Saturday 1st October saw the Ards Motorcycle Club host their annual Bedford Cup open trial at John Whites farm just outside Newtownards.
The club had set out ten sections to test all the grades of rider from Expert Elite down through to all the youth grades.
There was a good entry of 53 riders in attendance who were set off at 11am by Jim Jackson, clerk of the course, to tackle the 4 laps of the ten sections in what was a bright and dry day.
In the Expert Elite grade there were only two riders. Stuart McClurg and Alex Lennox. Stuart was fresh from his win at the first round of the Irish Championship the previous week and it would be interesting to see if he could maintain the level he has attained of late. Stuart is now a regular pick for the Irish team at the TDN.
Sure enough Stuart rode well all day only dropping 1 mark on the 7th section of lap 2 to take the outright win on 1 mark lost. Alex battled hard all day and posted a score of 17 which is quite credible given the jump in level to the Elite grade.
In the Semi Expert grade 4 riders battled hard all day for the win. It was close over the 4 laps with the lead switching between Aaron Smyth and Darren Gazzard who was having a rare outing having given up minding duties for the day. These 2 were chased all the way by John Robb and Gary Kernoghan. Once the cards were handed in and counted Aaron took the win on 13 marks lost with Darren and John tied 3 marks further back on 16. Darren took the 2nd places as he had the most cleans over the day. Gary was 4th on 27 marks lost.
Onto the Clubman class, 13 riders tackled this grade, with Ards Club member and Stuarts dad Phillip McClurg running out a clear winner on only 4 marks lost all day. The battle for the final two steps of the podium were fought out by three riders Scott Blackwood, William Dickey and David Gault. William rarely rides these days as he minds for son William in the championship events, so it was good to see him mixing it with the regular riders! Scott took 2nd on 19 tied with William, but with most cleans, William took 3rd with David next on 24 marks lost.
The Sportsman grade saw the largest entry with 21 riders signing on. And this was the hottest fought for grade, some 9 riders battled each other and their own nerves throughout the day while trying to take the win! At the end of the 4 laps three riders couldn’t be separated as they had ridden faultless all day. Clive Bailie on his beautifully restored Beamish Suzuki, Aimee Evans and Keith Lennox shared the win! Aimee is coming on in leaps and bounds, she has only this year taken up trials having seen her younger brother Harry competing on his Oset and decided to try trials. She certainly has got the hang of things and I see her as one to watch for the future!
Twinshocks were out in abundance and in the 450 Twinshock grade Andy Ellis on his lovely wee TY 175 took the win riding the Clubman route!
In the Youth A grade Reece Gazzard and Calum McAllister fought for the win. Reece showed that the extra years experience and riding in the British Championship are paying off taking the win easily on only 4 marks lost.
Youth B was won by Stuart Lappin
Youth C saw the biggest entry and the winner in this grade was young Harry Smith on his Oset. He rode a faultless trial just like his sister Aimee, and was followed home by Dylan Smyth on 2 marks lost. Ben McCosh was 3rd on 25 with Pixe Smyth next on 30 marks lost
The club would like to thank John White and the other landowners for access to the land and to the observers for giving their time to allow the riders to compete and to Barry McMillan for doing scores
Stuart McClurg 1
Alex Lennox 14
Aaron Smyth 13
Darren Gazzard 16 (most cleans)
John Robb 16
Gary Kernoghan 27
Phillip McClurg 4
Scott Blackwood 19 (most cleans)
William Dickey 19
David Gault 24
Clive Bailie 0
Aimee Evans 0
Keith Lennox 0
David McKee 1
Eddie Henderson 1
Andy Ellis 44
Reece Gazzard 4
Calum McAllister 50
Stuart Lappin 35
Harry Smith 0
Dylan Smyth 2
Ben McCosh 25
Pixe Smyth 30