Gareth Bemister Report Sand Ace Championship 22-6-13

Condor Ferries Sand Ace British Championships



The 2013 Sand Ace British Championship got off to a grand start on Friday evening, as riders and organisers were guests of the Ministry for Culture and Leisure, Deputy Mike O’Hara at the picturesque Castle Cornet. After this prestigious setting, things settled into a more familiar setting as many riders went their way to the local Karting circuit; an event won by Gareth Winterburn, with Mitch Godden coming 2nd and Charlie Saunders finishing 3rd. Sand Ace Supremo Mike Clarke won the B Final. Despite the concerned looks of the Kart circuit owner, no major injuries occurred!

The Sand Ace British Championship began in soggy conditions. Fine rain drenched the beach as the cones were laid out on the beach. During practice, the rain did not relent. But with a circuit that spends 12 hours a day under water, a waterlogged track was never going to be a problem.

Race 1: (Solos) 1st. Andrew Appleton, 2nd. Harland Cook, 3rd. Mike Clarke, 4th. Kevin Bishop.

The first race began with confusion. First, Aaron Pease failed to emerge on the line, and when he did he had not fitted a dirt deflector to the machine. Pease would not be allowed to compete in this race. Another rider to not make the start would be Dave Mears. His problems were far more complicated; he had only just landed in Guernsey airport! So the race commenced with just 5 riders. Appleton was pure class. He made an electric start and immediately left the rest of the pack in his wake. Mike Clarke slotted into 2nd and made Harland Cook work very hard to get through. Eventually, the Guernsey man ran wide on the pit bend, allowing Cook up the inside. The awesome sound of Appleton’s motor was in stark contrast to Mike McLusky’s sick sounding machine. Sea water had got at something, causing the machine to splutter itself to a stop. Andrew Appleton was caught by the speed gun travelling at 85 miles per hour.

Race 2: (Solos) 1st. Daniel Winterton, 2nd. Phil Ashcroft, 3rd. Jody Hodgson.

A disastrous start to heat two for the Channel Islanders as Marcus Bisson and Anthony Bougourd failed to make the start. Bougourd had ruled himself out previously but Bisson, who had looked mighty quick in practice, suffered an engine failure on the way to the start line. Another Channel Islander, Anyon Robilliard also suffered mechanical issues when leaving the line. With all of the trauma, only 4 made it to the line. The racing did not suffer. Vazon regular Daniel Winterton performed a tremendous ride. After missing the start, he chased down the pack led by Rod Melksham. He dived underneath second place man Phil Ashcroft entering the top bend, tracked down Melksham and repeated the very same brave move on the next lap. In fact, he filled Melksham in, causing him to run wide and into some of the rockpools. With a saturated bike, Melksham was forced to pull off.

Race 3: (Solos) 1st. Danny Warwick, 2nd. Dave Hammond, 3rd. Rob Fortune, 4th. Jamie Griffiths, 5th. Robert Teed, 6th. Dave Cleal.


Race 3 was a chance for defending champion to show his spend and he did not disappoint. Warwick dominated this race, leading from start to finish. The race provided an excellent scrap early on for 3rd with Fortune, Hammond and Griffiths all dicing, often three abreast leaving the corners. Eventually, Fortune appeared to break free but it was Hammond that managed to pass him on the top bend once again and lead the pack home behind the sensational Danny Warwick.

Race 4: 1st. Rodney McDonald, 2nd. David Speight, 3rd. Mitch Godden, 4th. Charlie Saunders, 5thMartyn Sturgeon, 6th. Scott Cresswell.

This race provided a fantastic line up and a tight first bend was almost inevitable. Rodney McDonald hit the first turn with his nose in front and was hard enough in the first turn to make sure he exited in the same fashion. At first, it looked like multi Sand Ace champ Mitch Godden would be the one to follow him but Yorkshireman David Speight dived underneath Godden on the first lap and Mitch had no answer to him. The stiff competition of the race was obvious throughout as Martyn Sturgeon and Scott Cresswell scrapped fiercly over the last place in the race.

Race 5: (Sidecars) 1st. Rob Wilson/Terry Saunters, 2nd. Robbie Wilson/Bradley Steer, 3rd. Trevor/Andy Colvin, 4th. Pete/Steve Colvin, 5th. Mick Stace/Nick Barker.

