Proving that you don’t necessarily need a new bike complete with high performance extra’s bolted on to get results, Chelsea Gowland scorched to a brilliant 3rd overall during the home round of the IMBA European Ladies Championship in Staffordshire on Sunday.
Chelsea was not only making her European series debut but was also campaigning aboard a 5 year-old Honda, bagging a 4/3/3 scorecard to earn that podium spot. And 24 hours later her achievement became even more astonishing when she discovered that after landing heavily from a Lower Drayton jump, she had actually broken her ankle! Whilst Chelsea starred, there also plenty of other great results from the GB Ladies who certainly gave it their all with a proud, determined and outstanding showing. All inside the final top fifteen were Bethany Farmer (7th), Charlotte Hall (9th), Catherine King (11th), Leonni Tighe (13th) and Camilla King (15th). Completing Team GB, Eleanor Calby, Georgia Ithell, Vicky Marriott, Ciarra Robertson, Gabrielle Hamlet and Rhianne Barker also played their part and showed just why Ladies motocross is certainly on the march!
After trips to Holland and Belgium, this was round three of the 2017 IMBA series and In the opening Ladies contest at Lower Drayton it was to be one of the stars of the sport who controlled proceedings. With a motocross masterclass, former multi FIM World Champion Steffi Laier of Germany led from start to finish ahead of Belgian Brenda Wagemans and IMBA series pace-setter Gwenda Haans of Holland. Despite a small off, Chelsea Gowland was the first Brit home in a super 4th with the next best being the hard charging 16 year-old Leonni Tighe after a tough race long tussle with German Fionna Hoppe. With Bethany Farmer in 9th and Gabrielle Hamlet 10th, the Wiltshire based King sisters, Catherine and Camilla were having their own private family battle down in 13th before finally being split by Danish girl Barbara Aagaard.
With IMBA leader Haans going out of moto two after three laps with a knee injury, the very fast and smooth Laier again took the win from Wagemans and Gowland. In another great race for the Brits, Farmer, returning to action in 2017 just a year after breaking her back got home in 8th ahead of Tighe and another 16 year-old flyer Charlotte Hall. Battling for 14th, Catherine King just got the better of Rhianne Barker and Camilla King. On lap one of this contest, both Eleanor Calby and Vicky Marriott had fell before recovering back to earn 21st and 22nd respectively. Typical of the great spirit which exists within this happy group of female racers who simply just love to race, Eleanor Calby had lent her spare KTM125cc to fellow GB teamster Gabrielle Hamlet for this second clash after her own KTM250F developed mechanical issues.
With Tighe (jarred back) and Hamlet (sore thumb) being forced out of a restarted final moto, Gowland made another strong start and was right on the gas. Passing Wagemans, Chelsea moved up into 2nd and was even closing on leader Laier before suffering that ankle injury. After over-jumping a Lower Drayton leap, Chelsea in immense agony was forced to stop. Quickly though the brave Honda lass was back on it, managing to still claim 3rd, enough for a history making IMBA Ladies podium spot. Having her own best ride of the day, Farmer took a great 5th with Hall 10th and Catherine King 12th. Of the remaining Brits, Marriott who had earlier gated inside the top six, Calby, Georgia Ithell, Camilla King and Ciara Robertson who had made the very long trip down from Scotland all finished inside the top 20. Unfortunately for Rhianne Barker the day ended with a fall although she should still be more than pleased with her sterling efforts in the first two clashes. Afterwards despite the pain, a rightly delighted Gowland said, “This was my first ever IMBA event so was happy to post the 3rd fastest qualifying time. After that my lap times were consistent throughout the meeting, again making me very pleased. In race three, got up to 2nd but overjumped a single, hurting my ankle but still got home 3rd.Hopefully I will be able to do the full European series next year.”
The event also featured round two of the IMBA European Sidecar series but unfortunately due to a fixture clash with the Maxxis round at Foxhills, it meant that Sam Osbaldiston/Nathan Cooper were the sole AMCA Team Great Britain representatives. Despite that fact though, the British pairing certainly had the crowd on their feet with a truly stirring performance. Taking a super 5th overall, Sam and Nathan also jumped from 16th up to 6th in the Championship table.
In race one Belgians Christian Corthouts/Dagwin Sabbe led before eventually being pushed back by Dutch driver Mike Keuben with Brit Zac Snell in the chair and Frank Mulders/Marc van Deutekan who had come right through from an early 7th. Team GB ace Osbaldiston started in 8th before finishing 6th.
After that strong start, Ossie was in trouble during the early stages of moto two after clashing with a Dutch crew. Undeterred, the Brits got going and were moving impressively up the leaderboard to slot into 8th. Pushing hard to gain more places and fighting hard right to the chequered flag, Osbaldiston then unfortunately stalled his outfit on the final turn. Taking the win was Corthouts from Mulders.
In a classic final sidecar clash, Mulders, Corthouts and finally Keuben took turns to lead. With Keuben taking the win, Osbaldiston and Cooper also had a stormer. Gating 5th they passed Germans Tim Prummer/Tobias Lange then moved up to 4th, solidly defending his position despite a very determined challenge from Thom van de Langemaat/Lars de Laat.
In the solo support racing at Lower Drayton, Gary Gibson won the opening two clashes from Josh Waterman, Luke Meredith and Jordan Saunders. None of the above rider started the last clash though so it was Stuart Owen instead who took home the first place trophy. In the Seniors, Harry Syson topped the podium whilst Mitch Collins was the best Junior.
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The results of the event are below.