The annual Hafren Rally, round 5 of the Big Bike Rally Championship took place on Sunday with a bumper entry of 300 riders from all across the UK. Many of the riders arrived on Saturday and were greeted by some early autumn sunshine at the start area in sweet lamb, but this was to be calm before the storm! As riders arrived for scrutineering at 7.30am ready for the start at 9am so had the wind and rain. Many parts of the 43 mile lap on the sweet lamb complex and Hafren forest was shrouded in low cloud and rain which meant that visibility was going to be a real problem for the riders.
The 43 mile lap was scheduled to be ridden 3 times for the main classes and twice for the beginners and was made up of a mixture of fast flowing fire roads, some narrow single tack trails and some slippery rocky climbs and descents. There were 3 special stages per lap that would be timed on laps two and three giving the riders a sighting lap to familiarise themselves with the terrain. The first special stage of the lap was the longest at 10 miles and was made up of some fast flowing roads of the sweet lamb complex, including a short motocross style section for the riders to grab some air before entering the Hafren forest with the first technical hill of the lap which gave some riders trouble with it being very narrow and the rocks made very slippery by all the rain and mud. Special stage 2 of the lap was nearly all made up of single track offroad trails, which were both rough and rutted and gave the riders a really tough workout. This stage was certainly more suited to the lighter weight enduro bikes. Between stage 2 and three there was a long liaison section with a lot of offroad tracks with some optional harder loops for those wanting more of a challenge, although many riders only opted for these on the first lap! Special stage 3 was a mixture of fire roads and some very rutted tracks which caught many of the less experienced riders out.
By the time the first riders were starting their second lap and first timed run through the special stages the weather had eased a little with improved visibility except for the very highest parts of the course, but conditions were getting muddier all of the time with many riders struggling to wear their goggles and rider numbers were very difficult to make out. As riders approached the end of lap 2 the wind picked up and rain turned for light to torrential! conditions became very tough and some riders were calling it a day at the end of lap 2 as they were running late with another 43 mile lap to complete. The experienced team of the Hafren dirt bike club who were organising the event made the decision to cut half a lap, which was welcomed by the tired and very wet riders! Even though the conditions were tough, 240 of the 300 competitors made it to the finish.
Chris Green of Rossendale on his Honda XR 600 won the Premier award, fastest through 3 of the 5 stages, beating Championship front runner and rally veteran Steve Hague by a mere 15 seconds after 47 minutes of competition, with John Freeman rounding off the podium in the Trail bike class. Fastest of the heroes on the really big bikes was Lee Salt who impressively wrestled his KTM 990 twin around.
Local rider and HDBC club member Tim Forman was using this event as part of his preparations for this years Dakar Rally, getting himself accustomed to his new KTM Rally 450 Race Bike. He was showing great speed easily winning the Sports bike class and fastest in the event overall, setting quickest times through all 5 stages beating Kawasaki mounted Kalvert Jones into 2nd place by over 2 minutes, 3rd was Michael Rayner.
The beginners class aimed at newcomers to the sport was won by Stephen Jones, from Andy Armitage and Patrick Wallace.
Hafren DBC would like to thank all the volunteers who gave up their time to make this event possible, in atrocious conditions. They would also like to express their thanks to event sponsors Mark and Burt from the Big Bike Rally Challenge, and Rob Sheldon of Rock Oil Motorsport, all of which took part in the event. Rob had the following to say about the event:
" I thoroughly enjoyed my day, considering I have never competed in this kind of event before. My thanks go to Tony Harwood for organising my entry and the Jones family for the loan and factory preparation of the Yamaha 450F, which never missed a beat!".
Autumn is the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness and Hafren Dirt Bike Club had an abundance of both for this Sunday's Hafren Rally when a warn wind from the Southwest brought with it a blanket of low cloud that covered Mid Wales. The start was in the Sweet Lamb Motorsport Complex near Llanidloes and scrutineering began at 7.30am. For the hardy souls who camped overnight the pre-dawn gloom was illuminated by neon strips and the bright smiles of the signing on girls. They had their work cut out with a full entry of 260+ riders to bei dealt with for many of whom this was their first event. There was a wide variety of machines ranging from the mighty Adventurers to the diminutive serows. There were even a couple of Suzuki PEs from the time when there was a World glut of shocks and all bikes had to be fitted with two. Each was check over and tested for excess noise. Stuart Brackwell's CRF 450 was very loud and he was sent back. Craig Bound's bike was still covered in mud from the previous day when he was organising a training day with Tamsin Jones and Gwent Police. Every bike was fitted with 3 printed number plates which many will keep until the ink has faded to remind them of the day.
