Report: UEC BMX Series
April & May 2009
Report: Tony Luckhurst and Ria Goodman
Tony Luckhurst and Ria Goodman report from Rounds 3&4 and 5&6 of the 2009 UEC BMX Championship Series. Tony begins with his overview before we move on to Ria's report on the Junior and Elite racing.
The two double header weekends fell within one week of each other on the 25-26th April and 2-3rd May. We decided to fit both weekends of racing into one big road trip!
As expected, there were only a small group of British travelling to Klatovy in Czech Republic for Rounds 3&4.
Chloe Taylor had a good steady 1st day getting 3x3rds in motos, and with just 12 riders in 11-12 girls, went straight to final where she finished 6th. Chloe showed more of a battling spirit on day 2, her motos looked tougher but that seemed to spur her on and she had some hard fought races in her motos and finished one place higher getting 5th in her final. She seems to race better under pressure, Well done Chloe!
Ryan Stack had a frustrating weekend, getting a 4th and 5th in his first two motos, then slipping a pedal while in 3rd in moto 3 on Saturday. Cruising through on 9 points on Sunday, only to get 5th in the quarter. 13-14 Boys was a tough class though, with 56 riders, a lot coming from the east European countries like Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine and Latvia. These kids train hard and it shows. Keep pressing on Ryan.
Amelia Silvestre has just been signed up by Tony Howard's Gunslinger/Rockstar team and after keeping an absolute clean sheet at Derby, we were keen to see what she could pull out of the bag after a tough start in rounds 1&2 at Zwolle. Well it just all went wrong for her after getting a 5th in her first moto on day 1, she was involved in a mad multi crash on the last straight in her second moto and went down hard, this put here out for the rest of the day. On the Sunday, she never looked 100% and went out on 17 points. I'm not sure, but I think Amelia is probably at the top of her 13-15 age group at home but at the bottom end of 15-16's in Europe. Those few months can make so much difference at this level. Racing in Europe will only ever be a good thing for Amelia this year and will stop her from getting complacent at home.
Abbie Taylor had a good consistent weekend, getting firsts in all but one of her motos, 2nd in each of her semis, and a 4th and 3rd in her finals. Abbie could be winning this class, her gates were so good after getting intense training from Grant White. If only she could make more use of her practice time and get her jumping boots on. She's the best rider in this class, she just hasn't realised it yet.
17+ Women and Eu-Ria Goodman finished 4th on each day. With only 8 riders in this class, finishing places were determined by moto results, so no finals. Still Ria will be pleased to have bettered her two 6th place results in Rounds 1&2 at Zwolle.
Charlie Luckhurst seemed to be enjoying himself and looking relaxed on the first leg of this trip although maybe missing his new girlfriend Jenni. Charlie seemed a little distracted come race time and his thumbs looked sore from txtng. He looked good in his new Profile Support Team kit but he wasn't wearing it for long and it would stay fresh for Italy.
Billy Luckhurst was fresh back from his "Fun in the Florida Sun" trip brimming with confidence, and he cruised his motos on day one in 17-24 men. With only 40 riders in his class it went next to quarters. That was exactly the time that Billy realised he was back in Europe, surrounded on the gate by all Russians and one Latvian, he hit the first turn in 3rd place when he was hit by a double Russian whammy into the webbing. Bill's bike was tangled and with another rider on the deck it was a scramble to see who could remount first. It wasn't Bill.
Day 2 and I didn't tell Bill he had 4 Russians in his moto, including Roman Sablin who won the class on Saturday. He got through the motos 2-4-3 and finished comfortably in 4th in his quarter. A nervous start in his semi saw him go into turn 2 in 3rd only to squeezed off the track again by two powerful riders which left him finishing in 5th.
This was my first trip to Klatovy and I hope it won't be my last. The organisation was good and the people and the weather made it most enjoyable. We drove down through the Austrian Alps stopping over in Innsbruck on our way to Creazzo in Italy for Rounds 5&6.
The Taylor family also made a week of it and dad Dave decided to give it a go in 30-39 cruiser on this ambitiously designed track. Dave looked remarkably smooth all weekend getting 3rd in all his motos on day one and finishing 5th in his final. Day 2 saw him with a 2-2-2 and 4th in the final. He seemed pleased with that. Tania was pleased he stayed upright which meant he could drive home!
Chloe had another steady weekend, she just takes it in her stride getting fifth in her final on both days. There was an Italian girl called Camilla Zampese in her class that just destroyed everyone although she crashed on the Saturday nearly one straight ahead in the final. We're sure to hear more from her, awesome rider.
