Southern Experts Trial 2008


Report: Ben Falconer

A CONSISTENT performance over three laps of traditional Cotswold sections saw Ross Danby crowned the winner of the 67th Southern Experts Trial.

The Bewdley youngster headed off former winner Alexz Wigg, by recording scores that never reached more than 20 on each lap of 15 sections at Nympsfield.

His scores of 18, 14 and 12 put pressure on runner-up Sam Haslam, whose matched Danby over the last two laps with 13 and 13 but his score had already crept up to 23 on lap one. While most riders improved on their second lap and faded on their third, Wigg bettered two laps of 19 each, with a 15 on lap three, to take third.

Danby's only maximum five mark loss came on section four. He fired his Gas Gas up the up a 5ft sheer bank from a limited launch area but made his only big mistake of the day here on lap two.

The trial, held on Sunday, December 14 attracted the best of the riders from southern England and Wales. All 60-plus on the entry list knew what they were in for as acknowledged master of mud and multi-British champion, Cheltenham's Steve Saunders set out the course.

Section six proved uncleanable - the best ride was by Haslam, for two - while section five's roots were cleaned by Wigg, Ben Wibberley and Lennie Tidd.

Run by Stroud Valley MC and Sunbeam MCC, the Southern Experts has been staged in Gloucestershire, and the Western Centre only twice before since 1931 and reigning centre champion Simon Welch did himself and the event credit by carding 67, the same as Sam Connor.

A middle lap of 17 proved Welch can run with the best over mud. His only fives came on lap three, but he overcame those two setbacks at the end of a tough event. Ben Wibberley's 85 edged Colin Crease's 87, the latter proving once again what an experienced campaigner he is when the going gets slippery. Daring to have a crack at section one first, he surprised fellow competitors and an appreciative gallery with a clean over what looked like a section which would improve with wear.

Only Tidd, who made a terrific start before fading, recorded the only other clean on section one on lap one.

In the supporting clubman expert class, Ben Bramwell's 41 was good enough to head experienced campaigner Dave Clinkard by seven marks and Chas Lee by 11.

Only two riders started the youth A class, with Keelin Hancock's 101 over the same course as the full expert route a creditable result.

Many thanks to the landowners and observers for making the event possible.



Premier: Ross Danby (250 JST Gas Gas), 44 marks lost.

Runner-up: Sam Haslam (300 JST Gas Gas), 49.

First class: Alexz Wigg (300 Sandiford Montesa), 53.

Clubman Experts

Best performance: Ben Bramwell (250 Birkett Scorpa), 41.

Runner-up: Dave Clinkard (250 Beta), 48.

First class: Chas Lee (320 John Lee Sherco), 52.