The riders were flagged away from 9.00am. The format was similar to previous years with two and half 45 mile laps for the majority and one & half laps for the beginners. There were 3 tests per lap which were timed on laps two and three. The first test was a mile from the start. It began with a rocky hillclimb that glistened ominously. Event sponsor Mark Molineaux retired when needed a big dab to save his bike and he jarred his knee. The visibility on the top of the mountain was down to 50 feet but the over the years the shail tracks that meander over the moorland have been sculpted into berms that carry the riders around each bend. It is one of the reasons the Hafren Rally has proved to be so popular. The course descended back to the start where the riders could sought out anything they had forgotten before traveling North into the forest. The second test was more technical than the first so the poor visibility was less of a problem as the speeds were slower. There was a steep descent over a rock slab that was worth looking out for as a heavy landing could have dislodged a couple of nuts. After the second test there were a couple of optional loops - marked with green arrows - which gave the more adventurous riders a chance to see some "more challenging" going. The green arrows did not imply greenlaning.
By 11.00am the low numbers were starting their second lap and the sun was starting to punch it's way through the cloud. Within half an hour the skies had cleared and revealed the majestic panorama of the Hafren in Autumn. A posse of fifteen lads from Sussex parked up after each test just to take it all in. Jonathan Williams set the fastest test times on his KTM 530 & Craig Bounds won the Sports bike class on his BMW 650 Challenger, Stephen Hague was the runner up in the Trail bike class and Tony Sprowson was 3rd Robert Butler was 2nd in the Sportsbike class and young Alistair Brown was 3rd. Sam Toy in 4th missed out on the podium but he and the Dr Shox team were 3rd in the pub quiz at the get together in Llanidloes on Saturday night. Congratulations to Bob Hamilton who finished 15th in the Trailbike class on a 30 year old PE 400. Daniel Race dislocated a couple of fingers loading his bike but he still turned up and made himself useful starting the riders on the first test. Cambrian Rally's Clerk of the Course Mike Corkery was checking out the opposition and picking up a finish in the Sportsbike class. Craig Atkinson snapped his chain. Roger Brown at 61 proved that age is no bar to riding offroad and in fact over half the finishers were Over 40. The big hills tested many riders. Tony Bethwaite burnt out the clutch on his Gasgas 125 and Anthony Colwell's two wheel derive wasn't drive enough. 76 riders were classified as non finishers but this figure contained a lot of non starters. Results Photos RedBikeJohn's Report and Photo
Hafren Dirtbike Club held their annual Hafren Rally at the Sweet Lamb Complex near Llangurig on Sunday 25th October. The weather forecast's prediction of sunshine proved to be totally accurate. Somewhere behind the clouds, the sun was shining.
The Hafren Rally was the final round of the 2009 UK Rally Championship. The 45 mile lap had 3 special stages. The riders were flagged away in groups from 9.00 am. Stage 1 was a mile from the start. It kicked off with gravelly hill climb that zigzagged it's way up onto the open moorland. Between the showers, the biggest problem for the riders & the organisers was the wind. It buffeted the riders & bent the arrows. Halfway through the test, the course passed very close to the start which gave the riders a chance to fettle or pick up a fleece. On the first lap the tests were not timed.
The 2nd Special was one of those forestry tracks that makes the Hafren such a great place to ride. Years of pummeling have sculpted the shale into a 3 foot wide channel that guides the wheels along a ribbon that seemingly winds for miles through the trees. There weren't many places to pass but only keen lads would want to. Between ST2 & ST3 there were some stretches of new hardcore that warned up the forearms - particularly if you needed to use your tyre levers. ST3 followed a cross over & it was a quicker version of ST2 that all the riders enjoyed with the possible exception of the rider who fell under Phil Wilkinson's wheels. The final liaison stage saved the best till last as the course emerged onto the highest part of the Hafren with some spectacular panoramic views of Wales in autumn before a winding descent to the finish. There were 2 laps for the Sportsmen & an extra half lap for the rest.
Championship rider Chris Hockey was able to fit the Rally in with a teaching session at the Yamaha Offroad School. He was number 1 & the first on the timed ST1 course but he missed a marker & he had to start again. It meant he was in amongst the slower riders on the narrow ST2 & he lost time. Mark Vaughan is a natural Rally rider. Coming to the discipline late, he has won all 4 of the rounds he has ridden this year in the Sports class. With one more round under his belt, Jonathan Williams led the UK Rally Championship from Brian Eland.
