The Rock Oil Michelin Ecosse XC Winter MX Championship kick-started the New Year last Sunday, with the third round of its 2019/2020 series.
Supported by Wulfsport and Drysdale Motorcycles, the club welcomed bumper grids across all classes with well over 200 competitors signed up and ready to race. Those involved even received support from both plain clothes and traffic police who dropped by the event to reassure every one of the importance the Lothian & Borders police force places on deterring off-road crime.
The all-weather track at Dunbar was hit by a big downpour on Saturday afternoon which changed the conditions a little from the previous two rounds. However, the race day weather stayed clear and sunny and, thanks to the quality of the venue and the well-organised Ecosse XC team, each class was able to complete three blocks of full-length racing, with the race programme finishing on time at 3.30pm.
In the A group, round two winner John Robson was moved down the rankings by Ross Rutherford, who won all three races, setting the fastest lap in each in the process. Rutherford had to work hard for his victories though as Robson led the first race from the off and all the way until the last lap when Rutherford pipped him to the post. Calum Mitchell picked his way through from ninth on the first lap to third by half-race distance, a position he held to the chequered flag. Danny Stalker was fourth after a good start, Ryan Thomson fifth and Jake Preston sixth. It was a repeat performance out front in the second race with Robson again leading off the start, only to be passed by Rutherford on the final lap. James Hudson was third, with Preston fourth followed by Ryan McLean and Mitchell. Rutherford was again behind Robson in the third leg but was ready to take advantage of Robson slipping back to eighth. Rutherford then maintained a race-long lead ahead of Mitchell and Preston. Robson recovered and pulled back to fourth with McLean fifth and Thomson, making the best of a mid-pack start, to take sixth.
The packed B group saw 40 riders on the line and a different winner in each race. Michiel Graham took the opening race win in a start to finish sprint. Harry Hamilton was second and Jordan McDonald third after working his way through the field. Dean Mackenzie went for a flag-to-flag win in the second race, ahead of Ryan Johnson and Graham, whilst Steven Lennie made good work from a seventh place on the opening lap to win the third moto. Johnson and Ben Stanley, who had his work cut out, rounded out the top three. Johnson took advantage of consistency to take the overall win on the day with Mackenzie second and Graham third.
Dylan Grieve won the C class opening race in front of Barry Smith and Kraton Trott. Grieve and Smith again headed the field in race two with Scott Foote taking third. Stephen Humphries made his mark in the last race, taking the win in emphatic style, leading from start to finish. Grieve pulled through from 11th to secure second in the race and take the overall win, with Trott third.
A big Vets class witnessed a few good racing scrapes; however, Tom Grant was clear all the way in the first and second races. He led Scott Murray and Gordon Morrison across the line in race one and then Brian Alexander and Murray in race two, with Morrison fourth. A switch of fortunes in the last leg provided the win to Alexander with Murray second, although Grant did enough to take the overall win with a third-place finish.
The Rookies were combined with the Vets. Shay Page stamped his authority on the class and was right up with the Vets on track. Page won all three Rookies races with Jack Winthrop and Josh Gray keeping him company in the first and then Gray and Winthrop in races two and three. Such was Page’s dominance that he took two fifths and a fourth in the overall group standings.
Over on the youth front, the joint big-wheel and small-wheel 85s category enjoyed a healthy turn out of riders and competitive racing. In the BW85s, James Barker had a good day’s racing, but a few slip ups cost him the win. Ayden Smith had a set of strong races, which earnt him the overall win, whilst Jack Fletcher, with a series of good starts, took second overall, with Barker third. Jay Cheel and Hudson Roper were also in the mix. Ryan Waggot picked himself up from a first race off to catch the leaders and take the SW65 first moto win – his best lap time of 2:06.578 also placed him right in the BW territory. He was followed in class by Rhys Whyment and Josh Val; a set of scores that were repeated in the next two class races. Lucy Barker and Cristina Palmer didn’t let the boys have it all their own way though with Barker taking three four place finishes and Palmer fifth in races two and three.
Hayden Statt was on fire in the opening 65cc race, but a crash and DNF in the final race denied him the overall on the day. That result went to Liam Bell who posted a second and two firsts, but Statt’s win, second and 10th were enough to give him second overall in front of Jaxon Haswell. Ellis Nelson was also right up with the front runners.
Another clean sheet was the order of the day for West Midlands quad racer Oli Sansom. He didn’t put a wheel wrong throughout and, with three start-to-finish wins, took his Ecosse Winter Series tally to nine wins from nine starts. Race one saw Sansom out front, with Mark Wilson and Michael Brewis enjoying their own battle; Brewis emerged the victor from that tussle taking second behind Sansom, with Wilson third, Ricky Tordoff fourth, Ayrton Knowles fifth and Dwayne Burns sixth. Sansom was off again in the second race. Knowles secured second, Wilson third, Tordoff fourth, Robbie Wood fifth and Brewis sixth. With Sansom clearing off in race three, Knowles moved into second by end of lap two and held the position, with young wood in a fine third, leaving former Scottish champs Wilson and Brewis in his wake. Burns was sixth.
A-Group; 1. Ross Rutherford 135, 2. John Robson 122, 3, Calum Mitchell 115.
B-Group; 1. Ryan Johnson 118, 2. Dean Mackenzie 115, 3. Michiel Graham 110.
C-Group; 1. Dylan Grieve 132, 2. Stephen Humphries 121, 3. Barry Smith 119.
Vets; 1. Tom Grant 130, 2. Brian Alexander 125, 3. Scott Murray 124.
Rookies; 1. Shay Page 135, 2. Josh Gray 124, 3. Jack Winthrop 122.
BW85; 1. Ayden Smith 130, 2. Jack Fletcher 124, 3. James Barker 121.
SW85; 1. Ryan Waggot 135, 2. Josh Val 124, 3. Rhys Whyment 122.
65s; 1. Liam Bell 132, 2. Hayden Statt 118, 3. Jaxon Haswell 116.
Quads; 1. Oli Sansom 135, 2. Ayrton Knowles 120, 3. Mark Wilson 118.
Images: Peter Greenwood Photography
Words: Jenni Foulkes