Report: Tim Tighe Pics: Jacob Tighe
Ben Murphy blitzed the third round of the Fast Eddy Racing Rock Oil XC Championship last Sunday as H2O baked under the sun and riders found relief in the tough woodland sections of the course, for once, welcoming the shade. Murphy ignored the tremendous heat to put in an excellent performance that saw him a lap clear of his closest competitor by the finish.
It was a hot and dusty day at this outstanding Oswestry venue, new sections were added to the course as the MX track lay unused. The valley and woodland were the primary focus of attention and they provided more than enough for riders to go at on the hottest day of the year.
In the relative cool of the morning the youth race ran around a slightly shortened course and it was Sion Evans who grabbed the glory. The course might have been shortened but it still held some impressive hill-climbs that the youngsters were not fazed by at all, many opting for the Expert route to the top and making it lap after lap.
Evans took the overall win and topped the 85-150’s ahead of Francis Davies and Lucas Holdcroft as Jack Sandland put in a great performance to take the runner-up spot and win the 65 class from Alfie Davies and Rhys Jones.
In an effort to beat the heat both adult races were combined, starting at 11.15am and running for two hours. The course was reset to maximum length following the kids race and the final race of the day got underway as the temperature rose.
Jake Brittain lead the Expert pack off the line and out towards the open fields with Max and Jack Ditchfield in his tyre tracks while Ben Murphy was comfortable inn third spot, until halfway around the first lap when he took control and never looked back. He was soon lapping slower riders but used his head to pick sweet lines and conserve energy to get to the finish line over a lap clear of his rivals.
Jack and Max Ditchfield had their own battle for supremacy with both riders holding second spot at times but it was Jack who crossed the finish line ahead of Max on this occasion.
Fourth overall was Cole Cookland, riding in the Youth A class, and what a ride! With the top three Experts long gone it took some determination to press on as hard as Cookland did to take fourth overall and top spot in his class ahead of vastly more experienced riders. His was a cracking performance.
Second in Youth A was Charlie Chater. He was down in fourth spot until the final lap where he whipped past James Palmer and Sam Davies to move up to second in class, a great move in the dying stages of the race which left Palmer in third spot.
Ben Key, Jacob James and Lee Hattersley were together for most of the race in the Clubman class and finished in that position within 20 seconds of each other in what proved to be a hard slog as the temperature rose towards the end of the race. Hattersley posted the fastest lap time of the three but couldn’t take advantage of it as the two youngsters stuck with him.
Chris Wagstaff topped the Vets A class with Kev Sandland in second spot and Shane Brown in third while Shaun James was top Vets B rider ahead of Rob Murfin and Tony Gunn.
Sportsman rider Ben Martindale was in double figures for laps on his way to a class win ahead of Andy Rich and Harrison Holdcroft as in the Youth B ranks it was Dan Leadbetter who topped the class with Mitch Parkes second and Adam James third.
Liam Storar topped the Novice class with Kristian Ankritt in second spot, the only two Novice riders to finish the race.
It was a very hot and dusty day at times. The woodland section provided some relief from the sun but that was brief and the woodland going was still tough. The Rock Oil XC Championship possibly had its toughest event of the season at H2O last Sunday but the racing was spot on and the course was great.
Well done Fast Eddy and the crew.