Abbie should have won these rounds as well. On Saturday she got 2-1-1 in motos, 2nd in the semi and 3rd in the final. Her gates were great but she had no self belief on a couple of the jumps. By moto 3 on Sunday, she finally got her jumping boots on! She had it dialled! She got a 2nd in her semi and the final was hers for the taking. Another great start, she seemed to go wide coming out of the first turn and got a tidy elbow putting her onto the pro section on the second straight. We were dumbstruck, she was good for her first win of the series here. If we were disappointed, Abbie was devastated. You should hold your head up Abbie, we're all proud of you.
Cameron Howard made the trip out and grabbed another couple of trophies in 13-14 cruiser. 20" was not so straightforward though. Cam looked steady in his motos on day 1 with a 2-3-3. He looked to be taking it too easy in his 1/8th and woke up too late to get a photo for fifth. Sunday saw him with a new determined attitude, he was unlucky to finish 5th in his quarter. Cam is brave and strong, less track, more trails please Cam!!
Newly hooked up Haro girl Lauren Smith rewarded herself with an Italian trip after all her hard work at Derby National. After winning her first moto in 17+ on day one, she settled for two 4ths before final time. She looked mid-pack in the final until the third straight where she just motored into 2nd spot. Good work Lauren!
Ria was steady as ever getting 2-2-2 and fifth in the final. Day 2 and both girls made the final again, this time saw Ria beating Lauren into 5th. The girls were able to relax and sample cocktails and muscle bound elite men in the stands. Good for them.. this is Italy!
Charlie (Thunderwolf) Luckhurst had run out of credit on his mobile by now, so was able to focus all his energies on the racing. He came back with a great t-shirt tan line.
Talent Team rider Dan Mcbride was looking confident on the Saturday with a 2-1-3 in his motos, his last straight riding was a pleasure to watch. Come his 1/8th, the progress was stopped by a squeeze onto the optional pro section and he was left high and dry, coming in 6th. Saturday was a better run for Dan, 3-2-2 in motos, 3rd in his 1/8 and 4th in his ?. Semi time left him pushed onto the third straight pro section and despite a valiant attempt, could only manage 5th. Unlucky Dan.
Ryan Yearsley came fresh outta Derby for another Euro outing and to try his luck in 30+?.. He had no luck. He finished fifth in every moto on both days, not enough to make the main in a class that was going straight to main. Ryan is very fit, he made the final in 19+ at Derby, that's how tough it was out here.
Could Billy Luckhurst break his semi final curse? Let's see..
Day 1 it was 3-3-3 in motos, won his 1/8 and 4th his in quarter to set up a semi and the final he surely deserved. Two good berm moves put him in 3rd going into the third straight and a place in the final was all his. End of the third straight, he lost his mojo and bonked into the ditch, no-one could believe it, what a wally! Day 2, here we go again 3-5-2 in motos, the racing was getting harder, 4th in his 1/8 and 3rd in his - to set up the semi that would see him come in the top 4, if only on the law of averages.
There were five French in each semi and seven French in the final, the 8th rider was Dutch, not English. Oh well?
Our visit to this first ever Euro round at Creazzo was memorable, the atmosphere come final time was electric and better than the last 3 World Champs I have been to. We made a lot of friends and saw some great racing. I would love to go back there.
Next stop Dessel, Belgium at the end of May.
Junior Women: This year is going to be all about Merle Van Bentham and Maartje Hereijgers, both of Holland. Merle is new to the Dutch national team and has skills most guys would die for, but Maartje has the power and boy does she love to pedal and can pedal through pretty much any jump. Day 1 Merle used her jumping ability and just smoothed past Maartje to take the win, day 2 was pretty much the same which leaves Merle at the top of the table.
Junior Men: Enter onto the world stage, Kurt Pickard from New Zealand. Last year we saw Sam Willoughby rip it up in Europe, for sure the NZ and Aussies are doing something right, Kurt Pickard is NO exception. He gave Crupi and Hollands favorite Jelle Van Gorkham a run for his money, with Joris Daudet still out after his crash in Zwolle, this left Jelle, Kurt and Andre Aguilez to battle it out. Day 1 saw Kurt style his way to the number 1 cheque with Gorkham taking 2nd. Day 2 Kurt appeared to continue his form qualifying easily for the semi-finals, sailing through also was Van Gorkham, these two were sure to battle it out again come final time. But Semis took their toll with Pickard crashing hard on the first straight. Gorkham making his semi look easy, went on to win the final day 2.
