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How team GB Juniors tackled the Coupe de l’Avenir

Team GB took a brilliant second overall despite a heap of setbacks and difficulties that included crashes and machine problems in the 2023 FIM Coupe de L’Avenir in Belgium at the weekend. They finished 11 points behind France who were the overall winners. A dozen countries from across Europe were represented in the event at Baisieux, Belgium in three classes.

The 65cc lads of Casey Lister, Harley Marczak and Cohen Jagielski topped their group to take the class win. Hayden Statt, Robbie Daly and Finley Pickering finished third overall in the 85cc class. The Open group riders Joel Rizzi, Billy Askew and Ollie Colmer also took third overall with Rizzi topping the MX1 individual leaderboard.

65cc: Team GB – 1st

Jagielski put in an impressive performance in race one, battling hard and demonstrating his fighting spirit and finishing in a confident third place. This together with his fifth in the second race, placed him as the highest Team GB finisher in this class with a well-deserved second overall.

Lister put himself into a strong position in the opening moto and was on course to hold third place, like he did in Saturday’s qualifying. However, luck wasn’t on his side when a stone lodged in his brake pedal in the first few laps. In an extraordinary show of resilience he recovered and managed to finish in 17th position. Race two showed the strength of Lister’s determination and speed. He was back in the saddle and finished third.

Marczak had a tough race one and had to retire thanks to a flat tyre. He made amends in race two and rode to fourth place, putting in an outstanding performance in spite of mechanical issues. Overall, it was an exciting race that saw the competitors pushing themselves to their limits. Marczak’s qualifying race was one to remember, after going down in turn two he pulled back from last to 10th.

85cc: Team GB – 3rd

Statt showed what he was made of, with a promising performance despite not feeling one hundred percent. He held the leaders in his sight and finished fifth in the first race. He had an off in the second moto while working through back markers but still finished sixth and, in race three, his true grit and never-give-up attitude saw him take another fifth.

Daly put in a set of super-fast lap times on both Saturday and Sunday, setting him up for a good overall result. Unfortunately, his first race was tricky due to a failing brake but still went all out and finished sixth. He was back on it in race two with a good start and a fourth place finish. His third race was cut short due to a first lap crash. He was check out and thankfully didn’t suffer any broken bones.

Pickering was on a solid ride until a couple of tip-overs resulted in a 22nd place finish. In race two, he showed what he was capable of by achieving 10th and he continued to show his strength and skill in race three, where he ended up crossing the line in 12th.

Open: Team GB – 3rd

Rizzi took an impressive start to finish victory in race one. From the opening lap, he commanded the race until the finish line, he never looked back. His smooth and calculated riding kept him ahead of the competition throughout the day, securing the individual overall with a first, second and third. The 19-year-old made the whole process look effortless and his opponents knew his pace was damaging. His victory was well earned and admired by all in attendance.

Askew showed his pedigree and impressed with blisteringly fast lap times in qualifying. He was in the frame for second in moto one until his pace was brought to an abrupt half when he went down hard. Despite the fall, he managed to haul himself back on track and finished seventh. More back luck in race two saw him in a rare 24th position with a top ten position of ninth in the final race.

In finishing as the second fastest 125cc rider in the individual results, Colmer helped the team achieve its podium position with solid finishes in every race and 17th overall in the Open group.

Summing up the weekend, Team GB Manager Dave Willet said; “What an unbelievable weekend. I’m hugely proud of all the riders but in particular the 65s for winning their group. In the 85cc class, Finley showcased his skills, character, and British fighting spirit in the face of adversity. Joel’s result and performance in the Open was nothing short of exceptional, while it was a shame that a little mistake cost Billy his best chance at the podium.

“All riders looked amazing in their Union Jack race shirts, adding a real sense of British pride to the event. We definitely turned heads! I’m so proud of all our riders and everyone involved, they all did themselves proud and put on a fantastic show. We expect to see great things from all of them in the years ahead.

“A big shout out to all involved, on and off the track, and especially to Mark Yates from Revo for stepping up to provide Joel with a machine for the event.”