Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Redhill NPS 4X and National Champs

Picture courtesy of Dave Thomason.

Redhill hosted another round of the national series and the 4X National Championships this weekend. As racing goes this was probably one of the best events I have been part of. The track was brilliant, perfectly manicured and with tons of line options that allowed some tight and exciting racing. The riders I think have really stepped it up a level. In my opinion the 4X scene is really thriving at the moment. turn out for events is really high and in Senior there are now a large number of riders that when on form can be contending for the top spots and who are putting in some highly fought battles out on the track.

Saturday was NPS day, the track was the standard Redhill track finishing with the flat out grassy left hander. Off the start there is a small start straight that funnels into a tight left hander. The straight gives no chance to spread out and so this corner determines what position you enter the next straight. The next section of track is fast, really wide and has 3 main lines. Loads of moves were made here, when ridden well the two outer lines allowed a stack of momentum to be built up and riders were using this to nip up on the race leaders. Morgan, the local boy, took this to extremes coming up behind Keeny shouting "surprise" as he did so, Keeny fell over due to the shock of this experience. the left hander following this had a high and a low line. Moves were made going both ways the top line being less risky but the main rat run while the bottom line when nailed could be really quick. Loose dusty corners lead into a sprint towards the massive table and the final grass corner. Will Evans was making some great passes down here with a move that looked a lot like slip streaming in motor racing. He would charge out of the corner tightly on the guys tail pull to the side on the table and sneak past over the table and round the outside of the grass, a very stylish move that he pulled off a few times on some very quick riders.

Motos were really fun I managed three seconds and a third. My quarter went well and I made the semis. It then all went wrong I literally forgot how to ride and hung up everything in my semi ending up positioned 8th overall in Senior.

The big race was the champs on the Sunday. This race uses the UCI format that is used in worldcup events. Senior and Elite riders are all mashed in together and have one individual timed qualifying run that leads in to straight knock out rounds. The qualification determines who you are lined up against in the knockout. The track was also altered to include a tricky grass chicane and an extra 180 degree hairpin into the finish.

The qualification is a totally different game and was really good fun. Line choices had to be made based on speed as to those that were easy to defend mixing up the tactics a bit. My qualification run was good despite getting lost in the chicane and making a mash up of my gear changes that I had been working hard on in practice. 46.3 seconds left me qualifying in 19th place. I was in the last 4 to go down and we could see a massive rain cloud blowing in, spots of rain could be felt as I was on the gate so the incentive was to get down before the grass corner received a soaking. Mop Head put in an absolutely storming run qualifying 11th, not bad for his first champs.

Between qualis and the heats the other categories raced motos as usual, it was great to be able to actually sit down and watch the action for a change. Mop was leading the crowds with some enthusiastic cheering creating a great atmosphere. Mid motos the showers came in a couple of torrential downpours completely changed the dry dusty track and made the grass insanely slippery as riders were going down all over the place. Some tough deliberations occurred over tyre choice. In the end I went for the Bonty "Jones wet X" which are skinny xc spikes and were getting some good reviews from other riders. Once changed the sun came back out and everything was rapidly drying up, it felt like an F1 race with riders struggling to decide on tyres and tactics.

First knockout round I was up against AJ and Will Evans, this didn't help my chances. I was kind of hoping Will would get a bit excited and fall over in the grass which I saw him do a couple of times earlier in practice. I had a good gate up with them into the first corner but was on the outside and got pushed out and was then behind for the rest of the run. No one fell over so that was my chances of getting through gone.

The weather caused a few major upsets allowing some of the senior riders to break through into the quarters and semis, they were representing the underdogs in this comp and put up a really good fight. Both Gareth and Scruby went through making it to the B finals, Mop Head just missed out on his chance slipping a pedal right at the finish.

As the A final lined up on the gate a massively aggressive shower came through thoroughly lubricating the track. This did not slow down the pace, the guys were absolutely hauling, Beaumont was in the lead, Will was flying up behind everyone and looking like he was ready to fly past on the left hander but wiped out leaving Duncan Ferris and Lee White left to battle it out. Beaumont took the win followed by Ferris and then White.

It was a great weekend and great to see the scene in such great form, hopefully 4X is on the way up and next year will be bigger and better. The quality of the track this weekend was absolutely first class so props have to go to Neil and the FoD boys for putting so much work into this place.

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