Elite Women: With no Shanaze and no Laeticia Le Corguille (the Olympic Silver Medalist) this race could have gone to anyone. But with the NZ National team on show, Sarah Walker was the clear favorite, looking smooth and extremely fast all day, but you can never count out those Frenchies. Sarah lead day 1 main from start to finish, showing the Euro chicks how its going to be, making it look easy. Day 2 wasn't going to be so easy, Eva Ailloud holeshotted the main and lead into the last corner where Sarah tried to take her on the outside, Eva wasn't having any of it and rode Sarah right up the berm, leaving a massive gap for Frances Manon Valentino to sneak underneath and take the lead, Eva fought back and it was a battle to the line. Now this is the first time I have ever see it happen, but it was a dead tie on the line, the cameras were consulted and they couldn't split the result, so it went to countback, who did better in their Semi Final? It wasn't to be Manons day with Eva winning her Semi she took the win.
Elite Men: Sifiso Nhaplo was on fire. He looked hungry after his disappointing results in the first two rounds. With no Strombergs or Matisons, the Elite field is on a pretty even par. But one rider who has really upped his game is Hollands Jordy Van Der Heijden, someone needs to check his spin speed, it is out of this world, some serious pull. Tyler Brown from the US made the trip over as well to test the Euro water before hitting up the Super X. He spent his day battling it out with the best we have here in Europe and qualifying for the main. But it was Sifisos day wholeshotting and lead from start to finish with Jordy Van Der Heijden in 2nd and Arnaud Dubois 3rd. Something has got to be said for Dubois who has ditched the Belgium national team for training himself and just going out and having fun at races, this kid is seriously faster than hes ever been before. Day two was starting to look pretty similar to day 1 with Sifiso winning every lap, and just looked in cruise mode, but he was up against an orange army in the final. 5 Dutch riders, 4 from the Dutch national team lined up on the gate all after Sifisos blood, surely the odds must have been good. But it wasn't to be a Sifiso held them all off taking day 2s win, with the Netherlands taking 2nd 3rd 4th 5th and 6th. Bas is clearly training these boys in the right way and maybe we should take note?
Junior Women: It wasn't long before Maartje was going to finally beat Merle Van Bentham, these two have been so close this year, and Maartje finally got her win, pedaling past a skilled Merle to take the win day 1. Merle wasn't going to have it on day 2 and saw where she made her mistake and lead from start to finish.
Junior Men: In all honesty I have never seen so many Junior Men struggle with a PRO section, in fact so many were struggling half of them didn't turn up to race!! But we can always count on the top dogs to give us a show. Aguilez had some serious pull all weekend, and was showing signs of being able to give Jelle and Kurt Pickard a real run for their money. He did not disappoint taking 2 wins out of 2, but only after Jelle threw himself over his bars just metres from the finish line on day 2 and not getting it quite right on day 1 either not even making the final. Kurt Pickard wasn't looking so hot on the tech track but still managed a 2nd and 6th place.
Elite Women: With still no sign of Shanaze the Elite Womens field was wide open again, but this time we had Laeticia Le Corguille to mix things up a bit for Sarah Walker and the other top guns. Sarah was looking smooth on the tech track, smoother than all the other girls, just taking everything in her stride and making a tech track look awfully easy. But the French were just too strong and Manon Valentino wasn't going to let anyone past her. She took 2 wins for the weekend leaving her 2nd in the rankings. Laeticia Le Corguille sat closely in 2nd and Sarah Walker finding it ever harder to take a main win finishing 3rd.
Elite Men: Sifiso is untouchable this season and was everyones first call in the sweepstake. His first straight speed is just unbelievable and videos do not do his pure ability justice. He sailed through motos, quarter finals, semi finals and sat comfortably with first pick for the final. The usual suspects were lined up against him, Arnaud Dubois, Martijn Scherpen, Raymond Van Der Biezen, Rob Wildenburg and the rookie Jordy Van Der Heijden. Jordy took a BAD fall Saturday in the main, dislocating his shoulder and couldn't make day 2. Sifiso took the lead day 1 with Dubois hot on his tail, just when you thought Dubois was realing in Sifiso, he kicked up a gear and pulled away to a clear win. Day 2 was just as fast and furious, but Sifiso was still the favorite, he clearly is on form and took every race in his stride. Martijn Scherpen, Hollands equivalent of the colgate kid, was looking fast and I mean fast, brushing off some top competition in his knock out rounds. He was going to be Sifisos main competitor in todays final. Mr consistent Raymond Van Der Biezen, was also totting up the points and thinking this could be his day. But it wasn't to be, nobody can real in Sifiso, another win on his books, Scherpen in 2nd and Biezen in 3rd