Despite much internet controversy this weekend gone proved that 4x is very much alive and kicking here in the UK. 170 riders took to the gate to prove themselves at the first Schwalbe British 4x round of 2011 at Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
Team Identiti was out in force with some new riders this year. A strong team of 6 riders all skillful enough to win.
Identiti Krisis SL's - The riders choice for 4x
Dylan Grell-Delsol is the youngest rider on the team, in the Juvenile class at 12 years old you might be thinking, hold on why is this guy sponsored? Well, I'll tell you why... having ridden with this kid a lot over the winter I can safely say he is one of the nicest up and coming talents. He can hit pretty much any jump you point him at and get down a 4x track faster than your mum on a turbo charged shopping trolley. Watch out of his face in the future, or should I say the back of his helmet because thats all you're going to see. Dylan had an awesome day at the sunny, but very windy track set on the side of a hill in the middle of Warwickshire. He was looking super strong all weekend and killed it on the day. Cruising all his motos, straight through his semi into the main final, he was far enough ahead by the last turn to give it one last shoulder check and roll up to the finish line comfortably into first place.
Dylan flying to another victory
Matt Jones is the next killer rider in the team, you may have seen pictures of him already on Pinkbike or in one of the Live to Ride episodes. Now into Junior at 16, he missed the tail end of the 2010 season due to a fractured leg riding dirt jumps at Wisley. This kept him off the bike for the best part of 3 months and after spending most of his winter digging up at Woburn he is now back and a force to be reckoned with. He is one of the most polite guys and has grown up riding hard against his twin brother which has always pushed him forward with his riding. He had a really good day on track despite only getting a couple of rides in on his new bike the week before the first race. He had solid moto results, with 3 firsts and a second putting himself well in contention of winning. He missed out in his semi final after washing out his front wheel trying to make a pass stick to get him into the A final, bad luck! He came back from this and white washed the B final to take 5th place on the day.
Next up, for those who know, this guy needs no introduction. Glen Coe IS dirt jumping in the UK. One of the guys that caused me to start riding bikes on dirt. One of the first guys to do a backflip to dirt in the UK on a mountain bike unaided by foam. Plagued by injuries over the last few years, he is back on a bike racing 4x. I have to say I was shocked when I first saw Glen go down the track I was shocked at how fast he was. Once he learns to harness his raw power and connect it to the bike control side he will be unstoppable. Tank slappers and wild pedaling made for something very entertaining to watch. Match this to his infectious smile and you are guaranteed to have a good time.For Glens first race on a bike with gears and front brake he did seriously well in the hot class that is Senior, usually the biggest class and hotly contested. He rattled his way through all his motos, getting first, second, second and a fourth. He fought through his quarter final and into his semi where he crashed and put himself into his first B final. After getting a poor gate he was fighting from behind/coming up the rear and had to make a last ditched effort in the last corner to make a place back he crashed hard over one of the jumps out of the corner. Luckily he was fine with only his pride damaged.
Glen, Matt and Pat in gate practice
Now onto the Elite riders in the team.
First up is Tom Knight, who has moved up to Elite from Junior this year. He has been training hard all winter to make his mark in the Elite category. An ex multiple national champ and always one to watch. Tom likes to go fast and win races. Being almost a local at Leamington Spa meant that he had good track knowledge and was definitely set to be in the mix. He had a strong first moto winning it comfortably, a series of unfortunate mistakes and a spill on the first straight though, kept him out of the semi finals which ended racing for him. With 24 riders it was a tough day to make it to the top 8. He wasn't happy with 23rd place but he is back training hard for the next round at Porc, Kent.
Scott Roberts is another new addition to the Identiti team for 2011. He has been racing 4x since it first started in the UK and has a lot of experience racing National, European and World Cups. As last years ranked number 2 he is set to do really well this coming season on the new bike with new team mates. Scott's motos went well, although not well enough to secure a spot in the semi finals. One first, one second, and two thirds. Missing out by one place left him in 9th on the day but he is sure to be one to watch this year.
Tom and Scott in their first moto down the first straight
I (Pat Campbell-Jenner) was really looking forward to the first race of this year. Having spent most of my winter riding dirt jumps and digging it's a welcome change to be back on a bike with 2 brakes and 9 gears, although I seem to have forgotten how to use them! After getting 3rd overall last year this first race was important to me to get some points and get myself set in the overall. I had been suffering the week up to the race with a nasty chest infection which meant I couldn't breath at all. My first moto went well and I won cleanly and this boosted my first race nerves that always seem to haunt me. Last year I had a bad time at the mud fest that was the first race ripping my gears apart and missing the semi finals, and the year before that I crashed and tore ligaments in my shoulder in my last moto. So I've had some pretty bad luck. My other three motos gave me another solid first, a second and a disappointing 3rd. It was enough to get me to the Elite semi-finals with a chance to get into the main. My semi was stacked, with Scott Beaumont who had been dominating all day, Martin 'Oggy' Ogden, man from the past, and Jake Ward, a fast newcomer who has moved up from Junior. I had second gate pick, sweet! The gate dropped, I fluffed it and got squeezed before the first jump by Boom boom and Oggy. Leaving me in 3rd down the first straight and ultimately knocked out into the B final. As I had the most points acumulated I had first gate pick for my final. The beeps went and we all lurched forward down the first straight. I got hit by a gust of wind on the exposed track and got a squiff on over the jumps leading into the first turn, at this point I was in 3rd. I had to push hard to make the first turn and make a overtaking manouver stick. I salvaged 3rd place and 7th overall on the day. Not the best result I was looking for but thats the way racing goes!
Pat riding the last berm
The A final was seriously intense. Scott Beaumont, Oggy, Keiron Mackavoy, and Nathan Parsons, the main guy who had changed the track over the winter into the track it is now. Not only that but he is a fitness trainer so he knows a thing or too about getting strong!
The track encouraged some gutsey overtaking manouvers at the corner in the foreground. Leamington Spa watches on.
There was some serious tension as they got in the gate, the clouds above suggested a war of the worlds esq down poor was about to happen. As it dropped all 4 riders blasted down the track and hit the first berm. Nathan neatly tucked in behind Scott with Oggy and Keiron following close behind, they hit the step up and railed the trailing berm, still all in formation until the last berm came... Nathan dove for the inside and his tyres washed out as he tried to pass Scott, who was just far enough away to stay upright. Oggy railed the berm into Nathans bike and tumbled with Keiron getting caught up too. As Nathan stayed on the deck Keiron and Oggy tustled to get back up and it ended that way respectively on the podium.
A massive thanks to this years team sponsors:
With Support from Monster Energy, Alpinestars, Adidas Eyewear and PF Performance.