Former ACU S3 Parts British Champ Luke Walker showed just how he won that title, the Sherco loyalist having a cracking ride to take the Premier Award, and maximum S3 points, in the Westmorland club’s Milnthorpe Cup trial last Sunday.
The Milnthorpe was the second round of the popular 2019 series and attracted over 140 entrants to the lake District where the event started at Bowland Bridge, near Kendal, and wended its way through the lanes of the Winster valley.
On the way, riders tackled no fewer than 40 separate sections, set over multiple groups with rocky bankings, tricky woodland climbs and slippery becks.
Five sections set on rock outcrops surrounding the parking field set the tone, with the very first hazard causing several Experts to drop their first marks. From there it was out into the countryside and the narrow, single track lanes cunningly connecting the various groups.
The trial, set out virtually single-handed by Antony Brockbank, actually produced a very close scrap between the leading S3 Experts and the trio of non-championship boys comprising Scorpa-mounted Tom Minta and Andy Chilton plus recent Gas Gas convert Richard Sadler. These three paid their part in urging good rides from the S3 contenders – but failed to beat a confident SkyWalker.
Sadler lost his chance on the infamous waterfall at Fox Craggs which was thankfully ice-free this year but cost Richard marks when he tackled it in second gear.
He tried it again in bottom and breezed it before saying: “I don’t know which is worse, losing the marks or cleaning it after!”
Lancashire’s Paul Sullivan pulled off something of a shock second place, the Vertigo rider pipping ever-present serial National winner, Gas Gas ambassador Dan Thorpe, on a tie-break after both contrived to drop seven marks.
And there was another tie-break right behind, with Sunderland’s Beta mounted John Crinson only getting the better of Isle of Wight visitor Chris Stay who had a great ride on the TRS looking confident on all the hazards.
These five were the only S3 Experts in single figures.
There was a Northern centre one-two in the S3 Clubman as Rob Shuttleworth proved unbeatable, just as he did last year, tackling the rockery and becks with equal confidence.
Rob was followed home by Bassenthwaite clubman Stu Gaskell, these two the only riders in class to stay in single figures.
It was down to Richard Fraser to uphold Yorkshire honour and bag another podium to back up his ride in the previous week’s Wallace Cup.
Brother Tom couldn’t match Richard’s form this week, though, after last week’s memorable family one-two.
The tie-break was in force again to split motocross ace Jake Gowan and veteran Scot Neil Dawson before Katy Sunter weighed in with an excellent sixth place showing her throttle control on a brand new 250 Gasser and being impressed with its new rear suspension set-up, reckoning it offered improved traction. You can’t argue with the result!
And the course proved just as rideable for the S3 Over 40 Championship points chasers and it was Wrexham’s Phil Houghton who looked awesome on a Beta two-stroke after several years campaigning Montesa four-stroke power.
Phil dropped a mere three marks as Lancashire lad Kiaran Hankin jammed his Vertigo in between Phil and fellow Beta rider and pal Tony Buckley.
Veteran Yorkie Phil Alderson was next, the Gas Gas man looking good but he spoiled his score in the final slippery woodland group at Lamb Howe which cost him a podium. The good news was that the forecast rain failed to show until the last few minutes and the vast majority of riders left saying they had had a great day out on their bikes.
Aran Drachenberg said: “That was the best trial I’ve ridden in ages, such a change from four times round a field.”
With riders coming from as far as the Isle of Wight and the south coast as well as Scotland and even the Isle of Man it’s good that they all go home having experienced a proper traditional one-lap trial.
Big thanks to Brock and to all who made it happen, especially the observers, some of whom manned two sections, taking an early one and then racing ahead to pick it up again before the end.
S3 Expert: Luke Walker (Sherco) 3, Paul Sullivan (Vertigo) 7, Dan Thorpe (Gas Gas) 7, John Crinson (Beta) 9, Chris Stay (TRS) 9, Sam Yeomans (Gas Gas)10, Darren Brice (Beta) 13, Richard Timperley (Gas Gas) 18, Sam Yeadon (Beta) 24, Guy Kendrew (Gas Gas) 25, Aran Drachenberg (Beta) 28, Craig Houston (Scorpa) 28, Tom Swindlehurst (Sherco) 28, Sam Beecroft Penny (Gas Gas) 29, Andrew Anderson (Scorpa) 35.
S3 125: Brett Harbud (Beta) 70, Jame Eley (Beta) 143.
S3 Clubman: Rob Shuttleworth (Beta) 5, Stuart Gaskell (Beta) 9, Richard Fraser (Sherco) 16, Jake Gowan (Scorpa) 18, Neil Dawson (Beta) 18, Katy Sunter (Gas Gas) 21, Paul Bennett (Scorpa) 22, Tom Hodgson (Scorpa) 23, Anthony Stephen (Vertigo) 23, Martin Carter (Gas Gas) 26, Thomas Fraser (Gas Gas) 27, Simon Hiscock (Beta) 31, Adam Elliott (Beta) 33, Stephen Cornthwaite 34, Lewis Johnson (Beta) 38.
S3 Over 40: Phillip Houghton (Beta) 3, Kiaran Hankin (Vertigo) 6, Tony Buckley (Beta) 8, Phillip Alderson (Gas Gas) 10, Huw Price (Beta) 13, Billy Craig (Montesa) 13, Neil Savage (Gas Gas) 19, Nigel Birkett (Scorpa) 21, Darren Wasley (Gas Gas) 22, Greg Moor (TRS) 25, Douglas Paton (Montesa) 27, Steven Gerrard (Beta) 33, Glen Quinn (TRS) 34, Ian Stephen (Vertigo) 34, Alistair Dalton (Beta) 35.
Not eligible for S3 points: Tom Minta (Scorpa) 4, Richard Sadler (Gas Gas) 4, Andy Chilton (Scorpa) 5.
S3 Parts Championship points after two rounds:
Experts: Dan Thorpe 34, John Crinson 30, Luke Walker 29, Guy Kendrew 27, Chris Stay 26, Sam Yeadon 18, Richard Timperley 14, Lloyd Price 11, Sam Yeomans 11, Darren Brice 10.
Clubma n: Phil Houghton 35, Darren Wasley 20, Tom Fraser 17, Rob Shuttleworth 17, Tony Buckley 15, Kiaran Hankin 15, Phil Wiffen 13, Richard Fraser 13, Paul Sullivan 13, Jason Galvin 11.
Clubman Over 40: Phil Houghton 37, Darren Wasley 27, Tony Buckley 24, Kiaran Hankin 17, Phil Wiffen 15, Neil Savage 14, Jason Galvin 13, Huw Price 13, Phil Alderson 13, Steve Swanson 13.