Report: British BMX Series Rounds 4 and 5

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An in-form Liam Phillips was a double winner as the country's best BMX riders descended on Perry Park, Birmingham for rounds 4 and 5 of the 2012 British BMX Series. We have a full report on both days' action below the video and images.

Birmingham National 2012

Round 5 elite men's video - More videos

Round 5 images - 22 April 2012

 Round 4 images - 21 April 2012

Race Report

April is usually the month when BMX racers emerge from a winter of training to begin the battle for National titles but this year has seen the usual routine changed because of the twin spectacles that dominate the calendar in 2012; the Olympics and a home World Championships.

Birmingham will host those Worlds at a temporary track in the National Indoor Arena, but the city also boasts a fantastic permanent outdoor facility at Perry Park that welcomed the by now well up to speed BMX community for rounds 4 and 5 of the British BMX Series with a January series start timed to give riders ample time to qualify for the Worlds.

The previous three rounds were staged at the National Indoor BMX Centre in Manchester, featuring a five metre start hill, tricky first jump and technically demanding track that includes separate pro and amateur sections. Perry Park has all those with the added benefit of being outside, with the buzz amongst racers prior to the event being about a welcome return to the great outdoors.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that April is also traditionally the month of showers and these also arrived in Birmingham to end any thoughts of drought and hosepipe bans and send riders scrambling for race capes and waterproofs. The weather is the one thing not controlled by the host club which for this event was Birmingham BMX Club who worked like Trojans to put on a brilliant event that showed off Perry Park as the modern track it is; covered start hill with silky smooth (and fast dropping) Bensink gate, large trade area, pump track (which was used by savvy younger riders to warm up on!) and tough second straight pro section that tests the skills of the top riders.

Despite the rain there racing was fierce from the off, with a healthy turnout topping the 600 mark and most classes featuring several motos worth of riders. Highlights from the younger age groups were the dominant performances of several winners; Dexter Phillips, Jacob Murray and Ethan Duffy took 6 and Under, 7’s and 8’s respectively without losing a lap in motos, semi and final. A feat matched by Isabella Hurry and Emily Hutt in 6 and Under girls and 7-8 Girls respectively.

With a combined 80 riders between them (41 and 39) the 9’s and 10’s classes show how bright the future of British BMX is, with some real talent deep into each class. Ethan Craik was best boy in 9’s whilst Ryan Brookes was a star in 10’s.

Yet more talent was on display in 11-12 Girls with Kim Baptista (Free Agent) taking her W3 plate to the win. Team-mate Alesi Tye was in form and won 13-14’s with Izzy Ferrada the class act in 15-16’s taking every lap. Someone whose talent has been rewarded already with a spot on the BC team of that name is Identiti BMX’s Jake Power, who took his retina melting Krisis bike to the win in 15’s, a class where most of the riders aren’t shaving yet but have skills to make much older riders envious. Jake’s fellow Talent Team rider Paddy Sharrock (EA Pure) isn’t short of skill himself but a crash in the 16’s final left him out of it with Cameron Jeffers blasting round for the win.

The next class up is one of the most exciting to watch; 17-24 is a proving ground for riders who are perhaps harbouring thoughts of turning Elite one day and the speed reflects that. Billy Luckhurst has tested the Elite waters but elected to race his age this year. There’s no denying he has Elite talent as the Profile Racing rider took every lap through motos, quarter, semi and final for a well deserved win. 25-29 is a small class in numbers but big in impact with no quarter asked or given in racing. It’s fast and physical and the action going into the last berm in the final was something best watched from behind a sofa like an episode of Doctor Who when these riders were younger. With Laurence and Chris Mapp back racing, along with Warren Bancroft added to the mix it was quality not quantity of riders for this class. Wozza took the win.

Masters was a hard class a few years ago, but then the 19+ class was scrapped and an influx of riders made it insane. Any class where a recent former World Champ and current W5 is in the B final is hard, but the man in question, Marco Dell’Isola spends most of his time running Stay Strong so can’t devote his time to riding. It’s an indicator of talent when the B looks like an A final... The actual A was taken by Doc Smooth himself, Dylan Clayton (Edwardes/Stay Strong) after a thrilling battle with Alex Dick. Veterans riders are older but no less talented and the action was its usual intense self with Pete Power (Identiti BMX) gliding to the win.

