Jack Price took back-to-back wins in last weekend’s Tynemouth club double-header in Northumberland – which formed rounds three and four of the 2019 ACU Trial GB Series.
The wins mean Price (Gas Gas) has opened up a healthy 11-point margin over his nearest challenger Toby Martyn (Beta) as the championship already approaches the half way stage.
Martyn matched his friend and rival through all 36 sections on Saturday – three laps of 12 – even though he had, by his standards, a disastrous second lap which included three failures on the superb sections on the rocky slopes at Shaftoe Crags.
Returning to the finish ahead of his main rival, Price thought he had thrown the win away when he failed the climb over mud and rocks at the ninth section, over which Martyn recorded the only clean.
And when the scores were released it couldn’t have been closer as both contenders had tied on 24 points and equally both riders had recorded 28 cleans, so it went to the most ‘dabs’ and Pricey just sneaked the win.
Jack Peace (Sherco) returned to form with a solid third place with steady laps of around a dozen each time. But the talk and envy of all in the paddock at the end was an outstanding final lap by Iwan Roberts (TRRS) who mastered all 12 sections for the loss of just a single mark on the ninth.
However, with earlier laps of 24 and 15, this was not enough for a podium place but he still took a well-deserved fourth at the end of the day. Martyn needed to reverse the top positions on day two to keep in touch with leader Price – who remember was British Champion as recently as 2017 – in the nine-round series.
With nine completely new sections, coupled with three modified from the previous day, it was Dan Peace (Sherco) who set the pace on Sunday morning to put him one mark in front after two laps.
Brother Jack, fresh from his podium visit the previous day shared second with Price, while Martyn was having a bad start and was 11 marks off the pace.
He recovered with the best lap of the day with three singles but this was too little too late and Toby had to settle for a comfortable fourth, with Roberts once again the best of the rest. By being the only rider to stand on the ACU Trial 2 podium on both days, Richard Sadler (Gas Gas) headed home with the leader’s red plate following fine first and second positions.
The organisers had specifically set out to make the dozen sections slightly easier than previous rounds and this received a mixed reception from the riders.
First-round winner, Sam Connor (Beta) finished second on Saturday and temporarily held the red plate overnight but Super Sam slumped to seventh on day two after a failure on the relatively easy opening section on Sunday morning.
Luke Walker (Sherco) found some of his old form to take third on Saturday, while former champ, Ross Danby posted sixth and third positions to stay in series contention.
In the ACU Trial Expert class, making the long journey from the Isle of Wight was worthwhile for Chris Stay (TRRS) who won both days with single-figure lap scores, which helped him edge out an eight-point Championship advantage.
Sam Yeomans (Gas Gas) continues to improve and impress and was delighted to make his first visit to the podium on Sunday with a second in a class which is ultra competitive.
It was an easier version of the gripless climb at section nine which caused most problems where only the winner and Emma Bristow (Sherco) – with her bags packed for a Monday flight to Japan and the opening round of the Women’s World Championship – recorded the only cleans.
On Sunday two new sections on the open fellside caused most problems and were unforgiving, especially after light rain fell. Scotland’s Ben Dignan (Gas Gas) is starting to stamp his authority in the ACU Trial 125 class with two straight start to finish wins.
Riding just behind the Expert field, Dignan’s only lapse was back-to-back failures on the steep climbs of the eighth and ninth on Saturday afternoon.
This was enough to let runner-up, Brett Harbud (Beta) get close, but at the end of the day he only had one mark to spare from Irish regular Adam Harris (Gas Gas), who made a faultless attempt on the steep hill climb at the eighth which stopped many of the Expert entry, on larger machines, in their tracks.
The series resumes in two weeks’ time with the West of England round in Devon.