SMX Federation SCOTTISH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 3 - DRUMCLOG, AYRSHIRE
12TH/13TH MAY 2012
Report by Vicky Smith
Global Warming they tell us….well my research tells me different - certainly if the weather of the last few weeks is anything to go by! Despite the ongoing monsoon season across the country, the SMXF committee pledged to run the third round of the championship, even though the venue had to be changed. The third and fourth round venues were simply swapped around to allow racing to go ahead.
It was almost five years since Championship racing had visited the hilly Drumclog track with the last time experiencing a similar deluge, and the bridge being washed away leaving everyone stranded! So it was ‘Déjà vu’ for many as the riders rolled in on Friday night...
The one glimmer of hope was that Saturday was to be sunny and windy and this proved to be correct which dried the track out enormously for the youth contingent racing on Saturday.
For once the forecasters got it right (unfortunately!) and the predicted downpour and high winds rolled in around midday on Sunday and had no intention of doing anything other than causing mayhem!
The action kicked off sharp in Saturday morning’s sunshine with the automatics keen as ever to get things underway. Logan Hendry made his intentions clear setting fastest qualifying time, but when it came down to the racing he unfortunately couldn’t keep Jay Clark behind him. Reece Hendry was in good form too as they all worked hard in the muddy conditions. Hats off to these wee guys who still managed to get themselves up the big hill in the final moto on Sunday despite the fact that water and mud were coming down the hill as fast as they were going up it. At the drop of the final flag, after 5 races in tricky conditions, Jay Clark took the overall ahead of Logan Hendry and Reece Dawson took a fine third.
Next up, the 65cc Juniors were tackling a larger section of the course than the auto’s and took off in quali with their intentions plain to see. Daniel Chisholm on his Pearsons MX steed was the man to beat - setting the pace right from the start. Determined riding by Kyle McNicol, Owen Hendry, James Haddow and Andrew Pohlen could not dent his dominance, as he romped to five convincing wins. Kyle McNicoll put on a good show taking second each time out, with Hendry eventually taking third in the overalls.
It was anybody’s game in the Small Wheel 85cc class, who were on track alongside the big wheel boys and girls. Rod McKenzie came with a plan and dominated in the first two races, but Dylan Carnegie, Ryan Archibald and Aaron McDonald upped the pace taking one win apiece in the following moto’s. On the podium were McKenzie holding onto top spot, with McDonald and Archibald second and third respectively in what was the closest finish of the weekend.
Girl power was evident in the Big Wheel 85cc class as Elaine McEachern let the lads know she was a force to be reckoned with! Aberdeenshire’s Ben Edwards was the fastest man over the five races taking four out of five wins, but McEachern was flying and never out of touch taking a win and four second spots. The rest of the field mixed it up a bit with Morgan Robertson, Lee Perfect and Owen McDonald all in with a shout. Dnf’s for some meant that at the end of the weekend, Ben Edwards took the overall, McEachern second and Robertson in third.
Moto-One’s Ben Howell came to round 3 as the man to beat in the Rookies (125/250f youth class), and Ian Findlay on his HWR sponsored 250f was up for the challenge. Hounding Howell every step of the way, he just could not get the better of him despite a valiant effort. Quick too were Fraser Pohlen, Jack Taylor and Greg Queen. Howell and Findlay both rode superbly all weekend, even when the mud got ridiculous. Throughout the remaining field, riders were having their own battles to gain valuable championship points. By the time the final race was done, and you could not decipher one rider from another in their all brown gear, helmets and faces, Howell took the overall with a clean sweep, Findlay was second with a handful of seconds and Pohlen was the most consistent of the rest to take third.
The MX2 riders got the best of it as their races were on Saturday only, so didn’t feature in the mud bath that Sunday became. With championship leader Bryan McKenzie missing from the line up, his team mate Shane Carless, relished to chance to gain extra points. He hadn’t reckoned on super fast local youngster Ryan Livingstone chasing him down hard all day though! Although Carless did eventually win all three races, Livingstone was not going to let him have it all his own way. Carless did run away with it in race one as Livingstone had a problem which saw him drop down the field, however in race two he was close on Carless back wheel for most of the race. Moto 3 saw Livingstone pull out a good lead after Carless dropped it. Unfortunately for the young pretender though, the experience of the Moto-one rider was not to be reckoned with and Carless crossed the line just a few seconds ahead of Livingstone. Behind this awesome battle, Mark Perfect and another young rider, Jay Lamb who had just moved to this class from the Rookies were battling it out too with some excellent racing. The podium saw Carless on top, with Mark Perfect and Jay Lamb just two points apart in 2nd and 3rd. Livingstone unfortunately only managed 4th after his first race problems.
Another excellent turnout of Adult Open riders turned out for what is the halfway point of the National Championship.
Not put off by the conditions, an almost full gate of Clubman riders was a real mixed bag, with different riders taking each maximum score. Stuart Benson took the overall by just three points ahead of Carl Pickering and Josh Hurley in third. Three rounds and three completely different podium line-ups will make it anyone’s game for the championship.
The biggest class of the weekend was the popular Semi-Experts, with some fast riding throughout the top ten. Richard Houston was mega fast and took the hole shot and easy wins in races one and two. For race one the track was in beautiful dry condition but as the rain took its toll in the following moto’s, so the order of racing changed with it. Andrew McNicoll and Robin Bertram were both fast as was John Kirk. McNicoll took the win in fine style in race 3. With such a big field of riders there was good racing at every level even at the end of the day as the conditions sapped their speed but not their spirits. Houston took top spot with McNicoll second and Bertram third.
The competition is starting to hot up for the National Expert Class. With every point precious, and so many riders capable of taking them, no prisoners were to be taken! The old rivalry of Ross Rutherford and Tony Craig was to the fore as they both wanted and needed the wins. Shane Carless, Gavin Robertson and Peter Mitchell had everything to fight for too. Fast and furious from the first drop of the gates Suzuki mounted Tony Craig took an early lead from hole shot winner Michael Graham, and despite some early challenges from Rutherford and Mitchell he kept a cool head to take the first chequered flag. Buoyed by this early win, Craig then took the Q & M Premier Landscapes sponsored hole shot prize in both of the next two races to pull ahead of the field and take both wins - by a narrow margin in both cases but it was enough to take top spot on the podium and maximum points. He had decided this was his day and no-one was going to cover him in mud! Rutherford made a mistake early on in race two and despite fighting back through the field with his usual dogged determination; Carless beat him to second spot with Mitchell not far behind. Race three was a real quagmire as it was the last race of the day and the other classes had all turned it to something resembling slurry! The top riders didn’t seem to notice though; Craig was the man on fire again with Carless and Rutherford crossing the line just ahead of Robertson. Craig took the overall, Carless second, Rutherford third.
The championship is really shaping up to give even more fantastic action at the next round. Let’s hope the weather is kinder for round 4 when we will go to Aberdeenshire and its fantastic Rhynie track on 16th/17th June.