All content © Bob MuIIins
Slow Pete Series|
Report: Tim Tighe
Images: Jacob Tighe
Cotswold Enduro Club’s Easter Sunday race at Shuckburgh Hall, Northants, could not have enjoyed better weather or a more impressive course. Everything was perfect.
Shuckburgh Hall really is something special, a country estate with deer park and hundreds of acres of flowing Northamptonshire countryside makes it one of the most beautiful setting imaginable and riders are very lucky to have a landowner who is so sympathetic to off-road competition.
A large lap, five miles in length, snaked around the beautiful Shuckburgh Estate taking in three massive woodland sections with plenty of lines everywhere and smooth flowing corners with just a few boggy bits to catch the unwary.
With rain forecast to start at the midpoint of the two-hour race all eyes were on the sky but the wet stuff never materialised and riders took full advantage as lap times fell and battles developed.
A packed field without an Expert in sight saw some great racing from the more senior members of both the Veterans 40+ and 50+ groups who were first off the line at the start of the race.
Despite their collective years of experience there were still a few errors on the second corner, the most significant being Ryan Griffiths’ fall from grace that saw him picking his bike up as the 40+ Vets pack disappeared into the distance. Undeterred, Griffiths remounted and put in a charge that took him to first place within a few laps, and that’s going some considering the wealth of talent ahead of him when he started his mission. Martin Jakeman had built quite a lead over the opening lap with Kev Freeman hot on his heels but Griffiths stuck to task and won the event outright and the 40+ class by nearly three minutes over Darren Bedford as Kev Freeman pushed hard to snatch third in class.
In addition to the fastest riders of the day the 40+ class also contained Lee Allis-Smith who undoubtedly had the crash of the day on the opening lap. A small error followed by whisky throttle saw him plunge down one of the largest and steepest slopes of the venue in true extreme enduro style. His tuck and roll was superb and he survived uninjured having supplied onlookers with a memorable few seconds of unforgettable action.
Keith Jenkins, 50+ class, took third overall and top spot in the Oldies class some six minutes ahead of a chasing Rob Sewell in second and Colin Griffiths in third. The pace of all three was impressive around such a flowing course and Jenkins ‘swift, silent and deadly’ style saw him breeze past backmarkers without so much as a sound. It’s a pleasure to watch him race.
Out of the top 20 finishers only two were not Veteran class riders. Niles Reid headed the Clubman 4T class, a lap up on second placed Martyn Grantham but only three minutes clear of Andrew Sterling in third spot who was closing fast by the end of the race.
James Flannigan also made the top 20, riding in the Clubman Plus class. He took the class win comfortably as Ellis Frend was secure in second spot ahead of Neil Munton in third.
Battle of the day was in the Clubman 2T class. Rich Jordan took the win but only by four seconds over Darren Thorpe, the closest finish of the day between class rivals, as Jason King nailed third spot less than a minute adrift of the leading pair. It was a very closely fought class with some talented riders vying for top places.
Chris Northern was a little surprised by his result in the Sportsman Novice class. He won! A run of good form lately had paid off with top spot on the podium but it was close to say the least as Adam Lewis was only 39 seconds behind him. Adam Bates was just 47 second off the pace in third spot and all three provided a very close finish to a great competition.
Trinity Kirkwood was the sole Ladies class rider and by default took the win while Eric Shaw topped the Trail class with four laps to his credit and no other competitors to worry about.
An hour after the race ended the rain arrived. Perfect timing to end a perfect day at one of the best venues in the country. If you missed it or have never ridden at Shuckburgh Hall then grab your chance in two weeks time as Cotswold Enduro Club returns for the Rock Oil H&H Championship and Club Championship.