Proving that you don’t necessarily need a new bike complete with high performance extra’s bolted on to get results, Chelsea Gowland scorched to a brilliant 3rd overall during the home round of the IMBA European Ladies Championship in Staffordshire on Sunday. Chelsea was not only making her European series debut but was also campaigning aboard a 5 year-old Honda, bagging a 4/3/3 scorecard to earn that podium spot. And 24 hours later her achievement became even more astonishing when she discovered that after landing heavily from a Lower Drayton jump, she had actually broken her ankle! Whilst Chelsea starred, there also plenty of other great results from the GB Ladies who certainly gave it their all with a proud, determined and outstanding showing. All inside the final top fifteen were Bethany Farmer (7th), Charlotte Hall (9th), Catherine King (11th), Leonni Tighe (13th) and Camilla King (15th). Completing Team GB, Eleanor Calby, Georgia Ithell, Vicky Marriott, Ciarra Robertson, Gabrielle Hamlet and Rhianne Barker also played their part and showed just why Ladies motocross is certainly on the march!
After trips to Holland and Belgium, this was round three of the 2017 IMBA series and In the opening Ladies contest at Lower Drayton it was to be one of the stars of the sport who controlled proceedings. With a motocross masterclass, former multi FIM World Champion Steffi Laier of Germany led from start to finish ahead of Belgian Brenda Wagemans and IMBA series pace-setter Gwenda Haans of Holland. Despite a small off, Chelsea Gowland was the first Brit home in a super 4th with the next best being the hard charging 16 year-old Leonni Tighe after a tough race long tussle with German Fionna Hoppe. With Bethany Farmer in 9th and Gabrielle Hamlet 10th, the Wiltshire based King sisters, Catherine and Camilla were having their own private family battle down in 13th before finally being split by Danish girl Barbara Aagaard.
With IMBA leader Haans going out of moto two after three laps with a knee injury, the very fast and smooth Laier again took the win from Wagemans and Gowland. In another great race for the Brits, Farmer, returning to action in 2017 just a year after breaking her back got home in 8th ahead of Tighe and another 16 year-old flyer Charlotte Hall. Battling for 14th, Catherine King just got the better of Rhianne Barker and Camilla King. On lap one of this contest, both Eleanor Calby and Vicky Marriott had fell before recovering back to earn 21st and 22nd respectively. Typical of the great spirit which exists within this happy group of female racers who simply just love to race, Eleanor Calby had lent her spare KTM125cc to fellow GB teamster Gabrielle Hamlet for this second clash after her own KTM250F developed mechanical issues.
With Tighe (jarred back) and Hamlet (sore thumb) being forced out of a restarted final moto, Gowland made another strong start and was right on the gas. Passing Wagemans, Chelsea moved up into 2nd and was even closing on leader Laier before suffering that ankle injury. After over-jumping a Lower Drayton leap, Chelsea in immense agony was forced to stop. Quickly though the brave Honda lass was back on it, managing to still claim 3rd, enough for a history making IMBA Ladies podium spot. Having her own best ride of the day, Farmer took a great 5th with Hall 10th and Catherine King 12th. Of the remaining Brits, Marriott who had earlier gated inside the top six, Calby, Georgia Ithell, Camilla King and Ciara Robertson who had made the very long trip down from Scotland all finished inside the top 20. Unfortunately for Rhianne Barker the day ended with a fall although she should still be more than pleased with her sterling efforts in the first two clashes.
Afterwards despite the pain, a rightly delighted Gowland said, “This was my first ever IMBA event so was happy to post the 3rd fastest qualifying time. After that my lap times were consistent throughout the meeting, again making me very pleased. In race three, got up to 2nd but overjumped a single, hurting my ankle but still got home 3rd.Hopefully I will be able to do the full European series next year.”
The event also featured round two of the IMBA European Sidecar series but unfortunately due to a fixture clash with the Maxxis round at Foxhills, it meant that Sam Osbaldiston/Nathan Cooper were the sole AMCA Team Great Britain representatives. Despite that fact though, the British pairing certainly had the crowd on their feet with a truly stirring performance. Taking a super 5th overall, Sam and Nathan also jumped from 16th up to 6th in the Championship table.
In race one Belgians Christian Corthouts/Dagwin Sabbe led before eventually being pushed back by Dutch driver Mike Keuben with Brit Zac Snell in the chair and Frank Mulders/Marc van Deutekan who had come right through from an early 7th. Team GB ace Osbaldiston started in 8th before finishing 6th.
After that strong start, Ossie was in trouble during the early stages of moto two after clashing with a Dutch crew. Undeterred, the Brits got going and were moving impressively up the leaderboard to slot into 8th. Pushing hard to gain more places and fighting hard right to the chequered flag, Osbaldiston then unfortunately stalled his outfit on the final turn. Taking the win was Corthouts from Mulders.