Provisionally Craig Bounds (above) won the Premier on his BMW & sponsor Mark Molinuex was 2nd in the Trail class. Mark Vaughan's new tyres paid dividends & he won the Sports class ahead of KBRacing's Lewis Belfield. Chris Hockey was 3rd.
Back from the International Six Days Enduro in Portugal, Dylan Jones, Greg Evans, Tim Foreman & Andrew Edwards donned their marshal's bibs for the more mundane task of standing out in the bleak rain & hail where a good tan looks like rust. Hafren Dirt Bike Club have a great spirit which is partly why they put on such great events.
Postscript: There were very few injuries amongst the competitors with one rider dislocating his arm. Unfortunately the Air Ambulance had to be called out when marshal Howell Evans crashed into a ravine. Howell was incredibly lucky not to have suffered more severe injuries or worst. The picture below was taken by photographer Mike Davies who discovered him & writes "It was toward the latter end of the second lap and I’d positioned myself on the exit hairpin from the test/mx course. The bike numbers were around the 300 mark, so the noise was beginning to die down by this time. The rain was coming down quite badly, when I heard what appeared. on first hearing a male voice shouting out very loud. My first impression was that it was a bit early in the day to be that drunk but a few seconds later the same shout again but this time I started to realize it was not a drunken voice. I was a member of the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team for over 12 years and the training just kicked in. I ran to the ravine behind me, only to see a rider about 60 feet down this very steep slope, hanging onto a section of pig-wire fencing he was laying next to. I shouted to him to let him know he’d been seen, then rushed to the track and stopped one of the competitors and explained there was a rider badly hurt and we needed a medical cover urgently. Well to cut a long story short, I then went down to assess the youngster who 'appeared' to have a compound fracture of his lower left leg and a 2 inch gash under his chin. It was difficult to tell the real injury to the leg as the blood was coming from inside his boot. Once the St, John’s Ambulance people arrived I handed over all the medical treatment to them. Then using my MR training, I organized the evac back to the car park above the crash site. He was unlucky in that he’d picked the steepest part of the course to take a detour and very lucky I was standing close enough to hear him. With an injury that bad and losing blood, I don’t know how long he’d have been able to remain conscious." NB the fence that Howell landed on surrounds a mine shaft. All the best for a swift recovery.
The GT Wall & Sons Tarrenig Rally took place on Sunday 10th of May. A impressive field of 245 competitors were entered - headed by some of the country's finest Rally riders. The Trail class was dominated by BMW. 2009 Dakar finisher Craig Bounds from South Wales (left Keith Bowen) was riding his XChallenge 650. Mark Molineux from Stourbridge "doubled up" on a mighty Mega Enduro 1205 while lean Lee Walters plumped for the mean 450. Big Brian Eland chugged all the way from Gorde-land in his Landie Fat Burner to ride his battered WRF 450 in the sports bike class along side Knighton CoC Mark Vaughan on his KTM 450. Jonathan Williams was riding Craig Bounds KTM 520 practice bike. Stan Watts was trying hard to pretend that he & Craig were still in the warmth of South America.
The start was in a pretty field beside the river Wye, Unfortunately a "weather system" rolled over Wales on Saturday bringing rain & cold winds so the early arrivals didn't see it at it's best. There was no solace to be had at the Glan Severn pub which was closed but in the evening the atmosphere warmed up with local beer & a hog roast in the marquee. As the skies cleared, a full moon rose over the Cambrian mountains to light the revellers to their beds.
Sunday morning dawned bright & clear. Scrutineering began at 7am & there was a strange mix of machines waiting to be examined. A very shiney Cheney Triumph, looking too clean, a bright yellow Suzuki PE 250, lots of examples of the BMW range and a flush of orange as almost every model of KTM lined up.
Fortunately the rain had stopped and even though the forest would still be very wet and muddy it was to prove a perfect day for riding. The format was similar to previous years with the riders crossing the Wye river on a trailer to start the 35 mile lap with 3 special stages, The construction of the wind farm has opened up the options for the organisers - Hafren DBC - & they have made the most of their opportunities to create a course with real character that combines a mix of fire road, forest tracks and open hill.
The first bike was away at 9.00am. In a rally. the fast men and ladies (Patsy Quick: left) are away first but with a rider leaving every 20 seconds there was soon a traffic jam at a steep shale hill just after the start of the first special test. There were 3 laps for most classes with timed tests on the 2nd & 3rd laps. The Beginners only had 2 laps with 3 tests on the 2nd lap but all too soon the faster riders arrived at the start of the test on their second lap to find the slower guys still queuing. Plenty of marshalls were on hand to push and pull machines up the hill and rumour has it that when Geraint Jones rode the PE 250 belonging to Bob Hamilton up the hill he was minded to make a comeback! Derrick Edmondson is still recovering from his tumble at the Red Marley Hillclimb but he was still able to help out on a quad with some towing. Craig Bounds' 650 sounded like it was misfiring but from his times it must have been the afterburners kicking in..
