a cracking performance.

Second in Youth A was Charlie Chater. He was down in fourth spot until the final lap where he whipped past James Palmer and Sam Davies to move up to second in class, a great move in the dying stages of the race which left Palmer in third spot.

Ben Key, Jacob James and Lee Hattersley were together for most of the race in the Clubman class and finished in that position within 20 seconds of each other in what proved to be a hard slog as the temperature rose towards the end of the race. Hattersley posted the fastest lap time of the three but couldn’t take advantage of it as the two youngsters stuck with him.

Chris Wagstaff topped the Vets A class with Kev Sandland in second spot and Shane Brown in third while Shaun James was top Vets B rider ahead of Rob Murfin and Tony Gunn.

Sportsman rider Ben Martindale was in double figures for laps on his way to a class win ahead of Andy Rich and Harrison Holdcroft as in the Youth B ranks it was Dan Leadbetter who topped the class with Mitch Parkes second and Adam James third.

Liam Storar topped the Novice class with Kristian Ankritt in second spot, the only two Novice riders to finish the race.

It was a very hot and dusty day at times. The woodland section provided some relief from the sun but that was brief and the woodland going was still tough. The Rock Oil XC Championship possibly had its toughest event of the season at H2O last Sunday but the racing was spot on and the course was great.

Well done Fast Eddy and the crew.

 

GBXC second round. Ratlinghope.

When you watch a race for two and a half hours, see at least six different riders out in front and with 15-minutes to go still have no idea who will win, that is the mark of a great course and a bunch of talented racers.

That is just what happened at the Fast Eddy Racing Great British Cross Country series which clicked into top gear on Sunday at a venue that proved to be more than worthy of the series presence there. Ratlinghope is big and bold with real old school challenges; large hills, bogs, stream crossings and fast open terrain.

The three stream crossings became harder as each rider passed through them, dragging water out onto the dry ground and helping to start ruts to form while the boggy areas became softer and more treacherous with every lap. The mud battles at the bottom of the valley were matched by the steep climbs where dust was thrown up and many riders got filled in.

It was hard to believe it was the same course on the same day. Mid-point in the afternoon race the heavens opened for a short time and everything became so much harder.

Such was the mix that there were three or four different leaders just on the first lap of the 2.5hr afternoon race containing the Experts, Clubman, Veterans A and Youth A riders. In the Expert ranks Derek Bawn was first to the first stream crossing, closely followed by Ash Fox who was returning to racing after a very long lay-off, but it was Daryl Bolter and Tom Ellwood who really upped the pace as the first half dozen riders were virtually inseparable over the opening handful of laps.

Husky Sport’s Bolter opened a gap but then disappeared leaving MRS Sherco’s Ellwood to take up the running. Halfway through the race everything changed in just a few minutes as the rain arrived and swung things in favour of the technical riders. Elwood retired leaving ET James’ Ben Murphy and Derek Bawn to take up the head of the field with Edmondson Racing’s Beta mounted Rich Ely and an ever-improving Colwyn Bay KTM rider Mark Roberts slowly making inroads in their lead.

Roberts had a very disappointing start but worked his way through the field and excelled on the slippy stuff when the rain arrived and his times fell with every lap. Murphy was leading but within a single lap Roberts caught and overtook him, posting a 40 second lead which he added to lap after lap as he charged on to take a well-deserved win.

Murphy clung on to second spot as Derek Bawn held third, with two minutes between them. Harry Edmondson had a hard outing amongst much more experienced riders but rode well to take fourth, finishing just seconds ahead of Fox in fifth.

Gary McCoy headed the Vets A class as Chris Wagstaff, virtually on home turf, did his best to close on the man from down south but could quite manage it while Jack Twentyman charged around the lap in his own inimitable style to take third place.

George Yardley had what can only be described as an outstanding ride. He rode the wheels off his 85cc machine to win the mega-competitive Youth A class despite having to cope with huge ruts after the midpoint of the race. Charlie Chater was also on an 85cc and was on his rear wheel initially but young Yardley never stopped pushing to take the Youth A win as Chater took second and Cole Cookland third.

