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Todd Kellett and Ashley Greedy struggle through issues at Saint-Leger Sand Races!

Todd Kellett and Ashley Greedy struggle through issues at Saint-Leger Sand Races!

A week after the beach and the long straights of Hossegor-Capbreton, the CFS championship riders took up a completely different challenge. St-Léger and its endless succession of bends in the heart of the forest: this was the scene of the 5th event of the series. Is this the most gruelling race of the 3AS Racing Sand Championship of France? Some will tell you that it is.

Words: CFS Press Release. Featured Image: Xavier Leporcher

The Belgian on the Honda Wonderbike team, Yentel Martens, won the Endurance des Lagunes de Saint-Léger de Balson, near Bordeaux, 5th round of the 3AS Racing French Sand Racing Championship. He finished ahead of the two factory Yamaha Dragon Tek riders, Milko Potisek and Todd Kellett. Cyril Genot, leader of the championship before this stage, finished 4th and kept his place as leader in the series classification. His Honda SR Motoblouz teammate Lars Van Berkel completed the top 5. The race, which was supposed to last 2 hours and 30 minutes, was shortened by 30 minutes by race control due to sections of the circuit that were too wet. Nearly 300 pilots took the start. “It’s a huge win for me,” said Yentel Martens just after the finish. “Last week in Hossegor, I crashed heavily while fighting for the win and I preferred to stop. Today I felt better, I felt good. And I didn’t give up.”

They call the St-Leger circuit “the labyrinth” as it winds through the woods to the south of Bordeaux. (Image: CFS Championship)

It took a long time for the tall Yentel, the son of former World Champion Jacky Martens, to win an endurance event at the CFS. Until now, the Belgian had only been at the top of the podium once, at the Beach Cross in Berck, in a motocross-type format. On the sandy but wet track of Saint-Léger on Sunday, Martens left it to two of his compatriots to make the best start. At the first corner, Mattéo Puffet’s KTM took the lead, just ahead of Cyril Genot. We found the two riders in a different order after the first lap under the finish gantry, where Yentel started to get his nose in front. Potisek and Kellett were not far away, as were the Miot brothers. But after 40 minutes, Genot crashed heavily and returned to the pits, grimacing, for his first pit stop. Martens had already taken a lead of a few seconds and would not give it up. Kellett, on the other hand, suffered a mechanical problem and crashed at the start of the race. We haven’t yet seen the Kellett who flew to the championship title last year, with his fall at Berck still fresh in his mind. As a contrast, Potisek has shown enormous strength of character while his father has been facing very serious health problems since Friday. The rider from the north of France was the fastest at the end of the race, but not fast enough to catch up with Martens, especially as the race direction decided, with 45 minutes remaining, to put up the one-lap board when the leader passed the finish area. Specifically, Yentel Martens learned that he only one lap left to hold on to the victory. Even though he had to return to the pits, he crossed the finish line more than 50 seconds ahead of Potisek and 2m18s ahead of Kellett.

Todd Kellett had a tough day, as you can see the front end of the bike doesn’t look right! (Image: Kevin Francois)

Todd posted on social media to say “Rome wasn’t built in a day … Brutal day with a technical issue that ended up in a pretty horrific crash but the team got me back out there to bring home P3 – “Get knocked down 9 times, get up 10!”  Massive thank you to the Dragon’Tek boys for being there when needed. We keep working.”

Todd told us at Dirt Hub that the crash “was a pretty big one! Unfortunately we had an issue with the front brake and the calliper went into the front wheel. I got it back to the pits and the boys dismantled it so we could continue. Track was pretty brutal to be fair so they called it early.”

A vert well-pleased Ashley Greedy finishes the race with a one-word review: “Bru-tal!” (Image: Dale Rees)

Ashley Greedy reported to Dirt Hub after the race: “I finished in P21, at the end they cut it 30 minutes short as there were some big bogs and people were getting stuck! The struggle was real this weekend having the bike break on Monday, driving up to Bordeaux for MBR Performance to strip the bike and rebuild it in 2 days, driving back to Hossegor and back again to pick up parts and I just felt terrible all day! But we finished and that was the aim, it’s definitely a learning curve doing these French races, the top 50 guys are so fast and the field is stacked!”

Greedy and mechanic Dale Rees celebrate getting to the end of a tough week!

In the women’s category, Amandine Verstappen (Yamaha) took her 5th victory of the season.  The other winners of the weekend were David Herbreteau (Honda), in the vintage category, Tylan Lagain (Yamaha) in the Espoirs category and the Dutchman Damien Knuiman (KTM) in the Junior category. In the Quad category, Randy Naveaux (Yamaha) scored his 5th consecutive victory this season. The Belgian is flying high in the category at the moment and can boast of having won all 7 sand races contested in 2023, if we add the Gurp TT and the Enduropale du Touquet contested at the beginning of the year. In Saint-Léger, he finished ahead of the Norwegian Christopher Tveraen and Jérémy Forestier. Briton Harry Walker only completed 4 laps before retiring and now sits 134th in the Championship. The 3AS Racing French Sand Racing Championship now takes a one-month break before the 6th and penultimate round of the season in Grayan and L’Hôpital, in the Médoc region just west of Bordeaux, with the Gurp TT on January 13 and 14, 2024. The final round is the legendary Le Touquet Enduropale on the 2nd to the 4th of February.

Solos: Race Results

Solos: Championship Standings

(Ashley Greedy lies in 123rd position after finishing the last two rounds)

Quads – Race Results:

Quads – Championship Standings:

(Harry Walker currently lies in 134th in the Championship after the finish at Hossegor)