The Gate 8 racing team headed north of the border to Scotland to compete in the penultimate rounds of the HSBC National BMX Series. Glasgow is home to the technically demanding Knightwood track that was built last year to host the European Championships, an event that saw a British 1-2 broadcast live on the BBC. The TV cameras weren't there this time but that didn't make the racing any less competitive. With the timing of this race just two weeks before the World Championships, many riders decided not to make the trip as numbers were down from Peckham three weeks earlier. The majority of the title contenders were still in attendance though, so what the field lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality.
As we near the business end of the season, Gate 8's Miguel Gaboleiro could wrap up the title this weekend whilst Jo Roberts (who's been out with injury since Birmingham) needed two wins to keep her title hopes alive. Out of title contention but also looking to improve the their positions by making the trip were Jey, Zara, George and last year's winner Haydon Green, who had high hopes of repeating his 2018 success.
After a wet Friday practice, Saturday saw blue skies and the temperature reach barmy 24c, a welcome change to last year's event which saw torrential rain all weekend! After a quick warmup session, the racing opened with the cruisers where George, Jo, Miguel and Jey were all in action. The qualifying rounds went by without much ceremony as everyone progressed to the knock out rounds. On the 20" bikes there was similar success as Zara and Haydon joined the others and progressed to the later rounds. Haydon put together a near perfect lap to win his semi final from lane 7.
From a possible 10 A-finals the team displayed excellent consistency and qualified for 9 National finals, only George missed out on the 20" despite a spirited ride to 5th in the semi final. Miguel took a solid fifth on the cruiser, but his second place on the 20" had more meaning as it meant he wrapped up the National title with three rounds to go.
Jey was delighted with his second cruiser win of the season and is proving a welcome addition to the team. For Jo there was disappointment, as her 20" title hopes evaporated when she failed to find a way around her rival Tabitha having to settle for second both on the day and in the series. Haydon was eyeing a win in the 17-24 final and with second pick opted for lane 4, it wasn't to be though as a bad gate saw him shuffled to the outside on turn one and out of contention. George picked up fifth on the cruiser but was frustrated as he felt he could have had more.
The temperature dropped a little on Sunday as the clouds rolled in over Glasgow city centre. Haydon and George were in determined mood aiming to capitalise on their track speed at a venue that suited their technical styles. Both navigated their way through to the knock out rounds with solid moto results. In the semi final though George didn't take his chances and some uncharacteristic positioning choices dropped him from third to fifth and eventually saw him on the floor in turn 3 after a collision. He'd go again on the cruiser. Haydon made the final again, but again picked the wrong time for a below par gate and found himself on the outside in turn one and out of the reckoning. He had an eight hour drive home to consider what could have been.
Jey, Zara and Jo couldn't repeat the success of Day 1 on the 20" and Jo (who was struggling with a her fitness) by her own admission was in 'self preservation mode' and not taking any chances ahead of the Worlds. Miguel moved himself into the lead in the 20" final after a great start and held that position until turn three when he was overhauled by Australia's Tonn Haydon. The final four finals were on the cruiser which saw a third consecutive National win for Jay, a sixth for Miguel and Jo and more heartbreak for George. In second place going for the pass for first, he clipped a soft spot on the jump into the turn and was unceremoniously dumped over the bars.
After successful races at Birmingham and London the team were disappointed not to convert their chances in Scotland and lost ground on the promotion spots. Mathematically promotion is still possible but it will need very big weekend and some luck at the closing rounds in Bournemouth next month.
Rider Rating: 6/10
Very up and down weekend for me, had some very good laps but made too many mistakes when it mattered the most.
Rider Rating: 5/10
Productive weekend, despite not having run at 100%. Was good training for the races that are coming.
Rider Rating: 5/10
Saturday I was racing at a decent pace but not my best performance. I un-clipped in my cruiser final on the start and only managed to pull a 5th place. Sunday I was stiff from the previous day but pushed through. In my cruiser final I was battling for first but hit some soft dirt and went over the bars.
Rider Rating: 4/10
Very technical track leaving room for no mistakes. Hard work with little practice and no rest between masters and cruisers. Still making mains both days on the cruiser and Saturday in Masters.
Rider Rating: 5/10
Started off well on Saturday but wasn't comfortable on the track. However managed to pull off mains on both the 20" and cruiser. Sunday I felt a lack of fitness from being injured took its toll and only managed a Cruiser A final and 6th place. A little disappointed but now know what needs work ready for the Worlds.
Rider Rating: 6/10
Really struggled with the first jump. In practice on Friday I tried so many attempts to clear it but just couldn't commit. Gave away too much ground to the other girls by not jumping. Happy with an A final on Saturday and looking forward to the Worlds.
Photo Credit: Cameron Smith Photography