The 2018 Fast Eddy XC and GBXC Championships finally got underway last Sunday at Bicton Farm in Shropshire. The poor weather in the weeks leading up to the event had seen delays but just a week later than originally scheduled the turnout was terrific for the start of these championship series.
It was clear that a considerable amount of work had been put in to get the track into shape and with sunshine on Saturday and Sunday remaining dry the ground was perfect for racing.
This year the youth race is run under the Rock Oil XC Youth banner while the morning adult race for Youth B, Sportsman, Novice, Vets B and Over 50’s will constitute the Fast Eddy XC Championship. The afternoon race containing the Experts, Clubman 2T and 4T and Vets A will run as the GBXC Championship.
Traditionally, the first round of the season is at Bicton Farm where a lap for Joe is ridden in tribute to Joe Edge who passed away four years ago. All riders take a slow lap around the course, lead by Paul Edmondson and Joe’s dad and it is an emotional moment for all who remember Joe. As always, the lap was very well attended.
The long-awaited unveiling of Paul Edmondson’s rebuilt 2005 ISDE Honda 250 caused quite a stir and left many people wondering why Honda had ever stopped 2T production as the bike flew around the course throughout the day.
Racing started early, 8.45am, with a good entry of Youth riders having first bash at the Bicton lap. It was a slightly shortened lap to the adult race, the woods section was not included, but proved to be very competitive and entertaining all the same.
The entry to the 85-150 class dominated the field and from this class Cory Cookland dominated the race virtually from start to finish. A cracking ride saw him keep second placed Francis Davies at bay by over a minute with Lewis Hurdsman taking third spot, a lap down on the leading pair. Will Barnett and Rees Jones battled in the 65cc class but Barnett eventually pulled clear for the win with Jones taking second spot ahead of Archie Jordan in third place. Alfie Dawson claimed the Auto class win ahead of James Gittings-Jones with Harry Jordan grabbing third.
Following the lap for Joe the first fast Eddy XC of the season kicked off. The course was extended and the woodland section opened up to provide some technical challenges to balance the field sections. Sion Evans showed his intentions right from the start. His total dominance of last season’s youth races saw him carry his excellent form on to this year. Riding in the Youth B class he lead the field for the whole race and appeared completely in control for the whole two hours. Over 50’s rider Dave Cooper, who won his class but took second overall, put in a great ride to try and keep in touch but couldn’t catch the youngster. Scott Harris, representing the Sportsman ranks took third overall and his class win ahead of Nick Whitehead and Ant Trawford. Adam James was runner-up in the Youth B classification, some way ahead of third placed Doug lote. Mark Plain took second in the Over 50’s with Tony Gunn grabbing third. The Vets B win went to Roger Withington who posted an extra lap on Joe Gittins-Jones and Saxon Nell in second and third spots.
Top Novice rider was Ben Leighton. He posted 13 laps and was over seven minutes clear of second placed Tony Adams as the chequered flag was waived. Andrew Bowley took third, a lap down on Leighton and Adams.
By the time the afternoon’s GBXC race got underway the course was extremely well bedded-in and the opening few laps were truly fast and furious with the lead changing hands constantly. In the Expert pack Derek Bawn took the holeshot with Max Ditchfield a wheel’s length behind but by the time the pack hit the woodlands it was anybody’s race.
Ditchy got to the head of the field and set a blistering pace but had no respite from the chasing group and although he led for quite a few laps his bike experienced mechanical issues and had to DNF. Any of a number of riders were in the hunt for the win but it was Shaun Buchan who narrowly took victory by just 40 seconds over a hard-charging Henry Yardley, both clocking up 20 laps. Third placed Ricky Wiggins narrowly missed out on an extra lap but took third anyway.
It looks as if the Clubman 2T class will be a year-long battle between two riders; Cole Cookland and James Palmer. The each took a victory at the ACU Sprint the week before and were locked together for most of the race on Sunday with just 23 seconds separating the two as Cookland took the win and Palmer second. George Yardley was also on form and completed the 2T top three.
Lee Hattersley got his season of to a great start with the Clubman 4T win under his belt, edging out Ryan Phillips to second spot with a minute between them as Ben Key took third. Chris Wagstaff also started well with a win in the Vets A group ahead of Darryl Mead and Kev Sandland.
The extra week’s wait was worth it. The day saw cracking racing across the board and the weather played ball for once as the course dried to perfection. The Joe Edge tribute was moving and all involved appreciated the efforts put in by Fast Eddy and his crew.