What a weekend it was to be for young West Country Beach racing star Todd Kellett. After finishing 5th in the Red Bull Knockout event in Holland on Saturday, Todd then dashed back to the UK in order to make his debut in the AMCA Skegness Beach contest.
Arriving at the Lincolnshire venue at 2am on Sunday morning, he then somehow found enough stamina to take the win and a nice £1,000 cheque away from the big 3 hour Skeggy race, this despite losing the use of his Husqvarna clutch from around midpoint onwards of the rough, tough sandblast! Once again overall the Skegness meet was another massive success, this year attracting an entry of nearly 500 riders throughout and receiving its normal warm reception from local organisations and townsfolk. Whilst Todd took the win in the main event, other victors were to be James Wainwright (Clubman), Keith Staines (Clubman Vets), Harry Walker (Quads), Alun Davies/James Ferguson (Sidecar) and Alex Owen (Solo Vets).
With its biggest entry so far, the East Lindsey District Council/ Magna Vitae supported Clubman contest opened proceedings on Day one. And right from the off, it was to be the 2017 Clubman top three who again dominated as the fast, very talented James Wainwright led the way with Jake Edey and Ben Coleman in tow. With James controlling from the front, his brother Sean was also right up there and in contention along with the likes of Ryan Crowder, Jack Staines, Aiden Wharton, Ashley Beniston and young Aaron Patstone. Although Coleman briefly moved up into 2nd, Edey came storming back to ensure that the final podium positions was to be remarkably identical to the previous year as James Wainwright took the win 2 minutes clear of Edey with Coleman 3rd, Sean Wainwright 4th and Crowder 5th despite claiming that he had crashed at least ten time in the 1.5 hour race! In the Vets contest Keith Staines was first man home, completing 13 laps.
Less than 24 hours before the Skegness event, the Wainwright family had received the very sad news that their Gran had passed away. Determined to earn success in her memory, the Wainwright lads certainly did her proud with James typically very professional in his after race interview, letting his performance do the talking by saying, “I made a good start and got clear early on being able to put in some strong laps and keep flowing. The track was built more technical this year but I really enjoyed it and am looking forward now to tomorrows main event.” After deciding to race his 450F rather than his beloved 250cc 2T mount, Jake Edey had clutch problems early on so was happy to take 2nd. “We use the Clubman race to get dialled into the track but I lost the use of my clutch due to an issue with the cable on lap one. I then kept stalling it when the dunes were high and sharp but once they levelled out I was able to roll over the tops and keep going. We will now go back to the camp, sort the bike out and get focussed for the big race on Sunday.”
Generating easily its biggest entry so far in the nine years that Skegness as been held, a brilliant 73 Quads and 10 Sidecar crews started the 2018 race which was again kindly supported by Integro Doodson Broking Group. Naturally the early laps was to be a frantic, all-action affair as the pack jostled for supremacy. Quickly emerging out at the front was the brilliant Quad star Harry Walker after one of his main rivals, Oliver Sansom had disappeared from proceedings despite grabbing the initial holeshot. With Walker controlling, the main challenge was being provided by the likes of Rhydian Owen, Aaron Pole, Jonathan McKnight and Belgian visitor Davino Bruneel. Whilst Walker eventually went clear for the win finishing 2 laps ahead of the pack, the battle for the right to finish runner-up was red-hot. Owen, Bruneel and Jamie Morgan who had climbed up from an early 18th place was right on it and thrilling the big, watching crowd. Eventually Bruneel was to take silver with Morgan 3rd despite steering problems on his machine. In the Sidecar class, Welsh duo Alun Davies/James Ferguson proved that they are the undisputed Kings of Skegness, incredibly claiming their 7th win at the Lincolnshire venue. As Daniel and Dave Lawry took 2nd, Chris Neesam partnered by Luke Meredith, both AMCA Championship solo riders having their first ever Sidecar race took an amazing 3rd. Martin Edey, dad of top solo rider Jake also rode in the Sidecar contest but a lengthy pit stop was to put paid to his own podium hopes!
After winning in 2018 at Weston and Barmouth, Walker was delighted to make it a Beach race treble with victory at Skegness, “That was hard early on as there was no ruts for you to run your wheels in. I got stuck once but quickly managed to hit the front. Although I do a lot of Beach racing in France which is of a 3 hour duration, this event is still one of the toughest and most demanding. I felt physically good though and the bike was mint today.” Despite a tyre issue, Quad runner-up Davino Bruneel was very happy with his Skegness debut and wants to return for another go next year saying “I made a good start but then got stuck when following a backmarker, also having to make a pit-stop and change a tyre. I race in France alot but the sand here is so soft! This is a good event and I am happy with 2nd” Also having some technical issues was 3rd placed Jamie Morgan, “I made a decent start only to then get stuck on the first dune. After about one hour my steering dampener appeared to come loose so I stopped off in the pits to get it checked out. The track was so rough and my hands are badly blistered but I will be back next year.”
