The massive Manchester Arenacross crowd may have whooped and shouted for Pro riders like winner Angelo Pellegrini on Saturday night, but the biggest cheer of all was reserved for the youngest and least experienced racer of the night – Freddie Bartlett.
Singled out to the crowd in the opening ceremonies, Bartlett took to the microphone and told the fans he’d not long turned seven years old. And although he was officially part of the FRO team, he’s only just moved up from a 50 so his Arenacross debut on a 65 was hardly likely to be stunning. The crowd just loved him for his youth and have-a-go attitude at riding against the bigger boys.
But when the gate dropped for the final, few were prepared for what was about to happen. Riding from near the outside of the gate, he took the holeshot and burst into the lead. Instead of the other riders picking him off, he held his own and led until two laps from the end until he was passed by Ashton Boughen.
“Before the race Freddie was chilled as usual but said it felt strange leading because he never gates well!” explained his dad, “So he panicked a bit but still ended up second in the final. What a great result!”
It was made even sweeter as his grandparents had jetted in from Sweden and his aunt had made the long drive up from Newquay in Cornwall to watch him.
All day, the youngster had been riding well and although he’d never ridden Arenacross, in free practice he was not nervous at all – just buzzing about riding and couldn’t wait! Then in timed practice he qualified third and was buzzing. And, of course, filled with confidence that he could handle the hardcore track and the pace.
The youths have a first race in the afternoon, before the crowds are let in. In this opening moto, Bartlett had a good jump but got boxed in so had to pull through from a long way back. And he got through to third in the end. Then they have many hours to wait for their final during the evening show.
“Went in to town with the FRO team, grabbed a bite to eat then he went to play crazy golf with the team,” said his dad. “After a 15-minute walk they got there and he was too young to play! He was gutted! So he came back to the camper and chilled out by riding his BMX!”
As the Arenacross crew moves to Glagsow this week, lots of eyes will be on the talented Bartlett youngster who will only get faster as he gets more experience.