The 2016 PUTOLINE HARE SCRAMBLES blasted off last Sunday as the WOR Events organised series staged Round 1 at the always popular Baden Hall estate in Staffordshire. The Old ministry of defence Bomb making and testing site, lending itself superbly to the cross country enduro format of this very popular series.
A superb 6 mile per lap of intense twists and turns with lots of different woodland sections mixed with open grass field going and varied enduro terrain was embraced by 400 riders that took part over the weekend. The weather even played its part in making it a superb day as the sunshine shone and the first day of spring introduced itself perfectly leaving a very tacky and fun track to compete on.
A 12 noon start saw a rammed start grid for the riders taking part and Race Boss Steve Ireland gave a pretty full on pre-race safety briefing and rider rules refresh session before dropping his famous union jack start flag and sending the waves of riders off into the first wooded sections of the track.
The first gaggle of riders back to lap control 15 minutes later was a tight group of experts led by Neil Chatham with George Price and Lee Sampson in very close quarters as were the rest of the chasing expert pack. The lead swapped a few times between the top riders before MRS Sherco rider Sampson showed his strength by taking the reins at the sharp edge of the race and staying there till the end with a very smooth, skilful and mistake free ride to push the 300 4t to a well deserved first round win in this championship. The 27-year-old Sheffield based Rider Sampson, eventually finishing ahead of Runner Up, Neil Chatham by just over a minute and a half.
Chatham made the long trip down from Edinburgh as did a very big Scottish contingent over the weekend at this event, and proved his worth as one of the best Enduro riders in Scotland with this very strong performance. Making Chatham’s ride even more impressive is the wee lad was riding a full on 450 Moto X Honda which in the tight trees must have been a real handful to say the least. Husky mounted George Price rode very well too and led for a while, a bit of work on fitness and George will be up there as he certainly ahs the speed. Ross Davies on his 125 was going well too and he was unlucky not to make the podium after a nasty tumble. All the top riders completed 11 laps in the 2.5hrs allowed and the times were so close right up to 11th place in the Expert
David Haith once again defied his near 50 years to take the Expert Veteran win with a superb ride and very smooth performance to edge out Runner Up, MTB Legend, Nige Page and the hard charging Darren Skillin in 3rd place. KTM Mounted Haith took the lead with around 50 minutes to go a kept strong to take an eventual 45 second victory from the Husky Mounted Page whom himself had done a great job of leading the class for the first part. Darren Skillin on his new 250f Husky had a slow start but was flying by the end and only 10 seconds separated him from Page. the top 3 Expert Vets were the only riders in class to get 11 laps in.
Young Wirral based rider Ryan Shacklady was suffering from a nasty bout of flu but it did nothing to stop him putting in one of his best performances to date to take a clean win in the always competitive Clubman class. Shacko on the 4t KTM was always looking over his shoulder though as his main peer, Paul Engerelen (KTM) was never too far away and eventually it was 1 minute and 2 seconds in favour to Shacklady at the end of the demanding race. Rounding out the Clubman podium was a very good ride from young Kris Weston, Kris being the only other rider in class to match the top two’s 11 laps each and finishing 2.5 minutes down on Engerlen.
The only other class in the race to do the full 2.5hr race duration was the Clubman Vets and top dog in the group was Danny Clarke. Clarke (KTM) gave it everything and was pleased to see the chequered flag at the end. Fully deserving his win with a 1 and a half minute advantage over Second Placed, Steve Curry, another Scottish rider making the long Journey home worthwhile with his silverware. Curry was in turn nearly 4 minutes clear of third placed John “the buses” Jones with all 3 riders completing 10 laps.
The other classes were taking part in a 2-hour challenge and the arcing was hot to trot there too with the Top Over 50’s rider, Colin Griffiths taking the win in class and the 2hr session. Griffiths (KTM) battling with an ongoing Shoulder problem managed to reel in the hard-charging leader, Colin Jones (YAM), right towards the end of the race and eventually put out just over a 45-second advantage. 3rd place went to Duncan Humphrey (Husky) 4 minutes adrift but things might have been a bit different at the top if Humphreys had not lost 5 or 6 minutes just off the start in a messy crash in at the first bank, Definitely a great comeback though from Duncan. 8 laps was the achieved target in this class.
Top Sportsman was Young 250 2t DCR Sherco mounted Joe Townsend. Townsend was in great form and battled hard to put a very narrow 15-second gap between him and Runner Up, Rob Myatt. Myatt in turn rode superbly to put just under a minute on bronze placed Husky rider, Matt Verrin. All riders very pleased with their early season points. 8 circuits each was the score of all the top 20 Sportsman.
It was a real old school gaggle of WOR stalwart riders that made the podium in the Sportsman Veteran class with Guy Hemming (KTM) taking the win from Lee Sephton (SHERCO) and Emerys Price(KTM) in 3rd spot. Again all the top 5 Sportsman Vets completed 8 laps each.
In the very completive Youth class the top honours went to Josh Haith with a very neat ride to match his at the top of their respective groups and make sure two trophies went home with them. Haith was a clear half lap ahead of Runner-Up Ryan Holland who put in a great shift to take the silver award. A special mention though must go to Sam Davies on the little 85cc by securing a superb 3rd spot. Archie Collier and Rob Francom also doing well to complete the 8 lap target.
Finally in the Novice class it was Ben Martindale that took his second overall class win on the trot with Adam Wicks and Ben Hurley in 2nd and 3rd spot Respectively…Liam Befield also completed 8 laps in 4th place and with scores like this these 4 might want to look to move up out of the Novice ranks, a massive well done to them all.
WOR once again and as expected delivered a superb event, organised with military precision and a very friendly atmosphere to match the professionalism and commitment of the marshalling and event safety team.
A massive thanks goes out to the landowners, Staff, medics, media personnel, Caterers, Putoline Oil sponsors but most importantly the riders that turned out in the masses for this fantastic Putoline Hare Scrambles opening round.
For Results please visit: http://www.worevents.com/news/article/rd-1-putoline-hare-scrambles-2016-race-wrap-up