Schwalbe British 4X Series Round 2 – Afan, South Wales
Words: Chris Roberts
Photos: Charles Robertson
What a perfect weekend. Amazing 4X track, blue skies, great crowd, brilliant racing and an electric atmosphere all weekend. Round 2 of the 2015 Schwalbe British 4X Series raised the bar and took 4X entertainment to the next level.
A few weeks ago Architrail spent a few days at the Afan track making a few changes and tweaks to get the track ready to race and what a job Phil Saxena and Duncan Ferris did. The track was perfect and would make for some fantastic 4X racing. The Afan track has loose turns, corkscrew bridge, huge rock section and pro line doubles that all test the riders skill and nerve over the 40 second track.
Practice began on Saturday. Sunshine was certainly here to stay over the weekend but there was quite a bit of wind which was making some parts of the track tricky – especially the proline doubles. With photographers snapping away, everyone was getting the track dialled. After practice, there were lots of BBQs and talk about the race on Sunday!
Sunday arrived and the weather was perfect again. Blue skies, warm temperatures and thankfully less wind. Practice ran until 11.30 then racing began at 12.
In Elite women, Heather Kay looked dominant and taking the wins in her motos, but heading to the finals, Megan Wherry, Tyde D’Souza, Clare Curtis and Mabel Mundy could not be ruled out.
In the Elite men, Lewis Lacey, Duncan Ferris and Nathan Parsons were an absolute spectacle for the huge crowd. Making the tricky track seem effortless, it was hard to predict who was going to be the favourite for the final.
So onto the finals. Rippers were won by Louie Partridge ahead of Tyler Partridge and Callum Greenwood. These guys are aged between 10 and 12 and were making this tough track look easy. Amazing to watch the future stars in action. In Fun it was Leon Bradley from Joe Palmer and Ellis Rogues-Byrne whilst in Big Fun it was Craig Heyneke from Ashley Sinden and Peter Ralph’s. Shane Davies stormed to the win in Juveniles ahead of Declan Willicombe and Harry Fernihough. Aaron Dalleywater claimed the honours in Youth beating Charles Currie and Oscar Powell. Juniors and these guys are always showing why the are the next Elite stars. In Afan it was Rhys Jenner who held it together to take a fantastic win from Joe Wallbridge and Chris Potter.
Masters, and it was Stephen Russell who was unstoppable all day taking the win ahead of Chris Smith and David Sibley In the ever tougher vets class it was Ben Rafferty winning again in Afan ahead of Jason Jessop and Paddy Baker. In Senior men it was Daniel Wagstaff claiming the win from Lewis Ashe and Mop Head.
Elite Women were next up. In the small final, Hannah Escott took the win to give her 5th place for the day and the final step on the podium. In the main final, Megan Wherry got the snap and the led the race all the way to take her first win of the series. Behind Megan, Heather Kay, Tyde D’Souza and Natasha Bradley were trading places all the way, but across the finish line, it was Kay, from D’Souza and Bradley.
So finally, it was time for Elite Men. In the small final, Dave Richardson used the last turn slingshots to pass Paul Bakewell on the finish line and claim 5th place for the day. The last race of the day was the Elite Men Main final. Lewis Lacey took gate 1, Nathan Parsons in 2, Duncan Ferris took 3 and Luke Cryer went into 4. The gate dropped and Lacey got the snap. In turn 1 Ferris went for the cut back but this time he didn’t quite make it crashing into Cryer. Lacey then took off on a perfect lap with about 2 bike lengths separating him from Parsons all the way. Across the line it was Lacey with Parsons in 2nd, Cryer in 3rd and Ferris in 4th.
After the podiums it was time to reflect on one of the best days British 4X has ever seen. It was action packed and proved yet again just why this is the best mountain bike spectator sport out there.
The next round is on June 12th at the famous Redhill track in Gloucestershire for round 3 of the 2015 Schwalbe British 4X Series.