Freestyle Husqvarna’s Joe Wootton is back on top form. He took the overall wins on both days of the ACU British Sprint Championships third and fourth rounds at Bicton Farm over the weekend. It was a close call on Sunday as a slip in the final test saw him lose 6 of the 7 seconds lead he had but the single second difference was all he needed for victory.
The midpoint of the British Sprints took place at Bicton Farm in Shropshire, a favourite venue for organiser Paul Edmondson. Bicton is not the largest of venues but it played its part fantastically well by providing a short but technical course that ran clockwise on Saturday and was reversed for Sunday’s tests. Two twisty field sections were linked by the tricky Bicton woodland section. The overall course was slightly shorter than the usual layout for an XC event but it worked terrifically well.
The weather played ball as well, the course was dry and dusty and allowed berms to form on many corners, and the sun shone which really added to the superb atmosphere at the event.
Husqvarna’s Jack Edmondson made a tentative return to racing following the repair of his fractured wrist picked up at the opening rounds of the series in Dorset. Billy Bolt, another Dorset injury victim, was also in the line-up as a top-notch Championship group gathered to do battle.
With two overall wins to his credit Buildbase Honda’s Alex Snow went into this event leading the Championship but Joe Wootton put on a terrific display on Saturday to take seven out of eight test wins and backed up that performance with five out of eight on Sunday to take another E2 class and overall win. Alex Snow was close behind on both occasions with Fraser Flockhart in third on Saturday and Tom Ellwood in third place E2 on Sunday.
Jack Edmondson was at the top of Saturday’s E1 pack, very closely followed by Dan Mundell who was in terrific form and Yamaha’s Lee Sealey in third. Edmondson retired halfway through Sunday’s tests leaving Sealey to take the E1 win as Mundell just fell short of victory by eight seconds. His second test of the day was a disaster time-wise when he was nine seconds slower than Sealey. Luke Flack took a solid third in the E1 ranks.
In the E3 class it was a two-horse race between James Dent and Billy Bolt with Dent taking the win on both days. A big collision with a tree slowed Bolt slightly on Saturday but Sunday saw him back to fighting fit and on the ball.
The Expert class is hotly contested, especially the E1 class which most riders seem to favour. Ben Murphy recovered from a disastrous weekend the week before the Sprint to ride to the top of the pile and take the overall Expert top spot on both days. Alex Walton battled with Aaron Gordon on Saturday for second and third spots while it was the turn of Jordan Ridgway and Harry Edmondson on Sunday. Murphy was long gone in first place on both days!
Brad King took the E2 win as Kev Murray fended off Dylan Bayton to take second spot. Bayton had his revenge on Sunday with an excellent win ahead of Roger Holland as Murray slipped to third spot. E3 saw Joel Gowan take the win from Rich Ely on the first day but Ely rallied on day two to hit back and reverse positions.
Lewis Ranger was on fire in the Clubman E1 class, winning on both days and second only to E2’s Brad Rowland in the overall stakes. Ranger topped E1 ahead of Cam Young and Ryan Mundell on Saturday with Mundell moving to second on Sunday with James Ford in third.
Brad Rowland topped the Clubman overall twice and the E2 class with Aston Day and Aaron Bloomfield behind him on Saturday although Bloomfield moved up a place on Sunday to second as Jordan Wright grabbed third. Danny Caulkin took both E3 wins ahead of Stuart Mack, then the pair were joined by Jamie Carroll in third on Sunday.
Rudy Austin made a welcome return to racing, in the Vets now as time has marched onwards. He was top vet on the first day with a great few runs to beat out Andrew Reeves and Jon Tarr but the arrival of ex MX rider Kev Rogers on Sunday saw Austin finish in second, behind Rogers but ahead of Reeves once again.
Cole Cookland is riding strong in the under 16’s, not just in the Sprints but in everything he enters lately. He was top U16 both days as Charlie Chater tried hard to match him but could only finish in second spot twice while Alfie Webb stuck at it and took home two third places.
Rosie Rowett didn’t have things all her own way in the Ladies class. She did win on both days but although Saturday was fairly straightforward with two minutes to spare over Chloe Richards and Neive Holmes, Sunday was much closer as Holmes pushed hard to get within a second of Rowett but the Ladies class leader kept her nerve to take her second win of the weekend.
The Sportsman class was a real mixed bag with Ash Williams winning on Saturday ahead of Aaron Webb and Alyn Roberts while Sunday saw Webb move to top spot with Roberts close behind and Jack Smith up to third in class.
Bicton turned out to be perfect for the Sprint championship. The paddock was packed on both days and the atmosphere was buzzing. Although it sometimes seems that the class winners are sorted by the third run, the slightest slip or mistake can see huge changes on the results sheet and it is this that makes Sprinting so interesting.
Paul Edmondson and his crew had laid out a small but very technical course that challenged riders to the limit and as the course improved and bedded in the test times dropped and the action became more intense. It was a cracking weekend and as competitive as it could possibly be with some terrific rides in all classes.