I don’t know about you lot, but I love pretty much every aspect of things two-wheeled, and this year, I’ve really taken to 4X, dirt jumps etc. like never before – weekends have been (joyfully, fruitlessly, and swelteringly) spent at my local Redhill Extreme in Gloucestershire… though I’m still a long way away from the level these guys are at! Here’s the recap of the weekend’s action at Bridgnorth.
Sunday 14th July was the date and The Edge Activity Centre near Bridgnorth was the venue for the 4X National Championships 2013. The sun was shining all weekend, the crowds were huge and the racing, as it has been throughout 2013, was absolutely fantastic.
The track was recently renovated and 2 new straights were added to make the track longer and more technical. A fast flowing track anyway with huge berms built into the hillside, this track has always been a favourite with the riders, but with the new jumps, huge 1st berm and revised lower section, it really was going to sort out the National Champions from the rest.
The day started with qualification runs for the senior women and men. The riders are seeded from National rankings and then set off in reverse order. First up, it was the women. Elizabeth Fowler, Renee Diwell, Jess Greaves, Heather Kay and Cara Murray were all within 1 second of each other with just one rider left to go, could Katy Curd set the fastest time…… She didn’t just set the fastest time in the women’s, she set a time that would have qualified her in the top 25 men!
Next up it was the men. Will Evans set the fastest time early, then Isaac Mundy was into the hot seat. Nathan Parsons was the first rider to go sub 40 seconds with a 39.76. Next up was Tom Dowie. He was the first rider to jump the first double jump on the first straight. He had a great run and just got ahead of Natedogg with a 39.71. The final rider was Scott ‘Boom Boom’ Beaumont. He jumped the first double, looked fast and absolutely nailed it. Across the finish and everyone wanted to hear the time……… 38.03! Clearly Katy Curd and Scott Beaumont were in the mood for retaining their National Champion titles!
After senior qualifying, all other categories qualified through to the quarter finals using motos – 3 races for all riders and the points you accumulate determines if you move onto the quarter finals. The racing was superb to watch. Loads of passes, a great atmosphere in the crowd and anticipation for the knockout stages to begin.
In the senior men’s there were some upsets early. Isaac Mundy, tipped by some as a contender for the win went out in the quarter finals. 2011 National Champion Luke Limbrick also went out in the quarter finals along with Duncan Ferris and Jordan Lunn.
Semi finals time and the pressure was on. In the women’s semi finals, Katy got the snap and won semi final 1 from Jess Greaves. In the second semi final, the racing was really close, but at the finish line, it was Cara Murray and Heather Kay who moved onto the ‘A’ final.
In the men’s semi finals, Scott Beaumont made a perfect gate and took the win in semi final 1 ahead of his team mate Dave Richardson. Dave had worked his way to the semi finals with some great racing all day. In the semi final he was in 4th, moved into 3rd and then avoided Alex Metcalfe who crashed right in front of him in the fourth turn. In semi final 2, Tom Dowie got the gate and led start to finish. The battle was on for 2nd between Nathan Parsons, Will Evans and Rich Lane. It was Nate who held his nerve and finished in 2nd though.
So it was finals time. In the fun class, Harry Fernihough continued his amazing year by taking the win in front of Travis Diwell Wilson and Alex Bosley. In a pretty stacked Big Fun class, Adam Thomas took the win ahead of Kriss Brown and Rob Escott.
Juveniles were next up and Brandon Fermor took the win from start to finish and claim his first National Champion jersey. Without a doubt Brandon will be a rider to watch in the future. Charles Currie finished 2nd and Finlay Keogh in 3rd.
The Youth probably provided the biggest shock of the day. In 2013 Ryan Hutchinson has gone unbeaten in the British 4X Series. Over the course of the weekend he was unbeaten again, but in the final, defending champion Dylan Grell Delsol made the best gate of his 2013 season and led the race from start to finish. Hutchinson battled hard but could not find a way past, having to settle for 2nd, Scott Dominguez rounded out the podium in 3rd.
Female Youth was won by Megan Wherry ahead of Joanna Kistle and Mabel Mundy. Great to see the female youth class getting the future Katy Curd’s ready for the World stage.
Onto the Junior Men. As the gate dropped it was tight into turn 1. Josh Brembridge was leading ahead of Luke Cryer. Luke then dived inside on turn 2 to take the lead. It was a brilliant pass that was enough to take the win. Josh finished 2nd and Arthur Cotterell finished 3rd.
Master men were next up. These guys are racing so fast now it is impressive to watch. Neil Harbour had looked good all day and come final time he made a brilliant gate and led the race into turn 1. Chris Smith was in 2nd and pushing hard. Chris has been a revelation in 2013. The dirtjump/freerider gave 4X a go at round 1 of the series in Afan in April and he has been racing every round since. Now on SPD pedals, he was chasing Neil. It all came down to the last turn, but Neil held on and took the win to make him one of the few riders that has won National Championships in 4X and BMX. Chris Smith was 2nd and Chris Cumming in 3rd.
In the Vets it was going to be really hard to pick a winner. Si Paton, the British Downhill Series organiser had his own plan though! The gate dropped and he got the holeshot. Cheered on by his personal fan club ‘Buzz’ and ‘Hensley’, he held his nerve and took the win ahead of Billie Stupple and Phil Gray.
Now it was down to the main events. First up, senior women. In the small final Renee Diwell took the win to claim 5th overall for the day. In the main final, Katy Curd took gate 1, Heather Kay took gate 2, Cara Murray in 3 and jess Greaves in 4. The gate dropped and predictably Katy Curd led down the first straight and into turn 1. Cara Murray managed to get across on Heather Kay and moved into 2nd to try and chase Curd. It wasn’t to be though. Katy, like she has been all year, was on fire and she pulled a good lead to claim the senior women’s National Championship. She rode a flawless lap and thoroughly deserved the win. Cara finished 2nd with Heather in 3rd.
Onto the men’s small final and it was Dan Bateson who took the win to him 5th overall for the day. So this was it, the Senior Men’s final. Beaumont took gate 1, Dowie on 2, Parsons on 3 and without a doubt, the crowds favourite, Dave Richardson was in 4. The gate dropped and Beaumont rocketed out of the gate. At the first jump he had a lead already. After jumping the double and step up on the first straight he was on a mission. Dowie got to turn 1 in 2nd ahead of Nate and Richardson. Down the second straight, Richardson lined up a pass on Nate, went for it into turn 3 but just lost traction and slid out. The crowd were all cheering and a bow/wave from Richardson was well appreciated by the crowd! Across the finish line, Beaumont had ridden a perfect lap that in his own words ‘was better than my qualifying lap’. Dowie finished 2nd and Parsons in 3rd.
The racing all weekend was fantastic and it was a pleasure to be sat on the hillside with all the spectators cheering on friends who were racing and having fun on their mountain bikes. Thanks to everyone involved with making this event the tremendous success that it was.
Full results can be found here: http://www.british4x.com/news/national-championships-results-2013/
The next round of the Schwalbe British 4X Series is in Leamington, Warwickshire on Sunday 1st September. These races certainly put the fun back into racing, so why not have a go??
For full details check the website www.british4x.com
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Photo Credits: Charles Robertson.