A frequent factor in any Welsh Two-Day Enduro is that it rains – either before or during the event, but this year the rain has been conspicuous by its absence. This has meant that rather than having a schedule for wet weather, clerk of the course Phil Wilkinson has had an eye on a dust schedule.
With it looking more like the Mediterranean than mid-Wales, this year’s event attracted its usual full and over-subscribed entry, which will have pleased new event sponsors Rock Oil and Michelin
This year’s event had a 140-mile single-lap route similar to last year, the tried and tested single-lap with 10 time checks and three special tests giving riders a great variety and and challenge. The special tests at Llandrindod, Saint’s Well and Cwmythig Hill (the Rhayader MX track) gave different going with a mixture of cross-country and MX track.
The Two-Day enjoys a wonderful relationship with the town and area around Llandrindod Wells and this allows access to mountain-top going, with spectacular views of the stunning mid-Wales countryside.
Riders from all over the world have ridden the event and this year was no exception, with competitors from Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and France joined by contingents from Australia and the Falkland Islands.
Some of the UK’s rising and established international riders were committed to riding in a World round, but the full entry had several former winners – and at least three former winners signed up as marshals – out to enjoy the event.
This year, four Australian sidecar crews made the trek to mid-Wales, together with a number of solo riders adding to the international mix. The riders hardly had time to warm their engines before embarking on the first special test, at Werngoch Farm, between Llandod and Crossgates.
This was used for the first time last year and is a real cross country test, with varied going as it winds around a small plantation. Setting the pace in the Championship Sidecars were last year’s winners, David Williams/ Luke Peters, posting a fast time. Snapping at their heels were Alun Davies/ James Ferguson and Jonathan Williams and Neil James.
In the Sidecar Experts, Micheal Hutton/ Kieran McCarley set the fastest time followed by Andrew Scrivens/ Martin Lawford and Simon Chilcott/ Ben Sinclair.
Alex Snow announced his intentions out front in the Solos, with Tom Sagar and Daryl Bolter just a few seconds back. Expert riders Aaron Gordon, Ted Bailey and Adam James made up the top-three in a fast class.
In the very popular classic classes Ricky Madden was fastest Clubman and Tom Knill made the best of local knowledge with the fastest time in the Expert classic class on his immaculate Husky.
In the huge Veteran Clubman class Knighton’s Bo Anderson was quickest, while in the hotly-contested Veteran Experts former MX racer Jonathan Pettit led the field, while George Williams led the Clubmen on this first test.
From Werngoch, mountain tracks and short road sections took competitors to the infamous Radnor, where rock-hard tracks and steep downhills tested the riders as much as if it were in its usual wet state.
Fuelling before and after the Radnor, riders went onto the Beacon check, another hilltop spot with stunning views. After the check, riders made the short run through the Red Lion forestry before the second special test at Saint’s Well.
Despite the efforts of the Rees family, the MX parts of the test were very dusty, and it was fortunate that a breeze took the dust away – and sometimes brought it back again. Daryl Bolter upped his game at this test – which was completed twice back-to-back by the championship solos.
He won not only these two but also one of the following two at Cwmythig to into a slender five-second lead over Alex Snow. Also setting the pace was Jamie Lewis who won one of the tests at Cwmythig on his 450 Yamaha.
After the test and fuel, riders headed east, through the Waun check, a short seven-miler with very little forest road, before another hilltop run down to Rhayader. The third test was at Cwmythig hill, where more fuel and service saw a large crowd of spectators watching the riders through another dust bowl.
The sting in the tail for the day was the 18-mile check at Abbeycwmhir, where riders were conscious that the hanging dust was likely to slow their progress through the check. Most cleaned the check but some found themselves losing minutes through the woods, with fatigue definitely coming into play late in the day.
In the Sidecar Expert and Clubman classes, the challenges of staying on time in the dust proved the event would be won on the going, not just on the special tests. No crews stayed clean on the going, so overnight the Experts were led by Hutton/ McCarley from the husband and wife team of Alistair and Sharon Nevill.
In the Clubman, Stokes/ Townsend led from Mills/ Pugh. Day one had passed without significant incident, but Day-two was to change all that.
An early start and a reversed route took the riders into the Abbey check, where is was not long before an injury to David Emanuel saw the route blocked and riders having to be re-routed to the special test. Thankfully David’s injuries, though painful, were not as serious as first thought, but a trip to hospital followed.
