The 37th running of the Weston Beach Race kicked off today with the 125/250 and 65cc junior races that were won byJaydon Murphy, Jens Walvoort and Freddie Gardiner, followed by the ultra-tough Quadzilla Quad and Sidecar race in which Jamie Morgan took an emotional overall victory.
With sunny conditions greeting the Weston Beach Race spectators this morning, the 125/250 category began the event’s race proceedings. Keelan Southwood took an early lead, although the battle soon commenced with the order at the front of the field changing a number of times. At the halfway point double 85cc class winner Jens Walvoort was leading the race aboard his 125cc, but with pitstops and fatigue beginning to take effect, Keelan Southwood began to look in control of the overall in the closing stages. A hard-charging Jaydon Murphy went on to take the victory in the 250 Youth class, while Southwood had to settle for secondand Kelton Gwyther was third. Jens Walvoort was thirdoverall and enjoyed his third straight Weston Beach Race victory with the 125 Youth class win, as James Hanscombtook second and Aaron Colley clinched place.
Next out on track at what is known as the maddest, baddestand biggest motorsport event in the UK was the 65cc racers. These juniors aged seven and above are the stars of tomorrowand in today’s race there were two riders ahead of the rest as Freddie Gardiner and Ollie Bubb battled for the lead in the opening lap. Gardiner controlled the race from the front, leading from lap two to the chequered flag to take his firstvictory here in Weston-Super-Mare. Bubb, who had dropped back in the order in the middle of the race, fought back to second place as the only rider to finish on the same laps as Gardiner, whilst Isaac Ash took a well-earned third on the podium.
With a buzzing atmosphere and a bustling crowd, the Quadzilla Quad and Sidecar class was gearing up to be a real spectacle and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Last year’s Q1 race winner Harry Walker took the holeshot, but the Yamaha racer encountered problems early on and by lap five had fallen down the order. Steve Atkins, racing a 4x4 in the Q4 class, put on an incredible display as he led the overall race for a handful of laps. Atkins went on to conclude the gruelling three-hour battle in an amazing second overall whilst taking yet another 4x4 quad class win. The Can-Am racer was closely followed by third overall and second in the 4x4 class,Simon David, while Stuart Marley took the final podium position in the Q4 category. The overall winner in the race and Q1 category was 23-year-old Jamie Morgan from Usk, Monmouthshire. The Honda racer, who has competed at the Weston Beach Race most years since he began in 2005 and hasn’t had a finish since 2010, took an emotional victory after a dramatic race in which he led from lap five with an outstanding and consistent performance. Second in Q1 went to fourth placed Bunce while Oliver Sansom finished in third.
In the two-man category Keitch/Naylor took a hard-foughtWeston Beach Race win, Jones/Jones were second with Clowes/Henson in third. Alun Davies and James Ferguson took their fourth straight victory in the Sidecar class, despite Davies still recovering from a broken femur sustained back in June. Second in the Sidecar class was Stokes/Townsend, with Helliwell/Zembrzuski taking third.
Finally, in what was a poignant moment on the podium, the Katie Hodgson Trophy was awarded to the highest finishing lady quad rider, 20-year-old Sophie Bailey, who finished in 21st place and was a former competitor of Katie who sadly lost her life earlier this year. It would have been Katie’s birthday today.
Tomorrow the racing begins with the 85cc Small Wheel/Big wheel class followed by the highlight Solos race, in which around 1,000 competitors will take part. With a sunny forecast, spectators are looking forward to an exciting day of competition where the likes of David Knight, Billy Bolt, Mel Pocock and maybe even Ronnie Mac will be looking for a result around the super-tough dune course.
Jaydon Murphy – Weston Beach Race 250 Youth class winner
“At the end of the year it’s good to come and have a bit of fun at the Weston Beach Race and I’ve been lucky to get a win. I’ve raced here nearly every year since I was in the 65cc class and I’ve had two fourth places, so to finally get my first podium and a win is really great. I thought it was pretty tough towards the end; it was quite soft in the beginning and it was really good, but as the time went on it got quite deep and wet in the ruts. I’m very happy though, I can’t believe it – it’s amazing.”
