Report Tim Tighe. Images Garry Barnes.
The opening rounds of the 2018 Sprint Championship exploded into action over the weekend at Rogers Hill Raceway in Dorset.
Gas Gas Factory rider Danny McCanney nailed round one on Saturday while Freestyle Husqvarna’s Joe Wootton claimed victory on Sunday from a top-quality field of riders.
A week-long battle to get the sodden track into shape really paid off as conditions were perfect across the whole weekend. The forecast two days of rain failed to materialise, although there was a slight drizzle intermittently on Sunday, and the big single special test incorporated plenty of challenges both in the woods and on the MX track. Six runs were planned for each day which allowed riders plenty of time for preparation and technical adjustments between runs. As things turned out it was six runs on Saturday and five on Sunday.
The opening sprints at Rogers Hill Raceway always attract top quality riders across all classes and this season looks to have been the best yet with factory riders from Husqvarna, GasGas and Sherco all in attendance.
Factory Sherco rider Jack Edmondson (E2) set blistering times on the first two runs but an error on his third run saw Danny McCanney (E3) take the lead and hold it to the end of the day with Freestyle Husqvarna’s Joe Wootton (E2) just off pace in third spot. Daryl Bolter (E2) took fourth ahead of reigning champion Alex Snow (E1).
Snow topped the E1 bracket ahead of Lee Sealy and Alex Walton while Jack Edmondson won E2 from Joe Wootton and Daryl Bolter. Danny McCanney ruled E3.
Wootton was on top form on Sunday though taking four out of five tests for the overall win with McCanney some 14 seconds adrift in second spot. Jack Edmondson had to fight off Snow for third spot and did so by just two seconds while Bolter once again made the top five.
Snow, Dan Mundell and Alex Walton were top three E! riders with Joe Wootton, Jack Edmondson and Daryl Bolter topping E2. Mccanney was top E3.
Expert Aaron Gordon (E1) was untouchable on both days. Eleven straight test wins saw him head the Expert ranks by a minute on Saturday and 45 seconds on Sunday. Two outstanding outings and a great start to the Championship. The battle for second and third saw Ricky Wiggins (E3) beat Max Ditchfield (E1) on Saturday but lose out to Dylan Baynton (E2) on Sunday.
The Clubman class is a real powerhouse of talent this season with a multitude of Fast Eddy youngsters making their way through the ranks. A superb outing from Charlie Chater on his new Freestyle Yamaha saw him blitz the Clubman class on Saturday, nearly 40 seconds up on second placed Cole Cookland and a minute up on Lewis Ranger in third spot. Cookland fought back hard to take the win on Sunday by just six seconds over Chater as Ryan Mundell climbed to third spot.
GasGasUK’s John Shirt took the Vets class by storm on the opening day against serious opposition from Rich Cookland and Neil Bowker then continued his good form throughout Sunday to take the class win from Jonathan Tarr and Danny Halls.
In the Youth class, Alfie Webb and Josh Lucy were locked together all weekend. Webb was excellent and never put a foot wrong and took the class win by well over a minute on the first day but Lucy closed to gap significantly on the second day to follow Webb home by less than 30 seconds. Jac George completed Saturday’s Youth top three while Carwyn Rosser took third on Sunday.
In the Sportsman ranks things were pretty close all day long across the top three riders but eventually it was Sam Baggott who took the win by just three seconds over Ollie Harcombe with Andrew Whieldon less than 30 seconds adrift in third. Harcombe too the win on the second day by nearly two minutes from Jack Smith as Marcus Feltham took third in class.
Just two representatives in the Ladies class; Emily Halls and Gemma Holtham. Hall took both wins although Holtham had her best day on Sunday and narrowed the gap to the leader significantly. Reigning Ladies Champion Rosie Rowett moved to the Clubman ranks in order to push herself as hard as possible and gain valuable experience throughout the year.
Rogers Hill was a terrific venue to start the Sprint Championship. Fast Eddy and his crew had worked extremely hard to ensure the venue was at its optimum and were rewarded by relatively good weather and a cracking rider entry which made for excellent racing.
The series moves to Brake Hill Farm, Northants, over the weekend of 16-17th June for rounds three and four.