Great action, the biggest entry so far and hundreds more spectators, the 10th Anniversary Visit Lincs Coast and AMCA Skegness Beach Race had it all and so much more!
Taking advantage of a very brief gap in his CFS French Beach Championship schedule, Todd Kellett returned to the UK to bag another win in the main Solo race. Producing a smooth Beach Race masterclass, the Drag’on Tek Yamaha rider finished a massive 3 laps clear of runner-up John Robson and 3rd placed Tom Neal making his Skeggy debut. Also adding to their impressive Skegness roll of honour totals, Harry Walker made it a Quad race hat-trick whilst Welsh crew Alun Davies/James Ferguson incredibly scored their 8th Skegness Sidecars success. Other riders topping podiums in this frantic weekend were John Robson (Clubman), Alex Owen (Vets), Jack Beniston (Clubman Sprint) and Sean Smith (Vets Sprint).
On a track this year built by Phil Roberts and his team, the weekend started with a 1.5 hour contest for Solo Clubmen and Vets on Saturday morning and boy was it brutal! After the normal first dune carnage it was Scott Aldridge who broke clear of the massive entry to lead the early exchanges. Despite only having the 130th gate pick and never previously finishing a Beach race, Scott was on a mission as Ryan Crowder, Jack Beniston, John Robson and Ian Roberts gave chase. Three laps in and Robson was now at the front with the Bikesport/JR Joinery KTM ace looking in control as the contest finally settled down. Gating down in 23rd place, Sean Wainwright then came storming through to slot into 2nd after battling with and eventually seeing off Aldridge whilst Skegness regular Brad Thornhill sat in 4th. On completion the initial results then confusingly awarded Wainwright the top podium spot with Thornhill in 2nd and Aldridge 3rd whilst a perplexed Robson was listed as the 4th place finisher. In the Vets class, Alex Owen finished top after getting home in 21st with Sean Smith and David Dunn the next best.
However later and on investigation it became clear that a transponder glitch had meant that two of Robson’s final few laps had not recorded on the electronic timing system. So with the very sporting and honest backing of his rivals the result were then later and rightly corrected to read Robson as the worthy winner from Wainwright and Thornhill. In the Vets class, Alex Owen took home another first place trophy with Sean Smith 2nd and David Dunn 3rd. Despite being disappointed to not actually bag the win Wainwright later said. “That was so tough early on and I got stuck four times and crashed once. Then three laps from home I could feel a juddering in the back end and realised that the nut holding the rear wheel spindle had worked loose. I have only myself to blame as I do all the work on my own bikes!” Meanwhile Thornhill was pretty satisfied with 3rd,” I had a half decent start and put in some strong, early few laps finding some good lines. I messed up a little bit by going in for my pit stop too early but I really enjoyed it out there. The track was tough this year and the sand was different due to it having been so wet recently.”
Next up it was the combined Quads and Sidecars class with both entry levels being up on previous years. Looking for a Skegness hat-trick, Harry Walker led the early charge with Jamie Morgan, Oliver Sansom, Carl Bunce, Sheldon Seal and Harry Hinkley in tow. Three laps in and Morgan was to take full advantage and slip into first place when Walker had his route totally blocked off due to major congestion on a dune. With Seal also getting past Walker, the young star now had it all to do if he was to claim Skeggy win number three. In another twist, Seal then crashed and lost 2nd spot on lap 6, the chase was on as Walker now went back after the flying Morgan. After being the recent Weston Beach Race winner in the Quads, Morgan though was in a very confident and determined mood, gallantly hanging onto his hard earned advantage right through until lap 12. Eventually both eventual winner Walker and Seal found a way past Morgan as Sansom got home in 4th and Harry Miller 5th. Having made the long 7 hour journey to Skeggy from their Welsh home, Alun Davies/James Ferguson were the first Sidecar crew home in 28th place, one spot ahead of Sidecar runner-up Daniel Lawry/Sam Wilkinson and Keith Halliwell/Gavin Zembrzuki. That 3rd placed outfit was interestingly designed and built by the passenger Zembrzuki of Offroad-Only who bought a 2019 KTM EXC engine then fabricated the chassis and frame which wrapped around it.
