All content © Bob MullinsI
GH Mcs/Husqvarna Santon Enduro
Report by Richard Snowden
Diss MCC hosted Round One of the 2023 GH Mc's ACU Eastern Enduro Championship round on Sunday 26 February 2023.
With almost 200 riders entered the pits were buzzing before 9:00am when the first championship riders started their day. Championship riders would face 6 laps of the 11 mile lap plus the special test ridden on laps one and two. The light sandy soil was in great condition with very little rain fall recently.
With just a short run round riders were soon at the start of the special test when the action really started. With the top 12 riders from ACUE 2022 championship taking the top 12 riding numbers the expected front runners were the first to go. Veteran Chris Hockey (300 Kiwi's Bike Shop Sherco) was first on the test with a 2 minute 47 second test setting the target to beat. Ben Clark (300 Beta UK Beta) was the second rider in and his time was 9 thousandths of a second slower but clearly both riders were pressing hard. However, all eyes were on the third man to start, 2022 ACU Eastern Enduro and Motocross Champion Luke Parker (350 MPM Gas Gas) and he didn't disappoint. His first test of 2 minutes 40 would prove to be the best time of the first lap and none of the 2022 top 12 could get near his time. 2022 runner up Ben Cole (450 GH Mcs Husqvarna) was second fastest at this point with 2 minutes 46. However regular BEC rider and one of the top 125 riders in the UK, Charlie Chater (125 Off Road Experience Yamaha) got close with a 2 minutes 45 slotting him in to provisional second place. He was followed by Lewis Tombs, former British MX ace (250 Yamaha) who pushed Chater down to third with a 2 minute 43. As the championship class headed off to the first time control Cole was fourth and Clark rounded out the top five.
An hour later the championship riders were back for their second test. Could Parker maintain his early lead? You bet he could - despite the many bumps and berms that had developed with 200 riders going through the test Parker shaved over 7 seconds off his first blistering time. The berms must have helped a bit as most championship riders were faster on their second test. Parker's second test of 2:33 was simply too fast for the rest. Tombs was again second fastest with a 2:40 with Cole next on 2:42, Chater on 2:43 and Clark again in fifth on 2:46. There was still around 55 miles to ride and five more time controls with the last lap expected to challenge all the championship runners.
Support crews and followers waited in eager anticipation as championship rider's final check time approached. Of the front runners no-one was early but Parker appeared as first championship runner on his minute followed by Clark then Cole all clean on their first minute. There was then the wait to see how Chater and Tombs were doing. Chater was the first man on his minute and the wait was on to see whether Tombs could also stay clean. He was the last rider to clock in on his minute and so he too was clean.
This meant the top five held their positions at the end of the event with Parker a clear winner, almost 9 seconds ahead of Tombs, with Cole a further 4 seconds back, closely followed by Chater, just 0.6 seconds slower and Clark a solid fifth. The check times were tight but Sam Davies (125 Eric Auge Gas Gas), trials star Tom Minta (300 GSM Gas Gas) and ever green Rich Ely (Inta Mc Fantic) also managed to join the elite group that stayed clean on time.
The Expert class was dominated by young Welsh star Sion Evans (125 PAR Homes Fantic) who raced his 125 to first place on both tests and stayed clean. Jack Probert (125 ET James Sherco) was second on the tests but dropped a minute on the final check dropping him to ninth. Third on the tests was Brett Pocock (250 Inta Mcs Fantic) who stayed clean to take the runner up position, with Steven Cooper (250 Dynamic Water Solutions KTM) next fastest on the tests. He too stayed clean which moved him up to third overall. Diss club member and key helper Ross Taylor (250 Ridge Racing/SD Home and Garden Yamaha) was fifth fastest on the tests but dropped a minute on the going resulting in tenth overall.
The Expert Vets class saw regular rivals John Shirt (350 JSM Gas Gas), 2022 BEC expert vet champion and ACU Eastern's Julian Harvey battling for victory. Harvey (125 KTM) was fastest on the first test but Shirt edged in front with a faster second test. He went on to be the only rider staying clean at the final time check securing him the win with Harvey maintaining second as the fastest rider losing a minute. Andrew Reeves (300 Sandiford Beta), another BEC vet star rounded out the top three with Phil Roper (350 ID Decals KTM) and Chris Tett (390 JESP Gases Beta) rounding out the top five.
The Clubman class saw yet another young Welsh 125 rider dominate the class. Endaf Lloyd Hughes, son of Welsh enduro ace Wyn Hughes was the clear winner. He won the clubman class back at the Muntjac, his first race in East Anglia, and now has reinforced that with another win at the Santon. After the two tests Hughes was almost seven seconds clear of Ryan Rowlands (250 ET James Sherco) with James Wren (250 Johnson and Wren Gas Gas) third. All three riders stayed clean and maintained their positions. Daniel Alldred (350 Alldred KTM) was fourth and Freddie Davis (250 Gas Gas) stayed clean moving up to fifth at the finish. Only one other rider, Lee Corbett (250 KTM) managed to clean the final check which moved him up to sixth.
The Clubman Vet class saw Daniel Rose (350 KTM) fastest on the first with Nicholas Barrett (250 KTM) wining the second test. However, Rose was 3 seconds faster overall. No vets cleaned the final check but only Rose and Barrett clocked in with a one minute penalty securing Rose the victory. Paul Downing (300 KTM) was third fastest on the tests and as the only rider losing two minutes secured third. Ludovit Lucan (250 Sherco) was the only rider losing three minutes to secure fourth and Luke Rudd (350 Husqvarna) was fastest of the riders losing four minutes.
John Hilton (300 Fab Weld KTM) was fastest of the clubman super vets class and would have won the clubman vets. He was fastest on the tests and was only one of two riders losing one minute. Second fastest on the tests and the other one minute man was Jez Moss (300 KTM) with Neil Bowker (125 Beta) third fastest on the tests and the fastest of the riders that lost two minutes at the final check. Another Diss club rider and helper, Gene Womack (200 Womack Building Supplies Beta) was fourth with Simon Beken (350 CSS Bikes KTM) fifth. Event sponsor Gavin Hockey on his classic 250 air cooled Husqvarna finished a noteworthy eighth with fifth fastest test times band only losing three minutes on the going.
So, another year and another successful Diss MCC event, sponsored by GH Mcs Santon and overseen by clerk of the course, Andy Waters, who as ever set out the course and set a time schedule that was challenging but saw 23 riders meeting their target times. As ever the club would like to thank our long term event sponsors GH Motorcycles, (who sponsor the whole ACU Eastern Championship), Forest England, the Medical team, Raynet, 4x4 Response and of course all the helpers and marshals that ensured the event was set up, cleared up and of course ran smoothly on the day.
In just two weeks time the Woodbridge club will be running round two of the GH Mcs ACU Eastern Enduro Championship at Iken, so eyes down for another battle in the East.