All photographs taken by Toni Allen & David Youlton known as www.bikephotos.co.uk
Witley Enduro Sunday 14th February 2010
First round of the SEEC Enduro Championship
The South Eastern Enduro Combine Championship got off to an interesting start with Witley MCC hosting the first round at Warren Heath, Near Yateley. This year Witley’s course planners Robert Carey and Arnaud Didey had really enhanced the course and pulled Witley out of the rut by adding two exciting special tests. Special thanks go to Rob Collard & David Bayliss for use of their motorcross track, which emulated the much larger sandpit at Weavers Down.
Just off the pits Witley had erected an impressive pro class start with a long ramp for the contestants to ride along and be timed on the off. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties with electronic timing equipment, the start was delayed, and from that point on, time became a big issue.
Despite these frustrations, freezing conditions and an initial flurry of snow, riders proved their mettle and flew round the 10 mile course. The going was challenging, a tight woodland course littered with tree roots and several deep bogs over at the far side. Long way back to the pits if you were unlucky enough to get stuck in one of those.
The main interest of the day focused around the two newly added special tests. The motorcross test was gravel, the going good and fast where the sprinkling of snow had damped it down, giving riders the opportunity to fly over a series of fast flowing rises and giving good grip around tight corners. A small section still held water from previous wet conditions creating a treacherous quagmire that sucked in several riders. While they were stuck in the mud for ages expert riders found a way round, but others lost time by forming a queue to take turns over firmer ground. Eventually a slight readjustment to the course dispersed the queue and kept the pace fast and exhilarating.
A mixed ride through woodland and heath-land brought the riders up to the cross country special test. This was vastly different from the motorcross section. A winding track through heath-land brought the riders up to a junction where they could choose their path. An easy ride through heath and woodland with the possibility of getting stuck in boggy ground, or, straight up! Up a near vertical muddy bank, watch out for the large tree stumps, onto a ledge peppered with tree roots, keep straight to avoid colliding with trees, and drop down and round to the finish line. Much quicker. Only the very faint hearted didn’t attempt the bank at least once, everyone sussing that this could shave those all important seconds off their time, and get them higher up the points.
The vertical bank proved spectacular, newcomer sportsman James Bawden No 121 on his KTM 250 flying up it like a pro. Another newcomer George Hayes No 161on his KTM 125, who was competing in the youth class, having come up from trials, took the bank with such ease it stunned us. He’s definitely one to watch out for. Others didn’t fare so well, a deep rut along the centre line catching riders out and making them lose momentum and slide backwards. If a wheel caught the slippery tree stumps at the top of the incline everything went flying…in the wrong direction. Let go or hang on was the option and some riders performed outstanding feats to hang on tight and stay on board. Others weren’t so lucky, the bike careering down on top of them once they’d reached the summit. Thanks go to Andy Rixon of Vines BMW, who wasn’t riding on the day, for helping so many guys up the final few inches and making sure everyone was ok.
Further round the track turned sticky and with final laps in view the adrenaline was pumping and frustration set in. Once again the course had to be adjusted so that no more riders sank into a deep rut that needed help to escape from.
Another youngster, Witley’s very own Aaron Smith No 27, now riding in the expert class on his Poole MCS Yamaha 250 2T, made light work of the obstacles and ended up with 2nd place. Nene Valley Club rider Jack Lee No 29 on his John Lee Mc Gas Gas 300 2T beat Aaron by a whisker to steal 1st place. No 21 Tony Williamson from Sidcup Club riding his KTM 250 2T took 3rd.
Up with the Championship contenders No 3 Rob Warner of North Berks Club took first place, premier position, on his Yamaha 125 2T. Coming in 2nd was No 7 Richard Ely, another Sidcup member on his FastEddy Suzuki 250 4T, who was so fast we knew he’d be high up in the points. 3rd came No 6 Daniel Beaven from Kingston Club on his TMUK TM 250 2T.
The word in the pits afterwards was that it had been a fantastic course to ride and a great event. Unfortunately for Witley the biggest issue all day was difficulties with electronic timing equipment and transponders. Introduced to make the final calculations easier it ended up being a total headache. Firstly the event started late so the set off time clock was reset, only someone forget to adjust the one at the end…oops. Then a generator packed up so the laptop couldn’t be run. While that was being sorted it was back to the old fashioned method of pencil and paper. There were other issues too. Witley’s Manny Bernandez has done a sterling job of calculating and recalculating the results, but unfortunately this has all left many riders disappointed.
The final word on it, taken from Witley’s results page on their website is, ‘Due to problems with the timming beams we had to nullify 2 sets of the Cross Country test data, Championship and Expert have lost two Specials all other classes one.”
A sad end to a very enjoyable day in which everyone had a really terrific ride.