Following Monday’s relatively easy opening day, which saw no fewer than six riders finish the day on single figures, the course was ramped up for the second day’s competition with some very rough moorland crossings and several really tough sections among the daily tally of 30 set along the 76 mile route.
And at the end of the day the congested front end of the field had been thinned out somewhat with just Factory Beta ace James Dabill still sitting on a clean sheet after a very satisfying day for the two times SSDT winner.
But there was a huge shadow hovering over James and that of course belonged to eleven times winner, Vertigo’s Dougie Lampkin who, having shrugged off his single mark dab at Garbh Bheinn on Monday – “I really needed it, I lost the front on the loose stones,” – was right back on the case and was the only rider to match The Dibsta on clean for the day.
Jack Sheppard slipped into third place almost unnoticed on the Sherco being the next best performer with just a single mark on the day for a three marks total. This is two marks clear of veteran Sam Connor who dropped five and is tied on points with Gas Gas UK stalwart Sam Haslam.
Interestingly Jack Price (Gas Gas), Gary Macdonald and Andrew Chilton (both Scorpa) all started the day carrying a yellow leader board on zero and the trio remain tied having contrived to lose six marks apiece on the day. Pricey was going well until a five at late group Fassfern stopped the 2017 runner-up’s charge.
Guy Kendrew (Beta) and Ross Danby (TRS) are both dependable Scottish performers and complete the second day top ten. The route went south from Fort William before heading over the Corran Ferry and the opening group right there with five subs at Ardgour before three on the boulders at Carnoch (used to be called Inversanda) then Corie Dubh and three at Belsgrove including a tough boulder-strewn climb that was not used last year.
The field then headed off road alongside Loch Shiel before Uachan and then some more off-road taking in subs at Annat and the three sub finale at Trotters Burn. The weather was rough and saw incessant rain in the morning and the moors were wet and soft which was good fun for some competitors but the worst nightmare for others.
In the class awards there’s no surprise that Dougie maintains his place at the top of the Over 40s, now from cousin Ben Hemingway and pal Amos Bilbao. Ladies World Champ Emma Bristow is even more dominant having increased her advantage to 56 marks over long time Spanish rival Sandra Gomez.
Gary Macdonald is loping to yet another top Scot trophy but the battle over Best Newcomer is as hot as former World Championship rider Jean Luc Nictou (Vertigo) riding the Scottish for the first time as an Over 40 rider eased into a one mark lead over young Yorky Thomas Housecroft.
It’s all beginning to fall into place.