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.
1 Matt Porter
2 Jamie Wainwright
3 Kalem Hicks
1 Dean Edwards
2 James Flannigan
3 Ellis Frend
1 Darren Bedford
2 Kev Freeman
3 Martin Jakeman
1 Richard Main
2 Mick Belcher
3 Rob Sewell
1 Tim Woodhouse
2 Rob Latham
3 Dan Phillips
1 Saxon Nell
2 Jamie Berry
3 Ian Hart
1 Gemma Holtham
1 Dean Skerratt
2 Gary Curtis
3 Adam Carter
Report by Tim Tighe