Lutzfluh in Switzerland was the venue for the final round of the IMBA Open Class European Championship on Sunday with just two Brits, Will Hughes (SRH Racing Husqvarna) and Henry Williams (Apex GasGas UK) able to make the journey. Those two lads though certainly gave it their absolute all and wore the AMCA Team Great Britain shirt with pride. Henry was to finish on the podium with a super 2nd overall whilst Will got home in a great 4th.
Following a period of wet weather, the Swiss organisers worked very hard to get the circuit in prime condition for the IMBA action and the opening moto was to certainly throw up a surprise as the just about unbeatable Belgian Mateo Puffet was to actually suffer defeat! Both fellow Countryman Jonas Salaets and Henry Williams got the better of him as Will Hughes took 5th after crashing when battling hard to snatch the 4th place!
In super form, British rider Williams then took victory in the second clash from Salaets, Dutchman Iilja Rutten and Hughes as Puffet confirmed the 2023 IMBA crown by getting home in a safe 7th. With a strong 2/1 scorecard in the opening two moto’s, Williams was now on course for an overall podium topping success but unfortunately there was to be a change of fortunes for the Shropshire based youngster in the last clash of the series. Colliding with a Belgian rider in the opening turn, Henry had to eventually settle for 4th as normal service was resumed at the front. King Puffet grabbed the win from Hughes recording his best result of the season in a fantastic 2nd and Salaets in 3rd.
So, with the final round points added up, it meant that Williams was to be the 2023 IMBA Championship runner-up with Hughes in 4th. Of the other riders who had regularly made the journey across the English Channel to compete in Europe, James Dodd who had been in IMBA Championship contention all season had to settle for 6th. Doddy missed the Swiss event to compete at Foxhills in the Vets MXDN as did his FUS Marsh Geartec Husqvarna teammate Jake Preston. Jake was classified in an eventual 10th in the IMBA as final team rider Aaron Collins took 13th. Well done to everyone involved!
Here's what the two GB lads on their return from Switzerland had to say,
Henry Williams (Apex GasGas UK)
“So we made the long journey to the last round of the IMBA in Lutzfluh Switzerland with my Dad and Beth. On Saturday the rain was pretty bad but they did a great job prepping the track for Sunday. I felt really good on the bike and showed it in the races picking up 2-1-4 in the three moto’s.
I’m gutted to lose out on 1st overall in the last moto due to a first turn collision with a Belgian rider which ended my chances of winning, but that’s racing! Looking forward now to the next round of the AMCA Championship and I’m ready for it ! Thanks to all my sponsors it wouldn’t be possible without you”
Will Hughes (SRH Racing Husqvarna)
“Qualifying went well and I put in two good laps for P3. Race one I was pushing hard in 5th place and dropped it whilst trying to pass 4th but managed to still get home in 5th place. Race two was close all the way, battling with Rutten but not able to make the pass and finishing 4th.
Race three I had a good start and pushed hard early to get into 2nd, managing to hold it to the flag thus taking my best finish in an IMBA race so far. That meant I finished 4th overall on the day and 4th in the IMBA Championship. Riding in the IMBA for Team GB has been an amazing experience and one that I’ll never forget.”
Final IMBA Open Class European Championship top ten 1 Mateo Puffet (Belgium) 865 points 2 Henry Williams (GB) 745 3 Jonas Salaets (Belgium) 704 4 Will Hughes (GB) 608 5 Iija Rutten (Holland) 606 6 James Dodd (GB) 603 7 Kimi Isler (Switzerland) 496 8 Franck Rougraff (Belgium) 446 9 Lutz Wellmanns (Germany) 393 10 Jake Preston (GB) 376. Other British position 13th Aaron Collins 277.
Words and Images by Mike Wood
The results of the event are below.