Mundell Shows his Class
Factory Sherco rider Dan Mundell showed the value of riding World Enduro events as he won the Welsh Two Day Enduro in Llandrindod Wells. Newly appointed ISDE Team GB manager and former winner Daryl Bolter was second, and showed his sportsmanship in saying “the Welsh 2 Day didn’t disappoint, really enjoyed it this year, the lap was so good and the special tests were even better. Super happy to finish 2nd overall, good battle with
Alex Snow and Tom Sagar but Dan was just that bit better than us.” The win was a welcome return to form for the Devon rider, whose season has been frustrated with injury.
The event attracts 500 machines, mostly solos but with a healthy 25 sidecars. As usual, the entry opened in April, and closed 15 minutes later – entirely full! The relationship between the town and area and the event continues to develop. ‘Llandrindod Wellness’ is the town’s healthy living brand, and this year’s event T shirts featured the town’s logo. Last year the event donated towards signing of the ‘Wellness Walks’ – acknowledging the gratitude for
being such wonderful hosts.
Clerk of the Course Phil Wilkinson continued to fine tune the route, introducing new going over the hills to the south of the town. This was again well received by the riders, who were able to make the most of two fine days to enjoy the stunning views of the mid-Wales countryside.
Riders arrive for the event on the Wednesday, when bikes are fuelled (part of the event’s safety management plan) and tested for roadworthiness including noise. The bikes are then placed into a closed control or parc ferme overnight. Interested locals often make a point of walking up in the evening to view the 500 machines, guarded by security – including classic bikes and bikes and riders from France, Netherlands, Germany, Irelandand Australia. One of the stand out bikes was a classic Portal, ridden by French rider Claude Aurillac. Used to competing in classic events in his native country, the Frenchman found some of the Welsh forests fairly challenging, but stuck at it to finish the day on a bike that is almost 40 years old and immaculately presented.
At 8am on the Thursday, the first sidecars were flagged away on their 130+ mile single lap by local schoolchildren, winners of the annual school’s poster competition. Also present and waving the riders off are the town’s mayor, as well as former mayors and town councillors. The riders than make their way out of the town, ensuring they acknowledge the waves from children on their way to school.
The first special test is at Werngoch Farm, just north of the town, where a technical and challenging route warms the bikes and riders up – no time for gently easing into the pace here. Following this, riders made their way across Gilwern Hill to Hundred House and the first time check of the day. (Riders must stay within a time schedule, and penalties are incurred for early or late arrival at the checks.) The riders then went over a new section of land before heading north towards the first forest check of the day at Radnor. Just prior to the forest, riders are fuelled by the event’s refuelling service.
Some new and interesting going featured in the Radnor - where on a wet event, riders have been reduced to tears by the challenging tracks. It was not the case this year, though heavy rain before the event meant there was plenty of standing water and mud. After the Radnor, riders made their way out to Beacon Hill, for a check around what has become for many riders, their favourite part of the day. With views over towards Shropshire as well as back
into Wales, this can be a distraction for the riders !
Crossing the Newtown Road at Llanbadarn Fynydd, riders then visited the Red Lion (the section of forest, not the local watering hole) before dropping into Saint’s Well, where the second special test was another technical challenge. It was to be the end of play for one of the UK’s leading sidecar crews, as a slow roll on one corner saw the driver Alun Davies of Caio break his leg. This was a huge blow for Alun, and passenger James Ferguson as they
had won the previous round and were due to fly to Australia in a couple of weeks for another event there. Alun said from his hospital bed – “I would like to thank all that assisted me on the scene - very professional and I was very well looked after, so huge thanks to you guys.” – two days later Alun added “First recovery steps done and sat in chair! Didn’t think it was possible today , fair play to physio staff…” Get well soon Alun.
Following the test, a short check in the Waun forest made riders work hard to stay on time, then into the Abbey forest and a visit to the test at Abbeycwmhir for the final test of the day. This is a very different type of test, in a field that has the course sweeping up and down hills and across
cambers, ensuring that smooth riding is needed for success. Another short section of forest followed, before a run back to Llandrindod where bikes were checked and placed back into closed control.