Ryan Phillips eventually took the Clubman class win but endured a long battle with second placed Jacob James that saw both riders raise their game considerably.

They both finished in the mid-teens overall but raced as though they were leading the whole field. Luke Tarr took a solid third in class but had little hope of catching the leading pair.

Earlier in the day the Vets B, Youth B, Novice and sportsman riders enjoyed a two-hour race in excellent conditions although they also had to negotiate the streams and bogs which took their toll on more than a few riders.

Nick Whitehead took the overall win and the Sportsman top spot with a calculated and clinical ride as he passed a multitude of riders who had started in classes before him. Steve Cranshaw and Shaun James in the Vets B class were leading the field but Whitehead’s determination saw him catch, pass and put a minute on both of them to take the win. Tom Walker was also making ground and took a solid second spot with Ben Martindale completing the Sportsman top three.

Cranshaw’s second overall saw him top the Vets B class with James in second spot and Pete Nixey in third as Richard Moorhouse won the Youth B class as the final rider to post 14 laps. Second in Youth B was Dan Leadbetter with Adam James some way back in third spot on his 85cc machine.

Top of the Novices was Kristian Ankritt who just managed to post an extra lap over Properly Protected’s Tony Chawner in second. Chawner had a comfortable gap over third placed James Redfern who was on 11 laps.

Racing actually began on Saturday morning as the Youth riders took to a slightly shortened course at 9.00am. Cory Cookland posted yet another win overall and topped the 85cc class ahead of Francis Davies andJohn Stanley while Jack Sandland took the 65cc win from Reece Jones and William Barratt.

It had been three years since Fast Eddy racing was at Ratlinghope but it was worth the wait as the course was fantastic and the racing superb, at a standard expected of a GBXC event. Well done Fast Eddy and his crew. A great event.

The 2017 ACU British Sprint Championship. Rogers Hill Raceway. Dorset.

Buildbase Honda Racing pilot Alex Snow announced his arrival at the 2017 ACU British Sprint Championship by taking the win on both days as the series kicked off in Dorset last weekend. Calm and consistent, he emerged victorious as his two closest rivals both retired with injuries by the end of Saturday.

Rogers Hill Raceway provided a cracking course with a single eight-minute Special Test that was very dry and dusty in some places and certainly benefitted from the showers throughout Saturday. The test was mainly on the MX course but dipped into a woodland area before hitting field sections scattered with tricky obstacles and log sections.

Sunshine and showers made for mixed conditions on Saturday but Sunday was bright throughout the day, causuing a few dust spots on the MX track.

A full entry was encouraging for organiser Paul Edmondson with a terrific spread of talent across all classes. Many riders were trying the Sprint format for the first time and feedback suggested that it was very well received.

At the sharp end of the entry the Championship class had a terrific mix of talent with Husqvarna rider Jack Edmondson briefly back from the USA, Husqvarna Extreme rider Billy Bolt far from an extreme event and enduro convert Alex Snow looking forward to the MX part of the test with his Honda.

As expected, Jack Edmondson took control initially with two very rapid tests but disaster struck on test three when he injured his wrist and departed for the X-ray department. Billy Bolt had been close to Jacko but a couple of big hits later in the day saw the extreme rider finish the day then retire from further proceedings.

Consistency was the key and looking at the test times it was obvious when the rain had arrived and the whole field of riders were 30 seconds off the dry time pace. Snow remained unbeaten throughout the day and headed the Championship E2 class although Yamaha mounted Lee Sealey did his best to catch the flying Honda. Bolt’s injury slowed him slightly and Sealey took advantage to finish the day in second spot and top of the Championship E1 class as Bolt took third overall and top E3 position with James Dent second.

The E2 class certainly hotted up with the appearance of Jack Rowland, back on a bike and fast as ever. He secured the E2 runner up spot with 25 seconds to spare over Fraser Flockhart in third.

Dan Mundell had yet another great outing finishing second in E1 just 18 seconds adrift of Sealey but well ahead of Keelan Hancock in third.

