With former British Enduro Champion Juan Knight’s pre-event words fresh in their minds David Knight, Tom Sagar and Paul Edmondson set out knowing “it wouldn’t be easy” and so the first special test of the day proved.
Winding through the wet, rutted and root infested Manx woods the course proved to be a true test of rider and bike. Technical throughout, fast in places and energy sapping, it was clear Juan was going to make them work for the victory.
As the three sat at the end of the first Enduro Test the thing Sagar and Edmondson found least easy was the blistering pace Knight had just shown. With each timed run the two mainlanders got closer but Knight was never anything but blisteringly fast and relentless. It’s no secret that Tom Sagar is amongst the very fastest riders in technical, snotty enduro tests and indeed he got closest to Knighter. Edmondson rode each test like it was a very fast check and arrived at the end of each eight minute test hardly out of breath. Whether that’s the result of supreme skill or needing to pace himself for the long day ahead he never said. As they left the enduro test the order was: Knight, Sagar, Edmondson.
The motocross test was laid out on a grassy hillside and though there had been some rain earlier in the week it was quite hard packed and similar to numerous Enduro World Championship tests around Europe. Each test would be a four minute dash and Edmondson had a glint in his eye as he left the line. The stop watch showed Knight was again the fastest but Edmondson, a previous winner of British MX Championship races, pushed Sagar in to third place. It seemed Fast Eddy was right; there is life in the old dog yet.
Knight’s times through both the Enduro and Motocross tests were devastatingly consistent, proving that he riding within his limits and making sure every bump, every corner is completed with precision. Both Sagar and Edmondson visibly improved as the day progressed and it was clear for all to see why they’re genuine candidates for British Enduro Championships again in 2012. Knight is, quite frankly in a different league and with his current pace, determination and fitness it’d be a brave person who doubted his ability to bring us another World Championship this year.
After a full day of riding hard the only damage to rider or bike were two very worn handlebar grips on Edmondson’s Honda – a 250F does have enough power after all.
Each rider commented on the day:
David Knight: To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from today and I have to say I’m happy with how it’s gone. I ride a lot but I need people with me, who can keep me honest so I can watch my progress. Taking time out of Sagar in snotty enduro tests is something anyone would be happy with and we all know how fast Ed is around a motocross track so that felt real good too. My bike’s getting better every time I ride it, sometimes I think it’s a bit too powerful but today it worked just great.
Tom Sagar: It’s been really good and perfect preparation for next weeks BEC. I’m pleased I was getting closer to David in the woods and being right on Paul through the motocross test shows me that I have the fitness and the speed. The bike’s just awesome, a standard CRF450 with some suspension work and a big Trail Tech flywheel and it’s as good as anything I’ve ridden. We will do some mapping with HPR at some point but really, I’d be happy to ride it as it is anywhere, anytime. Now where are those pasties Juan was talking about.
Paul Edmondson: At the end of last year I wasn’t sure if I had the enthusiasm to keep going but a load of “encouragement” from Clive and from Roger Harvey at Honda and, well here I am. I’ve got to say I’ve had more fun today than I’ve had for a long time. My CRF250 is fantastic, the company has been quality and I’ve been riding my bike – fast. What more is there? I rode smoothly through the enduro test, making sure none of the rocks, roots, ruts and stumps damaged the bike. It worked well, I didn’t tire myself out and the bike still looks like it did when it came out of the van. The motocross test was the bo***cks, I enjoyed that a lot and I kept them both honest.
Paul continued: David’s riding as well as I’ve ever seen him ride, through the woods he was absolutely awesome but never sketchy. Considering how much power his bike has (it really is far too much for anyone) the way he took it round the MX test was impressive too.
Tom works a full time job so struggles to find time to train but when Tom puts his leg over the bike he’s as determined and focussed as any of us – and more than most. No matter what happens I know Tom will keep going and that’s why we get on so well together.
Final say of the day would have gone to Juan Knight; if he’d said anything to say. Juan just smiled and walked back in to the Ginger, he knew he’d done what he set out to do. So instead here’s a photo of the greatest ISDE rider of all time holding court. No, we’re not sure how Nick got in there either.