After an intense fight for three hours around the gruelling dune course, three-time world enduro champion David Knight took an emphatic win at the Monster Energy-fuelled RHL Beach Race at Weston-super-Mare after a battle which saw a number of riders take the lead throughout the super-tough race.
It was Honda rider Jamie Lewis who took the holeshot down the 1.5-mile straight with Knighter second, Tom Church third and 2011 triple British MX champion Brad Anderson in fourth.
Andersontook the lead 20 minutes in although a stop for a brake pad change plus some other mechanical issues meant he would falter later in the race to finish in an eventual third position. Church took up the reins and lead to the first hour mark when Knighter took to the front, although he also struggled in the early stages with his bike visibly in trouble.
Thankfully for Knighter, who has recently recovered from hip surgery, the bike cleared after his first pit stop and he was able to get into a good rhythm. Church re-took the lead and was out in front until the final 30 minutes when 33-year-old Knighter really put the hammer down and got back to the front of the pack. While local man Church tried to respond aboard his HM Plant Red Bull KTM and both of the leading riders lapped up to second place, the experienced Manxman pulled a safe lead to bring his machine home for his sixth Weston win which includes five solo wins and one quad win.
“I got a good start and as stupid as it sounds it’s better to follow someone for the first few laps through all of the dunes,” says DK. “I got a bit of arm pump early on and I thought I was leading with Brad but actually Tom was ahead. For the first hour I was struggling and the bike was messing around a bit so I had to stop in the pits early. The bike was still misfiring a little so I pulled the kill-switch leads out while going up the straight and it cleared.
“After that I got my head down and I saw Tom was half-a-minute ahead. I caught back up to Tom after a good stop. He seemed tired and while I thought my fitness would be bad because of my hips, I pushed in the last hour and got away a little. I knew I had done enough and needed to back off in the last few laps but I nearly had a couple of big crashes.
“It was good to be pushed to the last few laps with Tom as we lapped up to second. It’s been a good day and I’m pleased to have another win so hopefully I can be there at Swansea.”
In the 85cc Big Wheel class Honda rider Robert Davidson took an early lead with Ben Watson in second. Watson soon took to the front and had a healthy gap when disaster struck and he was forced to retire with three laps to go. Davidson was able to take the lead but it wasn’t all plain sailing for the 15-year-old as he kept having to dismount to re-align his chain.
Despite having to stop just a few turns from the end Davidson, who had to retire from last year’s race, was pleased to finally take the top spot. In the Small Wheel class Mitchell Warhurst took the win while Ben Howell won the rookie 125cc/250F class.
“I got a good start and led for a little while,” says Robert. “I only had to pit once as I had a big tank but towards the end it was hard as my chain kept falling off. My chain roller wore down quite a lot from the drag of the chain and a few corners from the end it jumped off but I managed to get it back on in time to take the win.”
Saturday’s Quad race was won by Paul Winrow. Paul, forced to retire last year, has now won the race five times.
“I got a great start, then got the holeshot into the first dune but bobbled a bit over the first few dunes as I wasn’t sure what they were like on the downside,” says Paul. “The course was really good, there were no traffic jams and I really enjoyed it. It’s nice to win it after the season I’ve had and after taking the decision to go into semi-retirement. The Adrenaline Can-Am has run perfectly today and I’d like to thank Adrenaline ATV and Can-Am. I’d also like to thank the mechanics Andrew and Jason from Adrenaline as well as my wife, Sue, as the pit stops were flawless. Now it’s time to go to the pub.”
In the 65cc class it was 2011 BYMX runner-up 11-year-old Jed Etchells who took an early lead and controlled the race to take the win over Alexander Brown and Harry Kimber who completed the podium.
“It’s been a very positive weekend for RHL Activities,” saysDirector of RHL Activities, Gareth Hockey. “Everything has worked well and after a difficult 12 months we’ve stood up to prove who we are and what we can do – now we can move on from this to Swansea in March and next year’s Weston. We thought entries would be down but we received a lot of late entries which surprised us and we were actually up on last year. It’s very positive for us considering the situation with the world economy and it’s certainly been a good weekend.
“I’d like to thank all of our sponsors – Monster Energy, Doodson Motorsport, Molson, Hyundai, Rhino Goo, Ice Valley Water along with all of our supporters, contractors, staff and event team for all of their help in doing a good job this weekend.”
The Swansea event is being held on March 2-4 – more information will soon be available by logging onto www.rhlactivities.com