Snow continued his charge on Sunday, beaten just once by Rowland, who took second overall as Flockhart took third in E2 while Sealey maintained his performance to finish third overall and top the E1 class by 14 seconds ahead of Mundell.

Keelan Hancock took E1 third but was off the pace for most of the day. Only James Dent survived to run in the E3 class, an easy win for him.

The Expert ranks provided equally entertaining racing as E1’s Alex Walton was flying throughout Saturday morning but had his hands full as Aaron Gordon hit back in the afternoon to win the final three tests.

It wasn’t enough to dislodge Walton atop the E1 class. Ben Murphy put in another solid performance to grab third in class with both hands. Walton continued his good run on Sunday as Murphy improved to take second place ahead of Gordon in third with just 10-seconds covering the top three places, it was really close racing.

Dylan Bayton lead the E2 Expert pack from Kalem Hicks and Kev Murray on Saturday but Murray fought back to take the win on Sunday as Bayton slipped to second while Brad King moved up to third spot. Edmondson Racing’s Beta mounted Rich Ely had two excellent days, topping the class on both by quite a margin. On Satuday it was Joel Gowan and Patrick Twentyman following in his wake while Sunday saw the same top two with Brad Williams moving to third in class.

Clubman E2’s Brad Rowland took the overall win on Saturday but was followed by three very quick E1 riders in the shape of Lewis Ranger, Cameron Young and Ryan Mundell. Simon Comer raised the E3 profile by taking fifth as Aston Day and Arron Bloomfield completed the E2 line up.

Joe Dyke and Stuart Mack completed the E3 podium positions. Rowland continued his run on Sunday taking yet another E2 win with Aston Day second and Jack Nixey third.

E1 remained the same as Saturday while E3 saw Stuart Mack take the win from Joe Dyke and Jamie Carroll.

Rosie Rowett continued her great form from the BEC by taking both wins over the weekend in the Ladies class. She was head and shoulders clear of second placed Gemma Holtham and Emily Hall in third on Saturday while Sunday saw her finish well clear of Steph Jewell as Emily Hall again took third in class.

The Under 16’s line-up was full of talent and fast young riders. Charlie Chater and George Yardley were joined at the head of the class by Alfie Webb as all three battled throughout the opening day with Chater taking a well-deserved win, Yardley second and Webb third. Chater topped the group again on Sunday with Yardley close behind once again but a charge from Bret Rowland to third place saw Webb drop from the podium places.

Jonathan Tarr nailed the Veterans class by nearly a minute over Gary McCoy, the two were always neck and neck throughout the first day, while Shane Trotter took third after the seventh and final test. The top two continued their battle on Sunday and the result remained the same with a win for Tarr but they were joined by Neil Bowker who fought his way to third in class.

The Sportsman class saw Brad Croton do the double with a class win on both days. In second place Aaron Webb saw off the challenge from Ashley Williams in third. The performance was repeated on Sunday with positions remaining the same.

Rogers Hill Raceway provided an excellent launch pad to this season’s ACU British Sprint Championship. The course held some of the same sections as previous years but a new technical woodland section slowed things down at times, a necessary break between the MX track and the open fields.

Just having one Special Test does slow things down slightly but it gives riders time to regroup and make any necessary adjustments before their next run, essential at the opening rounds of a Championship suck as the Sprint.

A cracking weekend with a little variation in the weather which made things interesting. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jack Edmondson and Billy Bolt.

Great job from Paul Edmondson and the Fast Eddy Racing crew.

The 2017 Fast Eddy Rock Oil XC Championship. Report & pics: Tilde Tighe. Second round. Brakehill Farm, Northants.

Following a slight delay from the opening round at Bicton, the 2017 Rock Oil XC Championship got back into top gear for a dry and dusty affair at Brakehill Farm, Northants. This venue has recently seen major reconfiguration that lead to much of the MX track and start area left without any natural cover which contributed to the dusty conditions. Luckily a stiff breeze cleared the dust as fast as it appeared but the start of both adults races suffered slightly until the packs of riders had strung out around the lap.

The course was really good, sweeping turns and tighter technical stuff,with big open field areas to relax in, made for interesting battles across all three races.

