With the weather forecast looking really glum across the UK it was again touch and go on the build up to the Spank Industries Dirt Wars UK Round 3 at the Mandry’s in Hampshire. On the morning of the event there were a few small showers but the sun soon burnt it's way through and allowed us to go ahead with what turned out to be the best round of Dirt Wars that we have held in the last 3 years!!
The course had been specially built for DWUK; the Mandry's and crew had done an amazing job. The scaffold roll in/step down was a masterpiece on its own and it was without doubt one of the most progressive courses that UK Dirt Jumping has ever seen.
In true DWUK style we started the day with all the entered riders (pro and open) riding together so they could all get the trails dialed and their game heads on ready for the comp.
The Open line up was amazing with 17 rider's (first time at DWUK for more open riders to enter than pro!) all set to get through the qualifiers and into the final. With the chance of the Open winner taking home a Saracen Amplitude CR2 complete bike a lot of the Open riders wanted to reach the podium & the competition was going to be fierce!
We even had a couple of riders turn up from Germany as they had seen previous edits of the series on the internet, they so happened to be roadtripping the UK and decided to come show us what they had in their trick bags.
Normally we run the judging on a “Three run's, two count” basis but after riding an event in Sweden in the last month a handful of Pro riders suggested a “Three Runs, One Counts” system which had been used out there. This allowed there to be a bit less pressure on the riders as there would be less need for consistency to take the top places. The judging panel of Andy Thomas (DWUK Head Judge), Adam Williams (Rose Bikes) and the Mandry brothers seemed to get on really well with this system, as did the rider's, some of them mentioning how it felt more like a jam format than a high pressure comp.
So we were soon into Open Practice before the Open category qualifiers got underway. With the largest field of Open competitors and a large number of new faces, nobody was quite sure what the outcome would be. Familiar faces to this year’s series were showing their consistent ability to throw down their stunts regardless of the jumps. Wig Lewington Booth, Freddy Pulman, Ben Nolan & Jamie Nelson were all flowing through with their own trick bags fully open!
As well as all the new faces in Open a handful of old faces were also in attendance. Joash Clarkson was back on his bike sending flips, no footed cans & pendulums with his own unique style along with Jamie Taylor sending a more oldskool set of stunts but a nice barrel roll x-up on the last showed he still had some interesting tricks up his sleeve. Sam Hunnisett was also a returning face to the comp scene after a number of nasty crashes resulting in a lot of time off of the bike (even a rumour that he wasn’t allowed to ride comps anymore!) However he did Team 7 proud with some smooth stylish runs. Our visitors from Germany, Linus & Markus, seemed to be struggling at times with the flow required to keep your speed through the set. They openly admitted to being used to single hit jumps rather than a set of trails that required pump & flow, however Markus made it through the line fairly consistently almost stomping tailwhips on the last jump. Roman Pichnarcik was back again after his crash at Round 1 (Wisley) and whilst it took Roman a while to get used to the set, he was soon flowing through with midset tuck no-handers as well as big superman’s on the last. This left our bunch of new competitors; Jordan English was sending some nice clean back flips whilst Robert Hare was flowing through all of the set before sending his stunts on the last jump. Joe Aldridge’s first Dirt Wars of the year got better throughout the day as he got used to the jumps and relaxed more; as did Elliott Bassett from Cardiff who’s nerves seemed to get the better of him at times. From all the new faces it was Tom Cardy from Bournemouth & Daniel Stewart from Edinburgh that stood out. Tom’s 360s over the last were just so smooth whilst Dan was clicking tables more inverted than those the Pro’s were sending!
Competition was close but the 10 riders that made the Open Final were; Sam Hunnisett, Joe Aldridge, Jamie Taylor, Joash Clarkson, Tom Cardy, Jamie Nelson, Danny Stewart, Ben Nolan, Wig L-B & Freddy Pulman taking the top spot in qualifiers.
It was then onto Pro Qualifiers which looked like it was going be a field of 11 riders but after practice both Matt Cooper & Jake Armstrong dropped out as they weren’t getting on with the jumps. So the Pro qualifiers kicked off with 9 riders who were all eager for a place in the finals. All of Nookie Bikes Pro category riders were there with Dave Pearce Martin not only sending his trademark dumped 360s but also some backflips on the last booter. Jack Gear had smashed his hand pretty hard in practice but it didn’t stop him sending, whips, nothing & flips through the set whilst crankflips were being sent all through the set by Rob Newman. Craig Potter made a return to the Pro category even though he is now unsponsored & riding as a privateer.
