DAN Thorpe led home a Gas Gas one-two as he pipped his JST team mate Michael Brown to win the National Bemrose Trophy Trial last Sunday with just a single mark between the top two, the final scores being a mere eight marks against nine.
Beta-mounted Richard Sadler completed the podium in the main class just two marks behind Michael in a close-fought battle.
The 88th running of this classic National, first staged back in 1921, was run by the North Derbyshire Youth MCC, aided and abetted by Manchester 17 and Macclesfield TC, and based at High Edge, near Buxton in Derbyshire, not a million miles from Gas Gas UK headquarters, so no surprise that John Shirt Jr had his top northern riders on parade. Shirty even turned out himself in preparation for his annual pilgrimage to the Scottish Six Days.
The Bemrose is a traditional National and comprised 39 sections spread over ten groups with an interesting mix of sections which ranged from limestone (slimestone) grass puzzlers at Wrights, Etchings etc to millstone grit (gripstone) at Hawks Nest with the red rockery of Manor Steps thrown in for good measure.
With an eager 150 entries, tackling Hard, Easy and 50/50 options, to get round the 35 mile course in the Peak District before dark there was an understandbly early 9am start although a seven hour time limit was more than generous.
The day started with a relatively short loop which took riders firstly to Kidtor Dale and Staden Quarry, then on to Wrights, 13 sections in all, before heading back to the start for a refuel and then out on the much longer circular route via lanes and tracks.
The opening seven sections, in fact the opening pair, on the slippery climbs in the wood at Kidtor Dale effectively sorted the first three. Dan Thorpe was straight on the case going clean-one while Browny started shakily with two-three and Sadler one-three.
Dan, really back on form after a patchy 2016 season, looking fit, hungry and confident, never relinquished that important early advantage. He was just continuing the form that gave him a crushing win in the Expert class at the opening British Champs round at Hookwood.
DTs largest loss was a three in what proved to be the toughest sub of the day, the seventeenth at Etchings, after the first petrol check, in a limestone tester that was only cleaned by Sherco’s Luke Walker, staying sharp as he targets the S3 Parts title this year, a series which he has started with two maximum points hauls. Luke finished fourth on the day in a trial that would have been a perfect S3 round.
As expected the main protaganists circulated together towards the rear of the field, discussing lines and gears and keenly watching each others progress. Chris Pearson, Jack Spencer and Richard Timperley tried hard to get in the mix but couldn’t quite match the consistency of the top four.
Once on to the larger loop, from Etchings, the circuit continued via Booth Edge and Washgates to the well-known gully at Manor Steps before heading for the stream at Robinsons, two subs on the rocks at Hawks Nest, the second up the original climbing gully by the wall. It was then up on to the tops for five sections at Danebower, alongside the A54, before returning to the start via Cheeks.
The going was certainly slippery thanks to plenty of rain in the run-up to the trial but the day started out amazing with sunshine in the morning, not what was expected but for which most were grateful.
Scott Rowland acted as course opener and admitted early-on that it was no bad thing, at least on the limestone sections before the grass and mud slathered the rocks to make things much trickier. Scott was prepared to halt his ride if he was needed to help on the course but all was well and he took a deserved Easy course award.
The Easy route actually proved that less is more as the best performances came from Graham Haslam on a 125 Beta and Toby Eyre on his amazing 175 Yamaha Twinshock, both riders parting with a mere eight marks - coincidentally the same as the overall winner.
The large entry proved very competitive with John Gornall taking top Novice on 14 marks, riding round with Mike and Carl Batty and Ronnie Looker, while club stalwart Kevin Stannard took the Over 60 and a claim to fame of a miracle clean on the seemingly gripless 13th sub at Wrights. It certainly wasn’t unlucky for Kevin but it was for most, especially towards the end which was when Kevin rode it!
The 50/50 route was well subscribed with over 50 hopefuls and it was the vastly experienced Roman Kyrnyckyj who parted with least marks, just 21 on the Sherco.
Jon Cowley is always a threat and followed home on 23 while Billy Craig urged his Montesa 4RT round for under 30 marks, the same as leading Inter, Gas Gas mounted Mark Shaw.
In the end though there is only one winner and it was a well-earned victory for Dan who looks like he has returned to his place as The Man To Beat when it comes to traditional Nationals - even when run on Stop Allowed rules. That’s because Dan ignores it and rides no-stop - which is quite clearly the best way to ride slippery sections!
The 2017 Bemrose was quite simply an excellent trial so big and hearty thanks to all those who made it possible.
Premier: Dan Thorpe (Gas Gas) 8.
Experts: Michael Brown (Gas Gas) 9, Richard Sadler (Beta) 11, Luke Walker (Sherco) 13, Chris Pearson (Sherco) 24, Jack Spencer (Beta) 25, Richard Timperley (Beta) 30.
Over 40: Roman Kryjnyckyj (Sherco) 21.
Awards: Jon Cowley (TRS) 23, Billy Craig (Montesa) 28, Mark Shaw (Gas Gas) 31.
Inter: Sam Atherton (Sherco) 28.
Over 50: Graham Haslam (Beta) 8
Twin-shock: Toby Eyre (Yamaha) 8
Awards: Ian Watts (Beta) 10, Steve Gerrard (Beta) 16, Scott Rowland (Gas Gas) 19.
Kevin Stannard (Gas Gas) 43.