The opening day of the RHL Beach Race at Weston-Super-Mare fuelled by Monster Energy was certainly an exhilarating one with Ben Watson winning the 125/250f class, Tyler Rowe taking the win in the 65cc youth and Paul Winrow scoring his sixth victory after a battle that went down to the final lap of the adult quad race.
It’s been an exciting day on the beach with a brilliant atmosphere created with an abundance of trade stands, fun fair and off-track activities alongside some fantastic racing. With the rain keeping away, the 30th anniversary of the race kicked off with the 125/250f class in which Ben Watson put on a superb performance while tacking the mammoth dune course and lapping up to second place during the 1.5 hour race to take his fifth RHL Beach race victory. Rob Davidson was second and Dan Thornhill third. 15-year-old Watson will also take on the grueling three-hour solo race tomorrow.
In the 65cc class it was certainly tough for the young-guns who took part, as the deep wet sections of ruts that were taller than their wheels proved to be a technical challenge during the 1.5 hour junior race. While Gary Ashley led for most of the race, a technical problem on the final lap allowed Tyler Rowe through for the win, with Ashley having to settle for second and Keelan Southwood third, all aboard KTM machinery.
The final race of the day concluded proceedings with some fantastic action, as it went right down to the wire. Six-time Weston winner Paul Winrow, who is now the most successful person on the dune course, took an early lead, although Carl Bunce got to the front mid-way through the three hour race. In the closing stages Bunce had nearly a two-minute advantage, but Winrow stepped up a gear and began to reel him in after timing his pit stops perfectly and Bunce came into some problems with his machine. For Bunce it wasn’t to be as the final straw was pulled when he ran out of fuel on the last lap and he had to coax his machine over the line to settle for a disappointing second place after leading for so long, while Winrow capitalised and took another fantastic victory to add to his win tally, while Chris Cooper finished third.
Another notable performance is the Millard brothers who took a dominating victory in the sidecar class, and finished 10th in the overall standings, which is the first time in history a sidecar has taken a top 10.
Tomorrow’s schedule includes the youth quad race, 85cc youth class and the main solo event, which is expected to be the highlight of the weekend as we will see recently crowned MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings make his beach race debut against Ken de Dycker, Brad Anderson, and podium finishers Shaun Simpson and Tom Church.
Ben Watson: 125/250f class winner
“This is about my seventh time doing the race and today I took my fifth win. I had bad luck last year, as the bike blew up with eight minutes to go in the 85cc class, so it was good to come away with a win today for my first time on the bigger bike. It’s a great way to finish my season. The whole race went well; I managed to lap up to second and it was great to hear people cheering me on, especially in the double section. There are not always jumps here and there was a bit of pressure to do it every lap, but sometimes there were other riders down there so I had to roll it. I knew it was a quicker line and it felt good. I think the big track will be a bit harder tomorrow, so I need a good sleep tonight. My aim is to be top 20, but it’s a tough race and anything can happen.”
Paul Winrow: Adult quad class winner
“I got a great start and normally I don’t like to lead in the first lap, but I had a good look at the track yesterday, so I knew it wouldn’t be too bad. I had a comfortable lead and I kept going, as I couldn’t see who was in second for a while. I rode a steady pace for until the track came good or quad friendly, as it was really rutty. I didn’t push too much and Carl (Bunce) came past after I pitted for fuel, but I also did a second splash and dash pit just to make sure there was enough in the tank. I did it earlier rather than later and then I could see Carl coming back to me a bit, so I got into more of an aggressive race pace, but I don’t know why I couldn’t find that before. I caught him in the last part of the race and he had a misfire; I’m not sure what was wrong but he was really unhappy, which is understandable. For me a win is a win and I will take that, so it’s been a good day for us.”
Gareth Hockey: Director of RHL Activities
“It’s been a fantastic day and we’ve been really lucky with the weather. We’ve seen probably some of the best racing in years on the beach, which has been enjoyable. All the classes have been really good, but Paul (Winrow) coming to win on the last lap made it really exciting for me, and he’s taken his sixth victory, which is great. The forecast for tomorrow is dry and sunny; we’ve had some great feedback from the riders about the track, so we’re really happy going into tomorrow.”