SVMC Sapperton Cup Trial

Report By: Bretton King


Completing a hat-trick of consecutive weekends on which Western Centre Championship rounds were held, it was Stroud Valley MC's turn on Sunday as they staged the Sapperton Cup Trial at Breakheart Quarry near Dursley.

Ever one to take on a challenge, Phil Marsh wore the clerk of course bib for the day and laid out a cracking 11 subs over three laps for the 57 entrants. Taking marks off the main contenders is always difficult but he got it just right and created an environment for a titanic tussle between pre-start favourite Simon Welch and X-Fighters TV pundit Rob Warner.

The tightly pegged opener didn't trouble Welch or Warner but it caught ex-cyclo trials star Kurt Brain for a dab as well as ex-champion Henry Bendall.

The second sub saw a tricky final climb up an angled step and Welch was off line in his approach but threw the plot up for a great clean. Warner followed but shed his first mark on the step. Come section three and Brain nailed the first clean which Warner emulated over the off cambered turn, whereas it was Welch's turn to cast a prod.

The next real test was section five on the lip of the quarry where three, in-line, large slabs had to be crossed to reach the exit. Warner roared up it effortlessly and popped an aerial turn to the "ends" for the most stylish clean. Welch went clean here too but succumbed to another prod on Theresa Talbot's section 7 where the tortuously tight turns demanded inch perfect manoeuvring.

Matt Welch had a very unforunate five here as he got his rear brake pedal jammed behind a sapling that brought him to an abrupt halt. Rob shed dabs on both six and seven, meaning Welch was ahead by one as they lined up the innocuous climb and turns of section eight. Warner went first and eased out clean, whereas disaster struck Welch when he misread the red and blue markers and turned out of the section early to incur a catastrophic five.

He knew this would be hard to come back from and so it proved, with Rob only dropping one more for the rest of the day to repeat his win of 2011. Barry Husband ghosted round for third place and Kurt Brain snatched fourth after Matt Welch emulated his brother and also collected a maximum on his final visit to number eight.

Ollie Humphris was the only Youth A expert on the route, but he rode really well finishing on 51 marks and caught the eye of two experts who both agreed he would be a contender in the future if he can keep practising and developing his technique.

The Clubman/Expert route had a battle raging day long too, with Nathan Pekala starting well and looking good for the win. Merthyr's Steve Watson was stringing tidy rides together and Chris Wickham was equally adept as he cleaned the first to open up a lead but was soon pegged back by Watson in the next.

Pekala shed a nervy four marks on them but got into his stride and started to open up a lead. Chris Gilbert wasn't far off the pace either, but Pekala was looking favourite to win until bike problems stopped his action, leaving Watson and Wickham to fight it out.

Watson had a five mark lead with five subs remaining and Wickham tried all the tricks to grab the win but simply ran out of sections and had to settle for second. Meanwhile, Bretton King recovered from a dreadful start and hauled himself into third place, finishing four behind Wickham and one ahead of Gilbert.

The Clubman route saw a masterful display from Mark Talbot as he used his years of experience with good effect to clinch the 348 Trophy by 11 marks from Richard Knott, who in turn managed to take Best Novice, which was a great ride and put many a more accomplished rider "to the sword".

In the Over 50 category, a pair of crocks battled from section to section, each carrying the after-effects of recent ankle injuries - the victor by 2 marks on this occasion was Steve Venn - just - from Adrian Steele.

The crunch came in section five where Adrian clambered out across the slab and camber for a three while Steve took a soft prod just into the section but glided over the slab and breezed around the turn ffeet-up for a very smooth section total of a dab. This gave him a one mark lead, which extended by a further mark when Steele took a two in the sixth.

Victoria Payne rode really neatly and was actually third overall on the route, and this was more than enough to give her an easy youth class victory ahead of Tom Culliford who found the sections tricky to ride with the flowing style that they largely demanded. The closest contest of all was reserved for the Sportsman route where Phil Smith and Andy Humphris both finshed on 3 marks, with Phil winning the pot on a furthest clean tie breaker.

Another tie followed with Ron Walters and Terry Cole locking horns on five apiece and Brian Taylor four marks behind them. The three ladies that graced the route had a genteel contest and Trudie Silvey was the fairest of them all, losing a mere 12 marks to Andrea Cottle's 26.

Thanks must go to Phil Marsh, Ray Pekala, Pete Culliford and their team, as well as the hardy bunch of observers who withstood rain, sleet and snow all in the space of half an hour.