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Bailey dominates Stonebury! 2024 TBEC Enduro Championship Round 2 – Report and Results

Bailey dominates Stonebury! 2024 TBEC Enduro Championship Round 2 – Report and Results

The annual TBEC pilgrimage to Stonebury, Cambridgeshire nearly didn’t happen on Sunday, thanks to the continual rainfall in days leading up to the event, but thankfully the farmer allowed the management team to take the plunge – literally, and the Enduro Gods repaid both the TBEC team and the riders with a fabulous sunny day and near perfect riding conditions!

On the same parcel of land used in previous years, but with a very different and new configuration, the TBEC team fell back on their decades of course-setting experience to produce a fantastic six mile circuit that incorporated fast flat-out stubble fields with sweeping bends, boggy mud holes, dense and nadgery woodlands, wild jumps and tricky undulations, all ready to catch out the best of riders!

Poor Dan Smith, last year’s runner-up in the championship, was seen hobbling around the pits with his left foot in a plastic surgical shoe. Apparently, the ‘ ‘Bedford Bullet’ had sustained the injury the previous weekend while competing in a motocross.

Even so, there was still plenty of hot competition, most of which were impatient to get going. Reigning champion Tobias Bailey and ex schoolboy champion Dan Wheeler, his GasGas rebuilt after seizing the motor at the Copthall round, were riding under the colours of their new sponsor TBC Engineering. Tobias explained “Me and Dan have formed a new partnership to do all the TBEC and British Championship Enduro rounds this year. We’ve got some great backing from TBC Engineering, Mayday Seals and Bearings, Tillit Suspension, A. Wheeler & Sons Transport, Plews Tyres, Goggleshop and Joov products. We’re very lucky boys – we just have to justify the confidence that’s been placed in us, but we’re ready to rock!”

With the clocks having gone forward for British summertime, the TBEC Enduros had now reverted from a single 3 hour race back into two 2 hour races, the first starting at the regular time of 10.30am. As the clock counted down, up at the sharp end Row Zero led off, consisting mainly of Elite riders who would be acting as the trailblazers. Dan Wheeler #442 shot into an immediate lead on his GasGas, closely followed by Ed Harris #135, Paul Field #25 and vet Phil Gilder #24. Wheeler quickly opened up a gap that he would continue to extend on his group.

One minute behind on Row One, reigning champ Toby Bailey #1 was playing his cool, catch-up game. He clocked out, seemingly in no great hurry – following James Foxley #355, Ben Ilott #51 and Matt Willis #20 through the gate, departing on his exploratory lap, but clearly in hot pursuit of the lead group that were one minute in front.

Bailey and Wheeler’s opening lap times topped the table being within one second of each other. It was clear that the main competition would come from these two Gloucestershire men. On the second lap however, the ‘Cheltenham Flyer’ really turned up the wick. Bailey scorched around, reducing the gap to Wheeler until he was just 12 seconds behind on the track, which meant around 48 seconds ahead on corrected time. On the third lap Bailey caught and passed team mate Wheeler, keeping that lead until the end. When the two hours had elapsed, it was Tobias Bailey who crossed the line in first place – a full 4 minutes 44 seconds ahead of 2nd man home Dan Wheeler with Edward Harris in third. Quite remarkably, all of Bailey’s 10 laps were in the eleven minute bracket with less than half a minute difference, highlighting his outstandingly consistent lappery.

After a one hour break, the afternoon enduro got under way sharply at 1.30pm, this time in reverse direction. Again, Dan Wheeler shot off into the distance, obviously trying to develop as big a space as possible between himself and Bailey. He clocked in after the first lap with a cracking laptime of 11:20, but Tobias Bailey, starting one minute behind, had gone even quicker at 11:11, pulling back nine seconds from his team mate. Behind them, roving cameraman Edward Harris #135 was circulating well on 11:44 with Ryan Crisp #170 just beating that by 5 seconds at 11:39.

