With the British BMX Series heading into the second half of the season the race fans were treated to some awesome racing at rounds six and seven in Derby.
Great Britain rider Curtis Manaton returned to the elite men class and saw him step straight back in to the top of the podium.
The Derby club had pulled out all the stops to set the track and surroundings up just right with great viewing, facilities and a finely groomed track.
The weather had threatened to be wet for the second consecutive national race, but after a downpour overnight on Friday, the racing took place in glorious sunshine.
On day one the elite men’s class was electric from the gate as the 2013 British champion Dan McBride from TSM/The Works got the holeshot and led the field out through the first turn.
As the field bunched behind McBride, the masters world champion from GET Racing Kelvin Batey went for a move in turn two but went down leaving McBride with a little breathing space, but not enough as ODA rider Tre Whyte also had a bite of McBride but also came off second best leaving McBride to romp home for the win.
Missing out on the chaos was Great Britain Olympic Development Academy youngster Paddy Sharrock from Stay Strong who made his way to the final after a fine last corner move in the semi-final. Sharrock, 15, was always in contention for a podium spot and capitalised on the misfortune of others to take second with Ryan Stack from Pure returning to the class after an appendix operation rounding out the podium in third.
The second day of racing was equally action-packed and saw Curtis Manaton from Ultimate BMX on great form in his first national race of the year after missing out on the early season due to some horrific injuries.
Manaton is known for his smooth, no nonsense style and when the gate dropped he made the first straight his own and took the holeshot into the first turn.
As the field thundered down the second straight, it was clear that this was Manaton's day and he romped home for a popular win. Behind Manaton was where all the action took place, with Ryan Stack pulling out all the stops again as he exited turn one where he made a great overtaking move to take a solid second place.
After the race Stack commented: “I’m super happy with how this weekend has gone at Derby national. It was my first proper race back after the operation on my appendix and I picked up two podiums in elite men getting third and second. I’m so happy, bring on the next race!”
In the second turn there was yet more carnage with four riders going down in a pile up. Jacob Roberts from Manchester kept his head and as the others floundered he saw his chance and made for home in third place.
Roberts, who was lying second in the points table going into the weekend, said: “It was a very up and down weekend. Being ill and racing is never good and it makes it twice as hard. Unfortunately a crash in the semi on day one put me out of the final, but a clean semi today landed me back on the box in third.”
In the Championship women’s class there was more success for Haro’s Abbie Taylor who followed up her win at Preston in the previous round with two more wins in Derby. Taylor was in charge of the race both days from the gate, but was made to work for it as Identiti’s Joey Gough pushed her hard all the way to the line in second place. Rounding out the podium both days was Valerie Zebrokova who kept fellow Great Britain rider Ayesha McLelland at bay in fourth.
The championship men’s class was as exciting as its big brother, the elite class.
Day one’s final saw Liam Brown jump to the front of the field into the first berm and from there he headed for home.
The battle raged behind Brown with a gaggle of riders all vying for position. With the pack all so close it could have gone to anyone, but through turn two Jimmy Orena from Hayes Hawks made his move from fourth to second and had the spot with Bristol’s Mitch Brooks in only his second race of the year taking the third step of the podium.
On the second day it was Orena who made the race his own from the gate and worked hard to keep ahead of the baying pack for the win. Second place went to Luke McNab from Hayes and third was Nottingham’s Blaine Bradford.
Other standout performances came from Wrekin’s Troy Weaver in the six and under category who took a win on day two in his first national of the year. Derby’s Matthew Ryan used the home track advantage to the maximum and won his first national on day one in the age 9s, and his club-mate Lewis Hipkins in the age 14s won both days.
The North East’s Ellie Featherstone stood head and shoulders above the rest of the girls in the age 11-12s as she was the only girl in the class to jump the big first straight double and she was the deserved winner both days. Similarly Charlie Hartwell from Birmingham did the same and went unbeaten all weekend.
Braintree BMX Club shared the wins in the age 16s with Ryan Hutchinson continuing where he left off in Preston with a win on day one and Josh Butson was gifted his first ever national win on day two after Hutchinson was penalised for an infringement.
In the first days racing there was a popular win for Ipswich’s John Lillingstone in the masters who has missed over a year of national racing following a road accident. Lillingstone missed out on a number of mid race crashes to claim the victory.
Rounds eight and nine of the British BMX Series will be held in Birmingham on 2-3 August.