Race Reports

Rd 1&2 – Manchester – FTB UK


As is now the norm, the UK National BMX season kicked off at Manchester Indoor.  After taking a 1 year hiatus from UK team competition (in protest against British Cycling’s decision not to award the younger age groups national series points or rankings), the new look FTB BMX team will once again be competing for the National No.1 Team title in 2017.  Here’s a rundown on how each team member faired:


James Clitheroe (Male 7)

National and British Champion Jimmy C started the defence of his National crown at Round 1 exactly how he finished 2016, winning the race from wire to wire on every lap.  Round 2 was a carbon copy of round 1 for James, yet another perfect set of laps, and not one place dropped for the weekend, more top steps, more silverware and more smiles from the boy wonder.  A perfect weekend for Jimmy C, already an FTB legend at the age of 7.


Mathilda Leak  (Female 8)

New signing and European Number 2 Mathilda looked at home on her new FTB Revolution from the moment the gate dropped for the first moto, posting a win on her first national lap for FTB.  Unfortunately, a fall on the last straight in her 2nd moto left her with work to do for the rest of the day as she was racing Grand-Prix.  But Mathilda dug deep and showed why her bike wears the E2 plate, coming back to post 2 more wins and take 1st place overall, and the top step of the podium in her first national event for FTB.  For Round 2 Mathilda was again racing Grand-Prix, meaning every lap would count for her overall placing.  The pressure was on, but Mathilda took it all in her stride, posting super-consistent 1st 2nd 1st 1stlaps and another top step on the podium.  A dream FTB debut for Mathilda!


Ben Longley (Male 8)

Ben showed the kind of fighting spirit that we have become accustomed to as the night before the race he’d been struck down with a sickness bug, but that did not stop this little warrior going out and battling for every inch of the track.  Ben put in an awesome days work and considering he must have been feeling pretty shocking it was nothing short of Herculean.  Ben made it through to the Quarters where he took the all-important 4th spot to set up a tough Semi-Final, but he was running out of gas and had to settle for the dreaded 5th place.  8th in the B final, with an empty tank it was time for Ben to recover for Round 2 on Sunday.  Feeling better, but still not great, Ben once again made it through to the Quarters on Sunday, but this time he did not progress to the Semis.  All things considered, Ben had a great weekend, not only battling his competition on a demanding track, but also his sickness.  Expect to see Ben in future finals this season once he is 100% again.

Leon Parker (Male 8)

Leon, another of FTB’s National and British Champions (not to mention E6) started his defense the only way he knows how, by going on the attack.  Leon took wins in his first 2 motos and had some very close 2nds in his last moto and Quarter final. He was back to ace his semi-final to set him up for a good pick in the main event. The main was quite a race!  Battling hard with team mate Finley Hough (see below) all the way along the 3rd and 4th straights to take the win and top step for a thrilling Round 1.  Round 2 started very much in the same way for Leon, storming to wins in all his motos, Quarter and Semi, but unfortunately a miss-timed start and a slipped pedal left him dead last down the first straight with work to do.  But this is Leon parker, you can guarantee he would battle, and battle he did, reeling riders in down the 2nd, 3rd and 4th straights, and miraculously scoring a 4th place finish.


Finley Hough (Male 8)

National Number 2 Finley took to the track with something to prove this weekend. And he started strong. Finley took wins in his motos and Quarter and was second to team mate Leon Parker in the Semi-Final.  Finley pushed hard down the first straight to take a decent lead into the second straight, but team mate Leon was pushing hard to catch him, they were neck and neck down the 4th where Leon edged ahead to take the win so it was 2nd for Finley – a great final with some very close racing.  Confident from his efforts on Saturday Finley took to the track on Sunday and was flying from the first gate. He posted a perfect score –  acing his motos, Quarter, Semi and Main.  An awesome weekend for Finley who went home leading the National rankings with his strong 2nd and 1st place finishes.


