The 2019 IMBA Ladies European Motocross Championship kicked off at the AMCA Cannock Club’s Lower Drayton track on Sunday. The club did a fantastic job preparing the track for the 31 riders from across Europe.
As home nation Britain was allowed to field a strong team of 11 riders.
Charlotte Hall and Cath King were unable to make this round but the remaining team of Chelsea Gowland, Marni Saunders, Kayleigh Durston, Jaymee Garrood, Bethany Allison, Lily Moreland, Vicky Marriott, Chloe Richards, Georgie Potter, Hannah Jones and Esme King were well fired-up.
All eyes were on the British motocross champion and current leader Gowland who was running fastest in qualifying with a two-minute 17second lap – one second ahead of Belgium’s Brenda Wagemans.
Wagemans then put in a lap of 2mins 16.376 but Gowland banged in her best last lap of 2mins 16.224 to take the pole by the slimmest of margins.
Behind her the team were putting in some strong performances, Durston running eight until the last lap and finishing 11th, young Richards coming 13th just ahead of Saunders (14th), Garrood (16th) and Allison in 17th.
The two youngest members 15-year-olds Jones and Potter finished 20th and 21st, Moreland 24th and King 26th, while Vicky Marriott crashed out of practise cracking her ribs and putting her out of the event.
As the gate dropped on race one Wagemans took the holeshot, from Dutch rider Brit Jans-Beken with Gowland third.
Gowland quickly moved into second and hounded Wagemans before moving past on lap four and stretching away to win with a comfortable 16-second margin.
Behind the top two the battle was fierce and Saunders fought her way to a brilliant sixth place, backed up well by Durston (12th) and Richards (13th).
Jones and Potter rode solid races with Jones having the speed but feeling it on the tough track and dropping back to 18th, one place ahead of Potter.
For the first time in MX history a British woman got to race with the yellow IMBA leader’s jersey and Gowland took it in her stride with the professionalism of a true champion.
Race two saw Wagemans and Jans-Beken storm into the lead with Gowland rounding the first corner in fifth but quickly closing on Jans-Beken and passing her a few more corners in.
The Brit again set off after leader Wagemans and grabbed her chance, passing a backmarker through the gap Wagemans left to eventually cross the line with a six-second lead.
Behind her the racing was again close with Saunders in the thick of it and racing hard for another sixth place.
By now the track was getting rough and gnarly, but it didn’t faze Gowland who again hunted down early leader Wagemans to record another brilliant win with Netherlands’ Amber Simons this time battling it out with Wagemans behind the Brit.
Saunders again put in another brilliant race in seventh but after a carrying an injury to two fingers from race one Durston was struggling to hold on and finished in 19th.
Richards was consistent to finish in a great 14th place in her first International, while Potter again improved for 16th.
Overall: 1 Chelsea Gowland (GB)180pts, 2 Brenda Wagemans (B) 162, 3 Brit Jans-Bekken (N) 147, 4 Amber Simons (N) 144, 5 Cynthia Swets (N) 135, 6 Marni Saunders (GB) 127, 7 Britt Van Muylen (B) 119, 8 Amber Everts (B) 119, 9 Michelle Zund (S) 109, 10 Kaylee Van Dam (N) 99.
British riders: 13 Chloe Richards (GB) 85, 14 Kayleigh Durston (GB) 84, 17 Georgie Potter (GB) 71, 20 Lily Moreland (GB) 64, 21 Jaymee Garrood (GB) 60, 22 Hannah Jones (GB) 59, 24 Esme King (GB) 52, 26 Bethany Allison (GB) 42.
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