The quest to see both senior Oakleaf Kawasaki riders in the Main continued last weekend in Liverpool, where the Garmin Arenacross Tour stopped off for the first of two matinee performances in the schedule.
Storms passed through the area on Saturday, but the Echo Arena was warm and the dirt not too dry or wet. The morning’s qualifying sessions saw Romain Biela qualify in 11th, while Tyler Villopoto qualified down slightly in 14th.
As much as Villopoto had hoped to make more progress this weekend and hit the Main, it was not to be, again. Much to his dismay, he lost his front end in a corner whilst in the running for a spot in the Main, and subsequently found himself in the back of the pack. The second heat put him and Biela in the same race; but here misfortune struck a second time, leaving Villopoto to roll across the finish in 10th again.
Biela did not fare much better either. Run over in a pileup, he finished ninth. He made a big effort to redeem himself in the second heat, but found himself shut out in the sweeping right hand first corner. Some progress in the short race moved him to eighth place, but with his combined score, he was relegated to the LCQ along with his colleague.
The LCQ turned out to be stacked with talent, with some of Britain’s most well-known names lining up alongside their French compatriots. For both Pro riders, this was the end of the evening as Villopoto clocked in a ninth place, ahead of Biela’s 12th.
“Another rough weekend, you know, it’s not going as well as I would’ve liked to, I feel better each week, from the first weekend to the second weekend to this one,” said Tyler Villopoto.
“I threw it away in the first heat, going for fourth and washed my front end out and threw that away, and went into the second heat with a bad gate pick and on the 250F against the 450s, you need as good a gate pick and surround yourself with the top five guys and put yourself as close to them as possible.
“I was on the outside and just didn’t get as good a jump and, well, not making any excuses, it’s all on my shoulders. I can’t thank the team enough; they’ve been helping me out so much, as well as everyone over at Wheeldon Farm and my girlfriend. I’m in one piece, I’ve got my health and I can’t really ask for much more, but one of these weekends everything will fall into place, we’ll have our weekend and it’s going to be that much sweeter.”
“It is all about the start in this race,” says Romain Biela. “You have to be up front to be able to have a good start to be able to be up front. Everyone was just following each other around the track, and all I had to do was to be able to get the start and I didn’t. I got run over but that’s part of the sport, it happens in racing and I’m glad there’s nothing broken, I’m fine.”
Separately, Oakleaf Academy rider Ben White qualified ninth in the Youth 85 SW class. In his final, White put in a steady performance, avoiding the carnage that reigned across the entire track. He brought home a safe seventh place with a happy smile on his face.
“Qualifying was quite good, I could’ve done better but I was happy with that,” said #338 85 SW pilot Ben White. “There’s really not anything I regret not doing, I think I did well out there, I stayed quite consistent. The jumps and that we’re more my kind of style this week so I was happy with that.”
Team Principal, Shaun Anthony commented: “Well what can I say, as far as luck and having an easy ride for us it’s getting harder.
“Again we ended up with both our riders in the same race which makes things worse again; both riders have the pace, it’s just so fast out there, I mean lap times from the front to the back are so tight, it’s within two seconds from front to the back of all 24 riders that race, not just the guys in the final, all we can do is just keep working hard and hopefully our chance will come. Both riders are healthy and will get their heads down and work hard this week; the whole team has passion, it’s racing and we are enjoying our experience and learning all the time.”