First up were the youth riders with Sion Evans and Cory Cookland contesting the top spot in the 85/150cc class. Evans took the lead early on and held it to the finish as Cookland matched him on laps, a minute down, to take second spot with Lucas Holdcroft secure in third. Alfie Davies was the top 65cc competitor ahead of Jack Sandland and William Barnett.

With a noticeable rise in temperature from the early start of the youth race the dust and wind swirled around the Sportsman, Novice, Youth B and Vets B competitors in the first adults race of the day.

An eight-minute lap faced them and all the undulations the venue had to offer were included in the course, mainly in the woodland section, making for a very well-balanced route out to the field section at the far side of the venue.

Dan Leadbetter and Will Farrow were the top two competitors, leading the pack for most of the race after working their way through the Vets B class that started ahead of them. Vets B’s Nick Hargrave kept in touch for most of the race but it was the youngsters who took the day with Leadbetter taking the overall win followed by Farrow with Carwyn Rosser third in the Youth B class and fourth overall.

Hargrave took the vets B win ahead of Shaun James and Ed Hopkins while Ben Martindale grabbed first spot in the Sportsman ranks. He was followed by Louis Allen in second and Steve Farthing, third.

Josh Lucy took the top Novice position ahead of Ashley Williams with Ian Foster third.

Things heated up in every way possible for the final race of the day. In the Expert class the Ditchfield brothers were back on track following the theft of their bikes a few weeks back, both raring to go while Ben Murphy, Brad Williams and Harry Edmondson were determined to make old timers James Jackman and Derek Bawn work hard to get into the top three.

Jack Ditchfield nailed the holeshot only to be overtaken by brother Max further around the lap as Ben Murphy worked his way to the front of a gaggle of riders. Within a couple of laps he was in control and left Max Ditchy and Harry Edmondson battling for the runner-up spot. The pair swapped places throughout the race as fuel stops played their part and even into the final three laps it was anyone’s guess who would take second spot. Max eventually charged harder than Harry to take second overall but it had been a very close race. Murphy was in great form and won by well over a minute, easing off slightly in the final couple of laps.

Sam Davies in the Youth A class certainly made his mark. He beat every Clubman and Vet rider to finish eighth overall with seven Experts ahead of him. Quite a ride! Callum Sedgwick took second in the Youth A class with Charlie Chater third.

Topping the Clubman ranks Ryan Hughes who had battled with Lee Hattersley throughout the race, the pair were rarely more than metres apart. Third in Clubman was Jacob James, fully recovered from last season’s injury and on top form.

Chris Wagstaff once again head the Vets A class with a terrific display of fast and controlled riding adapted to the dusty conditions. The surprise of the Vets A class was Honda poster boy Kev Sandland – riding a KTM! Sandland had a great outing to take second spot as Anthony Dean took third.

All in all it was a tough day but one where youth triumphed over experience for once. It was great to see so many good young riders bashing on the door of the established ranks and giving their all in tough conditions at times.

The 2017 Fast Eddy Rock Oil XC Championship. Report & pics: Tilde Tighe

The opening round of the 2017 Fast Eddy Racing Rock Oil XC series could not have got off to a better start with great conditions, an upgraded course and a guest appearance from Yamaha’s Jamie McCanney to launch the yet another championship year into the spotlight.

Bicton Farm near Shrewsbury has received serious attention over the past few months and it was obvious just how much work had been done to the venue, especially the woods section, to turn it into one of the Fast Eddy Racing favourite locations for the coming year.

The weather in the run up to the event had been unpredictable but stayed dry, which allowed a practice day to run on Saturday and also meant that the farmer, Matt Egerton, could re-grade the course on Saturday evening ready for racing on Sunday and what a day that turned out to be.

The first round of each Rock Oil XC Championship always starts at Bicton Farm and host ‘A Lap For Joe’ in memory of Joe Edge, a young rider who lost his life doing the sport he loved.

This year saw another increase in the number of riders participating in the memorial lap, which grows with each passing year, as every rider with a bike circulated slowly behind Paul Edmondson and Joe’s Dad as they led the pack around the course.