The first sidecar race proved quite spread out as no rider had  an answer to the other. The sheer speed that the outfits travel however still made it a tremendous spectacle. Trevor/Andy Colvin were struggling to keep their Steer Yamaha in on the pit bend, leaving an open invitation to Uncle Pete. Pete and passenger Steve, however, couldn’t find enough speed to get alongside and past.

Race 6 (Sidecars) 1st. Rod Winterburn/Liam Brown, 2nd. Gareth/Billy Winterburn, 3rd. Myles Simmons/Kevin Woodley, 4th. Neal Owen/Michael Chittenden


This race looked to be a cracker with such a strong line up. Rod Winterburn/Liam Brown made an excellent start and won by a huge margin. Their low down style looked spectacular at high speed on the beach. Things weren’t so plain sailing for Rod’s sons Gareth and Billy, who initially got into second but missed the entrance to the pit bend, allowing Myles Simmons/Kevin Woodley come past. However, the Yorkshire brothers reeled in Myles/Kevin throughout the race and finally drew alongside them on the back straight, passing them before the pit bend. A truly stunning sight to see two outfits and high speed alongside one another right next to the sea. Winterburn Snr looked super fast.

Race 7 (Sidecars) 1st. Mick Cave/Ben Goddard, 2nd. Will Offen/Nicky Owen, 3rd. Roger Wynn/Rich Masterton

An unfortunate start for young crew Phillip Wynn/George Moore saw them appear to have a clutch issue on the line and stall the machine before being dragged into the tapes. Mick Cave/Ben Goddard made an excellent start, leading into the first bend and forcing Will Offen/Nicky Owen wide. Offen, however, found some fantastic drive on the exit of the bend, creating enough speed to pass Cave down the back straight. But then disaster struck for Offen/Owen. The machine went sick coming out the pit bend on lap two, leaving them a sitting duck for the approaching Cave/Goddard outfit. They were passed at the end of lap 3 and Will/Nicky can feel aggrieved at losing this win. The cause: a faulty battery.

Before the next race, Dave Mears went out for a very late practice. He had flown to the island and his flight had taken longer than first thought!

Race 8 (Solos) 1st. David Speight, 2nd. Phil Ashcroft, 3rd. Mike Clarke, 4th. Dave Hammond.

Race 8 saw one of the meetings most controversial moments. Phil Ashcroft made a great start and led for the first half a lap but ran very wide coming out of the top bend, allowing all but one of the others through. David Speight found himself in last place going into the pit bend on lap 2 but all was to change. After Mike Clarke ran wide, Speighty found lots of room up the inside and chased after the leader, Hammond, down the back straight. And it was here that the controversy began. David Speight turned in hard on the bend, carving up the inside of Dave Hammond, causing him to wobble violently. The crowd held its breath as the highly experienced motorcyclist Dave Hammond clung on to the machine. Eventually, he regained control without dropping the machine but the pack had already gone. Once in front, David Speight looked really quick. Mike Clarke, on Anthony Bougourd’s machine, could make no inroads on him and indeed eventually lost his second place spot to Phil Ashcroft. Unsurprisingly, Hammond was furious with David Speight’s aggressive move but the result  stood. A fantastic race that will sadly be remembered for one moment, instead of all of the action that went on.

Race 9 (Solos) 1st. Andrew Appleton, 2nd. Harland Cook. 3rd. Robert Teed, 4th. Dave Cleal.

Harland Cook followed up his first second place with another here as he made a terrible start. But there was drama for other riders. Martyn Sturgeon had bike problems and didn’t make the start, whilst Charlie Saunders had a throttle problem and had to pull out as the tapes came up. Once again, Andrew Appleton looked magnificent.

Race 10 (Solos) 1st. Rodney McDonald, 2nd. Jamie Griffiths, 3rd. Dave Mears, 4th. Rob Fortune, 5th. Aaron Pease.

A seven rider line up saw an incredibly tight first bend where something had to give. Mitch GoddenRodney McDonald and Marcus Bisson all gated in close proximity, but Mitch clipped the rear end of McDonald’s machine, sending him cartwheeling over in the first bend. A nasty looking incident saw a lengthy delay as Mitch was tended to. He was ambulanced away from the track, suffering a crushed vertebrae. A sad way to bow out of the 2013 competition for the five-time champion.

Eventually, the rerun took place and once again it was the Australian who made a great start. But once again, the race was brought to a halt. This time, it was Jersey rider Marcus Bisson who dropped his machine clumsily coming out of the top turn whilst holding 2nd. This ended a miserable day for the very quick veteran.

