After a long winter, it was great to finally fire the Schwalbe British 4X Series back into life last weekend at Chicksands in Bedfordshire. The venue was chosen because of its weather proof, sandy soil that enables racing to run in any conditions. With snow and rain blanketing the UK for the week ahead of this race, it was definitely the right decision to race here! In fact, a week before the locals were canoeing down the track in a kayak! In true Chicksands style, the track soaked up all the snow and rain and by race day it was absolutely perfect.
The track has not changed much over the years but with good reason. It produces close action in every single race. The ‘S’ bend corners mid-way down always produce drama and, on this occasion, it was no different. A wide 90 degree right turn followed by a tighter 90 degree left which then lead onto the longest straight creates both inside dives and calculated setups ready for the long straight.
Practice got underway at 9.30 and it was great to see so many new faces as well as all the usual characters. As riders got their lines dialled, Chris Roberts and the British 4X team prepared the moto sheets. At 12.30 racing got underway with the qualifying motos. 3 races for everyone to determine the top qualifying riders ahead of the knockout rounds later in the day.
In the women’s category, Megan Wherry was looking in fine form for her new Dialled Bikes team but pushing her all the way was Heather Kay, Courtney Abbiss and Hannah Escott. Escott was literally back from 4 months in Australia and China so jet lag must have been playing its part although in true Hannah style she had more energy than most there!
In the elite men’s it was a true case of game on. The track meant racing was tight so the results in the motos were all over the place apart from track specialist Connor Hudson who made his intentions clear with 3 wins! Scott Beaumont was back and looking good with a win and two second places. It was great to see BMX rider Grant Hill really flying in his first ever 4X race. Jack Hudson, Alex Metcalfe and Aaron Dalleywater were also looking strong.
In the semi-finals, it was an incredible gate from Grant Hill that gave him the holeshot and the race lead from start to finish ahead of Connor Hudson. Scott Beaumont also made a perfect start and led his semi-final start to finish to transfer to the final with Aaron Dalleywater.
By the middle of the afternoon, all classes had been whittled down to the final 4 riders who would battle for the win.
In Big Fun, it was Scott Cordy who survived the battle behind him to take the win from Scott Jones and Martyn Nicholas with Josh Brown in fourth.
It was awesome to see the Rippers class gaining a couple of extra riders and making the racing even more closer. This is the race that everyone watches and again it did not disappoint. Reuben Mills made a great start and didn’t look back looking smooth and fast all the way. He won from George Madley, Jack Hoare and George Hunt.
The Juveniles had a couple of rippers who have now moved up to contend with. Believe us when we say the future of British 4X is in good hands with these young riders coming through our ranks. Ben Tyas was the lad who got the job done, taking the win from Finlay Hudson, Louis Partridge and Tyler Partridge.
Youth again had a strong line up of riders and it had looked anything but certain all day as to who would take this one. Zack Hudson got the snap and after some pressure all the way from Will Mills, he was able to take the win from Will in second, Fred Hunt in third and Will Fuell in fourth. Any one of these 4 could have won and it is going to be a fascinating year ahead.
Onto Juniors and these are the guys who will be winning elites in the next couple of years. Tom Bell continued a great day for team DBS by taking the win from Ted Dalleywater, Andrew Cross and Fin Keogh. Much the same as Youth, any of these riders could have won and we are excited to see these riders develop into the next stars of the sport.
Seniors and the odds-on favourite was James Whitby, who has dropped back down to seniors after some years in Elite. But disaster struck out of the gate as his chain snapped. It left Chris Ryan to take the win from George Wise and Mike Hayward with Whitby cruising down for fourth.
Masters, and this is where horsepower and determination can sometimes meet with drama! With some incredible racing all day, it was always going to be close. David Sibley was the man to hold it all together taking the win from Kingsley Mears, Marti Pearce and Tom Burch.
The women had been battling all day and the final was more of the same. Megan Wherry was definitely determined, and it showed as she stormed down to take the win from start to finish. Great to see Heather Kay back and racing 4X after taking some time out for study and Courtney Abbiss in third with Hannah Escott in fourth.
So finally, it was time for the big guns, the elite men. They had been making the track look easy all day at Mach-10 speeds and the final was all set. In gate one it was Scott Beaumont, two Grant Hill, three Connor Hudson and on the outside Aaron Dalleywater. The gate dropped and the drag race on the first straight was on. Hill got his bar in front of Beaumont and the pair battled down to the ‘S’ bends. Whilst they were out wide, Hudson saw his chance and dived inside, unfortunately losing his front wheel and going down. Then Hill crashed as well leaving Boom Boom no option but to use Hill’s bike as a jump! Whilst all this was going on, smart thinking Dalleywater hit the brakes and went tight, avoiding the carnage. He was in the lead in his first Elite race! Beaumont was back on the pedals though and set off after the rookie who was ten bike lengths ahead. Chasing him all the way to the line it was really close – less than a bike length but Dalleywater held on to take the win from Beaumont, Hudson and Hill.
It was a great final and a perfect way to end the first round of the 2018 Schwalbe British 4X Series. It was a brilliant day and sets us up the rest of the year.
The 2018 British 4X Dates and Venues are:
Rd1: 11th March – Chicksands, Bedfordshire
Rd2: 22nd April – Harthill, Cheshire
Rd3: 12th May – Fort William, Scotland
Rd4: 23rd June – Afan, South Wales
Rd5: 29th July – 417, Gloucestershire
Rd6: 19th August – Falmouth, Cornwall
Rd7: 2nd September – Redhill, Gloucestershire
NC: 18th August – Falmouth, Cornwall – National Championships.
Teams can also take part the team cup – 3 riders can team up, with the winners bagging £1000 from series sponsors Schwalbe.
For Series information, have a look at the website: www.british4x.com