Gabe Simpson (Male 9)

E8 Gabe started his National Championship with a clean sweep in the motos posting 3 x 1st places – setting up a very strong second place in his Quarter final.  They do say fortune favours the brave, and Gabe is definitely one of the bravest so he battled on in his Semi and got a break when a rider in front went down moving him up into that crucial 4th spot and a place in the main.  From an outside gate Gabe pedalled his way to 3rd place overall and a visit to the podium at Round 1.  Gabe once again started Round 2 super strong with 1st 1stand 2nd in his motos, and 1st again in both the Quarter and Semi.  Gabe was all set for the main, and as the gate dropped there was some bar banging and moves being made, unfortunately for Gabe he was hit when the riders behind fell resulting in him taking a massive fall into the front side of the first jump.  Luckily the other riders got up to finish their laps, but Gabe needed medical attention and observation as he was concussed from the heavy fall.  We are happy to report that Gabe is well and back on his bike already.  It’ll take more than a big smash into a concrete wall to keep this rider down!!

Lewis Longley (Male 10)

After improving his national ranking in 2016 by more than 20 places and becoming National No.10, Lewis Longley has been putting the hours in at the track during the off-season and it showed immediately in his riding, speed and race craft.  Saturday started well and just got better and better for the lad who is rightoy recognized as one of the most improved and up-and-coming riders in the UK.  Superb 1st 3rdand 3rd places in his motos took Lewis comfortably to the Quarters where he took 3rd again, and on to the Semi where he came a very strong 2nd.  Come final time, Lewis’ grabbed the 3rd step on the podium  for a brilliant start to the 2017 season!  It would take a lot at Round 2 to top that, but top it is exactly what Lewis did.  1st 2nd 2nd in his motos, 2nd in his Quarter and then the all-important 4th in his Semi took Lewis to yet another main, but this time, he got to stand on the 2nd step of the podium to cap a truly memorable start to the season.  We expect to see Lewis Longley running a single digit plate in 2018 if he keeps up this kind of form!


Jensen Egan (Male 10)

In only his second season of National racing, one half of Team Egan and total rad lad Jensen took to the track for Round 1 looking like he meant business and scoring a great 2nd place in Moto 1.  An 8th place in Moto 2 after getting distracted on the gate left Jensen with work to do in Moto 3, but he pulled it out of the bag and scored a very strong 2nd place to book his place in the Quarter.  2nd place in the Quarter put Jensen in the Semi and one lap away from his first ever National main event, which Jensen achieved in style by blitzing to 2nd place in the Semi-Final as well.  Jensen eventually ended up 4thplace overall in his first ever National Final!  Sunday’s Round 2 didn’t go quite as smoothly for Jensen, his journey ending with 7th places in both his Semi-Final and B-Final.  Still a great weekend for the boy from the South West who is on a very steep learning curve.


Hannah Hedges (Female 11-12)

Another newcomer to the FTB team for 2017 after serving her apprenticeship on the UK Bike Store FTB (now Decade Europe FTB) teams, Hannah has set targets this year and she is training very hard to reach them, Saturday started as planned, and she posted 3-3-5 in her Motos taking her on to the Semi, just missing out on the Main with a dreaded 5th place finish.  A trip to the B-final and Hannah finished 4th for Round 1.  Round 2 was again a strong day for Hannah, improving on her Round 1 moto finishes with 3-4-3 to reach a second consecutive Semi-Final.  However, a very tough Semi left Hannah chasing the pack and having to settle for another B-Final.  Hannah showed her consistency with another 4th place.

Connor Hedges (Male 15)

Moving on to the older riders, who raced in Block 2 for the weekend, Connor is the rider that all the younger kids on the team look up to.  Lightning fast, skills to burn and so supportive of the younger riders it’s near impossible to find fault with this young man.  Connor rode strong on Day 1 showing excellent first straight pull, determination and spirit, to pull a 4thplace in the Main out of the bag.  Sunday also started off strong for Connor, taking 2-3-1 in his Motos and 2nd in his Quarter.  But the dreaded 5thin the Semi landed him in the B-Final, which he won comfortably.  Great results considering Manchester Indoor is Connor’s least favourite track.


