Shattered dreams and personal bests! IMBA Ladies European MX Championship Round 2 – Race Report
Sunday 4th August saw our super talented British Team of BWMA Pro-Class riders: Chelsea Gowland, Charlotte Hall, Marni Saunders, Kayleigh Durston, Jaymee Garrood, Bethany Allison and Vicky Marriott travel to the Warsage circuit in Belgium for round 2 of the IMBA series.
Report and Images courtesy of Howard Marriott
With a full class of 34 International riders, British Champion Redline Hondas Chelsea Gowland went into the round with the Yellow leader’s jersey determined to build on her record-breaking success while the rest of the team, inspired by her success were looking to keep breaking their own personal best results. As always the IMBA brought out the best in the team racing for the pride of country and individual bests.
Naturally, all eyes were on the battle up front between Britains Chelsea Gowland and Belgiums Brenda Wagemans, the tables being turned with Brenda on home soil. Qualifying was more important than ever for all the girls as the gate only held 25 riders so 9 would be on the back row, not ideal for an International event, however it was Belgium Brenda Wagermans that drew first blood by snatching qualifying from Chelsea Gowland, but feeling that she had more in her Chelsea was determined she had a good chance to take the race to Brenda. Next, best Brit was Marni Saunders in 12th followed by Kayleigh Durston with her best qualifying in 15th, Bethany Allison in 19th, Charlotte Hall, 20th, Jaymee Garrood 22nd and Vicky Marriott 27th.
Race 1 and the weekend started to live up to expectations, Wagermans took the holeshot but Chelsea was quickly on her tail and yes we had a race on, for 3 laps Chelsea was right on Brenda’s back tyre, pressurizing her just as she did in England, but on baked hard pack surface it was Chelsea that made a small mistake overshooting a berm and that was enough to open a small gap that Chelsea was unable to close so that one went to Wagermans. Meanwhile behind the leading two and Kayleigh Durston had a dream start right up in 6th place but she showed she belonged there pushing up with the front runners and battling away for her best IMBA race, behind her Marni Saunders wasn’t far behind and as the race progressed she found the speed to take rider after rider until she was on Durston’s back wheel, in the last lap she managed to get passed giving both British riders their best IMBA race results with Saunders grabbing 7th and Durston 8th, 3 British Riders in the top 10.
Further back Charlotte Hall had a great race fresh from breaking her shoulder with 15th and young Bethany Allison a lot more confident this round than in England taking a fantastic 17th place. Jaymee Garrood struggled but took a solid 23rd. Vicky Marriott crashed on the start but picked her way through to 27th then fell and ended up 29th.
Race 2 and disaster, the track was that baked it had more rubber on it than the start line on a drag strip, and they watered it prior to the race. Having had a siting lap the slippy conditions caught a few out nothing as bad as Britains Chelsea Gowland who not only hit the deck hard losing the bike on a drop off chasing Wagermans at full speed miraculously sustaining only cuts and bruises after hitting the concrete-like surface so hard, but seeing her dreams shattered in that instance was heartbreaking, remounting but a lap down she could only bring it back in a lowly 30th place, the yellow jersey had to be handed back to Wagermans for the third race. Meanwhile though keeping the British spirits up was the incredible performance by 16 year old teenage sensation Bethany Allison who fulfilled her potential and raced the race of her life managing an incredible 6th place finish ahead of the now super consistent Marni Saunders in 8th place showing that she is a regular IMBA top 10 rider. Also finding her way to the top is Kayleigh Durston who despite a poorer start on the short start straight still brought it back in 13th place, Charlotte Hall was still building her confidence with another good result in 17th place one place ahead of a happier Jaymee Garrood in 18th with Vicky Marriott having a better race in 22nd having to start on the second row of the gate.
Race 3 and a battered Chelsea Gowland was now on a damage limitation exercise, bandaged and pretty second hand by now with a banging headache her performance was nonetheless impressive to take a steady 3rd place for 7th overall on the day, 3rd in the championship. Super consistent Marni Saunders again rode another solid top 10 with 7th giving her a career-best 6th place overall, the battling Brits of Kayleigh Durston and Bethany Allison followed in 13th and 14th and with one of the rides of the day, Vicky Marriott coming from last off the start to a solid 19th place, Charlotte Hall also had to come back from a first turn fall up to 21st place and the unlucky Jaymee Garrood sustained a puncture and had to dnf.
This was one of the most exciting rounds we have seen with so much drama and the potential of the British girls shining through, the dream of the BWMA to help British girls make it to the top in European racing is becoming a reality, these super talented girls coming through the Pro-class have shown that given the opportunities they can produce the goods. The next two IMBA rounds in the Netherlands and Switzerland in September are going to be awesome and no one has given up the dream.