After three hours of hard slog, deep rippling dunes and ruts spread over several kilometres along the beach at Weston-Super-Mare in England, Jeffrey Herlings clinched the 2012 edition of this crazy and popular event by just three minutes from Monster Energy Yamaha’s Shaun Simpson. The beach race, with its distinctive one-mile long straight, was watched by an estimated 65,000 crowd.
The MX2 World Champ is acknowledged as one of the best sand riders – if not the best – in the world and proved again by dodging over 500 fellow competitors around the massive course just metres away from the lapping waves. While the likes of Herlings, Simpson and third place Ken De Dycker had their eyes on the prize the majority of the field were there for fun, frolics and no shortage of heroism as the bikes churned the beach and the rate of attrition was high.
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Crashes by all three protagonists going for the chequered flag were to factor in the final results. De Dycker needing one more pitstop than Simpson and two morethan Herlings. All three Weston debutants raved about the experience, especially Simpson whose father had won the annual spectacle almost twenty years previously.
“It’s been a great weekend and good to be part of,” the Scot said. “I am just really happy we got round in one piece. Everything went well apart from having a crash when I got a bit excited in the lead and I also had to make an unexpected pit stop. I definitely need to be back next year to take the win. It’s nice to see so many people getting behind a motorcycling event, and it’s a bit different for everyone, so I was pleased to see it so well supported.”
While some of the leading lights in the FIM Motocross World Championship headed the Main Race podium, there were other stars on display. Paul Winrow defended his number one plate on his Quad and survived the sand as the fastest four-wheeled driver for the sixth time at Weston to cement his name as one of the event’s true legends. Ben Watson erased his heartache from missing out on 2011 victory due to a mechanical problem by sealing the deal in the 125cc/250F category on this occasion. Tommy Clarke and Todd Kellet crossed the finish line first in the 65/85cc youth classes.
Images by Monster Energy/Archer/Laranjeira