Fitch and Hodgson renew track battle
MOTO CROSS: THE opening round of the Eastern Centre Moto Cross Championships at Blaxhall saw fierce competition between last year's top two British youth riders.With last year's champion Aston Bird sidelined with injuries, it was King's Lynn's Sean Hodgson and Richard Fitch from Fordham who were expected to continue their battle of supremacy into the adult class.
THE opening round of the Eastern Centre Moto Cross Championships at Blaxhall saw fierce competition between last year's top two British youth riders.
With last year's champion Aston Bird sidelined with injuries, it was King's Lynn's Sean Hodgson and Richard Fitch from Fordham who were expected to continue their battle of supremacy into the adult class.
Rain put the Woodbridge club's Blaxhall circuit in ideal racing conditions for Sunday's meeting, which saw 14 races.
In the first Experts Championship race, 17-year-old Hodgson grabbed the lead with Bedfordshire's Neil Carnell and Scott Eastwood from Kent giving chase. Only four seconds separated the leading trio in their high-speed battle, with Fitch on a 125cc machine moving into fourth place. After ten minutes of the 20-minute race, Hodgson made a mistake, letting Carnell and Eastwood through, but a gritty ride from Hodgson saw him pass Eastwood then Carnell to win the race.
Carnell and Eastwood were second and third with Fitch in fourth place ahead of another promising East Anglian, 16-year-old Joe Cook from King's Lynn.
Race two saw Fitch in great form and he stormed into the lead with Carnell, Hodgson and Lowestoft's Paul Bennett involved in a tremendous tussle for second place.
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Eastwood joined the leading group and for five laps the four 250cc-mounted riders were swapping places, although they could not catch the 125cc machine of Fitch, who took the race win.
Hodgson snatched second place from Carnell, with Bennett taking fourth when Eastwood retired towards the end of the race.
The 125cc championship saw Fitch take maximum points with wins in both races. The Essex 17-year-old has been training and receiving tuition from retired former British champion Paul Malin this year and it has paid dividends.
Hodgson challenged Fitch in the early stages of the first race, but was never closer than five seconds to the race leader.
Another youngster, Ben Lambert-Williams, 16, from London, finished third.
Fitch shot into the lead in the second 125cc race. Joe Cook made a better start and held second place, with Hodgson eventually passing Oxford's Rob Taylor to finish third.
The non-championship Experts race saw south Midlander Carnell at the front, ahead of Eastwood and Hodgson.
On lap three, Hodgson landed heavily off a fast downhill jump and had to retire with a jarred back. Fitch was a non-starter, and so Carnell took the honours, followed by Eastwood.
The event saw the first round of the Eastern Junior Graded Riders Championships, and with 120 riders entered, three qualifying heats were run to select the 40 riders to compete in the series.
Bury St Edmunds rider Ashley Hyde won his heat and charged into the lead in the first championship race. Sudbury's Matt French, Lee Keyton from Bury St Edmunds and Diss rider Danny Mayhew were involved in a battle for second place, until Halstead's Joe Anderson, who had fallen earlier, overtook them all to claim second place at the finish.
There was drama at the start of race two when Hyde was involved in a crash on the sweeping first corner. Restarting last of the 40-strong field, Hyde had a tremendous ride to take fifth place at the end of the
At the front, it was Littleport rider Brett Gipp who led, with Anderson fighting through to second place.
However, London youngster, Lambert-Williams, was threatening and after a brilliant ride he took control of the race with two laps left. Anderson was second ahead of Gipp, French and Hyde.
First round Eastern Centre Experts Championships: Race One: Sean Hodgson (TRM Honda), Neil Garnell (Phoneparts Honda), Scott Eastwood (Wiseco Yamaha), Richard Fitch (Tower Honda), Joe Cook (Bavin Yamaha), Richard Fitch (Tower Honda), Joe Cook (Bavin Yamaha), Paul Bennett (Honda).
Race Two: Fitch, Hodgson, Carnell, Bennett, Paul Burn (Drilltech Honda), Cook.
Experts Non-Championship race: Carnell, Eastwood, Chris Hockey (GH Yamaha), Cook, Bennett, Paul Aldridge (Southside Honda).
125cc Eastern Centre Championships: Race One: Fitch, Hodgson, Ben Lambert (Williams Yamaha), Rob Taylor (TM), Cook, Kyle Hartwell (Suzuki). Race Two: Fitch, Cook, Hodgson, Taylor, Lambert-Williams, Matt Hunt (Honda).
Junior Eastern Centre Championships: Race One: Ashley Hyde (Yamaha), Joe Anderson (Honda), Matt French (KTM), Lee Keyton (Yamaha), Danny Mayhew (Southside Honda), Jason Morland (Kawasaki). Race Two: Lambert-Williams, Anderson, Brett Gipp (Kawasaki), French, Hyde, Barry Farrow (Yamaha).
Heat winners: Keyton, Anderson and Hyde.
Consolation races: Race One: Derek Powley (Honda). Race Two: Adrian Salmon (Yamaha). Race Three: Alex Reitveld (Kawasaki). Race Four: Salmon.
Point Standings First Round: Experts: Hodgson 37 pts, Fitch 33, Carnell 32, Bennett 23, Cook 21, Burn 19. 125cc: Fitch 40 pts, Hodgson 32, Cook 28, Taylor 26, Lambert-Williams 26, Hunt 18. Juniors: Anderson 34 pts, Hyde 31, Lambert-Williams 29, French 28, Keyton 20, Farrow 16, Morland 16.