WITH the sun shining on Yorkshire last Sunday there was plenty of competition at the Yeadon Guiseley club’s Chris Carter Trophy Trial.
As well as being a hotly-contested National trial it also represented the fifth round of the ACU S3 Parts Championship.
And it was every bit as close for the Premier award as it was for the S3 Championship points.
Michael Brown eventually took the Chris Carter Trophy home to Scarborough – but only after an epic scrap with his Gas Gas UK team mate Jack Price – while in the S3 it was Sherco teamsters James Fry and Luke Walker who fought-out a dead heat and had to be separated on a most-cleans tie-break.
The Chris Carter was based as usual on the Y&G stronghold at Dob Park, Otley, with two laps of 20 sections the order of the day and the two main groups of sections set in Dob Park and Brown’s Wood, with loops out to smaller groups making up the mileage and keeping contenders on their toes.
The Clubman class was first away at the bright and early 9.30am start and up the road to the early subs before hitting Brown’s Wood and Crossers Rocks for some testers.
For the first time the S3 Parts series includes a Clubman Championship so there is reason for the lads to enter as many rounds as possible, not just their local round.
Hillsborough ace Darren Wasley is the runaway series leader having taken maximum points in the last three rounds.
But Waz met his match on Sunday in the irrepressible Roger Williams.
Both lads are strong characters and is was no surprise that they were the class of the field.
It proved hard to take marks off them in the dry conditions which saw the subs offer welcome grip, as they are often slippery as ice when wet mud gets dragged on to the rocks by spinning wheels.
Vertigo-mounted Roger dropped just two marks on his opening lap and then three on his second circuit to just pip Darren on the Gas Gas as he parted with three and three.
Roger’s bogey section was number 17 in Dob Park which took him for three, half his total marks.
In fact, Wasley was the only rider to keep cleans on both his punchcards while Jamie Stephenson and Martin Sandiford dropped just one apiece, despite Martin feeling (and looking) under the weather with what big sister Caroline dismissed as ‘Man Flu!’
Caz was, as ever, effortlessly keeping the riders under control at signing-on and off.
With Roger and Darren slugging it out it was Stephenson who bagged the final spot on the podium on 17 after steady laps of nine and eight respectively, just ahead of fellow Yeadon Guiseley member Sam Jennings.
The leading Clubman group was completed by Barnsley’s Neil Savage and Huddersfield Falcon member Andrew Jackson.
The S3 Parts Experts class has been a Sherco beanfeast the last few years and this season has been no different with Luke Walker, former multi champ Chris Pearson and reigning champ James Fry consistently dominating.
In fact, last year James won every round he contested including taking the Chris Carter Trophy with a fantastic ride.
This year though has seen Ashby de la Zouch ace Walker determined to nail the title and he started with two maximum points hauls as Fry just couldn’t find the form that made him so unbeatable in 2016.
But on a low-scoring day in Yorkshire James and Luke contrived to drop 16 marks apiece, Luke consistent on two laps of eight while James improved on an opening 10 marks with a six-mark finish on lap two.
The third member of the Sherco trio, Pearson, had something of a nightmare, finishing down in tenth in the S3 stakes on the day.
The opposition came in the shape of very strong performances from former Chris Carter winner Ian Austermuhle and fellow Beta rider, Lancashire’s Jack Spencer.
Jack was looking really strong riding confidently just ahead of the fancied runners and giving them something to think about.
At the end, both Jack and Ian, the latter concentrating more on MTB Enduro these days, finished just a single mark down on the top two and having to go to a second tie-break after they finished equal on cleans!
And the tie-breaks continued with non-Championship rider Richard Sadler on his two-stroke Beta losing 19, the same as Ben Hemingway who is busy getting used to riding a four-stroke Beta again before attacking the Scottish Six Days.
For the Yeadon Guiseley club the Chris Carter is a showpiece trial and a prestigious Premier to claim.
And Michael Brown was proud to repeat his 2015 victory having held off the attack from his teenage team-mate Jack Price.
An early prod on the twelfth sub proved to be one too many for Pricey, who is looking to defend his ACU British Championship lead this Sunday at the second round in Cumbria.
Non-Championship riders dominated on Sunday with Jack Sheppard journeying up from Ipswich to claim the final podium place, the Beta rider only just holding off Scorpa-mounted Whitby ace Andy Chilton.
Tom Minta and Dan Thorpe took their Gassers to 12th and 13th, Tom coming back well from an expensive opening lap while Dan just wasn’t on the pace on Sunday.
Chris Alford was trying hard as ever and nailed a strong finish just ahead of British Ladies Champ Emma Bristow, who relishes these challenges and showed superb technique on the imposing rock steps and added to her S3 Points Championship tally.
Top Intermediate on the day was Thomas Housecroft with an impressive performance.
Another cracking trial by the Y&G faithful for all classes.