British BMX Series Rounds 5&6. (14th and 15th May 2016) – Cumbernauld
The Scottish rounds of the British BMX series greeted the Factory Team Bikes riders with wall to wall sunshine – maybe the extra warm clothing and waterproofs showed a tad of ‘over preparation’ as we could well have been on the Costa del Cumbernauld.
The team were perched looking over the last straight with a great view of the battles to unfold below. Base camp was alive with riders and their support making last minute changes and checking and re-checking all the kit. There was a great feeling in the camp, helped by the beautiful weather and the welcoming warmth of our hosts.
Friday practice was completed under blue skies, the track looked fantastic and rode awesome, everything was in place, and every rider was ready for the Saturday round to commence.
It was time to do the business.
TM Keith Wilson led us off on Saturday in the 45+ Cruiser, Keith started well in his motos posting 3rd and 4th, but then came his toughest moto of the weekend where he finished 7th (6 of the riders in this moto made the Main) and that was his racing over for the afternoon. Sunday went much better for Keith starting strong in the motos with an excellent 1stand comfortably making the semi-final. A 7th place in the Semi meant a trip to the B-final where Keith came a credible 3rd.
Next up was the FTB pocket rockets and little Jimmy Clitheroe in 6 & under boys. Jimmy C hammered it round this big track posting 2-1-1 in his motos so he was through to the A final without complication. This kids legs just don’t stop spinning and although he didn’t quite spin to win, Jimmy still got a brilliant 2nd place! A Sunny Sunday beckoned and James was all set to go again. Super strong moto performances of 1-1-2 set up yet another A final, and Jimmy proved consistency is key with another 2nd place finish.
Next up 7 year old boys class featuring FTB’s Ben Longley, Leon Parker and Finley Hough.
Ben Longley is working really hard to regain his confidence after a nasty injury, and began to show some of his old moves as each race went by. A good days racing set Ben up for the B final where he finished with a very strong 3rd place. Ben started Sunday strongly with a 3rd place moto finish, but a 5th in the next moto and a take out in the third meant he didn’t progress further on Day 2.
Leon Parker had what’s known in BMX as a perfect weekend. Over both days, Leon didn’t drop a lap, winning every moto, semi and final he raced. With a lightning start and very impressive track speed – he just couldn’t be caught, and he goes into the second half of the season at the top of the leader board.
Finley Hough began well on Saturday with 2-1-1 in his motos and then a strong 2nd place in the Semi. Things were looking good for an FTB 1-2 in the final, but a big pile up at the bottom of the start hill sent riders flying in all directions which messed up Fin’s progress. Amazingly they all got up and finished their laps uninjured, Finley coming 6th overall. Sunday went much the same way for Finley 2-1-1 in his motos and an awesome 1st in his Semi. This time the main event went to plan and Finley placed 2nd to team mate Leon Parker, and also achieved his first ever national series podium. The whole team is super stoked that Fin his achieving new personal bests on FTB.
Gabe Simpson (Male 8s) – It was amazing to see Gabe back on his bike and ready to race, just 4 weeks after breaking his collarbone. Gabe started his Saturdays racing looking like he meant business with 3 straight moto. Then it looked like things had gone wrong for him after he slipped a pedal going out of the gate in his ¼ final – but he battled on and raced back up to 5th going into the last straight , luck was finally on Gabe’s side as he capitalised on another riders error to take 4th place and a spot in the Semi Final. Gate 7 in his semi was always going to be tough and the qualifying spot was just beyond him finishing 5th. Gabe went on to take 2nd place in the B-Final. Sunday was similar to Saturday for Gabe with strong motos and quarter finishes, but another 5th in the Semi meant another trip to the B-final, which this time he won.
In the 9 year old boys class, Lewis Longley rode with great confidence and skill, which found him just missing out on the Main although he took a very well earned 2nd in the B Final. He is riding with a high level of consistency which is showing in his results, he currently stands in 8th position overall for the series. On Sunday Lewis was going to give it everything to try and make another A Final. A great start to the day with moto results of 3-2-2 set him up for the Semi, unfortunately a bad start left him in 6th and he could recover the places to main the Main. He went on to win a very well ridden B Final showing real determination from the moment the gate dropped all the way to the finish line.
Ben Curling (Male 12) posted a superb set of results in his motos, with another strong performance in his Quarter and Semi put him in a very strong position going into the Main. Ben was rewarded with a place on the podium taking the third spot in the final showing some top moves along the way. He went into Sunday fired up and the results rolled in taking 2-1-1 in his motos, with a good pick he then went on to win his quarter and semi-finals and again making the main without issue. It was another place on the podium for Ben after a toughly fought battle resulted in a fantastic third place again – 2 podiums for Ben places him in 4th overall for the series.
