Tom Knight's Blog - NPS4X Rd2 & Euro 4X.
Last weekend saw the second round of the NPS4X series and the fourth round of the European 4X series down at Hales Super Bowl mountain board and bike centre.
We arrived early Saturday morning about 9 am and shortly after Pat CJ arrived with the small team van. The weather wasn't very good with a thin rainy mist coming down so we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Dave Francoisy with the new team van so we could set up the team pits and get under some cover.
With the team pits set up and looking the business I went to sign on for Saturdays national round and started to get ready for some practice on the track. The track layout was pretty good, offering loads of overtaking opportunities and some pretty technical stuff too. The only bad thing about the track was the Pro line. The wide run in a small jumps meant the smaller line was faster which was a shame. Due to the rain the track conditions varied throughout the course, the sand berms at the top of the track became grippier, but the hard clay corners at the bottom of the track became very slippery making tyre choice a hard decision. Anyway despite the tricky conditions practice went well and I was ready for racing.
After a short break which turned out to be a long one, I headed up to the start for my motos. These all went pretty allowing me to take 4 straight victories allowing me pick of the gates in the semis. Semis came along and I choose the inside line which allowed me to have the good lines through the first two corners and progress through to the A final. Again because of my motos I had first pick of the gate so I choose the inside lane again. Jake Ward lined up next to me and Elliot Simmons took lane three leaving Luke Harris with lane four. Out the gate Jake got the snap and blocked me of meaning I was second going into the second corner, we both chose to take the inside corner. As we were coming out the second corner Jake slipped out forcing me to brake as to not run him over, as he was getting back up Elliot railed it round at the outside and took the lead Jake got up in second place and continued riding. Luke managed to forsee the crash and cut on the inside of me meaning he was in third and I was in last position heading down to the bottom of the track. On the penultimate corner Luke jumped wide and jumped to the inside of him and managed to push him out of line and take third position. I managed to hold this position round the last corner to take third.
So after a pretty successful day we washed the bikes and headed to the hotel for some food and some well deserved rest in preparation for the European 4X the next day.
We arrived pretty much the same time the next day in much better weather conditions bringing a smile to my face, but it was obvious that the weather wasn't as good over night. With easy ups and tents strewn all over the back hedge due to the gale force winds that had prevailed. This wind had dried the track out making it really sandy at the top and super fast down the bottom. I signed on and headed up for some practice. I knew the track pretty well from Saturday so I didn't need to ride that much, so I learned the qualifying lines I needed then called it quits after a few runs and waited for some gates. Shortly after practice it was time for qualifying, I was off just after the world cup pros so I got a chance to look at their lines on the top section whilst I waited. While I was watching I noticed that they were all taking the same line on the first corner which I hadn't spotted or practised so I wasn't sure whether I should take it. During my run I decided to take the line and it went pretty smoothly which was good, I ended up qualifying in 11th spot which I was really happy with. After the qualifying the Elites had a break whilst the rookie and master cats raced their motos and finals.
Once these races had finished it was straight into knock-out motos. Because I Qualified in 11th spot I had gate choice in my first moto meaning it was an easy win and progression through into round two. In the next moto I would come up against some stiffer competition including the current series leader Lucas Mechura, I came through in second place meaning I gained a place in the quarter finals. Again in this moto I would come up against Lucas but also this time Joost Wichman as well. I knew that I wouldn't be able to gate the two world cup pros so I decided to hang back a little but made sure I gated the guy in lane four. Down the first straight I hungback some more and cut off the guy in lane four, then swung across the track behind Joost and Lucas and took the fast line to the outside berm in the second corner. Joost and Lucas both took the inside line, Joost managed to ride it out but Lucas came across some problems. I railed the outside berm and managed to overtake him, I managed to block my line in the third corner by taking the inside. However Lucas railed the outside on the third corner giving him a lot more speed coming out which allowed him to sneak up the inside on corner four taking back the second qualification spot. I tried to keep with him and take back the place on the last corner but he was too wise to all my actions and kept his spot, so I was out.
With racing over we stayed to watch the semis and finals then washed the bike and headed home, after what was a great and rather successful weekend.
Big shout to all my sponsors for there awesome support this season and my dad for the huge part he plays.