UK Moto Gymkhana Championship 2017
Round 1 - Donington Park.
The 2017 National Moto Gymkhana season got underway with a healthy entry for Round 1 on the wide open spaces of the Donington Park tarmac lake. Before the event nobody knew what to expect from the new course designer for this year. There were a few sighs of relief when the course maps were handed out, no ultra tight obstacles so everyone could get round OK. The first runs started in slightly damp cold conditions, quite a few competitors getting wrong courses, mostly for small errors rather than getting completely lost. Amongst the novice class the standard of riding continues to go from strength to strength, the fastest novices looking very sharp. The sight of a BMW 1200GS on knobbly tyres picking the front wheel up while still leaning was a sight to behold! As the expert class runs last they got the benefit of a drying course, the luck of the draw working for them this time.
Reigning champion Rob Fox had a bit of a 'mare on his first run, trying for a couple of very tight turns and having to stop and paddle backwards twice, ruining his time in the process.
Andrew Rayfield, another of the championship contenders had a fall on the warm up course so confidence wasn't too high while Mark Wraith had a bit of a wild ride with a couple of crossed up wheelies on the way round. Once all the first runs were done it was Mark Wraith on his DRZ400 out in front by less than a second from Andrew Rayfield on his MT09 with leading novice Gary Davies a brilliant third overall on his streetfighter Gixxer 600.
In the novices Ian Handley was second and newcomer Grant Fraser 3rd on a Bandit 600. In the women's class Beth Price Williams was out in front on her Honda CB1 with Joanna Noble Finch second with a KTM 690 Duke.
By the time round two got underway the course was bone dry so everyone could go full on to better their round 1 time. Mark Wraith had a much smoother run this time round, it looked faster and improved his time by over 9 seconds putting him well clear on the top spot of the podium.
Rob Fox got it right second time round and pushed himself into 2nd on his nimble 250 2 stroke Honda while Andrew Rayfield took the third spot. In the novice class Gary Davies hung on to his lead along with a very creditable 6th overall. Paul Brown made up for a wrong course on run 1 with a tidy run to 2nd novice on his CB600 with Ian Handley finishing off the novice podium on a Hornet 600. All three also gained a ranking point towards promotion to the next class so congratulations to them all.
The women's class has more competitors than ever this year and looks like being very competitive. Joanna Noble Finch looked very determined on her second run and improved her time by no less than 14 seconds pushing Beth Price Williams back into 2nd place by just 2 seconds. Third place went to Pauline Thornton on a KTM 390 Duke.
A special mention must go to Grant Fraser who came all the way from Scotland to take part in his first ever event. If he hadn't made one minor mistake on his second run he would have finished third overall, amazing for his maiden event and obviously one to watch in future. It was nice to see several centres getting riders on the podium, East Midlands, West Midlands, Essex and West of England all bagging podium spots.
Looking at the podium bikes there were singles, twins, triples and fours, supermotos, naked street bikes, supersports and even a two stroke proving that you can do Moto Gymkhana on any bike. Next round is again at Donington on Saturday 3rd June. Spectating is free or come along and do a bit of marshalling.
Check out Motogymkhana.org.uk for more information on what is the world's fastest growing motorcycle sport.
Round 1 results:
Overall with timing