The Fast Eddy Racing Rock Oil XC Championship launched into full throttle on Sunday at Bicton Farm near Shrewsbury with packed classes across the board for all three scheduled races. Conditions were near perfect and sunshine bathed the venue for much of the day. Considering that most of the land at Bicton Farm runs alongside the River Severn and has spent much of the Winter completely submerged, the course was in excellent condition. The land drains well and the course, set by Jack Eddy and the crew, was extremely well thought out, utilising every available feature with new routes through the woodland sections and the some sections running in the opposite direction to normal.
As the opening round of this Rock Oil supported Championship series all the regular riders were present and correct, many in their shiny new gear on shiny new machines, pristine graphics and raring to go. The regulars were joined by many new faces who swelled the ranks and consequently plenty of unknown quantities were dotted throughout the classes. As with all Rock Oil XC events the day began with a Youth race. Paul Edmondson continues to encourage young talent and gives them every opportunity to race over the same course as the adults whenever possible.
Charlie Chater and Matthew Harries battled for the lead in the opening race early on and were eventually joined by George Yardley. George was on a SW85 while the other two riders were in the BW85-150 class but undeterred, George pushed them both really hard and eventually took the win and posted the race’s fastest lap time. Matthew Harries managed to fend off several attacks from Charlie Chater to take second overall and win the BW85-150 class with Chater second and Harrison Holdcroft third. Young Yardley was joined in the SW85 podium spots by William Farrow and Josh Main while Adam James took control and the win in the 65cc class ahead of Frankie Skillin and Cory Cookland.
The youth race was followed by Fast Eddy Racing’s tribute to Joe Edge, a young rider who passed away two years ago. All riders gathered to ride a single ‘Lap For Joe’ in memory of this popular rider who is still sadly missed by all. Paul Edmondson led the lap and it was an impressive scene to witness 150 riders steadily streaming across the fields, an emotional and solemn sight.
The first adult’s race of the day followed shortly afterwards. The Youth 13-16 class was away first and they proved to be untouchable. A handful of these young riders dominated the top five positions throughout the two-hour race as Henry Yardley made it a double win for the Yardley family, closely followed by Harry Edmondson and Jacob James, all three on 17 laps.
Sportsman Sean Taylor was closest to the top three, fifth overall, and he won his class by quite a margin over Lee Richards and Tom Nicholls. The Sportsman class was once again the biggest by far and competition was fierce as usual at the start of any championship series with everyone trying for every point on offer.
Darryl Mead topped the Sportsman Veterans, finishing just behind Taylor, beating fellow competitor Daz Skillin to the finish flag by just a couple of places overall. Third in class was David Williams who had a great start to his season. Splitting the ever growing Veterans into Sportsman vets in the morning race and Clubman Vets in the afternoon is a very good move as it gives riders of similar abilities a chance to push each other.
The final class of this race was the Novice division. Ben Martindale and Frankie White-Edwards were stuck together lap after lap but Martindale pushed towards the end and managed to gain a minute to take the class win as White-Edwards took second and Ashley Taylor third.
The final race saw quite a line up in the Pro and Expert classes. Jack Edmondson fresh from training in Spain was joined by James Jackman, back on a Yamaha after many years and loving the new WR250F, Derek Bawn and finally ben Murphy who has stepped up to the plate to do battle with the big boys, not before time either.
Spain obviously did Jacko the world of good, he was off like a stabbed rat and was lapping backmarkers in the Clubman class on the second lap. With the EWC approaching he looks set to provide a real challenge on the world stage. Jackman was back on form, very comfortable with the new Yamaha and took second overall and second in the pro class despite sitting in petrol for a couple of laps when his breather pipe came off near the end of the race. Ben Murphy’s move up to the Pro’s paid off with third overall and in class just 30 seconds behind Jackman.
The Expert class was top notch racing from start to finish. The Bowden Boys, Jacob and Ash looked to have the top two spots wrapped up early on and Jacob led the race for the final 45 minutes but Charlie Frost’s ‘never say die’ attitude saw him catch the leader on the final lap and put in a pass on the last corner to nick the win from under Jacob’s nose! Ash Bowden wasn’t far behind and secured third spot.
Ryan Griffiths was on a charge right from the start and deserved his class win. This Clubman Vet was only beaten by Pro or Expert riders, which is quite an achievement at a Fast Eddy event where the standard is so high amongst the racers. Chris Wagstaff pushed his new Yamaha to second in class while Kev Sandland nailed third place.
The Clubman class didn’t see the usual Yorkshire mafia domination of recent years. Rich Cookland took the win with a determined ride but it was Sam Sault who followed him home in second spot with Andy Myers a couple of minutes adrift in third.
Bicton provided an exceptionally good start to the Championship. The course and venue were spot on and the racing was fast and tight. The weather played its part to launch the Rock Oil XC Championship off to a terrific start.