The riders were enjoying the forest trails even though some parts had long deep ruts that resulted in lots of tired legs. When the air scoops of Bob Rooms KTM got stuck on the sides of the ruts he decided enough was enough and sucummbed to a cup of tea from Wendy and a massage! There were lots of first time rally riders at this event, some of them old enough to know better. Clive Dredge, Patsy's Hubbie, George Elland (Brian's dad) and Jim Jones all enjoyed the event and have decided that maybe the more relaxed time schedule at rallies is more suitable for the mature rider.
Pit crews were glad the rain kept off and one team even had the sun shade out just in case!
Craig Bounds won the Premier on the BMW Xchallenge 650 ahead of Frontrow GB's Stan Watts on the KTM 690. Mark Molineux guided the Mega into 3rd to win the Best Open. Mark Vaughan set the fastest times to take the Sports bike class from Jonathan Williams. Brian Eland was 3rd & picked up the Best Over 40 award.
After more than six hours in the saddle it was a relief to most competitors to arrive back at the finish after an excellent event that had proved to be competitive for the experienced riders and challenging for everyone else.
The Hafren Rally will be on the 25th October. Enter early.
Competitors turned up at this years Hafren Rally and though they were in the wrong place, they were welcomed by clear skies and sunshine, which is not normal for this part of Wales at this time of year. It was certainly a contrast to last years event held in monsoon like conditions in December, although I didn't hear anybody complaining.
The event was run in the usual rally format, everything was pretty laid back. The course was like a marked long trial ride with 3 timed special stages scattered around the 44 mile lap. Everybody had to complete 3 laps, bar the beginners class who only had to do 2 and at a slower schedule. This years course was run in reverse to other years with a few new off road bits in just to spice things up.
The premier award at this year's Yamaha Off Road Experience supported event was taken by the Merthyr mafias Craig Bounds on his 650 BMW, Boundsy has got the rally bug after his podium finish at this years Baja, winning in only his 2nd rally type event, although he is a veteran of the enduro world. BMW riders filled the podium in the trial bike class, Lee Walters was runner up on another 650, and biggest shout of all goes out to Mark Molineux who manhandled the massive 1200GS around to a creditable 3rd place, and best open.
Best sports bike was 250 KTM mounted Ian Coburn, who was almost a minute clear of fellow KTM rider Barry Wilson, with Andrew Sankey rounding out the top 3. Best lady was Hafren club member Marianne Walford, obviously putting her local knowledge to good use.
The beginners class was won by the MD of Putoline oils John Hayden, his 1st time out on a bike in years, aboard a Yamaha WR 250F, borrowed from the Yamaha Off Road Experience, the same bike he used for an hours intensive coaching the day before with Geraint Jones. Runner up in this class was Tom Luton, and best lady was Liz Otterson. Results
Putoline Oil Hafren Enduro Round 1 of the Metzeler British Enduro Championship - 14/15 July 2007 Report
Tarrenig Rally – Sunday 6th May
This is event is in it’s 2nd year and TBM have kindly stepped in as the sponsor for 07, Hafren Dirt Bike Club ran it for the 1st time last year at what was a totally new venue and course, although some may recognise a few sections that are passed through on the Welsh 2 day. Last years event was a little bit of a tester with a fairly small entry of approx 150, and the feedback was very positive. This years event will be very similar to last years with a few improvements to the 35 mile lap, and 3 special stages, and possibly a different start area. This course has real character, it will be a mix of fire road, forest tracks and open hill, with plenty of spectacular Mid Wales countryside.
Entry fee is £55 and there will be separate classes for both trail and enduro bikes (no MX bikes) and a beginners for the new comers/less confident riders, following the huge success of the new beginners class at last years Hafren. The beginners class will do the same course, but will be expected to complete a lap less and will start at the back of the entry so they are not riding amongst the quicker riders. As this is a fun social event, there will be a social get together on the Saturday evening in Llanidloes (venue to be confirmed) where a buffet and quiz will be laid on and give everybody a chance to have a chat and a few beers, not too many mind! Hafren Dirt Bike club would like to thank TBM for kindly sponsoring this years event.
6th May - Tarenig Rally
14th & 15th July - Hafren Enduro - Rd1 British Enduro Championship
7th October Hafren Rally