Wild & Woolly 26/12/08
Northampton Motorcyclists Club's 83rd Annual
Wild & Woolly Scramble
Report: Fraser Law
The popularity of the annual Wild & Woolly charity scramble just continues to grow. Record crowds converged on the Blisworth village circuit this Boxing Day to watch the famous mud fest, which proved to be one of the toughest for years. Despite relatively mild weather in the previous few weeks, the track which initially looked easy-going went on to test all who competed.
The race began as always at precisely 11.00am with a dead engined start. As the bikes roared into life a pre-race favourite Robert Harries took an early lead and quickly built up a healthy advantage. Following him around on the first lap was Mark McCann, who's fast start ended as quickly as it had begun in one of the ditches on lap two. Next around was 2004's winner James Berrill who looked focused and determined. Behind him in fourth was eight-time winner Ryan Griffiths, closely followed by last year's winner Richard Main.
With three previous winners in the top five, the battle intensified as the water-crossings deteriorated. As the early bright sunshine gave way to freezing cloud cover, some of the ditches at times resembled a scene from the Somme. Mud covered bikes, riders and helpers became indistinguishable from each other, as all fought to extricate themselves from the steaming carnage.
Robert Harries raced away at the front holding a commanding lead until disaster struck on lap five and he disappeared from the leader board. James Berrill took advantage of Robert's misfortune and inherited the lead which he would hold for another 7 laps. Behind him Ryan Griffiths continued to circulate in front of arch rival Richard Main. On lap six Ryan struggled to restart his machine after yet another muddy incident, losing valuable time and allowing Richard through in to second. Two laps later Ryan managed to re-pass Richard and set about closing the gap on the leader. Joe Mitchinson lapped consistently just behind the leading trio.
On lap twelve Ryan caught right up on James as Richard suffered a nasty fall whilst trying a new line through the water. This cost him a lap and gained him a pair of broken ribs, though he bravely continued to the flag. This allowed Joe Mitchinson to move up a place into third, which he would keep to the finish.
The following lap Ryan took the lead, then James came to a grinding halt on the steep embankment with some fencing caught around his rear wheel. By the time he had got this removed it was too late to do anything about Ryan, and all he could do was reflect on what could have been.
An ecstatic Ryan Griffiths went on to take his ninth Woolly win. At times in the race he had thought it impossible as he said after the finish. "When I was stuck in the water-hole for over a minute, people were shouting COME ON RYAN! I turned around to them and said there's no way there's going to be a ninth win this year. After that I just got my head down and went for it, if it wasn't for my mate Matthew helping me out of the water-hole we'd still be trying to get round now. Unbelievable, I really didn't think I was going to win that and I'm chuffed to bits."
1. Ryan Griffiths, TRM Honda 450, 15 laps
2. James Berrill, Mick Berrill Honda 250, 14 laps
3. Joe Mitchinson, KTM 250, 14 laps
4. Richard Main, Yamaha 250, 14 laps
5. Jack Lee, John Lee Gas Gas, 13 laps
6. Nigel Batchelor, Kawasaki 250, 11 laps
7. Dennis Harrison, KTM 250, 11 laps
8. Scott Bates, Kawasaki 250, 11 laps
9. Adam Castledine, Castledine Suzuki 450, 10 laps
10. Jonathan Lee, John Lee Honda 450, 10 laps
11. Matt Willis, KTM 250, 10 laps
Under 10 laps does not qualify as a qualifying result
12. Marc Bates, 9 laps
13. Graham Howe, 9 laps
14. Matthew Thomas, 8 laps
15. Roger Titman, 8 laps
16. Mark Leeding, 8 laps
17. John Abbott, 8 laps
18. Mark Page, 7 laps
19. Tom Golding, 7 laps
20. Martin Streeton, 7 laps
21. James Barney, 7 laps
22. Richard Lowe, 7 laps
23. Mick Wright, 6 laps
24. James Higgins, 6 laps
25. Steve Atkins, 6 laps
26. Tony Fricker, 6 laps
27. Stephen Wright, 6 laps
28. Chris Livesey, 5 laps
29. Sean Dowling, 4 laps
30. Tony Homer, 4 laps
31. Austen Wheldon, 4 laps
32. Hayley Rilings, 3 laps
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