Girl-power certainly rocked at Norley, Cheshire on Sunday during the home round of the 2018 IMBA European Ladies Motocross Championship! Showing yet again that Ladies motocross is rapidly on the rise in the UK, Chelsea Gowland took a superb 2nd overall, with great top ten finishes also for Leonni Tighe in 5th and Charlotte Hall who took 7th. Giving as many girls as possible a sample of European Championship action, Taylor Scott(16th), Marni Saunders(18th), Catherine King(19th), Eleanor Calby(22nd), Kayleigh Durston(23rd), Georgia Ithell(24th) and Jayne Garrood(25th) completed the AMCA Team Great Britain squad at Norley and certainly impressed along the way! Well done to all the GB girls!
After sitting out free practice, the day certainly started well for Chelsea Gowland as she posted the fastest qualifying time thus giving her the all-important first gate pick. Then when moto one blasted into action there was to be immediate drama as IMBA leader Lianne Muilwijk from Holland fell on the opening turn and restarted last. Much to the delight of the home crowd that fall for Muilwijk meant that Gowland was leading the charge before yet more early incident! Before the completion of lap one, Chelsea lost the front end of her Honda machine as her front wheel washed away in the soft Norley terrain, leaving her legs trapped under the machine. Eventually remounting 11th she had it all to do as Leonni Tighe was flying high and holding a great 3rd behind Belgian Brenda Wagemans and Dutch girl Cynthia Swets. By lap three, Chelsea was back up to 5th only to fall again and drop down to 7th but while the Brit was going in the wrong direction, in contrast Muilwijk showed just why she was the IMBA series pace-setter. Incredibly the Dutch ace after initially being last recovered to earn an amazing 3rd at the flag behind the very fast winner Waagemans and Demi Verploegh. After her earlier tumbles, Gowland regained composure to bag 4th with Tighe 6th and Hall 9th as Saunders, King and Scott held their own entertaining private Brit battle for the right to finish 15th.
Swiss girl Michelle Zund grabbed the moto two holeshot but quickly Wagemans, Gowland and Muilwijk had found a way through and now the battle for supremacy was definitely on! For the next six laps, battle raged until unfortunately Gowland again bit the dust! This time though, such was the pace of the top three that the GB rider had sufficient time to remount and still maintain a rather lonely 3rd place. Having a simply stunning ride, Hall moved up in style from 11th to get home in 6th with Tighe 8th. The British girls were really on the gas in this outing, display plenty of determination and mixing it with the European aces as Wiltshire based King got home in 14th, Scott 17th and Marni Saunders also finished inside the top twenty. At the front, Wagemans and Muilwijk produced an absolute motocross classic which went right down to the wire with victory going to the classy Belgian.
Making a storming start, Tighe brilliantly grabbed the moto three holeshot before being passed by both Wagemans and Gowland. On a mission, Chelsea then put the hammer down and closed hard on Wagemans before the contest was red-flagged after four laps when the unfortunate Muilwijk crashed. At the time of the stoppage, Tighe was also right in the mix for honours holding 3rd with Hall 13th, Scott 14th, Saunders 16th, Calby 19th, Ithell 20th, King 21st, Durston 22nd and Garrood 24th. With Muilwijk suffering a suspected broken pelvis and collarbone, requiring an air ambulance trip to hospital, this moto was not to be restarted. In the IMBA standings, Gowland has moved up to 2nd, 36 points behind leader Wagemans whilst one of the biggest movers was Tighe, jumping from 18th up to 7th spot. Afterwards reflecting on her Norley performance, top GB finisher Gowland said, “ I was leading the first race but then had two crashes before getting back to 4th. The second moto I came 3rd after another little crash but didn’t feel relaxed making lots of mistakes on what was a tough track. In the last race I just told myself to relax and ride the track instead of trying to get out front straight away and pull a gap. I was in 2nd with the leader in my sights and planning to stay close then make a move in the last 10 minutes, but that failed with the race being red-flagged! I am happy with 2nd overall and I know I have got the speed to win but I must cut out the silly mistakes!”
Due to the injury sustained by Muilwijk it meant that the riders contesting round 4 of the IMBA European Sidecar Championship at Norley were only able to get two outings in but boy were they good! Moto one saw a classic three way scrap for the lead as initially Swiss crew Marco Boller/Marius Strauss took the advantage followed by defending Champions and current IMBA leaders Frank Mulders/Henry van de Weil from Holland and fellow Dutch pairing Mike Keuben/Lars de Laat. British pairing Tony Grahame/Harley Lloyd had also started strongly gating in 3rd before being pushed back to 5th.
