I’m genuinely excited about the weekend ahead as two 200-mile trips – or 220-miles if I’m claiming my travelling expenses at a massive 11 pence per mile or whatever it is this month – will deliver two supreme slices of off-road action direct to my retinas albeit through the lens of my Canon.
The first journey will be to Sheffield FlyDSA Arena for the penultimate round of the Power Maxed Arenacross Tour which is shaping up to be another epic end to another amazing series. As things stand current leader Cedric Soubeyras and three-time champion Thomas Ramette are separated by just two points.
The past two tours have seen Soubeyras fall at the final hurdle and so you can guarantee that he’ll be looking for a strong performance in Sheffield to put him in pole position for the London finale. Likewise, Ramette will be looking for any advantage he can get to line him up for title #4.
All things being equal, I’d wager a bet on Ramette to win it but there are a couple of variables that may play a part. The first of these is the fact that Soubeyras actually has a useful team-mate this year. In 2016 he was all alone in the Rob Hooper camp while last year it was his wingman who contributed heavily in that final round defeat.
This year Cedric’s got Ashley Greedy in his corner and let’s face it – that guy ain’t shy when it comes to getting the job done. Ordinarily you could assume that Ash wouldn’t be a factor in the Main Event as throughout the 2016 and ’17 tours he failed to qualify for any of them, but he’s riding pretty well right now and even if he doesn’t qualify through the heats, or the Head-to-Head LCQ seems able to rely on the people’s vote to put him in the Main. Yep, popularity equals a place in the points-payer in Arenacross these days.
Whichever way you slice it the final two rounds are gonna be well worth watching and the best place to do that in my opinion is from the edge of your seat in the arenas themselves. Tickets are still available for both Sheffield and the finale in Wembley so don’t miss out!
After travelling back from Sheffield to Morecambe at a legal speed, and driving safely as the JP risk assessment states, I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn to do a similar length journey – this time down the M6, through that awful set of roadworks at a steady 50MPH and then down the A53 to Hawkstone Park.
Other routes are available but that way reminds me of travelling down to Hawkstone as a nipper in my old man’s motor so it just has to be done…
There’s nothing better than driving towards Hawkstone and getting that first glimpse of the hill. It’s traditional for me to arrive when the bikes are already out there – even when I was racing myself – so I expect to hear the thunder of four-bangers tapped-out up the hill and panic revs echoing from elsewhere around the wooded circuit.
The sounds, smells and frigid air normally take me right back to those old New Year’s Day meetings where you could see most of the UK’s top 40 in action in the main races, the Silvester brothers up-front in the Hangover support class and a hand-picked selection of schoolboy talent battling it out too.
You could also get last year’s Wulfsport kit at bargain prices direct from Bill Brown and still have change for a bag of chips, a cup of tea and the bus ride home. It’s fair to say that the event has come on a long way since then and I wonder what today’s crop of young fans will be witnessing at Hawkstone Park in another 20-odd years time!
Hopefully, they’ll be recognisable scenes even if it is electric bikes that are whirring up the hill at full chat. I do wonder what the JP mileage rate will be in 2044 though…