Jens Walvoort – Weston Beach Race 125 Youth class winner
“I had to start from all the way behind and I came down to the fences as one of the first guys, so it was a good start. It was a pretty long race and it was tough, but I could hold on to the end. This is my third win – I thought the 125 was easier to ride with the bigger wheels and more power. I’ve had a good season where I managed to qualify in the EMX125 class a few times and I’m happy to win here at the Weston Beach Race again.”
Freddie Gardiner – Weston Beach Race 65cc class winner
“This year I’ve been racing in the Judd KTM British Youth Championship, where I finished third and I won a championship too - I’ve had a great season. This is my third year racing the Weston Beach Race and I thought I had a better chance as I am a lot stronger. It was more motocross-style this year; the dunes last year were really steep on both sides, but this year it was better. To have the number one – yeah, I’m still buzzing.”
Jamie Morgan – Quadzilla Quad Class Winner
“I came second in the 100cc class and I’ve finished second in the 250s here. It’s been slowly building and building – I’ve been there or thereabouts, but I haven’t finished Weston since 2010. I’ve raced it seven times in the last nine years and today was my first finish, so it’s a bit of a weird feeling to be on the podium, but it feels really good. I had a decent start; my bike was really quick down the straight, although it was geared a bit too high as I struggled in some of the other sections. I was about fourth on the first lap and I just got into a rhythm while making sure I didn’t get stuck. On the second lap there was some carnage on the one dune, a couple of people went past me, but then they got stuck and I just managed to creep my way over, so I just took the opportunity and got my head down. I knew an hour and a half in when I came into the pits that I was leading and I started to get a bit emotional then. Every time I hit the straight I had to pull myself together and focus on what I was doing. I pitted on the last lap just to be sure for fuel and I pretty much just cried the whole way around the last lap; I couldn’t believe it – it’s just amazing. I need to thank my friends, family, mum and dad, my uncle – I could go on and on for all the people that have helped us, I am so happy.”
Keitch/Naylor – Weston Beach Race Quadzilla Two-man Quad winners
“I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve raced it,” said Keitch. “I haven’t done it for the last few years, and before that I did it on my own. I’ve also had a few wins here in the past in the Q2 class and it’s great to do it again. To be fair to Jack he got a brilliant start and that really helps, providing you don’t have any problems. Weston is all about luck – you need it to finish on the podium. It’s a really special race and this year with Jack - who is going out with my daughter – it was good, and it’s a big family thing here.”
Steve Atkins – Weston Beach Race Quadzilla Quad 4x4 Class winner
“I had a really good race – I’m really chuffed with the bike as it went really well. I didn’t think when I walked the track yesterday that it would suit our bikes, but there was a lot of 4x4 quads at the front today. I’ve only raced a few events this year; I’ve been abroad a bit racing, but I haven’t ridden for two-months before coming here. It feels amazing to finish second overall in the whole quad class. I’ve had every result except winning it on a race bike, but it is good to be up there on the 4x4 too. There was quite a big gang of us racing in memory of Katie Hodgson this weekend – I think 20 of us. It would have been her birthday today, and three of us that were riding in her shirts were on the podium in the Q4 class, which is awesome – it couldn’t have gone better.”
Sophie Bailey – Katie Hodgson Award winner (highest placed female quad racer)
“I was racing a Can-Am 4x4 650cc and I’ve been racing in the Lights class at club level this year - this was my fifth or sixth Weston Beach Race. It’s a big event with a lot of people, which makes it really exciting and there’s a lot of competition. It wasn’t too bad out there this year, it’s just knowing how to get through a lot of people who are stuck. I just tried to pick good lines and not get stuck behind anyone. It was a really good race – I didn’t get stuck much at all. It’s really nice to have won this award; I used to race with Katie and I looked up to her, as she was better than me. It’s nice to think that you’re racing for something in her memory as well as yourself.”