Up front Bailey and Wheeler were having a ding-dong battle! Bailey relentlessly pursued Wheeler with a third lap time of 11:04 against Wheeler’s 11:30, one which brought him within sight of his main rival. Things were decidedly getting hotter up front! On the fourth lap Wheeler popped in his best lap time of the day at 11:20, but it still wasn’t enough. Bailey produced a scintillating lap time of 10:55, meaning the two entered the timing tent together, side by side, clocking in at the same time. Toby Bailey, of course, was now one minute in front and further extended his lead on the fifth lap by another 39 seconds. On the sixth lap, disaster struck Dan Wheeler, for the rear tyre of his GasGas suffered a puncture. Fortunately he managed to replace the wheel quickly and got back in the fray. Champion Bailey continued his dominance of the Stonebury circuit, showing exactly how he had won his previous two TBEC titles with another flawless performance. Despite picking up 11 penalty points, the likeable Cheltonian had enough time in hand to do an extra lap.

At the final whistle, in the Elite class and overall it was #1 Tobias Bailey who took victory, his 10th win from the last 11 TBEC Enduros. Owing to his extra lap and perhaps because of the odd scoring system, Bailey had scored a mere 6 points more than Dan Wheeler #442, so it was still a very tight competition. Wheeler himself was fortunate to retain his second spot even though he had to stop and change wheels, helped, no doubt by his fast lappery. Edward Harris KTM #135, romped home in third position overall just edging out the Fantic of Ryan Crisp #170 in fourth place.

In the E1 class, it was the Yamaha of former Elite rider Michael Ridge #71 who came out on top followed by the Husqvarna of #501 Rhyan Leighton with Paul Stone taking up third spot with his #357 KTM.

Matt Willis came out as overall winner of the E2 class on his #20 KTM. In second was #35 Darryl Friday, also on KTM. Picking up a fine third place in class was Finlay Woods on his #308 Husqvarna.

The E3 class was a three way scrap between winner Jamie Barnes #115, John Paul Bowering #94, both on Beta, and third placed Sean Burch on his #148 Husqvarna. All three had completed 18 laps with no penalties and yet each had tied on 252 points despite having different times!

The Legends class was won by #48 Corey Edwards on his KTM with Tommy Batts’ Yamaha #22 in second and Les Liney claiming third spot on his #331 Sherco.

Phil Gilder topped the Vets class on his GasGas #24, while Gaz West slotted his Kawasaki 450 #414 into second place with the #390 Husky of Warren Scott taking third.

Up and coming Josh Watson was best in Under 21 class with his #80 KTM, just pipping Joe Jefferies #29 KTM for top spot, even though both ended up with 252 points. In third place was Sam Mitchinson #31, also on KTM.

The Supervets class was won by the KTM of #166 Des Pichel, who completed 2 more laps than 2nd place man Paul Webb #284 on his KTM. In third place came Colin Tarrant’s Sherco #380.

Gareth Davies turned out best in the Trail class on his big #234 Yamaha Tenere, followed by Richard Martin #336 Beta in second place and #141 Dan Brett, also on his Beta.

Only one rider competed in the Electric class, #340 Ian Gregory on his Suron, so was therefore class winner.

The Half Day riders class was won by #323 Pete Farwell on his KTM, with Ben Hovell #138 claiming second spot on his Beta. Third was Clive Mallett #37 on his KTM.

All in all, the Stonebury Enduro couldn’t have had a better outcome considering all the rain that had previously fallen during the week. The TBEC team once again produced a brilliant event thanks to their foresight and experience, and riders and spectators alike enjoyed the event immensely.

The ‘Cheltenham Flyer’ – Tobias Bailey, had once again showed his mettle in virtually dominating the Stonebury Enduro, but next month at the Abbotsley Arena on May 12th it could be a different kettle of fish! Dan Smith is sure to be back and men like Paul Field and Dan Wheeler will be eager to claim their first win of the year so don’t miss it! It’ll all be here on DirtHub so check in for all that’s great in off-road news! See ya, R.A.

Words – Roger Allen – Pictures – Bev Callaby – Results – TBEC