With an estimated 65,000 strong crowd over the RHL Beach Race weekend, the star riders raced against the amateurs in a 500-strong entry for this afternoon’s solo race, where Weston debutant de Dycker took the early lead in the unusual October sunshine. The tall Belgian racer tackled the dunes with anger aboard his KTM 450, which saw him go over the bars after hitting a boggy section, and with having to make extra fuel stops unlike his competitors, Simpson was able to get by after a handful of laps.
Into the middle-part of the 30th anniversary event Monster Energy Yamaha’s Simpson, whose father Willie won the race in 1983, had pulled a good lead, but he got a little excited and made a bad line-choice while weaving past slower riders, which sent him over the bars. The 24-year-old Scottish racer had to make an extra stop to check things were okay, as he thought he had damaged a radiator after a collision, allowing 18-year-old Dutchman Herlings to take the lead.
In the final hour it was all about who could stay strong and nurse their hard worked machines to the end of the chaotic race, which comprises of dunes the size of a small house and over a mile long straight. De Dycker had pitted four times to Simpsons three, and Herlings capitalised with just two stops and some calculated riding to take victory aboard his KTM 350 machine at his first attempt.
Herlings works his way through the dunes of Weston... © KTM Racing
“It was really good. I was surprised how well it went, as I paced myself in the beginning to save my energy,” confirmed race winner Herlings. “I was about 30 seconds back, but I cruised around and only had to do two pit stops for fuel, which helped. It was really something I liked to do, and it’s way different than riding normal motocross or GP’s. I loved it, so maybe it’s something to do again in the future, and I definitely think everyone should have a go at racing it at least once in their lifetime. I didn’t expect to win the first time, so I’m quite surprised with the result. I had a couple of crashes, went through the fence really fast at one point, but anyway congratulations to Shaun in second and Ken in third because it was really tough.
“The straight was really cool, as you can get to over 100mph, which is an amazing feeling and I loved it. The atmosphere was great and you can’t ride race speed with the amateurs, as they go left to right, right to left and you’re not always sure where they are going to start or end, but it was a lot of fun to be with them. That part was particularly difficult, not to crash with the other guys, but a big thanks to KTM for giving me a great bike. It was really well organised, the flag marshalls were good and it wasn’t dangerous at all, as I thought it might be, which was positive. I am really glad I came.”
Having controlled the race lead early on, Simpson eventually placed second overall, spoiling a KTM 1-2 result. © Yamaha Racing
“It’s been a great weekend and good to be part of,” said a pleased Simpson. “I am just really happy we got round in one piece. Everything went well apart from having a crash when I got a bit excited in the lead and I also had to make an unexpected pit stop. I was behind two guys on a jump and there were two main lines, but I thought I could make a new one to get by, and I went over the dune to find there was a big soft part at the back end of it, which sent me over the bars. I thought I broke my radiator too after colliding with someone, but it was a good event and I definitely need to be back next year to take the win. It’s nice to see so many people getting behind a motorcycling event, and it’s a bit different for everyone, so I was pleased to see it so well supported.”
Ken de Dycker, who completed the top three remarked, “My race went okay, but on the first lap I was a bit crazy and tried to jump things that just weren’t possible. I crashed a few times and got my bike stuck. It was a really fun race and I’ve never done anything like it before. Racing against the amateurs was the funniest part; seeing everyone in front of you doing some crazy things and I was just laughing in my helmet going round. I’d really like to do this again but we had to stop four times, as I had a smaller fuel tank than the others. It has been a great weekend overall.”
Honda man Brad Anderson, who has recently returned to the UK a season racing in Australia, was looking to improve on his podium finish from last year, but he lost the use of his back brake early on and ended the day fifth behind Nathan Watson. Local-man Tom Church from Bath, who was runner-up last year after leading for much of the race, had a disastrous time, as his bike broke after just over one lap.
De Dycker tucks in down the main straight... © KTM Racing
Earlier in the day Joseph Ruby took the youth quad three class win, with Lestyn Rowlands taking victory in the youth quad two class and Callum Brooks in the youth quad one race. Tommy Clarke won the small wheel 85cc class, while Isle of Man’s Jed Etchells, who won the 65cc class last year, put on a great performance to finish second, with Welshman Josh Greedy third. In the 85cc big wheel class local man Todd Kellet from Langport put on a sterling performance to take the win with Alfie Bowtell second and Josh Coleman third.
Gareth Hockey – Director of RHL Activities “It’s been a fantastic weekend for us. I’d say it’s possibly one of the best events we have organised, and while I always want more to find perfection, I can be satisfied with how everything went. The feedback we’ve had has been excellent, the racing was good, and we’ve put the event back on track after a difficult few years. Thanks to everyone involved; the sponsors, the staff who work so hard for months on end in the planning, those who worked throughout the weekend, the spectators, competitors and our guest riders. We are now really looking forward to next year.”
Overall Results (top five):
1. Jeffery Herlings (KTM); 2. Shaun Simpson (Yamaha); 3. Ken de Dycker (KTM); 4. Nathan Watson (Honda); 5. Brad Anderson (Honda)…