The 2017 Slow Pete Series. Pics: Jacob Tighe. Report: Tim Tighe

Cotswold Enduro Club’s Easter Sunday race at Shuckburgh Hall, Northants, could not have enjoyed better weather or a more impressive course. Everything was perfect.

Shuckburgh Hall really is something special, a country estate with deer park and hundreds of acres of flowing Northamptonshire countryside makes it one of the most beautiful setting imaginable and riders are very lucky to have a landowner who is so sympathetic to off-road competition.

A large lap, five miles in length, snaked around the beautiful Shuckburgh Estate taking in three massive woodland sections with plenty of lines everywhere and smooth flowing corners with just a few boggy bits to catch the unwary.

With rain forecast to start at the midpoint of the two-hour race all eyes were on the sky but the wet stuff never materialised and riders took full advantage as lap times fell and battles developed.

 

A packed field without an Expert in sight saw some great racing from the more senior members of both the Veterans 40+ and 50+ groups who were first off the line at the start of the race.

Despite their collective years of experience there were still a few errors on the second corner, the most significant being Ryan Griffiths’ fall from grace that saw him picking his bike up as the 40+ Vets pack disappeared into the distance.

Undeterred, Griffiths remounted and put in a charge that took him to first place within a few laps, and that’s going some considering the wealth of talent ahead of him when he started his mission. Martin Jakeman had built quite a lead over the opening lap with Kev Freeman hot on his heels but Griffiths stuck to task and won the event outright and the 40+ class by nearly three minutes over Darren Bedford as Kev Freeman pushed hard to snatch third in class.

In addition to the fastest riders of the day the 40+ class also contained Lee Allis-Smith who undoubtedly had the crash of the day on the opening lap. A small error followed by whisky throttle saw him plunge down one of the largest and steepest slopes of the venue in true extreme enduro style. His tuck and roll was superb and he survived uninjured having supplied onlookers with a memorable few seconds of unforgettable action.

Out of the top 20 finishers only two were not Veteran class riders. Niles Reid headed the Clubman 4T class, a lap up on second placed Martyn Grantham Keith Jenkins, 50+ class, took third overall and top spot in the Oldies class some six minutes ahead of a chasing Rob Sewell in second and Colin Griffiths in third. The pace of all three was impressive around such a flowing course and Jenkins ‘swift, silent and deadly’ style saw him breeze past backmarkers without so much as a sound. It’s a pleasure to watch him race.but only three minutes clear of Andrew Sterling in third spot who was closing fast by the end of the race.

James Flannigan also made the top 20, riding in the Clubman Plus class. He took the class win comfortably as Ellis Frend was secure in second spot ahead of Neil Munton in third.

Battle of the day was in the Clubman 2T class. Rich Jordan took the win but only by four seconds over Darren Thorpe, the closest finish of the day between class rivals, as Jason King nailed third spot less than a minute adrift of the leading pair. It was a very closely fought class with some talented riders vying for top places.

Chris Northern was a little surprised by his result in the Sportsman Novice class. He won!

A run of good form lately had paid off with top spot on the podium but it was close to say the least as Adam Lewis was only 39 seconds behind him. Adam Bates was just 47 second off the pace in third spot and all three provided a very close finish to a great competition.

Trinity Kirkwood was the sole Ladies class rider and by default took the win while Eric Shaw topped the Trail class with four laps to his credit and no other competitors to worry about.

An hour after the race ended the rain arrived. Perfect timing to end a perfect day at one of the best venues in the country. If you missed it or have never ridden at Shuckburgh Hall then grab your chance in two weeks time as Cotswold Enduro Club returns for the Rock Oil H&H Championship and Club Championship.

 
The 2017 CEC AMCA Rock Oil Hare & Hounds Championship. Pics: Tilde Tighe. Report: Tim Tighe

Matt Porter began the new season where he left off in 2016 with another definitive win at the opening round of the CEC AMCA Rock Oil H&H Championship, mounted this year on a John Lee Beta machine that never missed a beat.

Cotswold Enduro Club got its 2017 season underway in great style at Wymeswold on Sunday. A full entry, a rain-free day and nearly five miles of challenging cross-country terrain that included the excellent Wymeswold MX track saw the race run for the full three-hours, despite some concerns from organiser Pete Carter at one point but the riders were having a great time so he let it flow.

The race came as a shock to the system for many riders who hadn’t competed since last October in many cases, a full three-hours in testing conditions proved to be a real wake-up call.

For mid February conditions could have been much worse. The dry day really did help to improve a greasy surface around much of the course but could do nothing to prevent several water–filled ditches from turning into mud holes.

In true Cotswold style there were plenty of lines to choose from and once the initial few laps were out of the way and riders spaced out around the course, everything ran smoothly.

In the Pro Championship class Adam Castledine launched his KTM into the lead off the line, ahead of Jamie Wainwright and Matt Porter and stayed at the front for a respectable amount of time on the opening lap until Porter got to grips with the new Beta and turned up the gas.

Jamie Wainwright was in the running but by the halfway point Porter had full control and was still pushing hard, knowing there were a handful of quality riders behind him, all of whom had the potential challenge for the lead.

Porter’s efforts paid off as he took the Pro Championship class win by five minutes ahead of Jamie Wainwright who was two minutes clear of third placed Kalem Hicks. These three riders were really going for it and were the only riders to post 15 laps out of 150 who started the race.

The Expert class started alongside the Pro class and it was Dean Edwards who took the class win ahead of James Flannigan and Ellis Frend with Edwards posting an extra lap over his rivals.

Next off the line was the Veterans 40+ class. Kev Freeman got a terrific start and led the pack around the first left-hander, up the long straight bordering the start field and into a tight chicane. It was here that it all came apart as Kev lost the front end and hit the deck, allowing the whole of the class to flash past him, significantly Darren Bedford who eventually went on to win. Undeterred, Freeman battled back to second in class before running out of fuel, pushing to the pits, refuelling and re-joining the race where he had left the course. He still landed second in class by three minutes over Martin Jakeman.

The Veterans 50+ class was next and Mark Glover headed the pack briefly before the experienced Richard Main took control. He was seven minutes ahead of the rest by the end of the race. Mick Belcher got his second wind late on and he went from fifth to second spot in a couple of laps as the chequered flag was being prepared, a great effort considering the competition in the class. He was the only rider to match Mainy on laps. Rob Sewell kept a respectable minute ahead of Richard Wright to take third spot.

Anthony Kirby nailed the holeshot as the Clubman riders left the startline but was soon overtaken by Tim Woodhouse who was on a mission to take the 2T class win, which he did by a clear lap over Rob Latham in second and Dan Phillips, third.

Saxon Nell pulled a six-minute lead over Jamie Berry to win the Clubman 4T class, matching each other on laps while Ian Hart took third in class, a lap adrift on the leading pair.

Gemma Holtham was alone in the Ladies class but pushed herself to post an impressive 10 laps in tough conditions on parts of the course as the race neared its conclusion.

The Sportsman Novice class was as competitive as ever. The top three riders were all on 12 laps but it was Dean Skerratt who took the win from Gary Curtis in second and Adam Carter who just beat the chequered flag to gain an extra lap and take third in class.

This was no easy introduction to the 2017 AMCA Rock Oil Championship, it was a tough and muddy three hours with parts of the course improving as the race ran and others deteriorating, but it was balanced and ultimately very ride-able but required riders to dig deep, especially those who hadn’t ridden for a while.

Gallery: www.foto-x.co.uk