Oz Ricketts (Male 13) made his way through the motos without problem on Saturday setting himself up for the quarter, but just missing out on the semi-final this time. Sunday was another tough day in the 13’s, Oz posted 5th, 3rd and 6th in some extremely difficult motos – where he earned his spot on the ¼ final again, Oz rode very well in his Quarter but just didn’t have enough in the tank to progress to the semi finishing 6th. Oz continues to show great bike handling skills and determination, so we reckon it won’t be long before he’s knocking down that semi final door and taking his game to the next level.
Emily Brannan (Female 13-14) – Saturday went very well for Emily who is growing in confidence with every ride, and its showing! The moves are coming and she is riding with incredible smoothness, she came through her motos in 3-2-3, and then progressed through her Semi Final to book a well-deserved place in the big final and rode brilliantly to land 4th place overall for the day. On Sunday, more of the same hard work got Emily to the Main again after coming 3-2-3 for the second day running in her motos. In the Semi it looked like Emily was heading for the B-final until a mega swoop from 7th to 4th booked her another trip to the main event. Emily placed 6th in the A-final and currently stands 5thoverall for the series at the half way point.
Last but not least, Connor Hedges (Male 14) put in another very strong performance in Scotland. It was pretty much a formality for Connor through the motos and onto the A-final without hitch. Come final time, Connor showed his class and consistency with a strong 3rd place finish. On Sunday, the motos and knock out rounds proved plain sailing for Connor but he was unable to match his previous day’s result, this time placing 5th in the A-final. Nevertheless, brilliant riding from Connor who also finds time to mentor and encourage the younger riders on the team in between his own races.
British BMX Series Rounds 7&8. (25th & 26th June 2016) – Peckham BMX
Around 600 riders made the trip to London for rounds 7 & 8 of the British BMX series – the first time racing has been south of Birmingham in 2016.
Everyone was greeted with warmth from the locals and a bit of sunshine for good measure during Friday practice, which was welcome considering much of the nation’s capital city had been under water only 24 hours before! Friday practice was completed under blue but windy skies, the track looked immaculate and rode and did not disappoint the riders.
Billy Stupple led us off on Saturday in the 45+ Cruiser. Bill has been away from racing this year waiting for his partner Michelle to have their first baby together, so he was a little track rusty but still managed to make the B Final and finish 5th. On Sunday Billy was looking good up to the Semi and optimistic of an A-final, but the end result was 7th in the semi and another 5th in the B-final. As Mr Air steps up his training again, expect to see his results improving and the bodies go flying!
Possibly inspired by Leon Parker’s perfect weekend in Scotland, Jimmy Clitheroe set off on a mission of his own. Saturday went to plan with first places all the way to the final. Top step for little Jim. Sunday was more of the same, firsts all the way, and checking in to his time share on the top step of the podium. A perfect weekend for Jimmy C and those Stars and Stripes Vans were a blur as he whizzed around the track. Although the 6 & Unders do not officially score points anymore, we can confirm that Jimmy is currently leading the unofficial 6 & Unders national series run by the breakaway National BMX Council.
With Leon Parker not making the trip to London, it was left to Ben Longley and Finley Hough to represent in the 7s. Ben Longley took to the track for round 7 of the National Series fresh from his trip to Columbia to compete in the World Championships. Although Ben place 4-5-4 in his motos he didn’t quite make the cut for the Main, instead settling for a B-final race and an eventual 5th. Ben went one better the following day, scoring a nice 4th in the B-final.
Finley Hough took to the Peckham track like a duck to water. Strong 2-3-2 finishes in motos and a 2nd in the Semi set Fin up for an early gate pick in the A-final. Fin decided to go for one of the middle lanes and it worked perfectly, grabbing the holeshot and a substantial lead into the first turn. The pack chased him down, but Fin did not falter, leading from wire to wire to clock up his first ever national win! A great achievement for one of FTBs youngest and least experienced riders. A great prospect for the future. After the buzz of Saturday, Fin came back down to earth with a bit of a bump on Sunday, getting taken out in moto 3 when a rider crashed in front of him. Nevertheless, he still made the semi but had to settle for an outside gate pick. Would he make his second A-final of the weekend? Yes he would, 3rd in the Semi and 4th in the final is how Fin ended his trip to London. He was disappointed not to make a second podium of the weekend, but the hunger is there now he’s sampled the podium a few times. Fin currently stand 7th overall in the National series rankings.
Gabe Simpson (Male 8s) – Returned to National racing after competing in the World Championships over in Columbia. Gabe raced in some tough motos on Saturday finishing 3-3-1 then he took control in the semi with an excellent first straight leading out the riders and taking control of the race to win the semi. The final didn’t go according to plan when Gabe was squashed out on the gate, and try as he might he couldn’t battle back into the race against a very strong field, he finished 8th, disappointed but not disheartened he was already to go again on Sunday. Sunday set off where Saturday started with a tough set of moto draws, but nonetheless Gabe battled for every inch of track and finished 4-2-3 and in the semi final again, where he finished 4th after mistiming his gate. In the Main Gabe was pushed up the berm in the first turn leaving him to go the long way round, a tough race, made tougher, so a 5th spot from that position was a superb result. Well done to Gabriel, who moves up to 7th in the National Standings after missing 2 rounds through injury.