At the front, Mulders eventually stamped his authority on proceedings to take the win from Keuben and Boller. Equally exciting in this moto was a no-holds barred tussle for 4th featuring four very determined crews. Getting that particular verdict were Germans Tim Prummer/Tobias Lange from Grahame, young Brits Sam Osbaldiston/Nathan Cooper and Dutch lads Patrick Greup/Maurice Visser. Battling hard, Paul Pelling/Chris Pannell was the next British pairing home in 8th as James Whitt/Scott Lloyd took 12th and Tony Green/Stephanie Green 16th. The day though did not start well for remaining GB pairing Ross Bowers/Rob Eastman who were stopped by a rather freak mechanical failure. The chain snapped on their outfit also shattering the fuel bowl on their carburettor!
After a strong moto one showing, Grahame then led the long charge to the opening turn of moto two but by the end of lap one both Mulders and Boller had found a way through. Whilst Grahame was flying high, Osbaldiston, Bowers and Green were all in trouble after unfortunately getting hooked up in a messy second turn collision! With lots of extra hard work to come, the gallant Brits started the long climb back up the leaderboard as Grahame was now coming under intense, heavy pressure from a fast Keuben. Brilliantly though, Grahame resisted Keubens efforts and thus hold on to take 3rd at the flag by the very narrowest of margins.
As Pelling took 9th, Osbaldiston and Bowers recovered to follow each other over the finish line for 11th and 12th respectively as Whitt finished 14th. That great moto two effort from Grahame helped him bag a super 4th in the overall standings with Pelling 9th and Osbaldiston 10th.
IMBA European Ladies Championship(Round 2)
Moto one(top ten) 1 Brenda Wagemans(Belgium) 2 Demi Verploegh(Holland) 3 Lianne Muilwijk(Holland) 4 Chelsea Gowland(GB) 5 Cynthia Swets(Holland) 6 Leonni Tighe(GB) 7 Britt Jans-Beken(Holland) 8 Michelle Zund(Switzerland) 9 Charlotte Hall(GB) 10 Julia Blatter(Germany) Other GB positions 15th Marni Suanders 16th Catherine King 17th Taylor Scott 21st Jayme Garrood 22nd Eleanor Calby 23rd Kayleigh Durston 26th Georgia Ithell.
Moto two 1 Wagemans 2 Muilwijk 3 Gowland 4 Verploegh 5 Jans-Beken 6 Hall 7 Swets 8 Tighe 9 Sandra Keller(Switzerland) 10 Britt van Muylem(Belgium) Other GB positions 14 King 17 Scott 18 Saunders 21 Durston 22 Ithell 25 Calby 27 Garrood.
Moto three 1 Wagemans 2 Gowland 3 Tighe 4 Swets 5 Verploegh 6 Emmy Schepmans(Belgium) 7 Jans-Beken 8 Blatter 9 Michelle Ruedi(Switzerland) 10 Keller Other GB positions 13 Hall 14 Scott 16 Saunders 19 Calby 20 Ithell 21 King 22 Durston 24 Garrood.
Overall 1 Wagemans 180 points 2 Gowland 151 3 Verploegh 146 4 Swets 133 5 Tighe 132 6 Jans-Beken 127 7 Hall 109 8 Schepmans 107 9 Muilwijk 104 10 Keller 103. Other GB positions 16th Scott 75 18th Saunders 74 19th King 72 22nd Calby 57 23rd Durston 57 24th Ithell 55 25th Garrood 51.
IMBA European Sidecar Championship(Round 4)
Moto one(top ten) 1 Frank Mulders/Henry van de Wiel(Holland) 2 Mike Keuben/Lars de Laat(Holland) 3 Marco Boller/Marius Strauss(Switzerland) 4 Tim Prummer/Tobias Lange(Germany) 5 Tony Grahame/Harley Lloyd(GB) 6 Sam Osbaldiston/Nathan Cooper(GB) 7 Patrick Greup/Maurice Visser(Holland) 8 Paul Pelling/Christopher Pannell(GB) 9 Christof van der Veken/Dave Gorris(Belgium) 10 Simon Suter/Daniel Intlekofer(Switzerland) Other GB placings 12th James Whitt/Scott Lloyd 16th Tony Green/Stephanie Green.
Moto two 1 Mulders 2 Boller 3 Grahame 4 Keuben 5 Prummer 6 Greup 7 Suter 8 van der Veken 9 Pelling 10 Laurent Relandeau/Nicholas Guitteny(France). Other GB placings 11th Osbaldiston 12th Bowers 14th Whitt 17th Green.
Overall 1 Mulders 120 points 2 Boller 104 3 Keuben 101 4 Grahame 95 5 Prummer 92 6 Greup 84 7 Suter 76 8 van der Veken 76 9 Pelling 76 10 Osbaldiston 76. Other GB placings 13th Whitt 58 14th Bowers 55 17th Green 49. Words and pics by Mike Wood.