An injury to Ryan Leary of Swansea was a serious one, and he was airlifted to the Royal Infirmary at Stoke where his condition is serious. Many friends, riders and supporters have left good wishes for Ryan and the thoughts of all are with him and his family.
The test was scrubbed for the Expert and Championship solo riders and the day was further complicated by a group of illegal riders in the Waun forest forcing abandonment of thatcheck, and routing down the road.
After the test at Saint’s Well, riders started to get back to their normal running order and thankfully there were no more serious incidents as they completed the Radnor and headed for Werngoch for the final time.
Large crowds had gathered at the test, and they were not disappointed as the riders made every effort to secure their places or move up the standings.
First through the test were the top three sidecar crews, and, despite the best efforts of Davies/ Ferguson and Williams/ James, the reigning champions, David Williams/ Luke Peters held on to take a well-deserved win.
David Williams said: “Were delighted to win again, we’ve been getting our new bike sorted and are really happy with the way it went. Jon and Neil, Alun and James pushed us hard both days, and the lack of rain was a shock but it’s great to come away with the win.”
Daryl Bolter had won tests through the day and came into the test as leader but Alex Snow pulled out the stops to snatch the lead and take his first W2D win.
Jamie Lewis also flew through the two tests at Werngoch to snatch third from an equally hard-charging Tom Sagar, Bolter having to settle for runner-up – another tight finish going right to the wire after two days of hard competition.
A delighted Alex Snow said: “It’s been a great two days in Wales, and to get the win was the icing on the cake.
“I felt solid on all the tests keeping myself in contention all weekend and managed to make it count on the last two enduro tests. “I really enjoyed the riding especially in such good weather, despite some dust.”
Some tired bodies hauled themselves off their two or three-wheeled mounts, with a promise of a lie-in the following day. Not so the hardy souls of Aberytwyth MC, who took to their mountain bikes to retrace the day-one route raising money in the memory of Prys Morris.
The organisers would like to thank all of the landowners for the use of their land, to the volunteers who staffed the checks and provided the signing-on team and the marshals out on the course and at static points who faced very challenging conditions.
Sidecar Championship: 1 Luke Peters/ David Williams, 2 Neil James/ Jonathan Williams, 3 James Ferguson/ Alun Davies, 4 Samuel Wilkinson/ Daniel Lawry, 5 James Cuff/ Shane Schiller, 6 Simon Morgan/ Aled Evans.
Sidecar Expert: 1 Kieran Mccarley/ Micheal Hutton, 2 Sharon Nevil/l Alistair Nevill Stoke, 3 Damien Jones/ Shaun Jones, 4 Gareth Clarke/ Paul Manning, 5 Joshua Golding/ David Tuck,6 Martin Lawford/ Andrew Scrivens.
Sidecar Clubman: 1 Luke Townsend/ Mark Stokes, 2 Neil Llewelyn Pugh/ Antony Mills, 3 Callum Gibbons/ Marcus Morgan, 4 Shane Symons/ Ashley Bonwick Smith, 5 Aled Morris/ Stuart Jones, 6 Daniel Lewis/ Aled Rees.
Sportsman: 1 Liam Ryland, 2 Steven Baldock, 3 Gavin Zembrzuski, 4 Philip Davies, 5 Gary Pilbeam, 6 William Wynn.
Classic Clubman: 1 Ricky Madden, 2 Gavin Hockey, 3 Paul Whitehead, 4 Gary Gladwin, 5 Iwan Rees.
Classic Expert: 1 Alun Jones, 2 Thomas Knill, 3 Ian Barnett, 4 Andy Elliott, 5 Jonathan Stobbs, 6 Alan Ranger.
Vet Clubman: 1 Bo Anderson, 2 Andy Harvey, 3 Philip Roper, 4 Jason King, 5 Gregory Simon, 6 Kevin Wallace.
Clubman: 1 Jack Nixey, 2 Harry Houghton, 3 Martin Rowan, 4 George Williams, 5 Jake Purcell, 6 Rhodri Gardener.
Vet Expert: 1 Jonathan Pettitt, 2 Andrew Edwards, 3 Anthony Griffith, 4 Robert Warner, 5 Robert Wrayford, 6 William Jones.
Expert: 1 Aaron Gordon, 2 Henry Yardley, 3 Adam James, 4 Ted Bailey, 5 Kalem Hicks, 6 Ben Thomson.
Championship: 1 Alex Snow, 2 Daryl Bolter, 3 Jamie Lewis, 4 Thomas Sagar, 5 Lee Sealey, 6 Fraser Flockhart East