Swindon Corinium Enduro, April 11 2010

Wheeler runs riot in Ciren sunshine

Report and pix by Bretton King


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Darren Wheeler about to land the overall win

Cirencester Park has hosted a very diverse variety of events since it was purchased in 1695 by Sir Benjamin Bathurst and last Sunday saw one of the more recent additions to that long list, bathed in glorious Spring sunshine. The 2010 Corinium Enduro was staged in balmy conditions and the 156 entrants couldn't have wished for a better day, as the combination of open rides interspersed with undulating woodland that adorn this Alexander Pope-designed park gave a thorough test for all.

This time-card event attracts people from as far as London and Cornwall, but leading them all away at 10am sharp after club president Ken Hoult's loud whistle blast was Swindon ace Craig Beattie. The 22 mile circuit had a generous 70 minute allowance for the Expert's sighting lap and the 2 short-sharp special tests were given a great deal of attention as riders knew that there was no margin for a fall if victory was to be theirs.

Abingdon hot-shot, Darren Wheeler, rode last year for the first time and vowed then to return faster and wiser in 2010 – and he most certainly stuck to his promise. Having only ridden once this year, Darren showed that his natural speed remained undiminished, but it certainly wasn't plain sailing as Rich Warner was right on his tail and after the first special test a meagre 0.15 of a second separated the leading pair. Dan Lawry was also flying aboard his 300 KTM and was just 4.85 seconds adrift of the leader with Dan Bishop a further 1.43 behind Lawry, so going into the slightly shorter second test there was still everything to ride for.

Wheeler was first into the second test and really let fly at this point, setting a scintillating pace and putting down a marker for the rest of the field, which ultimately none were able to better. Warner was second fastest again, but this time he was 4.59 seconds behind and the win was in the bag for Darren. Lawry came in third again but this time he was followed by Wadworthshire-man Alastair Bramwell by a narrow 1.37 second margin. Dan Bishop was fourth in this test and that gave him fourth overall on the combined times. However, at this point the good times ended for Dan as compression problems plagued him and led to his retirement. Things weren't a lot better for brother Ben either as he had a monumental impact on lap one and split his front tyre wide open, which ultimately led him to lose 8 minutes and drop him from what had been a potential 8th position to last – that's enduro though!

Martin Cheeseman styles to victory in the Clubman class The Clubman / Clubman Over 40 class provides the lion's share of entrants and is always a competitive affair - 2010 stuck to that form. A 4.00am start for the quartet of "Cornish Pirates" clubmen didn't harm their chances of succeeding, and Martin Cheeseman and Shaun Bunney in particular were on great form in the special tests, although Bunney had to effect major repairs on lap 3 which cost him eleven minutes and demoted him from second place to 32nd by the close. Martin was fastest on the first test by more than 10 seconds and looked set for a comfortable win in the second test too but an untimely demount handed that honour to team-mate Bunney. The main beneficiary from Bunney's demise was former Wessex-centre trials rider Ian Shuttleworth, whose impressive test times kept him in contention and resulted in 2nd place overall as he was only 0.94 seconds behind him.

The RAF always support the organising club handsomely, so it was rewarding for them to see teamster Dave Blackburn claim a Gold award in third place. His pace in the ST2 was great but his first test time cost him a higher position. A similar fate befell Glyn Thomas who set fastest time in ST2 but could never make up enough for a slow paced ST1. In the Over 40 class, Terry Beacham was tearing up the track and he ran out a clear winner ahead of Paul Cottrell by over 15 seconds. In fact his pace in ST2 was faster than all the Clubmen and half the Expert class too, so the man from Stroud was exceptionally quick. Fellow Stroud-based rider Kevin Barnes was also on the pace in ST2, coming in second and this was enough to net him the third step of the podium.

Fifty five sportsmen entered the fray on Sunday and yet another Stroud man headed the field at the close, as Chris Stevens notched up victory by just over 13 seconds from Niki Richardson. Foxwell Fling class-victor, Felix Upton, was well in contention when holding second after ST1 but a lapse in concentration saw him on the wrong line in a turn and a web of roots dragged him to the floor, slowing his progress and dropping him to fourth at the close and elevating Sam Hoskins to third.

Terry Beacham shows winning style in O40 class There is a saying that decrees "You only get out – what you put in" and to a large extent the hard graft all the officials put in during the days and weeks preceding, during and after the event made the day the success it was, and one has to also thank the weather for shining on the Club and creating such perfect riding conditions. However one of the other over-riding contributions was in fact instigated some 280 years ago when the vision of Allen Bathurst (the 1st Earl Bathurst) for Cirencester Park was started – without his ultimate realisation of such magnificent open parkland, there would be no Corinium Enduro… and hence we owe a debt of gratitude to him and his family throughout the generations for giving us all such a superb venue.