Wild & Woolly 26/12/14

Northampton Motorcyclists Club's 89th Annual Wild & Woolly Scramble

Report: Fraser Law

Pictures: www.motoxphotos.co.uk

For the 89th Wild & Woolly enormous crowds of spectators turned out to witness this annual Boxing Day mud race. Whilst the temperature never peaked much above freezing all day, at least the snow stayed away until later in the evening.

At precisely eleven o’clock the Starter’s flag dropped in silence on the traditional dead-engine start. Traditional, but things happen a lot quicker these days now that so many of the bikes come with electric starters. First away and taking the holeshot in determined style was factory Beta rider Jack Lee, who has won the Wild & Woolly on three previous occasions. His spectacular no-compromise style when tackling the water crossings always make him a favourite with the crowds. As the bikes approached the first water crossing the lead changed as Adam Castledine spotted a gap and accelerated into first place. His lead was short lived however, as his bold move ended seconds later in the muddy crossing. Jack Lee calmly jumped past the stricken Suzuki rider to retake the lead.

Ste Marlow then took up the challenge of trying to catch the runaway leader chasing him hard and staying in touch for seven laps. James Barnwell came round in ninth place on lap one, but moved swiftly up to third by lap three. Ten time previous winner Ryan Griffiths moved his Beta into sixth place on lap one, but exited the race on lap two with mechanical issues related to a big crash in practise. Jack’s brother Chas Lee moved up to third on lap two after a seventh place start.  Richard Main and Matt Willis both started strongly with third and fourth places on lap one. Richard had a difficult lap two and three, though he fought back to a credible twelfth at the finish.

Jack Lee continued to lead by example, soon becoming the only clean rider in the field. By staying out front and avoiding the mud he was the only colourful rider in a sea of brown. Behind him a group of chasers settled into position led by Ste Marlow. James Barnwell and Chas Lee traded places for third and fourth and were joined around lap three by Joe Tobutt. At 17 Joe was the youngest rider in the event, and rode his 125 superbly up to fifth at this point. Veteran Woolly contestant and the keenest man on track, Mark Elliott went from an eleventh place start up to fifth on lap two. He was able to hang on to sixth or seventh place all the way until he went out of contention on lap ten. On lap eight James Barnwell made a move on Ste Marlow and briefly took over second place. The pair fought closely for two more laps, with Ste briefly taking back the second place that he’d fought so hard for. The pair both went missing on the dreaded lap ten that claimed so many victims as the track entered its final difficult stage. By this point Chas Lee had settled into a comfortable second place, from Jack Lee who held a comfortable two lap advantage on the rest of the field.

Behind this battle Max Barnett and Matt Willis traded places for most of the race, never further than a few places apart.  Both came strong as the race entered its difficult final phase, moving up to third and fourth as other riders had problems. As far as conditions go the race was divided into three sections. A difficult beginning was followed by an easier middle, rounded off by a really tough finish. For practise and the opening laps of the race the widened water crossing one proved a real challenge. Crossing three which is traditionally the most difficult, rode well at this point. By the mid-section of the race, the initial water and loose mud cleared as riders came to grips with the track. Most were circulating quite well at this point. From around lap ten the mud became sticky and heavier, making the finish really tough as the riders began to tire.

Adam Castledine who was the only rider to lead Jack, albeit briefly, recovered from his first lap antics to move inside the top ten on lap five. Adam held fifth place until his final lap, losing one place to Garry West. Garry, another Woolly veteran and enthusiast, moved steadily up from twenty-first on the opener to snatch and incredible fifth place on his final lap. At the chequered flag Jack Lee was the emphatic winner of his fourth Wild & Woolly, once again with his brother Chas in second place. Matt Willis finished third, just ahead of Max Barnett. Garry West and Adam Castledine rounded out the top six. Well done to all the riders for taking part in this epic race. Special thanks go to Chris Harris once again for the use of the land, and to the thousands of supporters who enable us to raise so much money for Help for Heroes, the Air Ambulance and our selected local charities.


1. Jack Lee -17 laps

2. Chas Lee -15 laps

3. Matt Willis, 4. Max Barnett –14 laps

5. Garry West, 6. Adam Castledine -13 laps

7. Ste Marlow, 8. Mark Bradford, 9. Trevor Jeeves, 10. Joe Tobutt – 12 laps

11. Fred Saunders, 12. Richard Main, 13. James Barnwell – 11 laps

14. Rob Hollis, 15. Dan Askham, 16. Mark Elliott – 10 laps

17. Rob Saunders, 18. Taylor Bolgiani, 19. Glenn Warren – 9 laps

20. Lindsay Judge, 21 Sam Chapman, 22. John Abbott – 8 laps

23. Hayley Rilings, 24. James Higgins – 7 laps

25. Peter Chinn, 26. Joe Newbury, 27. Corey Blackwell – 6 laps

28. Giles Hamilton, 29. Ryan Blackwell – 5 laps

30. Ashley Batten, Roger Titman – 4 laps

32. Brandon Bull, 33. Chris Liptrott, 34. Rob Brown – 3 laps

Full results -


Trophy winners-

1st - Jack Lee- Ladies Cup

2nd - Charlie Lee- Griff Jenkins Bowl

3rd - Matt Willis- Harrison Cup

Oldest Finisher- James Higgins- Doug Desborough Cup

First Junior- Max Barnett- Margaret Anderson Cup

First Novice- Mark Bradford- Ashley Rogers Cup

Youngest Finisher- Joe Tobutt- Doug Griffin Tankard


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