The Apico BSMA national series moved on to Pontrilas for the penultimate round of the championship incorporating the Georgie Evans Memorial Cup and indeed the last time they will get to race this ex-British championship circuit as its in its final year of use! Heavy rain on Friday had put the track in prime condition on Saturday eliminating the need for the use of bowsers, although where the berms from previous meetings had been left to stand the dust was waiting to break through, but it was only until late into the last of three blocks of racing that it really started to make itself known.
Now put that into contrast to Sunday and the track crew had done exactly what was needed to allow at least some racing. Saturday night the track was only given a light rip to remove the bumps then tracked back in in advance of the impending heavy rain that was forecast! The rain started at 7.30am and didn't stop, and it was heavy, but as practice got underway dust was still coming through and for a while dry lines showed through!
Saturday's racing got underway with the quick boys, the MX1 and MX2 combined, and really set the standard of racing for the day. Adam Harris aboard his two-stroke Yamaha against Tyron Cleaver on the KXF was such an intense battle it wasn't clear which way it was going to end, as Harris threw everything in his arsenal at Cleaver to try to break him, but lap after lap he held his nerve and crossed the line to take the first win. Jack Timms was gradually losing touch with this battle royale but held a solid third as Jonny Roderick Evans, Kris Ayres, Karl Haycock and Dominic Lancett all fought for that fourth spot pushing the remaining MX1 riders further down the order.
It was Lancett who came through to take fourth, second in class behind Timms, and Roderick Evans rounding out the hard-fought battle for third in class. Timms set the pace in the early going of the second moto, but a few laps in dropped a whole bunch of places to regroup for third by the flag behind Lancett and Cleaver. Harris had made an error on the opening lap and dropped down the order and managed to come back to fifth at the flag behind a solid ride from Roderick Evans. Cleaver inherited the lead off Timms and went on to take the flag for the second time.
Race three and the sun was dropping and the dust becoming more of an issue, as Cleaver got a mare of a start and found out the hard way only managing to come through to fifth, but that was good enough for second in class. Harris wasn't going to miss an opportunity and scorched off to the win, Timms followed him across the line for the MX2 win with Roderick Evans behind. Darren Webster and Ieuan Harris had a mid-race dice before Webster started to fade giving Harris a well-earnt fourth.
The combined vets and novice class was again a total domination by the vets with Andy Marchant really pulling the pin in the first two motos and clearing off into the distance, leaving Christian Seldon somewhat scratching his head at his championship rival crossing the line on both occasions as runner-up but not without having to deal with Derek Roberts as they changed places on more than one occasion. Trying his hand at the BSMA championship for the second time, Craig Chamberlain got in the mix holding down a couple of fourth places in the opening two just staying in front of a hard charging Scott Senter in the first. A horrendous start from championship-hopeful Simon Bracey saw him come up from outside the top fifteen to nab sixth in the first moto demoting Lee Spurr on the final lap.
Josh Senter took top honours in the novice two places behind his nemesis! Luke Price was top dog in the other novice battles taking the overall, Senter still managed two seconds with Phill Evans holding down to thirds and fourths to take runner up on the weekend. Jack Partridge benefitted from the slippery conditions on Sunday grabbing a second and taking third overall. The vets third race got interesting as Marchant didn't get the start but rival Seldon did and made the most of it pulling a gap over the field. Roberts started off in second, but was soon victim of Chamberlain and Marchant as that pair took on a race-long battle with Chamberlain riding the widest 450 Yamaha ever built, Marchant was visibly rattled and lucky not to have thrown his 350 KTM down the track after several attempts to force the 772 Yamaha team manager out of the way.
Senior open was again another ‘blU crU' affair with four of the top five overall on the Yamaha 250F's and Owen Woodhouse being the only non-blue bike to get in there with them. The first moto it was Marshall Smith soaring off into the lead, but it was short lived as he seemed to fade rapidly down the order leaving Josh Greedy to take up the reigns and indeed the win. Behind him Jack Wankling and Tommi Davies were going at it. Davies demoted Wankling mid-race only, to be dogged by him until a last-lap move around the outside in the ‘S' bend out of view from the spectators put him on the inside for the next corner forcing Davies over the top of the berm and back to third.
The second moto Greedy clearly had the speed advantage passing Wankling and not looking back. Callum Watson for the second time was up with the frontrunners initially, but was soon overhauled by Davies and Woodhouse as the pair of KTM-mounted riders tried to deal with the tide of blue. Woodhouse succumbed to pressure from Smith in the latter stages. The third one was lead away by Wankling, with Smith and Ryan Manly holding down the top three initially. Greedy was all but last around turn two crossing the line on the first lap in eleventh! Manly slipped down the order as the pack started to sort itself and again Smith faded badly letting Woodhouse through to hold second at the line from the charging Greedy in third.
The 125 seniors was a domination from last year's champion, Callum Beeken, although in the early going of moto one it looked like Liam Gale was going to ride the wheels off his TM to a comfortable win after a very quick starting Ben Watkins had thrown it away after two blistering laps out front. Beeken, coming from behind, overhauled Gale by midway and stamped his authority on the win. James Hanscomb somehow managed to come from nowhere having moved into third and steal second on the last lap. Beeken took a flag-to-flag second moto win with a surprise second place going to Ben White and Hanscomb in third, despite still struggling from injury. The last dry race saw another wire-to-wire win for Beeken but this time Hanscomb had to get past Watkins for second with Watkins again getting out of the gate well along with White. Gale come through for fourth.
