Words: Dave Thomason
Photos: Chris Ratford
Wow, where has the season gone? Feels like only yesterday that I was lining up in the gate at Leamington for the first race of the 2012 season…and now it’s all over! Of all the tracks I’ve raced this year, Afan remains top of my list. Although it’s rough and hardcore, it’s not that much fun to just mess about on, and you get to the end of the rock garden and just want the track to finish there and then, it is a brilliant track to race on. Flat open multi-line corners, a 270 degree corkscrew, and guaranteed first berm carnage makes for some super competitive motos.
It was very nice to cross the Severn Bridge early on saturday morning with bright sunshine all around, though typically there was full cloud cover when you actually got up into the Welsh hillside. However, it wasn’t raining which makes it better than last year! in fact, the track was in good shape and running pretty quick – though the corners were super-loose.
Practice went well, with people mostly trying to scout alternative lines through the rock garden while the top men were progressively getting better at hitting the pro line after some impressive 50:50 landings first thing in the morning. The pro line proved crucial in some motos as it was tough to carry speed out of the rock garden, and if you didn’t clean the first double, there’s no way you were making it over the second.
And so to racing: the fact that there was the final round of the Euro 4X race on the Sunday meant that there were a few big names in the Elite category – Rose/Vaujany’s Daniel Prijel and Scott 11′s Weiss brothers were all in attendance, alongside UK regulars like Scott Beaumont and Lewis Lacey.
Pre race talk was based around working out who was still in the championship hunt in all of the categories, with an awful lot still to play for. Once again Dylan Grell-Delsol was dominant in Juveniles, recovering from a bad start in the final to take second and cruise the overall, winning the category for the second year running. Luke Cryer took the win and beat Bardolph Kerr to the overall in youth, and Joprdan Lunn did the same in Junior.
Dave Roberts took the win on the day in senior, but it wasn’t enough to stop Danny Hughes taking the overall, with Dave Richardson and Phillip Evans tied in third. Gareth parr blitzed the masters all year, possibly proving that he should have stepped up to Elite this season – be interesting to see what he does next year. Simon Rickett came 4th racing the masters on the day, but that was enough to give him the overall in the veteran’s category.
In the ladies, Katy Curd was only ever going to be at a couple of races this season due to other riding commitments, so the few she did race she decided to have a go racing against the senior men, leaving the women’s category open for Suzanne Lacey to win for the third consecutive year. Cara Murray fought hard for second, but in the end Suzanne took it by just three points, highlighting just how close the racing has been between these two this year.
All season long, Lewis Lacey has been trying to beat Scott Beaumont. Everyone knows he has the track speed and aggression to do it, but up to this point Scott has managed to get the snap and just stay out of reach. Throughout the motos both of these two were looking quick, alongside Daniel Prijel. Isaac Mundy pulled off a bansai move on Tom Dowie into the rock garden to get himself up into the final as well, so as the four men stepped into the gate, it was obvious that anything could happen.
Lewis Lacey’s aggression out of the gate and into the first corner was supreme, but as ever Scott Beaumont was right alongside. Going into the second corner, Lacey would not ease off and he managed to just sneak ahead of boom boom. As Scott pushed hard to make the place up, Isaac Mundy took advantage of the confusion to slip through, knocking boom boom back into the path of Daniel Prijel who also got past, though it looked by this point like Scott was having mechanical problems.
Lewis was gone though, tanking it through the rock garden to keep daylight between himself and Isaac Mundy. Prijel came in third with Scott in 4th. However, this was enough for Scott to take the overall title, with Lewis Lacey second, Isaac third and Dowie fourth.
It’s a shame that such a brilliant season of racing has to come to a close, but the 4X series will be back, bigger and better next year – have fun training over the winter and I’ll see you trackside in 2013!