With its rapidly rising reputation for being ultra-tough but still very raceable and enjoyable, it’s no wonder that the AMCA Skegness Beach Race, supported by the East Lindsey District Council, is fast becoming one of the major end of season events in the race calendar. Now in its fifth year, the event saw the biggest overall entry numbers so far.
The major winner once the action started was the very talented 19-year-old Gloucestershire-based Dan Thornhill. After warming up on Saturday by taking victory in the Clubman’s Class, Dan then also topped the main three hour solo contest on Sunday to earn himself a sweet £1,000 winner’s cheque.
Also bagging a prestigious Skegness Beach race victory throughout the weekend were Jake Edey (Clubman Youth), John Littler (Clubman Over 40 Veterans), Carl Smye (Clubman Over 50 Veterans), Bailey Edwards (Quads), Alun Davies/James Ferguson (Sidecars) and Alex Owen (Adult Solo Veterans).
Before the racing could start though there was the mammoth task of erecting the almost endless lines of steel crowd control barriers which mark the circuit. So, the hard working AMCA Events were on-site early Tuesday morning and ready to commence work whilst Craig Chamberlain and his dad manned the plant kindly supplied by LPE, ready to move, mould and reshape the soft, spindle deep sand into the 2014 race track.
And, what a fantastic challenge the Chamberlain’s were to produce with the Clubman class first out to appreciate their efforts. Leading the pack down to the start area was the 2013 Skegness Clubman winner Dan Thornhill, surprisingly mounted aboard a 450F Husqvarna Enduro mount supplied by MPS Racing in preparation for his appearance at a British Enduro Championship round this coming weekend.
Although Thornhill was quick out of the blocks, it was though Jake Edey aboard his Gear 4 M-Tech KTM who led the charge over the opening dune. However by the end of lap one, Thornhill despite never having previously rode his new mount before the Skegness event was quickly getting to grips with the Husky and in control of proceedings chased by Daniel Wright, Matthew Callaghan, Mitchell Warhurst, Mitchell Meadows, Oliver Benton, Jack Camwell, Callum Green, John Joe Wright and Edey who had slipped back to 10th.
From here onwards the super Thornhill led all the way to the chequered flag, finishing the 90-minutes blast a full lap clear of Wright, while Edey climbed right back up to third and be the first Clubman Youth rider home, just ahead of his good rival Benton.
One of the most noticeable casualties in this opening race of the weekend was Matt Callaghan. Out on a 350cc KTM, his bikes’ battery ran flat forcing him to return to the pits, later rejoining the action to finish 42nd. In this SECWHA (Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association) sponsored race the top Veteran Over 40 was John Littler in 15th spot whilst leading Veteran Over 50 was Carl Smye in 43rd.
Next up at Skeggy was the Doodson Broking Group sponsored Quads and Sidecars contest which was to be of a two-and-a-half hour duration. With Stefan Murphy the previous double winner in the Quads class not competing, there would be a new name on the victor’s trophy but who would it be?
Well, right from the off it was 2013 runner-up Oliver Sansom in control chased by 16-year-old rising star Bailey Edwards, Aaron Pole, Martin Edey, Antony Barrett and female racer Katie Hodgson.
Showing great style and determination, three laps in and teenager Edwards was the new pace-setter although following another five frantic circuits that man Sansom was back in pole position. From here onwards Sansom really put the hammer down and looked a certain winner until he was then to suffer pure beach race heartache.
With his machine spluttering and overheating, Sansom desperately attempted to nurse his sick mount home, eventually grinding to a halt just two laps shy of the finish, what bad luck that was! So with Sansom out and being towed back to the pits, it was instead victory going to the very composed and stylish young Edwards with Barrett in second spot.
Despite his engine expiring, Sansom had still completed enough laps to be credited with a third-place finish ahead of Edey, the father of solo competitor Jake, Clint Eagle, Paul Broomhead, David Hull, Callum Bates, Shaun Murphy and Darren McPherson.
Having won the Sidecar class in both 2012 and 2013, Alun Davies and passenger James Ferguson again proved to be the undisputed three-wheel King of Skegness by cruising to another crown. Smoothly negotiating the soft, Lincolnshire sand, Davies completed 19-laps, three more than runners-up Brian Beresford/Martyn Machin and Daniel Lawry/Sam Wilkinson.
So onto Sunday and after a two-minute silence had been impeccably observed at 11.00am by everyone present to remember the Country’s war dead, it was time to go racing in the main three-hour SECWHA supported solo event, and once again Skegness was simply rocking as thousands of spectators gathered to watch the great action that was about to unfold.
Although double winner and reigning Champion Nathan Watson was unable to defend his crown, there was still plenty of quality in the massive field chasing the big £1,000 winner’s cheque. At 11.30am the race was well and truly on and leading the charge over the first obstacle was Matt Moffatt with Dan Thornhill, back aboard his trusty Fowlers Honda and AMCA ace Luke Meredith hot on his heels.
On completion of a crazy and very frantic opening lap it was still the same leading trio with Frazer Norrie, James Lassu, Luke Burton, Matt Porter, Oliver Benton, Scott Alldridge and Matthew Callaghan all inside the top ten.
Whilst the top three remained relatively unchanged, there was plenty of movement going on further down the leaderboard with Richard McKeown and top AMCA pilot Ryan Morris just two riders making significant progress in a forward direction.
McKeown went from 12th up to fifth with Morris storming through from 32nd to get right up to seventh by lap six. As per any beach race though the first objective is survival, but by lap 10 there had already been several notable casualties including the unfortunate Morris, forced out with clutch problems.
One circuit later and the leader Moffatt was also out, soon to be joined by Meredith so as the contest reached its halfway point it was now Thornhill the pacesetter from Norrie, McKeown, Lassu, Lewis Meadows having a truly fantastic ride aboard a 125cc KTM, Porter, Benton and Mitchell Warhurst.
Another rider worth keeping an eye open for at this stage was young Jake Edey who after getting stuck on the opening dune was now right up to an incredible 11th spot!
In the second half of the race, the superb Thornhill continued to dominate, blasting onto a brilliant Skegness win, one full lap clear of Scottish rider Norrie in second with Lassu third, McKeown fourth, Meadows fifth, Porter sixth, Gavin Stevenson sevent, Edey a great eighth (despite a split exhaust system), Callaghan ninth and Harry Bradley 10th. The first Veteran home was Alex Owen in 21st.
Back to the victor Dan Thornhill though, and what a year it’s been for that young man. Earlier in 2014 he had been laid low due to a serious bout of glandular fever then broke a bone in his back when being struck by another rider, so naturally Dan was delighted to finish the season in style saying after his Skeggy win.
“After competing in all five races staged so far and going so close its mega to bag the victory at last,” said Thornhill. “The track this year was more tight and technical but still great fun to ride. The bike was superb and never missed a beat although I did have to stop once when the fuel breather pipe came out and started to spray me with petrol!”
Dan is sure to be back again next year for the 2015 episode of the Skegness Beach. If you fancy challenging him the provisional date set is November 7-8, an event not to be missed!