It was a chilly start to round 4 of the AMCA Wessex / South Wales season, hosted by Cheltenham Spa SC at the ever popular Brookthorpe circuit. This was the first meeting of the year for the Cheltenham club, so it was the annual running of the Dave Biggs Memorial races, with a special trophy on offer to the highest scoring home rider.
The paddock was full despite there being both AMCA Championship qualifiers and a Super Class meeting being held elsewhere, with many out of centre and late entry riders making the journey to the hillside track. The day turned out to be full of close racing in all the classes, which was watched by another large crowd who hadn’t been put off by the weatherman’s prediction of rain by lunchtime. Indeed, Brookthorpe was the place to be, as it was dry all day whilst all the surrounding areas got a soaking!
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Racing kicked off with the MX2 Juniors over 18’s. In the first race Julian Ware made it look a bit easy, never really being challenged to cross the line by a comfortable 15 seconds. However, he was not to have it all his own way in race two, as Upton rider Jordan Davies recovered from the 11th place he posted in the first race to just beat Julian across the line. Race three was a repeat victory for Jordan, but he couldn’t make up the points deficit from the first session, so Julian Ware took the top step of the podium at the end of the day. Next out of the gate were the MX1 Experts, and this should have been a chance for some of the mid pack riders to grab some glory, as the usual front runners were away on Championship duty. Brad Turner was completely dominant in this class, posting the first of four perfect scores on the day. His fastest laps were 5-10 seconds ahead of everyone else in each of the races and had a winning margin of half a lap each time out. A maximum 180 points also went to Ben Saunders in the MX2 Experts, although he was kept honest in their first race by Elliot Barrs. Race two saw a very close battle between Barrs and Anthony Kahl for second and third, which stopped Elliot challenging Ben out front. Race three was shaping up very nicely for a Saunders / Barrs rematch when a problem forced Elliot to retire early, leaving the way clear for Ben to complete his hat trick.
It was another clean sweep for Joshua Bishop in the Inter Juniors – this young man is yet to drop a single point this season. In fact there was a sense of déjà vu about this class, as second each time was Zak Watkins, followed in third by Grant Jones. This is exactly the same score as the first race of the year at Bromsberrow… These three riders are well clear of the rest of the pack at the moment, but the season is young and the following riders are getting faster and faster each meeting. The last maximum score of the day went to Danny Finch in the MX2 Juniors under 18 class. Connor Poole chased him across the line in races two and three, but he couldn’t make up the lost points from a sixth place finish in the first race to really challenge the Gloucester rider.
Cheltenham rider Ryan Phillips posted a very strong 1, 3, 1 on the day to clinch the MX1 Juniors class and put himself in the running for the Dave Biggs Memorial Trophy. His competition came in the form of winner of the MX1 Senior class Billy McGillivray and the MX2 Senior winner Gavin Hickman. Billy was in the hunt for the trophy until a race three score of sixth place dropped him out of the running, which left Gavin as the only man who could wrench the trophy out of Ryan’s hands. A second place (by 0.3 of a second) in the first race and a victory in race two meant Gavin had to win the last race of the day. It was a nail biter, as Gavin had double entered with the MX1 Seniors, and was visibly slowing as fatigue set in this, his sixth race of the day. However, he just held off fellow Cheltenham rider Mark Tooth by less then 2 seconds to take the chequered flag. So a delighted Gavin Hickman was presented with the Dave Biggs Memorial Trophy at the end of a fantastic days racing.
Special thanks must go to Val Biggs and all at the Cheltenham club, who organised a superb event and managed to get all the races completed with only the minimum of delays. The next Wessex / South Wales meeting is at Cwms Farm on the 10th April.