Highlights of the big wheeled action were Oli Cutmore pushed all the way by Toby Bearne and Kieron McAvoy in 17-29 and Haro’s Mario Presi getting the win in the tough 35-39 class ahead of Identiti BMX’s Martin Ogden. 40-44 was a thriller, with both Alan Hill (Redline) and Ian Sharp (Domino’s) entering the final having each won all their motos and respective semis. There can be only one and it was Alan Hill who took the win ahead of Ian with Keith Bryceland (Vandal Bikes) in third.

Junior Men was fast and furious with the teenagers tearing up the track and taking on the pro section to boot. Jordan Perry was smoother over the pro but couldn’t hold off Quillan Isidore (Dialled Bikes) who took the win with Jordan an excellent 2nd and Reece Hoggatt 3rd.

Championship Women features some real talent, both established and emerging, with riders such as Joey Gough (Identiti) and Ria Goodman (Urban Air) having proved themselves up to the task on the big stage and others like Redline’s Valerie Zebrokova making a rapid rise up the ranks. Throw GB riders Abbie Taylor and Charlotte Green (EA Pure) in the mix and this class is one to watch. Abbie had the edge all day and took a well deserved win, with Valerie and Joey battling hard for the runner up spot. Val got the best of Goffy with Charlotte 4th.

Elite Men is always hotly anticipated but as we’re in Olympic year things have gone up several notches. All eyes were on Ultimate Pro BMX’s Liam Phillips who’d performed brilliantly at the recent UCI SX race in Norway, winning every lap but crashing in the final whilst in 2nd. He’s our Olympic candidate in the men’s event with Beijing experience already under his belt and some time away from BMX to try his hand at track racing seeming to have amped up his power he was in fine form. Nothing is a sure thing in BMX racing though and there were seven other riders on the gate looking to make their own mark. Jack Hall made his Elite debut and showed he made the right decision by making the main. Haro’s Grant Hill has suffered recent injuries but made a welcome return. Redline’s Cal Strickland is always one to watch as is Stay Strong’s Kyle Evans whose confidence grows with every qualification through time trials at SX events. Tre Whyte was in dangerous form and Liam’s team-mates Curtis Manaton and Marcus Bloomfield made it a very Elite eight on the gate.

When the gate dropped it was clear Liam would be the man to beat as he got a great start and lead into the pro section, taking it cleanly. The battle looked like it would be for second with Marcus, Cal, Tre and Kyle all fighting round the second berm and into the tricky third straight. Cal had it figured out and smoothed his way to a great 2nd place with Tre, Kyle and Marcus oh so close in 3rd, 4th and 5th. Jack can be proud of his day with a 6th and Grant and Curtis finished it off with 7th and 8th.

Sunday was a damp dawn and stayed that way with yet more of the wet stuff tumbling from the skies throughout the day. The racers knuckled down and got on with the task in hand though and the action was as bright as the occasional spots of sun that penetrated the gray skies.

Cruisers got the day under way with some close racing in all classes. Josh Coppin was the victor in 9-12’s with Kim Baptista showing she can mix it up on big wheels and against boys by taking 3rd. Scott Dominguez bagged the first win of the year for Love Not Money – RSD Sports with 1st in 13-14’s, making up for the wardrobe malfunction of the previous day when he unclipped whilst pulling up his race pants in the last berm, costing him the win. Trousers Scott!!!

Kieron McAvoy (Clark & Kent Contractors) was the best of the bunch in the fast 17-29 class, with Oli Cutmore snapping at his heels in 2nd. Stay Strong’s Darren Reidy made up for a crash on Saturday by taking the win in 35-39, edging Mario Presi into 2nd. The clash of the titans was on again in 40-44 but this time Ian Sharp bested Alan Hill. Honours even this weekend fellas. 45+ went to a hard charging Nic Preece ahead of Dialled’s Keith Wilson with Jason Harvey in 3rd. One stacked class!