Holdshott are a reasonably local spot for Craig which showed in his smooth & stylish riding; 360 whips, double tailwhips and 360 X-Ups were no trouble for Craig. Team Identiti were riding strongly with both Danny Pace & Daryl Brown looking like they were enjoying the jumps. Daryl’s new one-handed superman seatgrabs were really wowing the crowd & judges whilst Danny was sending nice 360s, tuck no handers & frontflips on the last. Tom Reynolds was also riding strongly with clean tailwhips, mid set flips & 360s, with no mistakes made at all. Team Dartmoor UK’s Ryan Nangle & Marcel Hunt were both showing that they are both at the top of their game right now and both keen to take the DWUK series title. Consist 360s, flips, whips, tucks and a whole host of other tricks showed that they would definitely feature in the Pro Final.
The 3 runs were taken & the judges totaled up the scores to find the 5 riders with the highest scoring runs. Now this became a bit of a problem when it came to Daryl Brown & Craig Potter. There was literally nothing splitting them up as far as the results went so an extra rider was added to the final. The 6 finalist were – Craig Potter, Daryl Brown, Tom Reynolds, Danny Pace, Marcel Hunt & Ryan Nangle.
With a short break allowing the riders to grab a bit of food & the local crew to give the jumps a bit of maintenance we were ready for the Open Finals. You could feel the tension in the air as Freddy & Wig got ready to do battle for the first place spot. At the same time riders like Ben Nolan & Danny Stewart were also gearing up to give it their all in an attempt to take first place. Joash, Joe, Jamie N, Jamie T & Sam all gave it their best attempts, improving in places on their qualifying runs but loosing a bit of consistency in places. Tom Cardy was really showing that with more experience & a bit more of a developed trick bag that he could be a podium contender. Super smooth 360s, no footed cans & getting consistently through the set showed his ability, whilst Ben Nolan didn’t seem quite on the form that he had at Wisley. His combo tricks weren’t quite as clicked but some nice stretched nothings and no footed cans as well as super clicked 360 xups showed the judges that he still had some moves. But it was Danny Stewart that just scraped into 3rd place above Ben Nolan. Danny was tricking all the jumps apart from the speed jumps; nice inverts off the roll-in, tyre grabs over the hip, no footed cans and various other tricks were performed neatly and precisely showing the young Scotsman’s talent. Throughout the 3 final runs it was just like Freddy & Wig were watching each others runs carefully and each time trying to out do each other with their next string of tricks. In the end it was Wigs consistency of throwing big tricks midset whilst making them look super easy that took Wig into first & Freddy into second. Freddy was trying his hardest with 360 tucks, opposite 360s & big disco cans but it wasn’t quite enough for first this time.
With an extra 20 minutes of practice for the Pro riders it was clear to see that things were going to go off! All of the qualifying Pros had enough style & variety of tricks to take the top spot, which not only made judging the final a pretty hard task but made all riders keen to put on their best show possible. Tom Reynolds’ runs were full of clean backflips, 360s as well as nice E.T.s each run off of the step down. Daryl Brown was sending barspins, tuck no-handers plus his new signature trick (One handed Superman Seatgrabs) which were definite crowd pleasers but a few jumps that weren’t solidly tricked lost points with the judges. Local rider Craig Potter showed that even though he is no longer sponsored, that he is fully able to hold his own in the pro category. Clean tailwhips on the stepdown as well as clicked inverts on the hip, great 360 variations & some double tailwhip attempts impressed the judges but not quite enough to get him into the top 3. Danny Pace was having a good day too; consistent 360s off of the stepdown along with midset back flips, 360s & frontflip no handers on the last took Danny onto the podium for the first time in the 2012 series. This left Dartmoor UKs Ryan Nangle & Marcel hunt to fight it out for the top spot. Both sending massive 360s, clean tailwhips and flip barspins with no problems, it was the fact that Ryan 360’d the stepdown every run & then went straight into a downside tailwhip on the hip that took him into the top spot.
After that it was time to start the ‘DWUK Best Trick Comp.’ Again it was run in a jam format but as the roll in/stepdown setup took longer for riders to get their runs in the jam was extended slightly. Highlights included Matt Cooper trying a few bike flips, Nangle’s Whip to Bars, Tom Reynolds sending his first frontflip in ages (one of the highest frontys of the whole day) but the judges decided that Daryl Brown’s One-handed Superman Seatgrabs were to take best trick. With great execution and extension it was clear that tricks like this are all about progressing the sport and Daryl wants to be known as one of the UKs most progressive riders.
The ‘MountainBikeBitz.com Best Whip’ contest saw a good handful of Pro & Open riders flowing through the jumps, again in a 20-minute jam format, and sending it as sideways as possible. However it was DMR’s Pro rider Tom Reynolds who took the win. After very closely missing out on the win at Wisley, Tom was so keen to take the win that he even landed one attempt sideways and high sided, but after a few more runs it was clear to see that no one else was going as far sideways.
Prize giving again saw some new faces on the podium and some familiar faces returning but everyone had huge smiles on their faces, as one of the best comps the UK has ever seen came to an end.
Photos thanks to Jonathan Williams (http://www.jdwilliamsphotography.com)After 2 rounds the series standings look like this:-