Excitement on the sands as Weston celebrates its 30th beach race
By Prue_Reid | Sunday, October 14, 2012, 15:27
CROWDS of thousands packed into Weston-super-Mare over the weekend to enjoy thrills and spills on the sand at the resort's annual beach race. More than 50,000 packed into the resort for the day event, which celebrated its 30th birthday this year and is heralded as the biggest and best beach enduro in Europe. Around 1150 riders from all across Europe took part in the event, with hundreds of bikers pitting their wits for the main race on Sunday along the 5.2 mile course. The course, which features around 200,000 tonnes of sand, had dozens of mountainous sand dunes and a 2.5 kilometre straight where riders reached speeds of up to 100 mph. This year, rather than rain and wind, the weather stayed fair with sunny skies on both days. And there was plenty of excitement on the sands on Saturday with Ben Watson winning the 125/250f class race for the fifth time and Tyler Rowe taking pole position in the 65cc youth race. Ben Watson, who also competed in the main race on Sunday, said: "This is about my seventh time doing the race and on Saturday I took my fifth win. "I had bad luck last year, as the bike blew up with eight minutes to go in the 85cc class, so it was good to come away with a win for my first time on the bigger bike. "It's a great way to finish my season." Young guns in the 65cc class found the 90 minute race tough going due to the deep wet sections of the course which were taller than their wheels. While Gary Ashley led for most of the race, a technical problem on the final lap allowed Tyler Rowe through for the win, with Ashley having to settle for second and Keelan Southwood third place. Rider Paul Winrow was also celebrating after scoring his sixth victory in the adult quad race in a nail biting battle that went down to the final lap. Mr Winrow, who is now the most successful person on the dune course, took an early lead, although Carl Bunce got to the front mid-way through the three hour race. In the closing stages Bunce had nearly a two-minute advantage, but Winrow stepped up a gear and began to reel him in after timing his pit stops perfectly and Bunce came into some problems with his machine. For Bunce it wasn't to be as the final straw was pulled when he ran out of fuel on the last lap and he had to coax his machine over the line to settle for a disappointing second place after leading for so long, while Winrow capitalised and took another fantastic victory to add to his win tally, while Chris Cooper finished third. Mr Winrow said: "I got a great start and normally I don't like to lead in the first lap, but I had a good look at the track yesterday, so I knew it wouldn't be too bad. "I had a comfortable lead and I kept going, as I couldn't see who was in second for a while. I rode a steady pace for until the track came good or quad friendly, as it was really rutty. I didn't push too much and Carl (Bunce) came past after I pitted for fuel, but I also did a second splash and dash pit just to make sure there was enough in the tank. I did it earlier rather than later and then I could see Carl coming back to me a bit, so I got into more of an aggressive race pace, but I don't know why I couldn't find that before. I caught him in the last part of the race and he had a misfire; I'm not sure what was wrong but he was really unhappy, which is understandable. For me a win is a win and I will take that, so it's been a good day for us." In the main race on Sunday hundreds of bikers battled their way around the course - much to the delight of crowds lining the prom. As well as the thrills and spills on the sands, spectators also enjoyed a range of off track activities, including a fun fair, barbecues and live music. There was also a photographic exhibition to celebrate the race's 30 year anniversary with pictures and exhibits dating back to the first ever event in the seaside resort. The event is organised by RHL Activities and attracts riders and spectators from right across Europe. RHL director, Gareth Hockey, said: "We've worked hard to ensure that this year's RHL Beach Race at Weston is a fitting celebration of three decades of racing on the Weston seafront. "We've seen probably some of the best racing in years on the beach, which has been enjoyable. "All the classes have been really good, but Paul Winrow coming to win on the last lap made it really exciting for me, and he's taken his sixth victory, which is great. "We've also gone to town with the off-track activities, to ensure that there's something for the whole family and that the 30th anniversary of the beach race will remembered as a very special event by everyone, whether that are racing or spectating this weekend."
Crowds of thousands enjoy the 30th annual Weston Beach Race