The National 4X Series kicked off this weekend at Afan Forest, with victories for Josie McFall, Scott Beaumont and Dan Wagstaff in rounds one and two. Catch up on all the action in our report from a great weekend of racing
Afan Forest's classic 4X track had something for everyone, with a large rock garden as well as the classic 4X jumps and berms. Afan's pro-line is one of the largest in the UK, but due to the natural gradient of the track it's also one of the less complex.
This track was a real test in the heat that greeted the riders for round 1. The berms had become dry and dusty, making them extremely loose off the racing line, with riders testing the limit of their grip and straying into these loose areas - meaning there were plenty of slide-outs across all the classes of racing.
However, the fast track was producing some quality racing. The tightest racing of the day belonged to the Elite Women's category. Although there were only five riders out racing here in Afan, the riders gave it their all and battled from top to bottom of the track.
Josie McFall took the win in the Women's A Final ahead of Sophie Cade, with Katherine Byng battling through many crashes throughout the day to take third in her first-ever 4X race, a fantastic achievement for the Midlands 4X Club rider.
In the Elite Men's race, on the surface it may look like business as usual with Scott Beaumont taking the win, however, much like Josie McFall, Scott did not have it all his own way after a big crash in his first moto of the day.
Scott was left with an injured right ankle in addition to an injury to his hand that he brought into the event. Despite this, he managed to take the win by just half a bike length ahead of Zac Hudson in second. The Cornishman had been charging hard all day and chased Beaumont all the way to the line. In what was a fantastic Men's A Final race, Davy Roberts came in third.
In the junior field, Flynn Drelincourt took the win in the 13-14 year field, looking every bit the worthy winner, sending everything all weekend and taking a clean sweep in his motos and then the final. Annalise Cadman Carpenter raced with the boys in her race and took home 4th place, taking a moto win in the process, and there is undoubtedly plenty to come from this young rider in the future.
Conditions on Sunday couldn't have been more different from round 1, with rain covering the entire Afan track in grippy mud. However, with the added grip the riders seemed to be riding more smoothly than the previous day.
This could also have been due in part to the new track layout created by Chris Roberts and the Commissaire team, which saw the now treacherously slippy bridge replaced with a tight left-hand turn to a fresh grassy turn dropping into the right-hand berm before the rock garden.
This cut out the bridge and tunnel, and a new taping of the infamous Afan Forest rock garden made the riders change their line from what they would normally ride. Chris also added an extra flow element to the lower section of the track, providing some interesting overtaking opportunities through the rock garden. Riders had to decide whether they wanted to ride off-camber across the wet slippery rocks, which had a massive time bonus, or stick to the well-trodden line around the rock garden. The track changes were popular with the riders, with Josie McFall saying "the track changes were unreal, it just made it so much more interesting for more passing".
It was a tough day today in the Elite Women's field with a crash for Katherine Byng in the final moto bringing racing to a stop for nearly three hours while she had medical treatment. Katherine left the track awake and communicating, so will hopefully be back on her bike before too long. A massive thanks to the medics for all their fantastic work keeping all the riders safe.
Once racing was back underway, every one of the women's field was battling to take the win in each of their motos, and an action-filled A final saw Josie McFall take the top step of the podium, with Rhian Atherton in second and Katherine Oldfield in third.
The Elite Men's field was slightly different to the first round, with winner Scott Beaumont missing due to injury, meaning the race was wide open for anyone to take.
The rest of the field showed that they were more than up to the task, with Zac Hudson looking strong all weekend. He was many people's favourites to take the win, however Dan Wagstaff took his maiden Elite Men's category win in a stunning A final victory which saw Dan lead from the moment he left the gate.
Dan had clearly put his difficult day on Saturday behind him and demonstrated why he is such a firm favourite amongst his peers, with a flawless run in the final. Dan was closely followed by Zac Hudson, who again finished in second place, while fellow Cornishman Tom Bell followed in third.
In the Junior category, Flynn Drelincourt once again took the 13-14 win. This young rider really has a bright future ahead of him - no matter what type of bike, he always seems to manage to make his way to the front. In the 15-16 race, Freddie Cadman Carpenter made it the perfect start to the season, taking the win in both rounds one and two.