Quad winner Walker on bagging his Skeggy hat-trick commented, “That was so hectic early on and you had to make sure you rode with care in the early few laps. I then got stuck in a big jam on one of the dunes and was passed by both Jamie Morgan and Sheldon Seal. I regained 2nd when Sheldon crashed then eventually got past Jamie to retake the lead and bag the win. My bike set-up this year as been amazing and I would like to say a massive thank-you to everyone involved. For me that’s it for this season except maybe one French CFS Championship round. I was going to do the whole series but missed a meeting when it clashed with Weston so I am too far behind in the points standings.” Meanwhile 3rd placed Jamie Morgan said, “I made a decent start and when Harry got stuck in heavy traffic on that dune I found a way through. Once in front I put the hammer down and tried to build a big advantage but knew that both Harry and Sheldon with more stamina and speed would come back at me. Although they passed me I am more than happy to finish 3rd at Skeggy again. It’s been a good year after winning at Weston and also bagging a couple of Hare and Hounds Enduro Championship titles.”
For Sidecar winners Alun Davies/James Ferguson it was a remarkable 8th Skegness success but their participation in 2019 was in-doubt until recently as Alun explains. “During the Welsh 2-Day Enduro we had a big crash and rolled the outfit which then came down on my leg and crushed my femur. We were out of action for nearly 5 months and only returned just before Weston. We gave that a go and ending up winning it for the third time so decided to enter Skeggy again. We really like it here and it’s such a good atmosphere.”
After the excitement of the opening day action it was onto Sunday and the main solo race but not before a 2 minute silence had been impeccably observed by everyone present as respect for all who had made the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict of war. So with the time at 11.30am, the big 3 hour Skegness race thundered off and over the first dune as John Robson led the charge followed by Todd Kellett, James Wainwright, Liam Knight, Tom Neal, Lee Harrison and Robbie Dowson the early contenders. By lap two, Kellett had hit the front and there he was to remain for the entire duration but although Todd dominated there was still to be plenty of other leaderboard changes going on behind him. Six laps in and it was heartache for the very talented young Wainwright as his clutch failed. Going back to Parc Ferme a new clutch was quickly fitted only for it to again expire later in the race! With Wainwright one of the expected challengers out, Knight was on a charge and moving up into 2nd on lap 21 whilst Josh Bentley slotted into 4th.
In another leaderboard change the very impressive Knight then disappeared from proceedings on lap 28 whilst after dropping down to 6th, Maxxis MX2 runner and Yorkshireman Neal making his Beach racing debut found some late stamina to climb back to 3rd. So with 180 minutes of tough, gruelling sand surfing completed, victory and the £1000 winner’s cheque belonged to the super smooth Kellett, finishing a remarkable 3 laps clear of his rivals. After being denied a chance to stand on the podium during day one, John Robson was definitely on their this time as runner-up with Neal in 3rd, Sean Wainwright a great 4th, Bentley 5th and the very consistent Thornhill 6th. In the Vets class, Sean Smith was the first rider home in a superb 21st, enough to also earn the Vets Clubman Sprint overall verdict. Taking the Clubman Sprint Solo overall was Jack Beniston who got home in a fantastic 11th.
So after bagging his second Skeggy win a happy Kellett said, “ After gating behind John Robson I quickly got through and despite a little bit of rider error when I made a couple of mistakes it was a smooth race. There’s not enough Beach races in the UK so it was good to be able to compete in this one again. I really like it here and the sand is so nice. The track layout was good and it flowed better than in 2018. I want to come back again in 2020 and hope that the dates will work for me. Many thanks to all of my team and girlfriend for their continued support and hard work.” Runner-up John Robson was also happy having the chance to climb that podium, “It was hard work out there after also competing yesterday. When the clock was down to the last 30 minutes I just told myself that it was a new race and that I had to finish and get on the podium. We made 3 pit stops and on the last one I had to bleed my back brake after it had failed. It was far too dangerous to go out there with it not working! The final step on the podium went to Tom Neal and he was delighted with the result, “I only decided to enter the event at the last minute but am so glad we did. I have never raced in a three hour Beach race before. I tried to pick my lines and make sure I didn’t crash but still found myself upside down on several occasions! I have been training hard at Fatcat Moto-parc to try and improve my sand riding skills and we bought a bigger tank for the bike. I loved it out there today and definitely want to come back next year, after all I need to get some use out of the new tank!”
So that’s the 10th Anniversary Skegness Beach race done and dusted all made possible by the continued support of Visit Lincs Coast, Magna Vitae Trust, East Lindsey District Council all of the event sponsors and the very supportive local community. Here’s to the next 10 years!
Mike Wood http://www.offroad-action.co.uk/
The results of the event are below.