The 2017 ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship.
Billy Bolt finally got what he deserves, his first major extreme enduro win, at Abbeycwmhir on Sunday.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Bolt took first place at the third round of the ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship, Ed’s of the Valley, organised by Paul Edmondson and his Fast Eddy Racing crew. The 12-mile course turned into what Bolt described as a ‘slog-fest’ as heavy rain and high winds battered the venue throughout the day.
Strategy, with a huge amount of luck added, was the key in the afternoon race as more than a few riders fell foul of the ‘outside assistance’ rules, going for third lap and consequently running out of fuel out on the course. Both Graham Jarvis and David Knight were disqualified for outside assistance. They took a chance and pushed their luck going for a third lap and lost out. Kieran Hancock also dq’d for the same reason.
This third round came as a real shock to many riders who hadn’t ridden a big lap Welsh forest enduro in wintertime for a while. Mud, ruts, big hill-climbs, fast fire-roads and brash, all with fallen trees and a few rocky sections, made for a fuel-draining lap.
The event wasn’t considered extreme, more a Hard Enduro, but looking at some of the hill-climbs they would not have disgraced any extreme enduro. The floor of the forest remained generally in good shape but there were a few sections that became extremely rutted and hard to negotiate.
The morning race saw riders start four at a time with the Veterans class leading the way. Mick Boam and Juan Knight, both on Beta machines, were in the mix alongside Kiaran Hankin , Karl Greenhall, Andrew Reeves and Alex Owen as the pack disappeared into the trees with over half an hour until they reached lap scoring once again.
The guys out front had a run at the hill-climbs and fared much better than many of the Sportsman and Youth riders following in their wake. Knight and Boam led the field with Knight stretching a slight lead into the second lap where another contender had joined the fray. Harry Edmondson worked hard to get to third spot, a teenager lacking the core strength and physicality of the older riders. He just relied on ability and it paid off as he eventually overtook Boam to finish in second place behind Knight. With the veterans win in the bag and the fastest lap of the race at 35minutes 27 seconds under his belt Knight was followed by Boam as Andrew Reeves took third place.
For young Edmondson, the winner of the Youth class, this was an excellent outing. He posted three laps, one of only 16 riders to do so out of a field of 90.
Dawson Marriott already had two series wins in the bag so second place didn’t damage his title challenge too much but fellow Youth contender Tom Knight was unlucky to finish fourth as he crashed just before the finish line allowing Will Stansbie past to take third place.
Two Sportsman riders stood head and shoulders above the rest. Luke Owen and Darren Heyes both completed three laps and they certainly earned their first and second spots. James Walker took third, just missing out on the chance of a third lap.
Many riders found themselves out of their depth at times and the ones who were finding it really hard were spared further suffering by being pulled from the race at lap-scoring when it was clear that they would simply not have enough time to get anywhere near completing another lap. Considering the conditions, it was a smart move.
The afternoon race results are still provisional at this point although it is clear that Billy Bolt took the win.
The Pro class line up was once again top-notch. Husqvarna’s Jarvis and Bolt lined up alongside Eurotek KTM’s Knight and Bolton, although to be accurate Knight did start at the back of the pack with eight riders off the line before him. D3’s Sam Winterburn, Keelan Hancock, Luke Flack, Owain Humphreys and Gary Daniels all had to be passed by Knight for him to get to the head of the field.
Soon it was Bolt, Knight and Jarvis fighting for the lead. All three had there time at the front but Bolt openly admitted that he sat behind Knight for a while, watching the big Manxman attacking the course and learning as much as possible.
Bolt pitted at the end of the second lap to refuel. The others continued for a third lap and their fate was sealed. Knight and Jarvis were joined by Keelan Hancock in the ‘ran out of fuel’ group and all three were excluded for outside assistance.
Billy Bolt had a clear lead as even second placed Paul Bolton had dropped 10 minutes, his bike repeatedly stopping apparently. Jarvis was second across the line but DQ’d, so Bolton took second spot with a terrific ride from D3 Racing’s Sam Winterburn to take third in the Pro class. Luke Flack took forth place and Owain Humphries fifth.
Matthew Jones climbed to fourth overall and top place in the Expert class by over five minutes, his recent good form continuing to pay dividends. Brad Williams’ first outing for a while saw him take second as Lee Sampson pulled a couple of minutes clear to take third place over Olly Megson who eventually finished in fourth.
Fred Adams was the only Clubman rider to post four laps, and consequently take the class win. Lewis Ellis and Liam Phillips completed the Clubman top three.
This was an extreme event in every sense of the word, especially with the elements against it but as part of the ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship the Ed’s of the Valley event bought something very different to the series and now the dust has settled and the mud is drying it will soon become a talking point in history. As the mid-point of the series it was make or break for many riders with only a handful on the ‘make’ side of things.
Well done to Jess & Harry Hockly for their efforts and to the Fast Eddy crew and all the marshals who managed to keep the races running against the odds as the weather tried its best to kill the event.