On 20” the kids were alright, with Dexter Phillips and Jacob Murray repeating their perfect performances from Saturday. Anything they can do... Isabella Hurry and Emily Hutt can do too as they both went perfect for the day. Ethan Duffy got his gate wrong and had to chase from the back, he made it to 6th but the 8’s win went to William Goode. 9-10 Girls went to Haro’s Imogen Hill to give her the double for the weekend. She’s long been a talented rider and is one to watch. Ethan Craik (Intense – Route 55) got the win in 9’s, a class with 42 riders. Wow.

Ryan Brookes was best of the bunch again in 10’s as was Kim Baptista in 11-12 Girls. Beth Shriever won a thriller in 13-14 Girls ahead of EA Pure’s Lauren Stack. The 11’s, 12’s 13’s and 14’s classes each have around 30 riders, meaning there are 120 lads racing at an age many kids are giving up sport. This is one of the best bits of BMX; that we have a sport on the rise and looking good for the future. Winners respectively were Josh Peters (EA Pure), Euan Hunt, Ethan Vernon (EA Pure) and Robert Jesson. Ones to watch. Izzy Ferrada was first over the line in 15-16 girls but Natasha Bradley had to work hard to overhaul Jenny Noble for 2nd. Jake Power lived up to his surname with a great display in 15’s and Mike Njuguna (Love Not Money – RSD Sports) rode brilliantly for his maiden National win in 16’s.

It was close again in 17-24 with Billy Luckhurst in the mix and Ash Davey (Clark & Kent Contractors) also looking able to challenge for the win but top spot went to Jason Fay who’d been on a blistering pace all weekend. Kieron McAvoy rounded out his Sunday with a win in 25-29, a class where the action is so intense it makes angry hornets look like butterflies. Masters was a real crowd pleaser with Dylan Clayton only remembering that he could put his front wheel down somewhere rather a long way down the first straight but still pulling everybody. Gareth Bates (Stay Strong), Alan Hill and Zoltan Buday (Redman Rockstar) were all up there with Gabor Deli, Tony Fleming and Matt Allen battling so the action was intense, but it came down to the third straight and uncharacteristic bonks by Dylan left Alex Dick with the cleaner run into the last berm and he didn’t need a written invitation to take the lead, holding it to the line.

Veterans was not without some controversy, as Keith Bryceland was relegated to last in his semi for a take out of Pete Power that left the spectators gasping and more than one describing it as the worst move they’d ever seen. That left the main wide open and Rich Green, who is always up there anyway got a good win ahead of Tony Phillips-Pitman.

The wind was a factor for the Junior Men as much as the rain and the decision was taken to close the pro section for Junior and Elites. Some in the crowd voiced their displeasure but rider safety has to come before crowd entertainment and with the Worlds mere weeks away it was the right decision. Quillan Isidore showed that whichever way they send him down the second straight he’s fast and flew round the track to take another classy win. Dan Pullen had a great day and took 2nd with Jordan Perry 3rd.

Championship Women seemed to be Abbie Taylor’s to lose and she didn’t put foot wrong taking the win ahead of Charlotte Green with Joey 3rd. Ayesha McLelland (Redline) went for a do or die move in the last berm but it didn’t come off and she took out team-mate Valerie Zebrokova into the bargain. Not the best way to impress the Team Manager but in BMX, when the gate drops, there are no team orders!

Elite final time and it could be anyone’s day. Liam was in dominant form again but Curtis, Cal, Marcus and Kyle had all won motos. Tre was looking scary fast. Scott Waterhouse (Clark & Kent Contractors) made the final and he’s fast and fearless enough to make moves others won’t consider. Grant was there too and his power can’t be ignored when the gate drops.

Despite the race not using the pro section is was heart pounding stuff as Liam once again got a great gate and put the power down to take the lead, it wasn’t a big lead though as Tre was right on him and there was a real fight on behind with Cal, Marcus and Curtis all battling into the second berm. Liam was pushed oh so close by Tre but got the win, with Curtis securing the final podium spot in third ahead of Cal and Marcus, whose weekend results were all the more impressive when considering he’s not ridden since the last National.

The next major event on these shores is also in Birmingham; the World BMX Championships. See you there!