In a classic final sidecar clash, Mulders, Corthouts and finally Keuben took turns to lead. With Keuben taking the win, Osbaldiston and Cooper also had a stormer. Gating 5th they passed Germans Tim Prummer/Tobias Lange then moved up to 4th, solidly defending his position despite a very determined challenge from Thom van de Langemaat/Lars de Laat.
In the solo support racing at Lower Drayton, Gary Gibson won the opening two clashes from Josh Waterman, Luke Meredith and Jordan Saunders. None of the above rider started the last clash though so it was Stuart Owen instead who took home the first place trophy. In the Seniors, Harry Syson topped the podium whilst Mitch Collins was the best Junior.
IMBA European Ladies Championship(round 3)
Moto one(top ten) 1 Steffi Laier(Germany) 2 Brenda Wagemans(Belgium) 3 Gwenda Haans(Holland) 4 Chelsea Gowland(GB) 5 Demi Verploegh(Holland) 6 Fionna Hoppe(Germany) 7 Leonni Tighe(GB) 8 Cynthia Swets(Holland) 9 Bethany Farmer(GB) 10 Gabrielle Hamlet(GB). Other GB positions 12 Charlotte Hall 13 Catherine King 15 Camilla King 17 Eleanor Calby 18 Georgia Ithell 21 Rhianne Barker 23 Ciara Robertson 24 Vicky Marriott.
Moto two 1 Laier 2 Wagemans 3 Gowland 4 Verploegh 5 Hoppe 6 Swets 7 Britt van Muylem(Belgium) 8 Farmer 9 Tighe 10 Hall. Other GB positions 14 Cath King 15 Barker 16 Camilla King 18 Ithell 20 Hamlet 21 Claby 22 Marriott 23 Robertson.
Moto three 1 Laier 2 Wagemans 3 Gowland 4 Verploegh 5 Farmer 6 Hoppe 7 Swets 8 van Muylem 9 Barbara Aagaard(Denmark) 10 Hall. Other GB positions 12 Cath King 14 Calby 16 Ithell 17 Marriott 18 Camilla King 19 Robertson.
Overall 1 Laier 180 points 2 Wagemans 162 3 Gowland 147 4 Verploegh 139 5 Hoppe 131 6 Swets 123 7 Farmer 121 8 van Muylem 113 9 Hall 101 10 Aagaard 88. Other GB positions 11 Cath King 87 13 Tighe 78 15 Camilla King 74 16 Calby 71 17 Ithell 71 20 Marriott 60 21 Robertson 58 22 Hamlet 56 24 Barker 46.
Leading Championship positions 1 Wagemans 463 points 2 Hoppe 420 3 Verploegh 410 4 Haans 378 5 Laier 354 6 Swets 351 7 Farmer 344 8 van Muylem 334 9 Hamlet 257 10 Mandy Vogelzang 254. 15th Ithell 198.
IMBA European Sidecar Championship(round 2)
Moto one(top ten) 1 Mike Keuben/Zac Snell(Holland) 2 Frank Mulders/Marc van Deutekom(Holland) 3 Christian Corthouts/Dagwin Sabbe(Belgium) 4 Thom van de Langemaat/Lars de Laat(Holland) 5 Tim Prummer/Tobias Lange(Germany) 6 Sam Osbaldiston/Nathan Cooper(GB) 7 Luc Descheemaeker/Alexander Tourbier(Belgium) 8 Davy Maris/Alvar van de Wiel(Belgium) 9 Patrick Greup/Maurice Visser(Holland) 10 Erwin Broens/Reiner Stuiver(Holland).
Moto two 1 Corthouts 2 Mulders 3 Langemaat 4 Prummer 5 Descheemaeker 6 Broens 7 Greup 8 Osbaldiston 9 Maris 10 Simon Suter/Daniel Intlekofer(Switzerland).
Moto three 1 Keuben 2 Corthouts 3 Mulders 4 Osbaldiston 5 Langemaat 6 Maris 7 Descheemaeker 8 Greup 9 Suter 10 Laurent Relandeau/Nicholas Gutteny(France).
Overall 1 Corthouts 164 points 2 Mulders 158 3 Keuben 145 4 Langemaat 142 5 Osbaldiston 129 6 Desscheemaeker 127 7 Maris 119 8 Greup 117 9 Prummer 117 10 Broens 111.
Leading Championship positions 1 Mulders 291 points 2 Keuben 233 3 Descheemaeker 220 4 Prummer 216 5 Corthouts 209 6 Osbaldiston 206 7 Langemaat 205 8 Maris 191 9 Greup 184 10 Andy Burgler/Martin Betschart 180.
Solo Support Results
Experts 1 Stuart Owen 138 2 Thomas Shepherd 126 3 Matt Lomas 123.
Seniors 1 Harry Syson 170 2 Ben Walker 164 3 Jeremy Bates 147.
Juniors 1 Mitch Collins 174 2 Ozzie Murray 161 3 Jacob Long 138. Words and pics by Mike Wood.