Sunday started with the first Youth race of the year and saw a dozen young riders take to the Bicton course, some for the first time ever as their XC racing careers got underway.

The course was made only slightly easier for the youngsters, missing some of the trickier woodland sections, but it proved to be fast and flowing and promoted great racing. In the BW85 class it was Sion Evans who took the first win of the series, overall and winning his class ahead of Bradley Price and Sam George while Cory Cookland won the SW85cc class ahead of Connor Davies and Lucas Holdcroft.

Jack Sandland continued where he left off last season with a win in the 65cc class ahead of Alfie Davies and Jake Willis while Alfie Dawson tackled the tough course on his Auto for the first time and managed six laps which was quite an achievement.

The first adult race had been full for days in the run up to the event. The start area was packed with the ranks of Veterans B, Youth B, Sportsman and Novice riders, all set for two hours of great racing around the rejuvenated course.

Although Bicton Farm isn’t the largest venue used by Fast Eddy the course was flowing and fast over fields and through woodlands alongside the River Severn and the ground was simply in perfect condition.

A huge class of Vets B riders started the race and the track improvements soon became obvious, as the racing was close but fast, especially through the woodland section where the track had been cleared and widened to make it faster and slightly less technical.

Lee Allis-Smith had his bike running sweetly and had no trouble taking the overall win and the Vets B class win just ahead of Mark Plain, clocking 18 laps as Fast Eddy regular Shaun James nailed third in class.

Chris Tompkins was the top Sportsman on the day and had a terrific ride to take his class win and second overall against a huge field of eager Sportsman riders. Liam Belfield and Louis Allen backed him up on the podium.

Nick Whitehead was going really well until he had problems and was last seen running across the fields in search of an 8mm spanner.

All of the top three Youth B riders were tightly packed on 18 laps but it was Dan Leadbetter who managed to gain 30 seconds over Harrison Holdcroft to take the win with Will Farrow coming in third.

Josh Lucy and Dan Jones were just seconds apart in the Novice class top two slots with third placed Steve Farthing less than a minute adrift to the leading pair.

Tony Chawner went well until his front brake pads fell out although he did manage to refit then with the aid of a twig until he could get back to the pits. All in all, a pretty eventful race.

The line up for the afternoon race was impressive. Jamie McCanney, Mark Roberts Sam Winterburn Alex Walton and Shaun Buchan were just a few riders to grace the Expert class, many using the race as an opportunity to get some competition time in before the Enduro GP and BEC seasons get underway.

Max Ditchfield got the jump at the start of the second adults race around the first tight left-hander and lead the class off into the distance as McCanney was stuck mid-pack initially.

By the end of the first lap the plan for the race had been set with McCanney out in front as the others scrabbled for positions. Jamie McCanney rode a flawless race and finished over three minutes clear of Mark Roberts in second spot on his new Colwyn Bay KTM Stuff machine. Sam Winterburn had a real battle to keep ahead of a hard-charging Alex Walton but he took third place for his efforts.

Lee Hattersley just nicked the Clubman class win from friend and rival Ryan Armitage, literally with yards to go to the finish flag. They had battled throughout the whole two hours and Hattersley’s determination paid off as Armitage’s small error cast him dearly. Nathan Rogers took a solid third spot.

Cole Cookland, in the Youth A class, had a terrific ride. He was 11th overall with 10 Experts ahead of him but class rival Sam Davies hot on his heels in second spot. George Yardley, who usually flies around Bicton, was down in third place, which was really unusual.
Yamaha mounted Chris Wagstaff once again took the Veterans A class win to back up his Champions title from last season. Kev Sandland was three minutes behind him but had Gary Benniman breathing down his neck as the race concluded. Sandland took second and Benniman third in class.

This was a terrific start to the 2017 Rock Oil XC series. Bicton had never been in better shape, despite rain coming in for the final lap of the day. If this is a sign or what’s to come then the Fast Eddy Rock Oil XC Championship is going to be a cracker this year. Galleries on www.foto-x.co.uk