Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Graham Jarvis kick-started his 2019 campaign with a flawless ride to win round one of the ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship, hosted by Fast Eddy Racing, at the popular Parkwood 4×4 Off-road Centre, Tong near Bradford.
Red Bull KTM’s Jonny Walker, still recovering from injuries, was thrilled to finish in second after leading the race for the first hour while fan favourite Paul Bolton put in a consistent ride to round out the top three.
This was the 9th Eddy’s Xtreme at Tong, testament to the superb facilities Parkwood Off-road Centre has to offer. All of the hard work the Fast Eddy team put into the event paid dividends, as over 200 riders and thousands of spectators turned out for an exhilarating event on an unseasonably mild but windy day, with special guest spectators Carl Fogarty and John McGuinness milling amongst the masses.
Despite this year’s course being the toughest yet, there were still plenty of hard and easy options for the riders to choose between. The infamous rock section, with the course running across it this year, challenged even the most technically able riders, a deliberate attempt by the organisers to make this year’s event more challenging following feedback from riders.
In addition to the rock section there was also the option to tackle the waterfall in the AM race, which only a handful of riders tried and overcame. The course took its toll on the hardware, with chains dangling loose after getting caught on the rocks, and mudguards being snapped off left, right and centre.
Paul Edmondson flagged the 2-hour morning race away at 9.50am. Sportsman Vet Anthony Crowe grabbed the holeshot, straight into the newly laid out start, closely followed by Karl Greenall who quickly took and kept the lead for the rest of the race, negotiating his way through over 100 riders to finish nine minutes ahead of second place Alex Owen on seven laps.
Mark Lodge was a couple of minutes behind in third spot. With so many riders setting off at the same time, a queue formed at the rock section as riders took it in turn to tackle the first hill climb. However, as the race progressed, everyone settled into a rhythm and spread out across the track.
Richard Moorhouse was the top Youth rider, keeping pace with the Sportsman Vets and finishing in fourth overall behind them. Jacob Wilson was a lap down in second with Mitch Parkes rounding out the top three.
The main race started at 1pm with 100 riders raring to battle it out for a gruelling two and a half hours. Jonny Walker got off to a strong start and was leading until just after the hour mark, when he was passed by Graham Jarvis who, lap after lap, stretched the lead to take the first big win of the season.
The championship riders made it look easy, with the top five racking up 11 laps. Walker finished second, two minutes behind Jarvis, closely followed by Paul Bolton, a further two minutes down. The next closest competitors were South Africa’s Travis Teesdale, new to the Eurotek KTM team, who was 11 minutes behind Jarvis and local rider Will Hoare who claimed fifth.
The famous ditch jump entertained the crowds, with the championship riders taking the hardest lines and clearing it with ease. From the jump, the course followed the stream into the valley of the waterfall where the numerous hills caught more than a few riders out,even the likes of Paul Bolton and many spectators were able to get stuck in, ducking the flying bikes, to pull riders up the hills.
winner of the Expert class, Gavin Houson, did well to infiltrate the Championship class and take 10th overall followed by Jack Spencer in second and Ben Wibberley in third. Seasoned veteran Wayne Braybrook dominated the Elite Vets class, finishing one lap ahead of second place Harold Crawford.
2018’s AM race winner, Mark Houson, adapted well the harder race conditions taking third place to make it a very successful day for the Houson family. The biggest class by far, the Clubman, saw some competitive racing with Jason Hirst the eventual victor ahead of Luke Owen and Jack Winn.
Despite not being able to race due to injury, the 2018 WESS Champion Billy Bolt could be seen riding around on a mobility scooter in support of his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Graham Jarvis, who was his smooth controlled self throughout the race to take his third Tong victory.
All eyes now turn to the second round, which will take place on Sunday, February 3, at Cowm Quarry in Rochdale.
Sportsman Vets: 1 Karl Greenall, 2 Alex Owen, 3 Mark Lodge
Youth: 1 Richard Moorhouse, 2 Jacob Wilson, 3 Mitch Parkes
Sportsman: 1 Chris Tennant, 2 James Marwood, 3 Nick Whitehead
Championship: 1 Graham Jarvis, 2 Jonny Walker, 3 Paul Bolton, 4 Travis Teesdale, 5 Will Hoare
Expert: 1 Gavin Houson, 2 Jack Spencer, 3 Ben Wibberley
Elite Vets: 1 Wayne Braybrook, 2 Harold Crawford, 3 Mark Houson
Clubman: 1 Jason Hirst, 2 Luke Owen, 3 Jack Winn