On the first test of the day, in the Championship sidecar class, Williams & Brown set the pace, helped by close rivals Williams & James rolling their sidecar and losing time. In the Expert sidecar class, Dyfed Dirt Bike Club members Rees & Lewis were the only crew to go under 8 minutes, just ahead of Stokes & Townsend, whose fast test times were spoiled by mechanical problems later in the day, costing them 54 minutes, but they finished the day.
In the solo classes, Dan Mundell and Daryl Bolter took the first and second tests respectively, as the championship class rode each test twice. With fractions of a second between them, this was a taste of things to come over the two days. Tom Sagar and Alex Snow, (last year’s winner) were only seconds adrift of the leading two.
In the Classic classes, for older bikes – the pace was no less frantic as Robert Jones in the expert class and William Hughes in the clubman class led the way. In the veteran classes (the riders this time!) a battle between experts Andrew Edwards and Rowan Jones felt like going back 20 years when both were in the championship class at BEC events. In the clubman veteran class Will Lloyd with Andy Harvey were the pace setters. It was great to see Ryan Leary out and about again, a year after his crash at Cwmythig. Always very popular, many riders took the chance to catch up with Ryan on his recovery.
By the time the riders got to Abbeycwmhir, the classes were settling down into tight competition – and in the expert solo class, Roger Harvey from Monmouth had done just enough over the three tests to take the day from John Ridgeway by under 2 seconds, with Tom James needing all of his ‘Atomic Fitness’ to slip into third. In the Clubman class, two DDBC riders, Gareth Jones and Matthew Harries led the class, with Sheldon Seal in third.
Riders commented at the end of the day that the route had been spot on, with challenging forest checks, as well as scenic mountain top rides. Much of the going is only accessible during the W2D as it is in private ownership – all the more reason to ride.
Day two dawned slightly cooler – and with the route reversed, riders headed straight for the Abbey test. Overnight sidecar Championship leaders Williams & Brown had some time in hand over the class, but their day was to end badly when a problem in the last test of the day, combined with the usual hard charging riding of Williams & James saw the 1 st and 4 th places reversed from the overnight – Jonathan Williams and Neil James were deserved winners of the class, with a consistent ride from Dan Lawry and Sam Wilkinson taking runners up. David (Winnie) Williams and Simon Brown had done enough on day one to secure the third spot on the podium.
The route being reversed, the action saw the Radnor as the last forest check, with a very pleasant run in to the final test of the day. The good weather and close racing meant a huge crowd enjoyed the riders giving it all they had (and in some cases – more than the little energy they had left!)
In the Classic expert class, overnight leader Robert Jones secured a win, with Tom Knill gaining an excellent second place, with Roy Jenkins rounding up the top three. William Hughes secured the clubman classic class win, while in the Clubman class, there was no change overnight as Gareth Jones secured the win.
The Veteran Expert win was taken by Andrew Edwards as he was able to turn a 5 second deficit to Rowan Jones after day 1 into a 4 second overall win.
The Veteran Clubman class was won by local man Will Lloyd. Matthew Harries from Lampeter won both days in the Clubman class, with Roger Holland from Monmouth taking the Expert E1 class, another local man, Shaun Buchan winning Expert E2 and Ben Wibberley from Herne Bay taking the honours in Expert E3. In the championship solo class, Dan Mundell dominated the event, and was deserved winner of the dragon trophy. It was entirely fitting that the event sponsors, Michelin – picked up the team prize – proof of their product….. A delighted Mundell said
The Welsh Two day continues to be an iconic event – every year, there are new challenges, meeting up to the expectations of those who have ridden for many years, welcoming new riders, building and maintaining the team that delivers the event – for those in doubt, this is a 10 months a year commitment, but one that has such a place in so many hearts.
And finally, recognition of the support and tolerance of the majority of the population of Llandrindod Wells and the surrounding areas must be acknowledged as, without this, the event could not take place. Also, the Organisers wish to emphasise that the much of the route is on private land and, as such, any riding on this terrain outside of the event is strictly illegal and jeopardising the future of this and other enduros in Wales. Save your riding in this part of the world for legal rights of way and come back and enjoy the rest in next year’s event.