GH Motorcycle and G&B Finch Muntjac Enduro Sixth and Final Round of the ACUE championship 2022
Report Richard Snowden – Pictures Andy Waters / Michael Bennett
Sunday 20th November saw Diss MCC stage the sixth and final round of the ACUE Championship for 2022. With 204 riders entered and a 15-mile course in top condition everything was set for a great final event in the east. The weather forecast threatened heavy rain which would have made the event more challenging, but the rain was just about over by the time the championship riders arrived for their first test. The tension was high with both Ben Cole 2022 Championship leader and Luke Parker 2021 Champion both pushing to take victory on the day. With very slippery conditions no-one could afford to make a mistake. Parker (350 Matt Pope GasGas) showed he was on blistering form with his first test over 6 seconds ahead of 2022 British Enduro Champion Alex Snow (350 Alex Snow Off Road GasGas), with Ben Cole (450 GH Husqvarna) just over a second behind Snow. Rising ACUE star Ben Clark (300 MRS Sherco ) was fourth with Jack Rowland (350 GasGas), this time under the ET James banner rounding out the top five. Alex Snow
By the time the championship riders returned for their second test the track was very different with most of the slippery top removed and of course plenty of Thetford Forest bumps to contend with. The top three maintained their order with Snow closing the difference, just a second slower than the flying Parker. Aston Bird (450 GH Yamaha) showed he had lost none of his pace despite only riding one other enduro in the last 7 years. He slotted into fourth but a DNF on his first test meant his efforts would go unrewarded. Rowland maintained his early form with another fifth position on his second test.
The third test saw Parker somehow raise his pace still more to record the fastest test of the day almost 5 seconds faster than Snow. Cole had a poor test by his high standards and Rowland edged into third just 0.16 seconds faster than Cole with Clark rounding out the top five. LukeParker
When the championship class returned, they faced two final tests back-to-back. Parker maintained his stranglehold on the event with five firsts from five tests. Snow was consistent with five second places. Cole maintained his third place with a third and fourth on his last two tests with Rowland taking third and fifth to secure his fourth place. Rising through the test results was East Anglian MX ace, Jake Nicholls who as ever showed great pace through the trees, finally taking a third spot on his fifth and final test.
After five tests Parker had pulled out a 15 second gap on Snow with both well clear of championship rival Cole. Rowland held on to fourth with Nicholls moving up to fifth.
However, the event still had the battle to the last time control which proved to be the familiar sting in the tail. The championship contenders needed to find every bit of energy for this challenge and all eyes were on the tree line to see who would be first to get to the time control. To round out the perfect day it was Parker who clocked in first comfortably on time, not only winning the 2022 Muntjac but also the 2022 ACUE Enduro Championship. As if that wasn’t enough Luke Parker was crowned ACUE MX champion from Ben Cole a few weeks ago. A fantastic and rare achievement from a rider who is on top form. Alex showed his undoubted ability on the last lap, as the only rider clocking in a minute early, but with Parker on time he had to be content with the runner up position. Cole was on time and took third place and runner up in the 2022 ACUE Enduro Championship. The fourth and only other rider to stay clean was Jack Rowland. Jake Nicholls was best of the riders losing a minute at the last check with Clark just behind, in sixth. No one went clean in any other class. The lap was slightly shorter than in recent years, but the conditions clearly meant it was more challenging than anticipated. . On a final note, great ride for Nieve Holmes 2022 European Champion and ISDE winning Ladies team rider on a (Kiwi's Bike / Dr Shox Suspension/Off Road 300 Sherco). Nieve finished 12th Overall out of the 26 riders in the championship class.
Tom Minta (300 JSM GasGas), better known for his national trials results, was dominant in the expert class. Tom was best GasGas privateer at the Scottish Six Day Trial which won him the opportunity to ride a GasGas at the world famous Erzberg Rodeo in mid-June. With only a handful of enduros since, Tom has been showing great form and he again blitzed the opposition. After three tests he would have been eighth in the Championship class and was some 15 seconds ahead of another trial star, Ross Danby (300 John Lee Beta) with the experienced Adam James (300 ET James Sherco) five seconds back in third. All three would have been in the top 15 in the competitive championship class. Again, the tight final check would confirm the final results with the top four riders all managing to only lose one minute. Minta maintained his advantage to take the win, but James moved up to second with Ben Thomson (300 Quarry Bank Sherco) moving up from seventh to third.
Julian Harvey, yet another trials rider, multiple centre trials champion showed great form on the three tests the expert veterans faced with Jonathan Pearson (300 Enduro 21 KTM) eighteen seconds back, and British Over 40 champion John Shirt (350 JSM GasGas) a further 18 seconds back. However, the tight final check would give Shirt the chance to show his ability. He was the only rider to lose one minute with Harvey the best of the rest losing three minutes with Paul Hanks (349 Husqvarna) taking third.
The large clubman entry was dominated by Welsh riders. Young Endaf Lloyd Hughes, son of the former British Championship Husqvarna campaigner Wyn Hughes was riding in his first event since turning 16. Endaf (125 Husqvarna) raced to lead the class after their two tests by 6 seconds. Ryan Rowlands (250 Rowlands/ET James Sherco ) was second and Diss club member Jake Ward was third. The top four riders all lost two minutes but while Hughes retained his lead from Rowlands Dan Bywater (125 Sherco) took third with all three riders making the long trek from Wales for the event.
In the Clubman Vets Alan Heath (300 TM) was a clear winner losing two minutes on the final check some two minutes faster than next group who all lost four minutes. Dave Gray (300 KTM) slotted into second from Christian Drane (450 Suzuki).
Finally, in the large Clubman Super Vets class five riders managed to get to the final check with three minutes of penalty. John Hilton (300 KTM) took victory from Julian Holmes (250 GasGas (150 KTM) taking third.
Andy Waters and his ever-enthusiastic team produced another great event which proved a fitting end to the enduro season and a great final round of the ACUE Enduro Championship. As ever the club would like to thank everyone who helped to deliver the event, to GH Motorcycles and G&B Finch for their ongoing sponsorship and of course the Forestry England for use of the forest and their support. After clearing everything away we will turn our attentions to the Santon Enduro on 26 February 2023, which will open the ACUE Championship series in 2023.
Muntjac Forest Area – Post event Illegal riding
The Muntjac Enduro in Thetford forest was a great success with very positive feedback. However, it’s disappointing to highlight that there are signs of post event illegal riding.
Whilst I am sure all ACU competitors are fully aware, can you please share on social media that riding on Forestry Commission owned or managed land is strictly prohibited unless it is an authorised event.” Illegal riding could be the end of permissions for such events.
We face enough challenges obtaining the various permissions, so please do not spoil it. Forestry England and the Norfolk Police have been made aware and will be taking a zero-tolerance policy.
Thanks for your co-operation - Diss MCC.