Riders make the start in the dark (Pic © Mark Cozens)
The top step of the podium – the only place to be
Thetford Forest, Norfolk, played host to the unfailingly popular Marin Dusk ‘til Dawn, the 12 hour endurance night race. 800 riders were competing in pairs, teams and solos, but it was Whyte Racing UK that took the team gong. Luke Smith, Andy Barlow, Jimmy White and Billy Whenman finished a whole lap clear in dry but cold conditions.
Billy set the tempo, riding the first lap and coming home two minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Luke and Andy then showed a clean pair of heels to the chasing pack and Jimmy rode majestically through the night.
There were very few mechanical problems for Kevin Izzard in the support truck and his main priority was staying warm as temperatures plummeted. “We had to fix a lot of other people’s bike and did that gladly just to keep warm,” Kevin commented.
Team support manager Mark Greshon added: “The lads finished a lap ahead of second place and completed 16 laps in 12 hours – that’s a total distance of over 187 miles! Billy was the star of the show and completed five laps, all at breakneck speed and with a big smile on his face.”
Luke’s raceWhyte Racing UK’s Luke Smith tells his story of the race
We had a strong team this year and we were quietly confident. Although the team we battled against last year were back with a revised line up and were keen to knock us off the top spot, so there was no room for complacency.
Billy was first out and made the early running, coming round about two minutes up on the others. Unfortunately for me I was up against the opposing team’s strongest rider – although I was going well and made no mistakes he still managed to close the gap and caught me. Luckily however he suffered big time because of this massive effort and that was by far the fastest he would ride all night.
It was a close battle for another few hours we were holding the lead but there were only minutes in it. Although third place was a long way back we had only come here to race for one position and that was first.
Unluckily for the team in second spot one of their riders punctured giving us a bit of breathing space – I think this must have left their team somewhat disheartened as from this point onwards the gap just got bigger and bigger.
The course rode fantastically as always and all the riders were especially good when it came to allowing us past. The last hours flew by and it wasn’t long until the race was all over.
Someone had mentioned the team splitting up at next year’s Dusk til Dawn to give someone else a shot at the title and allowing the team to challenge each other in the solo competition. But after seeing how tough the competition was this year I reckon we should stick together – we’ve obviously got the winning combination.
Yuri HauswaldThe Whyte/Marin squad weren’t quite as lucky in the solo category however, as flying in from the US, Yuri Hauswald struggled to recover from jetlag before competing.
The 37 year old teacher – who turned pro less than a year ago – was flown in specially to have a crack at the British lads who usually make their mark on the Dusk til Dawn race.
But a nine hour flight just before a 12 hour race was just too much for Yuri. He made a superb, powerful start and led for more than half the distance but eventually succumbed to fatigue and missed out on a podium finish.
“It’s my first time in England and I love it,” Yuri said. “I definitely want to come back and race here more. The team spirit was most excellent and I am only sad I couldn’t live with the pace of the race for the duration.”
But, at the end of the day, it was too tall an order for Yuri’s body to cope with the rigours of this gruelling race after such a long flight and very little time to acclimatise to the conditions.
Marin’s Andy Jeffries added: “Yuri blew a gasket out there for us. He’s one of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met and as an ambassador for Marin he is second to none. A win would have been the icing on the cake but we enjoyed his company and he will be back.”
Full D2D results at timelaps.co.uk