The BW85 class is stacked with talent. Trystan Williams took the overall, but that might well have been different had Ethan Sill not missed the start of the mud race on Sunday! Sills had taken two wins to Williams' one on Saturday, but they were so close it could of been three to Williams! In the first moto it looked like Billy Duke had found that extra bit of speed lacking to stay with these boys, he had started to reel the pair back in after they initially pulled a small gap on him only to lose grip on the off-cambered sweeper near the finish going down heavily on his shoulder putting him out of contention for the weekend. Jason Down was the main benefactor to Duke's demise, as he had been sitting in a lonely fourth, now he claimed three thirds. Daniel Arkell improved as the weekend went on, as with a somewhat unusual cornering technique he managed to bag two fourths on Saturday. Charlie Palmer was the first Japanese machine to cross the line netting fifth overall.
The SW85 class was all over the place with results. Turning out to be most consistent and bagging one win was Jake Randall with his trainer lurking about. Dave Watson must have been handing out some good advice to get him on the top step overall. Four different winners from the four races but Randall managed to net a second to go with his win with only one other rider managing two top placings. Tyler Smith has started showing great promise taking another win in the first moto but his lack of consistency is not giving him the overall podium results needed yet. Ben Mustoe lead the first encounter for a while before a spill dropped him and although he didn't get a win still managed a third overall. Ellis Poole definitely has the speed but like Smith has the lack of consistency for now, but pulled a win out the bag in the second moto following it up in the third with a second but his first race mishap let him down.
The juniors again had a clear winner, taking three comfortable wins was Freddie Gardiner. Although, at times, Harlow Green was showing signs of his old form and kept Gardiner honest. Ollie Bubb managed to take second overall in a tight contest with third placed Joey Benfield. Gardiner took off in the first moto followed by Green and Hayden Yeend, Yeend with Yeend's final resting place just outside the top five after Benfield and Bubb came through. The next one saw Gardiner again go on without a hitch to win and after Green chucked it away Bubb, Shane Jones, Yeend and a slow starting Benfield completed the top five. Third one and again it was about the placings as FG took another unchallenged win from Green and Bubb with Benfield ousting Yeend on the last lap.
The Autos looked to be a Lee Simkiss affair taking three wins from three on Saturday, but the overall ended up in Ollie Waters' lap. Race one saw a very static top four of Simkiss, Waters, Logan Gardener and Matthew Morgan with the only battle being between Logan Keene and Ollie Truman, trading places a couple of times with Truman edging it. A similar fate befalled the second moto replaced only by Keene grabbing fourth and Bobby Ray Smith netting fifth. A switch in the second and third place was the highlight of race three with Gardener taking Waters mid race and a dramatic fight through the field from dead last for Smith to get up to eighth.
|Sunday's Slippery Sundae|
With conditions worsening as the minutes clicked by, the at times torrential rain that hit the Herefordshire hills took its toll with racing being called after just one block. But, for those who braved the conditions, it looked fun as it was slick as opposed to deep mud thanks to the track maintenance crew. With the first race underway it was big wheeled riders pushing the limits of how far they could go. Williams gated and took off with Sills nowhere to be seen! Arkell and Down made up the top three and as the pack left the start field Sills appeared from the start and took off after the long distant pack! Down moved quickly into second and as the laps counted down Sills was setting fastest laps by over five seconds in a vain attempt to make up ground, unbelievably by the flag he had moved up to fourth salvaging second overall.
It was Sion Evans who gated first in the SW85 class and with relatively-clear vision went unchallenged to take the win from Ben Zeale and Lewis Roden. Poole dumped it on the opening lap putting paid to any hope of the top three while started well but dropped three places by the flag but that was enough for the overall. Joey Benfield came into the second turn neck-and-neck with Jamie Kuehn coming out first, but come lap two he's demoted and Kuehn had taken over the top spot and held off Benfield's challenges to take the win. Gardiner was content on keeping it upright and didn't want to risk throwing it down the track in the slick conditions, his caution allowing Bubb to nip third on the last lap.
The autos were always going to struggle in these conditions but a few managed to stay upright and the best of those was Waters from Morgan. Ifan Rees moved up through other's misfortune to grab third. Senior open was a tight run into turn two with Watson just coming out in front and leading the entire race until the last lap when he got caught by Greedy with Marshall Smith getting caught on the last lap also by Woodhouse.
The 125's where again led from start to finish by Beeken giving him the only maximum of the weekend. Cameron Jackson deserves a mention for a great ride through the pack up to third, giving him his best result of the weekend by far. Vets saw Simon Bracey get the holeshot but by turn two it was Chamberlain who held on to the flag despite repeated attempts by Seldon to take over. Marchant had gone down in turn two and fought gallantly back through to fourth behind Lee Spurr. The final race saw young Lancett take the lead and then stall on the next lap, allowing Cleaver to briefly take the lead, but he fought back, re-took the place and maintained the lead to the end. Timms lost the chance of the overall with an early mishap that left him hovering around the bottom end of the top ten. Harris screamed the two-stroke across the line in third.
|Georgie Evans Memorial Cup|
The winner being picked as most outstanding performance on the Saturday by Georgie's parents, Richard and Ann Evans. Quote by Richard: "It is still very difficult for us and our family coming to terms with the loss of our daughter Georgie, but everyone is so supportive it's overwhelming. It was a very emotional day, starting with a minutes silence which everyone respected, racing was top draw in every class from the tiny autos to my fellow old boys in the vets! Picking a rider of the day was so difficult, because everyone was giving their all. We narrowed it down to a few before the last block, but I hope you all agree that the BW85 class was lit yesterday! The racing between Ethan Sills and Trystan Williams was fantastic. They were never far apart, but we could only pick one and Ethan edged it.
The final and deciding round is at Culham in Oxfordshire on September 15 and 16.
Words: Ady Cowshall | Lead Image: Ady Cowshall