Over to Billy Brown in the 9’s who took to the track in great style on Saturday finishing 1st in his first 2 motos, although a tough race in moto 3 left him in 6th, no problem progressing to the semi though, which he did and finished with a qualifying spot to make the main where he finished the day on the podium with a fantastic 2nd. Sunday and round 8 started with a very consistent and quality set of moto results for Billy finishing 2-2-2, Billy then went on to finish 2nd in his semi-final after a fine display of race skills, so it was another A Final for Billy, 2 out of 2 this weekend, where he completed a brilliant weekends riding missing out on the podium with a 5th after an exceptionally tough final. Billy currently sits in 10th place in the standing after only racing in 4 rounds.
Also in the 9s we had Jensen Egan, on his first visit to the track. On Saturday Jensen posted a solid set of motos to make the semis. Unfortunately a mix up on the gate meant he progressed to the B-final. In the B-final from Jensen managed a very credible 4th place finish in a very tight race. On Sunday things went well for Jensen again in the motos, but bad luck paid him a visit in the semi-final where a crash left him unable to complete the race. Jensen battled in the B-final and placed 8th. A tough weekend for this little radster, but he’s making progress all the time, and with a bit more luck the mains will follow.
On Saturday in the Male 9s – Lewis Longley breezed through his motos 3-3-1 , but things didn’t go his way in the Semi and he ended up in the B-final, and eventually a 3rd place finish overall. Again on Sunday, Lewis had no trouble getting out of the motos and into the Semi, but yet again, that door to the A-final just wouldn’t quite open for him. Nevertheless, this is Lewis’ best season as he continues to hone his BMX racing skills. He is showing some very strong development at present leaping from number 30 last season to a current position of 9th for the series this year, with only a few points between him and 6th place and still 4 rounds to go.
Adam Sweetman (and his brother Oli who was unable to join us at Peckham) is one of FTB’s development riders in only his second season of BMX racing. Adam jumped into national competition at the deep end coming to Peckham to compete in both the 10 year old boys 20”, and the 9-12 Cruiser. A big challenge for even more experienced riders. Adam battled hard, but unfortunately didn’t progress out of the motos on the 20”. However, his Cruiser ride went much better and he scored a good 7th in the B Final. Progression like this is what being a development rider is about and it’s all experience in the bank for Adam’s future racing.
Ben Curling (Male 12) carried his season long form into Round 7 where he posted a superb 1-1-2 in his motos. He passed through his Semi without any issues at all setting him up for a place in the Main. Ben was rewarded with another spot on the podium taking 2nd place in the A Final showing the kind of speed and consistency we have come to love about Bens riding. Ben pretty much mirrored is Saturday results on Sunday, making it 2 x 2nd places over the weekend. Ben is now one of the fastest and most consistent riders in the country for his age.
Despite having problems wheel spinning on Peckham’s gate, Oz Ricketts (Male 13) made it out of the motos and as far as the Quarters on Saturday. Sunday’s motos brought even better results for Oz but that door to the Semi still wouldn’t open for him. However, Oz is still showing the sort of riding that will soon bear fruit in the shape of a semi-final.
Travis Wilson (13-14 Cruiser) – Travis has been spending more time away from BMX lately and competing in downhill mountain bike races. At Peckham he chose to just race cruiser for this weekend’s competition. Saturday didn’t go Travis’ way and he ended up moto’d which is not something he is used to. After dusting himself down for Sunday, he did the business and made the A-final, ending up in 8th place.
We can always rely on Connor Hedges (Male 14) being there or thereabouts when it comes to the Top 3 places in the A-final, such is his power and consistency around a BMX track. Connor placed 1st and 2nd in his motos all weekend, and took 2nd in both semi-finals each day at Peckham, and 3rd in each A-final. Again, proving that consistency is key to success. Connor continues to impress his team mates and other parents with his helpfulness towards his younger team mates and the encouragement he gives them.
Next up was Jason Egan our Masters class rider from the South West. Nowadays in BMX the older age groups are no joke with every lap stacked with fast rad dads and Jason is one of them. Jason made the A-final on Saturday, finishing in 8th place. Sunday didn’t go as well for Jason and he missed out on making the final.
Many eyes were on the Veterans Class on Saturday as rumours spread that 80s UK BMX legend Dean Iddiols, who now rides for FTB USA in Florida would be making his first UK race appearance in decades. Well, the rumours were true and Dean not only raced, he also cur through a field of quality Vets riders to make a stacked A-final. Dean still has a real fan base in the UK, and we’re proud to have him on board FTB USA.
Thanks to all the team riders, parents and Team Manager Keith Wilson for making these another enjoyable few weekends for the FTB BMX racing team.
Race Report by Stephen Hough