Whilst Davies and Ferguson took the top Sidecar honours the last word in this class must surely belong to the dynamic duo of Neesam and Meredith, the 3rd placed finishers who had previously encountered just one lap of practice at Fatcats which they admitted they certainly did not enjoy! Driver Chris Neesam commented, “We got stuck on the very first dune and were last but we just kept plugging away. This was good fun but that’s it for now although we might give Weston a try! Meanwhile AMCA Championship MX1 top ten rider and passenger Luke Meredith was simply ‘buzzing’, “Most people said that we would not even complete a lap and fry the clutch. I had to be passenger as Chris would not let me drive and I am now suffering from a bad back. It feels like I have done about 9 million squats whilst in the chair during that race!”
So now all the attention turned to Sunday and the big 3 hour solo event sponsored by Visit Lincs Coast. With all eyes focussed on the stars, triple Weston Beach race winner Todd Kellett and off-road legend David Knight, MBE, both making their Skegness debuts, it was to be the superb James Wainwright who led the early charge which featured some 140 riders. For the opening 25 minutes, Wainwright remained very cool, composed and classy at the front as Kellett moved menacingly up into 2nd with Knight, Gavin Stevenson, Carlton Husband, Jake Edey and John Robson next up. Eight laps in and Edey, the 2017 runner-up was forced out of the proceedings as fast Kellett moved to the front of the pack. Refusing to surrender though, Wainwright was still right on Kellett’s tail before Knight eventually getting into the rhythm also joined the battle. By lap 16 the race pattern had pretty much settled down as Kellett watched by another massive crowd was beginning to hammer home his advantage with Knight passing Wainwright for 2nd. Just when the race result was then looking pretty much nailed on Todd worryingly lost the use of his clutch. Riding the same bike that he had used in Holland the previous day and with no spare clutch available it was now a case of crossing his fingers, using his skill and hoping he could nurse the bike home.
And, despite a stall and then being unable to immediately restart his engine which lost him around a minute of time, Todd just shrugged the drama off before sailing onto victory, finishing just over 3 minutes clear of Knight who had crashed twice and was suffering from a very sore back. With another great ride, AMCA star James Wainwright got home in 3rd from Robson and Stevenson. After his Sidecar heroics the previous day, Luke Meredith produced a superb performance and earn 6th after circulating down in 14th place during the early exchanges. Completing the top ten in this Skeggy classic were Sean Wainwright, Husband, Ryan Staveley and another AMCA rider Ashley Beniston. For AMCA top runner Ryan Crowder this was to be a very tough contest, after running out of fuel on the hour mark then having to push his bike back to the parc-ferme in the process losing 20 places in the standings, he then displayed typical grit and determination to fight back for a 11th place finish! In the Veterans category, Alex Owen took the win having completed 28 laps with Londoner James Holt 2nd and AMCA Vets Championship runner-up Sean Smith in 3rd.
With Skegness 2018 completed, Kellett exhausted from his marathon weekend exploits and enjoying some after race banter with Knight told the crowd,” I didn’t get to the holding pen early enough but still managed to make a steady start and soon get into the lead. I felt strong but then had to ride half of the race without a clutch and just hoped that we made it through to the finish. This was good fun but really tough with the layout like Weston but the sand so soft and similar to conditions at the Red Bull knockout. I just love racing in the sand at Beach events and I really enjoyed this so will probably be back again!” Echoing Kellett’s comments, David Knight said “That was so bloody tough and I have not rode in sand like that for probably 8 years. I took me about an hour to get going properly and the gear choice was really strange as you needed something in between 2nd and 3rd. I then had a couple of crashes injuring my back and was going to pull out but kept riding and when there was just 50 seconds left on the clock I decided to just ride a steady last lap and bring it home. I have just started training again but am not fit enough at present and I am just getting old I guess!”
So in 2019, the AMCA Skegness bash reaches its 10th birthday. Will one of the previous winners return for more glory or will another new name emerge on the roll of honour? The only way to find out is to make sure that you are there for another Skeggy spectacular!
Words and pics by Mike Wood
The results of the event are below.