went to Special Greg
KORR Racing's Greg Evans has won Caerphilly MCC's first round of the 2011 Welsh Enduro Championship at Wentwood nr Newport. Ashley Wood was the runner up on his ET James KTM in a close finish with Midwest Husaberg UKs Jon Hinam as the time allowances tightened like a vice.
Wentwood is a pretty little forest with a rich mix of pine and deciduous woodland. It faces south and beyond Newport there is a fine view of the Bristol Channel. For 3 decades it has been a popular venue for tough time card enduros. Originally the home of WTRA's Curley and Little Oaks, it has been used by Caerleon MCC and Gwent Police before being revived in 2010 by Caerphilly MCC. Clerk of the course Nigel Smith and his team made the most of the limited space to lay out an 11 mile lap and this year they ran it in reverse.
Overnight rain had laid a fine gloss finish on the forest but by 8.00am on race day the clouds had cleared from the West. Wentwood favours the early riser as the only parking is on the side of long forestry road. The schedule ranged from 8 laps for the Championship class down to 4 laps for the Sportsmen and the times decreased on every lap. In some classes they were halved.
The riders were flagged away from 10.00am. One of the trickiest sections was a hundred yards from the start where the course dropped into a muddy gully before climbing a bank but for the most part Wentwood is not technically difficult. It's challenge lies just below the thin surface of soft loam where a thick mesh of shiny tree roots radiate out sending wheels in all directions.
The test was at the end of the lap through the pines on the north side of road. They have matured over the years and the ankle twisting minefield of stumps - left after the first thinning - have disappeared. Veteran BEC rider Paul Morgan laid out the test and the broad breaks gave the riders plenty of room to overtake. The first lap gave the riders all the time they needed to sight the test. The Championship and Expert riders used the time wisely. Some of the Clubman spent their time looking to see how much trouble they could get into by riding flat out. The tests were timed on the 2nd and 3rd lap by Cambrian Timing and their Live Times system relayed the standings to the spectators & crews instantaneously. There was an alternative route over a fallen tree on the test that the Championship class jumped. Greg Evans cleaned it on his first test but relaxed and drop his bike on the next corner handing the first test to Ashley Wood. Greg made no mistakes on his second test & led by 8 seconds.
With the tests out of the way all attention turned to the laps times. Tight checks that test the riders on the going are the bedrock of traditional timecard enduros - unfortunately where the lap is a single check there is lot of pressure on the riders to exceed walking pace in the pits.
As the clocks ticked down even permanently optimistic riders like Greg and Ashley knew they would incur route penalties. Greg Evans dropped 6 minutes and won the Premier. In a close dual Ashley Wood and Jon Hinam both dropped 14 minutes but Ashley had two better test times and he took the runner up. Jon was 3rd and the best E3. Gethin Price was 4th.
Last year Gareth Hopkins was leading the event when he lost his compression but this year he had no problems and he won the Experts. Alun Jones was second and Neil Thomas in third was the best E2/2. David Lloyd-Jones won E1/2 and Dan Lawry was the best E3. Matt Willey retired with cramp in his legs.
Paul "Elvis" Davies won the Veteran A. Gerald Poole was the runner up and Paul Griffith - best E2/2 - was third. Martin Jones in 4th won the E1/2 and Paul Green in 7th was the best E3. Darren Jones put in a couple of good test times but a face plant on the penultimate lap slowed him down.
Two years after breaking his back Jerry Adams returned to take the Vet B class. Barry Quibell was the runner up and Peter Lawry was 3rd.
The Sidecars did what sidecars do best - they broke down. In the Championship Sidecar class D Williams / G McPhee were the only finishers and the only Clubmen finisher was T Penhaligon / ? The Nevilles retired when Sharon's knee popped out.
The Clubman class was very close with only a second separating Richard Perkins from Leighton Roberts after 2 tests but as the times tightened Richard finish 8 minutes down and Leighton came home 9 minutes down. Gareth Rowlands with 11 minutes of route penalties was third and best E2/2. Craig Thomas in 6th was the best E3. Marty Jones - in 8th - was the best E1/2. Tamsin Jones in 20th was the best Lady rider. Rhian George was riding well until she got bike wedged on the 4th lap.
Jason Gurnett was the best Sportsman and Jonathan Griffiths was the runner up. Ian Tyler-Bond was the best E3 in 3rd. Mike Owen won the E2/2. Liz Childerley did well to finish 5rth after only 18 months of riding a bike.
A good guide to a good event is the time it takes the riders to pack up. After this event there was no rush to get away.
Greg Evans Good little course - only short. 8 laps was a bit monotonous but all in all a good day. Only 2 tests. You couldn't really afford to make any mistakes which I did. I crashed on the first one but I put in a fast, steady second test. Then it came down to the checks because it was tight. I ended up loosing six minutes which was alright. Good day and a well organised event.
Ashley Wood "The event was good, really good. Obviously the last three laps were impossible to clean. I knew I was lying second so there was no reason to push. The course and the test were really good and the sunshine made it better. It was good training for the Sprint next weekend"
After a break of several years, Caerphilly & District MCC revived the time card enduro in the Wentwood forest near Newport on Sunday 14th March. Unusually for the Wet-wood, the weather was dry & the ground was in perfect condition. The lap was 12 miles & the schedules ranged from 4 laps for Sportsmen to 8 laps for the Experts. Jon Hinam - who is still recovering from broken ribs - rode a timed lap in 28 minutes so Clerk of the Course Nigel Smith could set the Experts fastest lap at 24 minutes to ensure the event would be won or lost on the going.
From the start, the riders climbed a hill & dropped into a pair of old Foden ruts full of mud. Guy Rees selflessly threw himself into the deepest part to act as a depth gauge for the other riders. While he waited for assistance, he kept himself busy by mentally dividing the entry fee by the distance he had travelled in yards. Clubman sidecar team of J.Cuff & A.Dear from Bristol were the first retirements when their EML/Zabel expired. The course circled the forest counterclockwise & the riders had plenty time to sight the test & competed their first lap. Even Guy Rees was able to extract his KTM from the mud & the clock in without losing time. #29 S.Summer's front moose was disintegrating on the first lap but he carried on & finished on the flat. Ben Bishop's new tubeless front tyre became an old airless front tyre & he retired. GasGasUk's Gareth Hopkins was favourite to win the event - despite the disappointing results of his recent shoulder operation. He set the 2 fastest test times but on his 4th lap he lost all compression &.he also retired. C.Solley/P.Williamson lost their battery charge. A.Thomas/D.Welsh lost their clutch & C.Radford/G.Clarke lost their rad. Paul Davies was the slowest of the Experts on the tests but he was the quickest on the going & he only dropped 8 minutes to take the Premier. Derek Bawn was the runner up with a 10 minute penalty. David Williams won the Championship sidecar class from the Nevills. Ryan Golding won the Clubman class ahead of C.John. They both went clean. Robin Powell was the only over 40s rider to go clean but his test times let him down & A.&J.Giles were the best Clubman sidecar team. T.Powell & M.Curno were the runners up & the only other finisher. In the Over 50s class there was a "seniors" moment when Barry Quibell clocked in early & Anthony James went with him. Bless... As there were only two riders in the class it didn't really matter & Anthony took the win. Every finisher collected an award as they crossed the line. A momento of a memorable day.