Race report: 2014 Skegness Beach Race
Skegness was simply rocking again as the AMCA hosted the fourth staging of their super Beach racing weekend, an event made possible thanks to the total co-operation and support offered by the East Lindsey District Council.
With the Council’s blessing and warm hospitality of the local hoteliers and Skegness population, it’s no wonder that the 2013 Beach blast was declared another big success for everyone concerned.
Earlier in the week, though before the action could commence, the AMCA Events and Roberts Plant Engineering teams arrived on site to erect the 2,000-plus steel crowd control barriers and also construct the Skeggy circuit.
Although 2013 offered a longer, redesigned track lay out, the results however produced a rather familiar appearance as the superb Nathan Watson making his Evotech Stevens Husqvarna debut took home another lovely £1,000 winner’s cheque.
Also victorious again at Skeggy was 2012 Quad race winner Stefan Murphy and 2012 Sidecar top man Alun Davies with James Fergusion this time occupying the chair.
First to occupy that redesigned track on day one was the Clubman class sponsored by SECWHA (Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association) with awards for Clubman Youth, Clubman Over 18, Clubman Over 40 and Clubman Over 50.
So at 10am on Saturday, it was time for racing and leading the charge was 18 year-old Gloucestershire based Dan Thornhill. This very talented youngster was campaigning aboard a borrowed 450F Honda having already raced both 250F Kawasaki and KTM earlier this term. However despite those changes in engine power and make, Thornhill was pure class at Skeggy and after fighting off an early challenge from John Robson he then controlled the entire one and half hour contest from start to finish, completing 19 laps in the process.
Closest challenger to Dan’s domination was Verde KTM pilot Matthew Callaghan on a 18 lap total with Oliver Benton jumping aboard a 250F for the first time also right in contention along with Jack Staines and Luke Gidney.
Making the long trip up to Skegness from his Hampshire base, Harry Hinson was the runner-up in the Clubman Over 18 class whilst Veterans victories went to Ryan Griffiths (Over 40) and Eddie Sloane (Over 50). In the Veterans Over 40, Griffiths finished on a very respectable 16 lap total ahead of Chris Matthews and Anthony Dean. Over 50 Veteran Eddie Sloane certainly enjoyed himself at Skeggy, completing 15 laps, two more than runner-up Stephane Dufay with Ricky Widdowson third.
The Doodson Broking Group sponsored Quads and Sidecar class were allocated a bumper two and half hour slot to go sand blasting on the Skeggy beach. In a super line-up of hungry Quad racers, it was Carl Bunce who led the charge before being passed on the opening lap by defending Skegness Quad King Stefan Murphy. However, Bunce was a determined challenger, fighting back to regain the lead and control proceedings for another two frantic circuits.
By lap four though it was again advantage Murphy as Bunce made a mistake which initially dropped him back to sixth. From here onwards the super Murphy charged onto another great victory, completing two more laps than eventual runner-up Oliver Sansom. Taking third in this very entertaining clash was John Mitchell with Peter McKenzie fourth, Clint Eagle fifth and Aaron Pole sixth as early challenger Bunce disappeared from proceedings on lap 11. Looking for a performance of the moto, then how about female rider Katie Hodgson who held a top 10 position throughout, eventually finishing a great eighth.
In the Sidecar class, 2012 winner Alun Davies had entered but with a different passenger in James Fergusion occupying the chair this time around. However, Davies showed that he is indeed the three-wheeled master of Skegness beach by taking a comfortable victory and completing a great twenty-two laps, seven more than his closest rival Thomas Mann/Neil Burke with Liam Mudie in third. The lap total recorded by Davies saw him ahead of some Quad finishers and in a great 19th spot in the combined standings.
So to super Sunday and at midday it was time for the major event of the weekend, the big SECWHA sponsored solo race. Naturally all eyes were on defending Champion, 19 year-old Nathan Watson giving his new gleaming Evotech Stevens Husqvarna its race debut. When the gates opened though to signal the start of the gruelling three hour blast it was Dan ’the man’ Thornhill on that borrowed 450F Honda who led the charge over the first few Skeggy sand mounds. But by the completion of that frantic opening lap it was Nathan Watson in control ahead of Thornhill, Matt Moffat, Josh Waterman, Ben Watson and James Lassu.
Unfortunately within the opening three laps, Waterman had disappeared from proceedings when his KTM stopped and stubbornly refused to restart. So as Waterman bowed out, Ryan Staveley moved up into the top six and the race was now on.
Whilst the smooth Watson stylishly reeled off lap after lap in pursuit of glory, Thornhill and Moffat were having a great tussle for second spot, regularly swapping positions. By mid-distance, Watson was still continually stretching his advantage as Moffat, Thornhill, Ben Watson, Staveley, Ryan Watson, Lassu – young Ollie Benton having another great ride – Scott Austin and Steven Gardham were the top 10 challengers.
Entering the final third of the race and with tiredness naturally and clearly in evidence throughout the pack, Mr Nathan Watson was smooth, putting the hammer down, turning on the gas and blasting to eventual victory – two laps ahead of runner-up Moffat.
Indeed Moffat actually did very well to finish the contest, steering his KTM home with a melting gearbox which had lost the use of third gear. Despite a sore leg, Thornhill displayed his true class and got home a great third with Ben and Ryan Watson taking fourth and sixth respectively, sandwiched by Lassu.
At the finish, a very proud Debbie Watson was on hand to congratulate her very talented sons, embracing not only winner Nathan but also Ben and Ryan who were having their comeback rides following injury – Ben having suffered a broken collarbone whilst Ryan had fractured both his hip and collarbone.
Top Veterans finisher in the main solo contest was Alex Owen who completed 30 laps and 13th overall in the final classification, a great effort.
After reflecting on the tough three hour battle, Nathan Watson declared his total Skegness enjoyment saying: “The bike was superb and this event is mega, I love it here. I will definitely be back next year to make it a hat-trick of wins”.
Runner-up Matt Moffat was not quite so happy: “I had a crap start and rode too tense in the early stages causing me to crash. I actually found the second-half of the race easier despite having to stay in second gear when my gearbox started to fail.”
For third placed Thornhill it was a painful end to the weekend explaining: “I crashed hard at mid distance and suffered a dead leg but after winning the Clubman yesterday it am still pleased with third today”.
So that’s it for another super Skeggy and with Nathan Watson vowing to go for the hat-trick in 2014 is there anyone who fancies challenging this bright young star? Well the provisional date for your diaries is November 8-9, 2014.
Thanks again to East Lindsey District Council, SECWHA, Roberts Plant Engineers Ltd, Doodson Brokers Group and the people of Skegness, your support is invaluable!
By: Mike WoodPictures: Mike Wood
Published Date: 21 November 2013
Section: Motocross News