ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship
Eddy’s Xtreme Enduro
Round 2, Cowm Quarry, Whitworth, Lancs.
Jonny Walker took his second major victory of the year with a win at Cowm Quarry on Sunday February 7th in the second round of the ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship.
Extreme events demand extreme venues and Cowm Quarry near Whitworth, Lancs certainly was extreme but when the weather joins in with extreme winds and sodden ground conditions it was always going to be extra tough.
Both the morning and afternoon races were packed, especially the Sportsman class in the morning race, which is encouraging to see. Extreme Enduro is still growing strongly across all classes.
Three words can sum up Cowm Quarry; big, rocky and steep! Organiser Paul Edmondson reckoned it was the toughest extreme race he has organised to date and that’s saying something! A very long lap stretching into the far distance held a big surprise, a new bowl section that earned respect as the first bikes hit it.
Red Bull KTM’s factory rider Jonny Walker was pitted head-to-head with David Knight, still without a major bike sponsor, and it was Walker’s 4T versus Knighter’s 2T that the huge crowds waited to see in the afternoon race but there was the small matter of a two-hour morning race to get out of the way first.
The Veteran class was first off and all the usual contenders were in place with the late addition of Juan Knight who had never been to the venue before. Mick Boam usually gets a flying start but not on this occasion. He was last off the line when the flag dropped, allowing all his competition a head start.
Anthony Ayrton got a flyer and led the pack out across the moors, heading for the first hard challenge of the day, the new bowl section. He fled through it, as did Juan Knight just a few seconds adrift, followed by Dean Johnson and Daryl Mead. Most made it out of the bowl but a few Veterans had to take a second and third shot at it. The Youth riders joined the merry fray, headed by Brad Lilburn and they were soon joined by the Sportsman class.
At this point the race had turned into a bike-throwing contest for many riders as they tried four different routes up the steep exit slope. As entertaining as it was, the marshals stepped in and cut the bowl from the course but not before Juan Knight had hit it for the second time, charging into the melee across the front of waiting riders and exiting up the steepest, highest part of the bowl, much to the dismay of the stranded riders.
An easier route gave the riders a break but shortly after the bowl they faced a short but loose climb, which proved very tough as it dug out and became harder with each passing rider.
A gulley section saw the course enter a loose uphill section followed by hard rock streambed before a slight respite into the main bowl, so loved by the spectators. Just to finish the lap, the enduro-cross course was thrown in for good measure.
Juan Knight was untouchable on his Sherco even though he thought he had struggled on some of the technical sections. He lapped the entire field, in true Knight fashion, and took the win with nine laps to his credit. Rock Oil Beta mounted Mick Boam had fought his way through the pack but he couldn’t catch the leader. Knight posted a fastest lap nearly 30 seconds faster than Boam’s and Boam had to settle for second place for once. Kiaran Hankin had always been near the front of the race and took a terrific third spot, edging Alex Owen into fourth by four minutes.
The Youth class was lead by Brad Lilburn initially but Tom Widd eventually took control and won with only Dawson Marriott matching him on laps in second place. Mark Vardy grabbed third in class against serious opposition. Harry Edmondson and Tom Knight did well to place midway in the overall ranking considering they were both on KTM 85cc machines.
Liam Robinson took the Sportsman class win by 18 seconds over Ian McMahon, the closest finish of the day between two riders in the same class as James Walker, Jonny’s brother, completed the top three.
For the afternoon race the course became considerably harder with new sections added to the already long lap. A tough climb covered with loose shale was topped with a rock step overhang and attack was the best approach as it was not for the faint-hearted or the uncommitted.
A top quality Pro class headed the start line up with Knighter and Walker joined by the Eurotek pairing of Paul Bolton and Jonno Richardson with CF Racing’s Owain Humphries and KORR’s Billy Bolt sitting alongside Gary Daniels, Beta’s Ben Hemingway and RAW Enduro’s Wayne Braybrook.
Knight roared into the lead off the line followed by Walker as Bolton sat still, trying to start his machine. Eventually it sparked up and he treated the crowd to a very ugly wheelie.
Knight hit the hard bowl first, closely followed by Walker, Richardson and Braybrook and the Pro pack disappeared into the distance. Knight held the lead until the climb up the rocky streambed where Walker caught and passed him with a pinball manoeuvre as they bounced off each other with Walker coming out slightly ahead. Walker tore onwards as Knight seemed to visibly slow. Arm pump was the problem. He was then overtaken by Paul Bolton, virtually fully recovered from his indoor injuries.
The laps fell by the wayside and Knight was back on a charge, retaking Bolton and closing on Walker, way out in front. Walker upped his pace to keep a comfortable three minutes between himself and DK. Walker’s riding seemed effortless on the 4T while Knight had to work hard on the 2T over the slippy rocks.
The finish saw Walker in top spot with Knight second and Bolton third. Billy Bolt had a rough start to the race, struggling for rhythm and grip in equal measures but he eventually got it all together and took fourth ahead of Jonno Richardson who had initially made a great start.
Keelan Hancock’s 10 laps gave him top Expert place, a lap up on Sam Ludgate who had ridden his socks off to try and take the lead. D3 Racing’s Rich Ely put in a terrific performance to take third in the Experts and even found time to throw in a few no footers over the endurocross course, possibly not intentionally.
The difference in ability from the Pro class to the Clubman class can bee seen in the results. The top four Pro riders attained 11 laps while James Jackson won the Clubman class on 7 laps, most of the Experts were two laps down on the pros. Jackson took the clubman trophy as Lee Hattersley put in a hard shift to grab second place with Jonathan Taylor in third.
Jonny Walker: ‘I’m really please with my performance today. It’s not something I’ve trained for, I’ve been concentrating on indoor stuff but I’m happy to see I can still handle the really tough going, and in places this was really tough. I concentrated on smoothness and picking good lines, especially when passing backmarkers and it paid off’.
The event was a great escape in terms of weather. It was very windy but that heralded the start of yet another storm with the following day lashed hard by rain.
The course was proper tough. There were a few spots where riders could recover before the next section beat them up but the afternoon race with the huge, steep hill included with the course snaking up and down it took its toll.
Paul Edmondson and his crew excelled with the course layout. It had everything necessary for a top-notch hard enduro and ran extremely well throughout the day. A terrific event at a superb venue.
- Jonny Walker
- David Knight
- Paul Bolton
- Keelan Hancock
- Sam Ludgate
- Richard Ely
- James Jackson
- Lee Hattersley
- Jonathan Taylor
- Juan Knight
- Mick Boam
- Kiaran Hankin
- Tom Widd
- Dawson Marriott
- Mark Vardy
- Liam Robinson
- Ian AcMahon
- James Walker