Round 1 of the 2012 Schwalbe British 4X Series will be remembered as one of the best events ever; huge crowds, full car park, lots of new faces riding, amazing racing and blue skies. It really was a fantastic day and if you weren't there, check out the photos and the videos.
Practice began at 10am and it was immediately evident that it was going to be a busy day. Finding a space on the side of the track behind the Schwalbe course tape was tough as so many spectators were already there. When the entries closed, close to 200 riders signed on during the morning and were on the track getting their lines dialled, ready for racing.
Tomas Slavik from the Czech Republic made the trip over to get ready for the first round of the new 4X ProTour, which begins in 2 weeks time. He wanted to get a race under his belt before the first ProTour and chose the Schwalbe British Series for that race. The 2010 4X World Champion was looking fantastic on the track and was definitely going to be fighting for the win.
Manon Carpenter also returned to 4X to add to the increased women's numbers. The 2011 Junior Women's Downhill World Champion loves riding 4X and after her fantastic 2nd place at the opening Downhill World Cup just a few weeks ago in South Africa, she was looking to add a win at the opening British 4X round, to her impressive start to 2012.
The motos got underway and the racing was fast and furious. It was clear that a lot of riders had been training during the winter and the speed in all categories had definitely moved up a gear for the new season. A huge entry in the fun category of 33 riders also showed that new riders who had not raced before were having their first taste of 4X.
In the Elites, Slavik was look extremely fast. He was run close in the second moto by Scott Beaumont but, he won all 3 of his motos. Beaumont, along with track builder Nathan Parssons, Lewis Lacey, Martin Ogden, Tom Dowie and rookie, Isaac Mundy were all looking fast and the ones to beat.
In the women's, BMX talent team rider Charlotte Green was absolutely flying. Manon Carpenter, Suzanne Lacey and Emily Horridge were the stand outs in the motos and it has to be said that the level of women's racing was very impressive. All the girls were flying the jumps and racing hard all day; really impressive to the crowds.
On to the finals, Edward Jones took the first final win of 2012 with a win in the 12-16 fun category. He was closely followed by Mathew Jenkins in the 17+ Big Fun category. Juvenile National Champion Dylan Grell-Delsol began 2012 like he finished 2011, with a win and maximum points for the day. After some carnage on the first straight, Elliot Thompson Knight took the win in youth ahead of Cai Mahon and Luke Cryer.
In seniors, a winter of BMX training paid off for Phil Evans as he led from start to finish to take the seniors ahead of Dave Richardson and Danny Hughes. 4th went to Dave Roberts who had been battling flu all week and was actually sick before his final, so a great day all things considered for him to hold on to make the final.
The masters category is always great to watch as there is never a clear cut favourite. Gareth Parr took the 'jedi' masters from Ady Chaplin, Paddy Baker and Keith Wilson on this occasion. A turnout of 11 veterans was great to see. British Downhill's boss, Si 'Superfly' Paton, rode brilliantly all day, winning every race and taking a deserved win ahead of Anthony Fisher and Jason Carpenter. That was the first podium for the 'Carpenter's' as Manon was up next against Charlotte Green, Emily Horridge and Suzanne Lacey. Charlotte made the snap and led down the first straight. It was all looking comfortable until she went outside on the hip turn and left the door open for Manon who used her downhill skills, found some grip and took the lead. She held on to the finish and took the win ahead of Charlotte, Emily and last year's champion Suzanne, in 4th.
In the Fox Juniors, the future of British 4X looks promising as these guys were lighting up the track all day. Jordan 'Whippy' Lunn took his first British 4X win ahead of Matt Jones, Alfie Stevens and Tom Denholme-Parker. Look out for these names to be mixing it up in elites in the next couple of years.
Finally, it was on to the elites. Slavik took gate 1, Lewis Lacey had gate 2, Scott Beaumont was on 3 and Nathan 'Natedogg' Parssons was on 4. The gate dropped and Slavik, Lacey and Beaumont were bar to bar down the first straight. Slavik dived inside and Lacey held a wide line to keep Boom Boom behind him. The move worked perfectly, but it opened up the door for Nate to dive inside of both of them. On the exit of the first turn, Lewis got around the outside of Nate and he slipped into third ahead of Boom Boom. Slavik at this point was gone, to leave the British riders battling it out for 2nd place. The crowd were going crazy for the local hero Nathan Parsons but Lacey got the snap on him and took 2nd place leaving Nate 3rd and Beaumont 4th. With Tom Dowie taking the B final win to round out the top 5 podium.
Prizes were presented to top 3 riders on the podium from IXS and Fox for the Juniors with the custom made and designed Hope trophies for Top 5 riders on the podium.
Quote from Tomas Slavik "It has been fantastic to race here in the UK, the big crowd made for a great atmosphere and I cannot wait to come back to Fort William to race the 4X Pro Tour in June this year."
The atmosphere was electric and the racing was fantastic. If you haven't been to a Schwalbe British 4X round now his the time with the next round is at Penshurst in Kent on April 29th.
For full race results: www.british4x.com
The next round is at Penshurst in Kent on April 29th.
For full details check the website www.british4x.com