This weekend saw the first round of the 2016 Schwalbe British 4X Series take place at Chicksands Bike Park in Bedfordshire. Given that it is the only track on the series that takes place in woodlands, the venue provides a great atmosphere allowing spectators to get close to the exciting racing that occurs. The track recently underwent some minor changes to tighten up racing including a triple jump on the first straight, extended jumps down the main straight and a step-on, step-off at the end of the track. With rain earlier in the week and dry weather throughout the weekend, track conditions were ideal for racing on.
Representing the team in the Pro Elite class were brothers, Jack and Connor Hudson. Given that this was their local 4X course, both riders knew the course and its lines well and felt confident that they could put together a good result on home turf. Racing kicked off with Connor Hudson. Getting off to a fantastic start in the first moto, Connor used his local lines, including a hip transfer out of the first corner, in order to hold onto the lead and take his 2nd ever moto win in the Elite class. He was then able to follow up with two more fantastic starts to gain a clean sweep of moto wins against some of the top-ranked riders from last season, providing him with first gate pick for the semi-finals later in the day.
Jack was also on form, using his fast and consistent starts, he was able to grab the lead and ride strong laps to hold on to the finish in his first two motos and take wins. In the final moto, he again gained the holeshot, however, further down the track, he tangled with last year’s runner-up, Nathan Parsons, forcing him back to third place, but still in a comfortable qualifying position into the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, Connor and Jack were both drawn against each other as first and second place qualifiers into the knockout stage. Out of the start, both Hudson brothers got off to fantastic starts, with Connor just getting the edge out of the first straight. Connor was able to navigate his way to the finish in first place to make his first Elite men final. Unfortunately, while in a qualifying position for the final, a dejected Jack washed out on the blown out second corner, putting him in 4th and ending his chance of making his first final as well.
In the small final, Jack was able to re-focus after his semi-final incident, to come from gate four and move across down the first straight to take the lead ahead of defending series champion, Duncan Ferris, Damien Groves and Davi Roberts. He was able to hold onto this lead right until the final corner, where a move from Roberts allowed two riders to get by, putting Jack into 7th place for the day and out of the podium spots.
Coming into the main final, Connor was awarded first gate pick as the top qualifier into the final, lining up in lane two with Aaron Dalleywater and Rich Swales on his outside and Nathan Parsons to his inside. A huge pause before the drop of the gate made it much more difficult for the riders to concentrate on their starts, however, as the gate dropped, Connor was able to get the best start of everyone to take the early lead with young gun and fellow Chicksands local, Aaron Dalleywater in tow. Coming out of the second corner, all riders took the inside line, with Dalleywater trying to cut tighter than everyone. This lead to him washing out and slowing up the rest of the field, allowing Connor to gap everybody and cruise to the finish to take his first ever elite win and his first podium. This result is also the first ever national elite win for the 44Racing Rockstar team since it formed.
Connor Hudson left this race with the maximum score of 42 points, giving him a strong lead in the national series standings at this early stage in the season. The next round for the 4X team will be on the 30th April at Afan in South Wales.
A huge thank you to all the teams sponsors for the continued support in 2016:
44Racing, Diamondback Europe, Rockstar Energy Drink, Kore USA,Freestylextreme.com, ThorMX UK, SRAM, Duck Smart, Avid, RockShox, SpiralGFX, 100% Goggles, Data Tag, Schwalbe UK, Horizon Watches, Owkay Clothing, Plush Suspension, Boom Earwear.
Photos: Peter Ford and Paula Hudson.