When Race 10 was finally completed, it was again McDonald who won in impressive style. Jamie Griffiths rode well to round Rob Fortune, who was beginning to tire in the latter stages of the race. Dave Mears, taking part in his first ride after arriving from the airport late, also got past Fortune before the chequered flag.

Race 11 (Solos) 1st. Danny Warwick, 2nd. Daniel Winterton, 3rd. Scott Cresswell, 4th. Kevin Bishop, 5th. Jody Hodgson.

Another hugely impressive win for Danny Warwick, who was clearly keen to defend his title. Once again, Daniel Winterton made a poor start and the Cheshire rider had to work his way through the field to earn a second place. The highlight of his overtaking prowess included an excellent inside dive on Kevin Bishop to take his second place. Again, Rod Melksham suffered engine problems, pulling off on Lap 3.

Race 12 (Sidecars) 1st. Gareth/Billy Winterburn, 2nd. Rob Wilson/Terry Saunters, 3rd. Will Offen/Nicky Owen, 4th. Pete/Steve Colvin


Race 12 proved the best race of the shortened day. With Wilson making a good start, many may have feared it was all over. Gareth and Billy Winterburn, however had no such fears. After running a little wide on the pit bend, the exciting northern crew got up the inside and nipped past before the track marker flag. It really was precision riding by the brothers, who turned tight on the cone which marked the entrance to the turn. Wilson simply had no answer to them. Further back, Pete/Steve Colvin became lost coming into the pit turn, causing the marshals to scatter as they turned infield. This was the first time that Rob Wilson and Terry Saunters had tasted defeat at Vazon.

Race 13 (Sidecars) 1st. Rod Winterburn/Liam Brown, 2nd. Trevor/Andy Colvin, 3rd. Mick Stace/Nick Barker, 4th. Phillip Wynn/George Moore, 5th. Roger Wynn/Rich Masterton.

Another huge win for Rod/Liam and what was to prove a championship winning victory. The others were quite spread out. Phillip Wynn/George Moore held third after the first turn but struggled to get the machine around the pit bend, allowing Mick Stace and Nick Barker through. Still, Phillip will be pleased to beat Dad Roger, even if Roger was riding his new BMW machine for the first time.

Race 14 (Sidecars) 1st. Robbie Wilson/Bradley Steer, 2nd. Myles Simmons/Kevin Woodley, 3rd. Mick Cave/Ben Goddard.

Myles Simmons/Kevin Woodley made a terrible start and allowed the pack to get away from them. It was Robbie Wilson/Bradley Steer who shot out of the gate and never looked back. Neal Owen and new passenger Michael Chittenden held second comfortably for the majority of the race until disaster struck on the entrance to the final bend. Neal and Michael appeared to miss the corner and carry on straight into the pits. The cause: a stuck throttle. Thank goodness for the wide open space of the beach. This was a gift for Myles Simmons/Kevin Woodley who benefitted from the Welshman’s misfortune. A good confident win for Robbie WilsonBradley Steer meant that three crews had won a race and finished second. An important factor for what was to follow.

Race 15 (Solos)

The ill-fated race 15 proved to be the premature end to the meeting. Again, Rodney McDonald had made a fantastic start and led into the second bend, but disaster had struck exiting the first bend. Mike McLusky had collided with another machine and had fallen very heavily. The Scot had suffered a broken shoulder and ribs. The injuries caused another long delay and the paramedic was required to travel with the injured rider, meaning that there was no paramedic available to cover the meeting. With the tide on its way in, the club made the extremely difficult decision to abandon the meeting. Some of the Guernsey Club members looked completely dejected. But they should feel proud of what they have achieved and must hope that the Sand Ace can once again create such a phenomenal buzz in 2014. Riders, officials and fans alike were already discussing next seasons Sand Ace!

Because the event was run under the ACU Championship banner, the results were balloted for. The three unbeaten solo riders drew for their positions with Danny Warwick winning the ballot, Rodney McDonald second and Andrew Appleton 3rd.

In the sidecars, Rod Winterburn/Liam Brown were the only maximum men, and therefore were logical winners. But for second, three crews were tied on points. Another ballot provided an order with former champions Rob Wilson/Terry Saunters being awarded the second place, Gareth/Billy Winterburn 3rd and Robbie Wilson/Bradley Steer repeating recent form with a 4th place.

All in all, in spite of the disastrous conclusion, the meeting was another tremendous experience that would be highly recommended for the future.

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