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TBC Gladiators slug it out in the Arena. 2024 TBEC Enduro Championship Round 3 – Race Report & Results

TBC Gladiators slug it out in the Arena. 2024 TBEC Enduro Championship Round 3 – Race Report & Results

The TBEC club of Great Britain held the third round of their 2024 Championship at the Abbotsley Arena near St Neots, Cambridgeshire on Sunday. The course, set out by the intrepid TBEC team, didn’t disappoint either! In fact it was, as some riders enthused to me, quite an epic circuit! The 8.5 mile lap was laid out on a former golf course, and while it lacked big ascents and descents, the talented TBEC crew fell back their considerable expertise in the run-up to create a very challenging circuit which included jumps, bends, hairpins, flat-out stretches and undulations, plus of course woodland. Unlike the previous Stonebury round, the Arena was bone dry so the racing was going to be super fast! The lap even sported some special log and tyre sections, more common to Hard Enduros. These served to test the skill and verve of any of the competitors who were daring enough to try them!

Race Report by Roger Allen – Images courtesy of Bev Callaby Photography

Under bright sunshine and a rapidly rising temperature, the morning session got underway at 10.30am prompt with #29 Joe Jeffries, Edward Harris #135 and vet Phil Gilder #24 leading Row Zero away. Stroud man Dan Wheeler gave chase on his TBC # 442 GasGas, quickly overhauling the early lap setters. He set a fair pace too, stretching the lead away from his fellow group of riders. Reigning champion Tobias Bailey started his TBC #1 KTM one minute behind Row Zero and set off in pursuit of the lead group, which was now led by Wheeler. The two Gloucestershire men were clearly the fastest riders on the track, setting a pace in their respective groups that none of the others could match – with lap times in the 17 minute brackets. Only the young and talented Josh Watson on his #80 KTM, was able to record an under 18 minute lap. Paul Field looked impressively fast also. The experienced vet was riding like the former champion that he was years ago!

As expected, reigning champ Toby Bailey was best of the under 18 minute trio, with a blistering 17:09 set on the second lap. This hot pace enabled him to carve into the lead of Wheeler, and on the third lap the ‘Cheltenham Flyer’ forged his way past, never to be headed again. At the beginning of the fourth lap Wheeler pitted for fuel leaving him further adrift, albeit far enough ahead of the chasing pack to keep his second place. That’s how they finished the morning hare and hounds race, with Bailey a full 3 minutes 41 seconds ahead of Wheeler, the two ‘TBC Engineering’ team-mates being the only riders to have completed 7 laps. One lap down, Josh Watson came in a good third with his class rival Joe Jeffries not far behind.

After a well deserved break, the afternoon enduro started one hour later at 1.30pm, but this time in reverse direction. The riders left the timing box pretty much in the same order as they did in the morning session with just a few exceptions. Once again, Wheeler set the pace on his GasGas, tearing away from his group like a scalded cat. Just as in the morning enduro, Row 1 followed on one minute behind, with Toby Bailey obviously very keen to repeat his morning performance.

By this time the thermometer was nudging 30⁰ so the ambient temperature was warming up nicely – similar to the dicing on the track! Just as he had done in the morning session, Bailey was closing in on Wheeler in relentless fashion! His pursuit of the lead group may not have been as penetrative as before, but he slowly upped his game to lead Dan Wheeler by around 40 seconds on the clock. When Wheeler pulled into the pits for a quick refuel, Bailey breezed by to lead on the track, keeping hold of his advantage. When the 3.30pm deadline arrived most of the riders had returned to the paddock but Bailey and Wheeler were still out on their 7th lap. They clocked in with an overall time of 4:04:52 and 14 penalties for Bailey and 4:10:39 with 31 penalties for Wheeler. Despite the penalties, it was enough to give the ‘TBC Engineering’ team mates first and second place in the overall results. Young Josh Watson gained a brilliant third overall, narrowly beating 4th placed Joe Jeffries.

In the class results Bailey and Wheeler topped the Elite Class with Edward Harris coming in a good third on his #135 KTM, even though he openly admits that, on the day, he didn’t perform as well as he usually does.

Ben Ilott with his #51 Husqvarna took control of the E1 class with #192 Rob Molloy in second on his GasGas. In third place was the #302 Yamaha of Keith Townsend, all completing 12 laps.

In the E2 class Darryl Friday #35 took charge on his KTM, forcing Gary Curtis into 2nd place on his #262 Husqvarna. Third was Sam Levitt on his #730 Sherco. Each of these also completed 12 laps.

The E3 group saw Gary Shaw take the honours with his #248 KTM. Second was consistent John Paul Bowering on the #94 Beta with #148 Sean Burch rounding them off in third on his Husqvarna.

Corey Edwards came out tops in the Legends class with his #48 KTM, just over 5 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Tommy Batts on his #22 Yamaha, both having completed 12 laps. In third place on 10 laps was the #180 Beta of Darren Brooker.

Phil Gilder kept up his top position in the Vets class with a win on his #24 GasGas. 2nd and 3rd place was hotly contested between the #414 Kawasaki of Gaz West, just edging out Warren Scott with his #390 Husqvarna, all on 12 laps.

As already hinted, the Under-21 class was headed by #80 Josh Watson with his KTM and #29 Joe Jefferies, also on KTM. There wasn’t much between them to be fair, but Watson stole the verdict on time. Third was #557 Tom Bullock on his KTM but one lap down on 11.

Des Pichel won the Supervets class on his #166 KTM with #214 Peter Bush 2nd also on KTM. In third was Paul Webb’s #284 KTM, all with 11 laps down.

Dan Brett won the Trail class on his #141 Beta with Daniel Bloom coming in second on his big #268 Yamaha Tenere, each with 10 laps apiece.

Ian Gregory took the Electric class on his #340 Suron, being the only leccy bike in the group.

Of the 3 half-day riders, KTM man Alan Mitchinson #33 came out on top, ahead of #251 Craig Emerson on his Husqvarna. Third was Steve Rampling with his #108 Beta.

All in all, it was a glorious day at Abbotsley Arena and, once again, a fabulous event laid on by the TBEC crew. The circus now moves on to Ironstone on the 9th June, where Tobias Bailey will have plenty of competition, in the form of Dan Wheeler, Paul Field and a rejuvenated Dan Smith aiming to unseat him from his 100% record so far. It’s promising to be a good one so get yourself along there to witness the action, and be sure to check in to DirtHub for all the results! See ya! RA.