Jason Egan (Masters)

The other half of the dynamic Egan duo took to the track for Block 2 racing and by his own admission had a ‘tough day’ compounded by the travel delays, late practice, and the early start for Block 1, Jason was always playing catch up even before the first gate dropped.  Masters is a stacked class these days, and it shows when a rider with Jason’s skill set goes out in the Motos!  But tomorrow is always another day, and after a good night’s rest and taking time to regroup, Egan senior came back strong, progressing through the qualifying rounds, into the A-final, and ending the day on the 3rd step of the podium.  Regardless of results, Jason Egan is always one of the guys to watch, making bold moves around the track and styling it over the jumps.


Richard Barrett (45-49 Cruiser)

Something of a marquee signing for FTB, Rich made his debut for FTB and looked the business from the moment the gate dropped.  And what a debut it proved to be, winning all his Motos, the Quarter and Semi.  Come Final time, it looked like Rich would have to settle for 2nd place behind the equally talented and popular Alan Hill.  However, just yards before the finish line, Hilly’s misfortune was a gift to Rich, giving him the dream start to his FTB career in that now famous red, white and blue jersey.  Sunday took on the same format as Saturday, Rich wowing his FTB team mates with his impressive track speed, jumping and sage advice between laps.  Rich continued to ace his laps winning Motos, Quarter and Semi, so it was set, another Main, gained through some excellent riding.  However, after getting squeezed on the second straight, Rich had work to do just to complete his final lap.  5th in the main was nothing short of amazing as it could so easily have been a DNF!  Move of the weekend had to be Rich’s jump into the second turn from 2nd place to take the lead, unreal move!


Keith Wilson (50+ Cruiser)

With FTB’s owner/Team Manager Mike Wong now residing in the US of A, Keith Wilson has now assumed full team management duties as well as competing in the newly created for 2017 50+ Cruiser class.  Leading by example, Keith racked up very strong 2nd, 3rd and 2nd place finishes in his Motos and ultimately ending Round 1 with a 3rd place finish in the A-Final.  Sunday was another strong day for the Team Manager Wilson, posting a 1-4-2 in his motos and setting him for another battle to the line in the main, this time K-Dub went one better and finished 2ndin the main.

Shaun ‘Mangler’  Andrews (Vets)

Vets rider Shaun showed his form and consistency in a crazy tough category with 46 other like-minded and equally bonkers BMX Veterans!  Shaun progressed without issue through Motos, Quarter and Semi to set up an A Final for round 1 against some seriously good riders.  To just make this final against 45 other riders was an achievement, with The Mangler ending up 8th overall for Round 1.  On Sunday for Round 2 Shaun was firing in the fast laps all day, and again he progressed through Motos, Quarter, Semi and into the Main.  Sadly this is where Shaun’s day ended, after a big smash saw him stretchered off the track with a nasty pelvic injury.  News is that Shaun has done some damage to his hip and will need to take some time to recover, heal well Shaun, your team mates are thinking of you.


Billy Stupple (50+ Cruiser)

Being one of the original rulers of Rom Skatepark (along with Craig Campbell and Neil Ruffell) must come in handy when racing at Manchester Indoor (a track that’s more like a skate park when compared to the rest of the tracks on the UK national circuit).  Billy rode with a King of the Skateparks mentality and set up a potential FTB Battle Royale for 1-2 with Team Manager Wilson.  Unfortunately, they had to settle for 4th(Keith) and 5th (Billy) at Round 1, still brilliant results against a field of highly competitive Elder Statesmen of BMX.  Sunday and Round 2 was yet again a day of strong riding from Billy, progressing through the heats and into another stacked final.  Bill dug deep and demonstrated some some serious track speed and race craft to go one better than the day before, 4th in the Main for Round 2.


On reflection this was an exceptionally good start for the team, with new riders making podiums along with the more established team riders continuing to perform very well indeed. A great feel amongst the team, with support coming from all over, young and old.

It’s always a worry when riders take big falls, and we can only wish Shaun a very speedy recovery, along with being relieved that Gabe wasn’t hurt more seriously during his crash.


Thanks to the event organisers, the officials, the superb commentary team, and to all the riders and parents for their continued support.


Next stop Birmingham for Rounds 3 & 4 of the 2017 National Series.


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