Sagar wins the 2012 Natterjack
Daryl Bolter whips Day 1
After a long break, the British Enduro Championship returned this weekend with the 2012 Natterjack at Longmoor Camp near Bordon. Ever stylish, the REME team made the riders welcome by creating an entrance arch with 2 massive mobile cranes and - like Brigadoon - the airstrip alongside the A3 once again became an overnight community..
Scrutineering was on Friday and there was a proper park ferme with floodlights and an Army guard. With the bikes safely gathered in, the riders could walk the cross country and MX tests. The wettest Summer for 100 years had left a little standing water standing - even on sandy soil of Hampshire. Two un-named lads ignored the signs and looked for a shortcut to the MX test via Surrey. They disappeared at tea time and were picked up at 11.00 pm by the Police - wander along the A3 - wet and confused.
Saturday morning dawned warm but overcast. The first race of the day was for the best pitch in the pits. In a shock result the reigning champions - MPS Racing - were beaten into second place by some unknown jerry cans. "They must be Germans" said Mick Seward.
The race schedule was designed to cater for the broadest range of riding ability with the Championship class getting 3 laps with 2 Enduro tests back to back at the end, The Experts/Clubman/Vets got 3 laps and the Sportsman 2 laps.
The riders were flagged away from 10.00am and they went straight into a sighting lap of the long Enduro test that started alongside the pits. Neil Hawker and Roger Baker had put in a lot of effort laying out the test and both riders and spectators benefited from their hard work. Towards the end of the test, two ranks of tractor tyres formed a challenging double jump in front of the infamous "Wall". There was a slower route through the trees but course openers Tom Sagar and Paul Edmondson lofted their front wheels and flashed their sumps at the crowd. The ramp was pretty smooth and even some of the Clubman got airborne although Alun Price checked his front fork bleeders were nice and tight when his huge jump over rotated slightly.
The MX test was in the Sand Pit and it was timed on the first lap. Daryl Bolter set the fastest time on his Crescent KTM ahead of TMs Jordan Rose, Jack Rowland (MPS Husqvarna} and Tom Sagar (HMmotos). Steve Holcombe put in a cracking lap - 20 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Expert Rich Ely. Steve's time of 5.10.9 was the 6th fastest overall. A repair on Luke Flack's radiator failed and he lost his coolant. There was some anxiety in the pits but the leak sealed itself and Luke went on to finish. Derek Little was not so lucky. He was forced to retire when he hit a rock and snapped his gear shaft. Rheinallt Davies was going well until he rode over his foot in the Sand Pit. Veteran Chris Boyce was hit by another rider and he needed to go to A&E to get his shoulder re-located.
On the first timed Enduro test Tom Sagar pulled back 2 seconds on Daryl Bolter. Jordan Rose left his "motocrosser" tag in the trees to set the 3rd fastest time. Jordan's consistency paid off as he took the lead on his 2nd MX test. Jamie Lewis has been off the bikes for weeks following a shoulder operation. He was struggled as his hydraulic clutch began to bubble but he didn't have to struggle for long as his exhaust snapped on the 2nd lap to end a day to forget. Tim Forman and Stan Watts were riding the KTM 450s.they plan to compete on in this year's Dakar. Tim looked to be struggling from the start on the big bike but he kept struggling to the finish. Stan retired when his vacuum pump ran out of puff. Michael Rees lost a minute when he got bogged down in a long anecdote in the pits. The Natterjack is a very demanding race. There are no huge obstacles but there is also no rest. By the last lap the lead up to the Enduro test tyres and the riders were both worn out. James Giddings was one of several riders who crashed. He managed to finish but he would leave the boots in the van on the second day.
Jessica & Harry Hockley were doing the timing. They were lucky to be at the home of the mechanical engineers as their tow bar snapped as they drove through the paddock. Their timing system proved to be more robust with transponders and video cameras to record the start and finish. The Day 1 results were posted by 8.00pm.
Daryl Bolter was the Day 1 winner and he was quite rightly pleased. In a long and successful career at the top, a win at the Natterjack is one of the few prizes to has eluded him. Tom Sagar was runner up and Jordan Rose was 3rd. Jack Rowland was the best E1 4T. Paul Edmondson was 5th despite not having competing since Helmsley. Tom Church was 6th. Simon Wakely in 7th won the E3 class, Lee Edmondson was 8th, Aaron Poolman 9th, Ashley Wood 10th,Steve Holcombe was the best Expert, Gethin Humphries was the runner up and best best E1 2T. Rich Ely was 3rd and best E1 4T. Dan Beavan won the E3 class.
In the battle for the domination of the Land that Time Forgot, Wyn Hughes and Richard Hay slugged it out with Wyn winning 5 out of the 6 rounds. Neil Bowker was competing in his 23rd Natterjack and he finished 3rd. Next year he plans to sit in the pits and see if the bike can finish on it's own.
Brad Freeman (HM motos) was the best clubman ahead of Alun Price (best E2), Jack Staines and Daniel Price. Gethin Francombe in 5th was the best E3. Ashley Stokes won the E1 4T class. Rhian George finished in a respectable 35th out of 64 starters. James Caddick was the best Sportsman ahead of Dan Bewley and Dirtbike Action's John Kerwin.
David Williams and Graham McFee won the Championship sidecars ahead of Alun Davies. Eirian Rees and Jason Davies won the Clubman class and with their Championship in the bag, the boys wisely decided to invested their Day 2 petrol budget into a good Saturday night out. Next year the team will be looking for sponsorship and with 4 blokes sharing a caravan Fabreze would be favourite.
Sunday was cooler and greyer. The course was reversed and the times were tightened. A fine gnats rain developed into a steady shower that lingered until lunchtime. Daryl Bolter set the fastest time on the first MX test but he crashed on the 2nd test and aggravated an old wrist injury. Aaron Smith also bulldozered a new berm in the Sandpit and lost his gear selector. He got the bike going but a tree stopped him later in the day. On his 2nd lap Jordan Rose also crashed into a tree near the paddock. Jordan was dazed so Nick Craigie thought a visit to A&E was in order. The problem of trees wandering onto the course is a perennial one. Sam Chapman split his pipe near the manifold. He had time to fettle a repair out of a tin can and a couple of jubilee clips which deserved to have worked. Veterans Dave Coles and Jez Moss rode together and made a pact not disclosed how many times they had crashed. The pact lasted a full 5 minutes after they crossed the line. Ashley Wood's brake pedal punctured his crankcase and he lost his oil as he was about to start the final test. Fortunately he was able to obtain some putty from his father, the Mexican gang leader - in a forthcoming film
Tom Sagar has been off the bike for a month through injury but he showed little evidence of a lack of fitness as he powered the HM motos 300 through the sand to take the win. Jack Rowlands was the runner up. Paul Edmondson was 3rd. Simon Wakely in 4th won the best E3. Jamie Lewis proved he was back to fitness with a 5th place finish. Lee Edmondson was 6th. Andrew Edwards in 11th was the best E1 2T. Brad Freeman repeated his Day 1 Clubman win and Alun Jones was runner up again. Jack Staines was 3rd. Gethin Francombe in 4th was the best E3. Ashley Stokes was 12th and the best E1 4T. Brad Freeman was the best Expert anf Edmondson Racing's Rich Ely was the runner up. Wyn Hughes won the Veterans. Richard Hay was the runner up and Derek Little plus a new gear shaft was 3rd.
The Natterjack is usually a great weekend and 2012 was no exception. The mix of military precision and a friendly atmosphere is always a winning combination. Congratulation to Tommy Graham and the REME Team for putting it together.