On Sunday the 8th September the GB Ladies Motocross team ventured over to Groesbeek, Netherlands for round 3 of the IMBA Championship. With a full team of 6 of the top BWMA Championship riders, Chelsea Gowland, Marni Saunders, Charlotte Hall, Bethany Allison, Jaymee Garrood and Georgie Potter (15) were representing the AMCA.
The track was an amazing facility, sand surface which cut up quickly to make it a challenge for our team but they took the challenge head on with some determined racing on the unfamiliar surface, which could bite and hurt and unfortunately for a couple of the team it did. First to suffer was British Champion Chelsea Gowland who's day seemed to be doomed from the start. Preparing to go out to free practice the bike fired up and died, and would not start. After a few attempts to push start it finally went and she put in some good times for 4th. Thinking the problem was cured come qualifying and the same thing, as the laps ticked by it eventually started but was not running properly only managing 1 fast lap before cutting out on the track putting her in an amazing 6th considering the anxiety and pressure caused. The fault was traced to a faulty kill switch but team member Charlotte Hall and dad Steve had a spare which was fitted before race 1 by the collective of Steve's Hall and Garrood, fantastic team work. Race 1 and Chelsea was running 5th then took 4th and was steadily closing on the top 3 sand specialists before being taken out by a lapped rider suffering a bang to the head and leg ending her day and IMBA dreams, she is thankfully ok with no ongoing problems. Next to be bitten by the ever changing track conditions was Jaymee Garrood who had a great first race running 15th until on the last lap she high sided off a bridge jump before the last lap flag, she picked up to bring it in 19th but badly tweaked her knee, she gave race two a go but after 1 lap it was too weak and had to retire. two down and out. Young 15 year old Georgie Potter almost joined them when wheeling the bike down to parc ferme they noticed the front tyre was flat. Another fantastic team effort from Team GB and Steve Garrood quickly swapping Jaymee's spare front wheel and Georgie made it to the gate.
Now for the good stuff.
Following Chelsea Gowland remarkable 1 lap qualifier in 6th place, Charlotte Hall with a heavily bandaged arm following her injury at the last BWMA round put in a super 10th place qualifying position, young 16 year old British sensation Bethany Allison not far behind with 12th place, Marni Saunders 14th, Jaymee Garrood a briliant 16th place and young 15 year old Georgie Potter on her first International overseas Championship race grabbing the last top 20 slot in 19th place. Fantastic qualifying performances from the whole team.
Race 1 and following Gowlands crash on lap 5 what a brilliant performance from the team. Saunders rounded the first lap in 7th place looking strong, behind her Allison in 9th Hall was way down in 16th with Potter just behind in 17th and Garrood 21st. Saunders was down in 12th come lap two but fought back to finish 10th, Allison was having an awesome battle holding place but the track took its toll and she slipped to a still incredible 12th place at the finish, Georgie Potter though fought hard to maintain a brilliant 17th to the finish and Garrood was unlucky to fall but still made 19th. The star of the race though for Team GB was Hall, after a poor start she was on a mission and pulled her way through the field from 16th to finish in remarkable 8th place, the team were buzzing with that performce. At the front and it was a demonstration of sand racing from the Belgium sandwich, Britt Jans-Bekken (Holland), Brenda Wagemans (Belgium) and Amber Simons (Holland)
Race 2 and what a start for the Brits, Hall leading the team in 5th on the first lap followed by Allison in 7th and Saunders 9th, Garrood was out after a lap with her knee injury and Georgie Potter was in 17th, but she had a great few laps getting up to 14th before dropping back to finish in 17th again. Hall held onto 5th for 3 laps before slipping back to an impressive 7th place at the flag with a more comfortable Saunders right behind her in 8th. Allison was poised for a top 10 but dropped the bike and having to restart last but she rode with tremendous heart and courage to work her way up to finish in a brilliant 14th place. At the front it was Hollands Britt Jans-Beken who again took the win but this time had to work her way up from a poor start, Wagermans again 2nd ahead of Simons.
Race 3 and the depleted British Squad almost lost Potter if it wasn't for the team helping with the last minute wheel change. Out the gate and this time it was Saunders with 8th getting the better of Hall just behind in 9th and Allison in 11th, Potter was 16th and would drop one place to make it three 17th place finishes for 17th overall, that is consistency and a great performance for her first International on such a rough sand track. Up front and Saunders dropped it allowing Hall to continue to impress with a great display of sand riding finishing in 8th place for a super impressive and well deserved 7th place overall. Meanwhile Bethany Allison was working her way up to finish 10th giving her 12th overall, Saunders managed to get going and bring it home in 15th place for 10th overall, what could have been if she hadn't dropped it, but with Gowlands set back, two Brits in the top 10 is an incredible result.
1st Britt Jans-Beken
2nd Brenda Wagemans
3rd Amber Simons
4th Cynthia Swets
5th Kaylee Van Dam
6th Britt Van Muylem
7th Charlotte Hall (GB)
8th Amber Everts
9th Maren Ruiters
10th Marni Saunders (GB)
12th Bethany Allison (GB)
17th Georgie Potter (GB)
22nd Jaymee Garrood (GB)
Final round in Switzerland on 22nd September in two weeks time
The results of the event are below.