Shanes takes Euro Grasstrack title in British 1,2,3 – Race Report & Results
It was an historic night for British Grasstrack in Hertingen, Germany on Saturday night, with British riders filling the top 3 in Europe for the first time in the competition’s 39 year history. What was even more pleasing for fans of British Grasstrack was that no less than 9 riders qualified for the event, all making excellent accounts of themselves in very tough company.
Report and Result Image by Gareth Bemister
Cheshire GTC member Daniel Winterton was always on the pace throughout the night. The experienced rider’s efforts paid off in his third ride, where he was able to dispose of French rider Julien Cayre on his way to picking up his second point of the evening. Sadly, Winterton just missed out on qualfiication into the C Final, but it was far from a disappointing night for the likeable Cheshire-man.
The C Final itself, held to determine overall positions from 11th-16th, lined up like a domestic Grasstrack final, as the bumper British contingent filled 5 berths on the start. The sixth man who was to take his place in the final, Matthieu Tresarrieu, had suffered a problem earlier in the night and took no further part in the evening.
After scoring 3 points in the heats and therefore having final pick of gate for the final, James Wright took a fantastic win. Former European Champion Paul Hurry, who had only missed out on the B Final through countback after some stunning rides in the heats, followed him home for second.
Another experienced European rider, Paul Cooper, had ridden consistently throughout the night, but sadly it wasn’t quite enough to force his way into the B Final. The Yorkshireman finished 3rd in the C Final.
The two younger members of the British team, Callum Walker and Charley Powell could both travel home very proud of themselves. It was a first European Final appearance for both of them (although Walker did get some rides in reserve last year) ougnd they put in some excellent rides throughout the night. The highlight for Walker must surely be his opening ride, where he was able to lead home Cooper for a strong 3rd place. However, disaster would strike the Plymouth Devils racer in his second ride as he was knocked from his machine, leaving him pointless. This was to be the last time he would ride home pointless however, with a 5th and a 4th in his next two rides.
Charley Powell had a similar night, though he looked like getting quicker as the night progressed. The best ride of Powell’s evening came in his final ride, where he scored up a 3rd place of his own, adding to a 4th and 5th from earlier in the evening. For all British fans, we must be pleased with our younger riders showing so much potential against such strong opposition.
The B Final provided the first of the incredible British feats Edward Kennett lined up as the sole Brit in a high-pressure, all-important B Final. The top 2 from this heat would progress to the winner-take-all A Final. Many will remember that it is this exact system that James used in Swingfield in 2016 to win his European crown.
Kennett rode a fantastic race, beating some of Europe’s strongest riders. German veteran Bernd Dainer had looked in good form in the heats but could only manage 5th. It was his fellow countryman Christian Hülshorst who followed Kennett home and therefore took the final spot in the A Final.
Love them or loath them, the winner-take-all A Finals currently in use in the British Championships and European Championships provide a crescendo unmatched in our sport. And so, after going through the heats unbeaten, defending champion James Shanes still had it all to win or lose in the final. As well as Kennett, Shanes was joined by fellow countryman, and another former European Champion Andrew Appleton who had ridden superbly all evening to collect 16 points. Trying to stop the Brits were German superstar, and another former European title holder Stephan Katt, in-form Czech rider Hynek Stichauer and of course Hulshorst. What followed must have exceeded all expectation!
It wasn’t long before news came through…James Shanes had completed his 5th win of the evening, successfully defended his European crown and been the first back-to-back British European Champion ever. A tremendous achievement for Shanes. But even more remarkable, he had been followed home by Andrew Appleton in 2nd and Edward Kennett in 3rd, making it a British 1,2,3…history had been made.
A fantastic night’s racing by all 9 of our lads out in Germany. They really did us proud. All 9 will be in action at the British Masters at Swingfield on September 10th…for the first time in history the British Masters will feature the top 3 European riders, plus 6 of the finest riders in Europe…not to mention 15 other quality Grasstrack racers.
They say British Grasstrack is dead…