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CC Rochelle and Edmondson lead in Baja GB

BAJA GB 2006
Britain’s all-new candidate for FIA International Cup for Bajas

For immediate release
Saturday, August 19th, 2006

ROCHELLE, HAINES, EDMONDSON AND LEE
TAKE EARLY LEADS IN INAUGURAL BAJA GB

Suspension problems for Tidboald; Milner, Gibon, Jones and Green hit trouble;
Torrential rain fails to hamper start of new Baja event in Wales

BLEDDFA (Wales): Bridgnorth’s Ian Rochelle, Caerphilly’s Hugh Haines, Cannock’s Lee Edmondson and Repton’s Matt Lee were the early leaders in the car, motorcycle and quad categories of the inaugural Baja GB after the opening leg in Radnor forest, today (Saturday).

Twenty-three cars, 14 motorcycles and three quads began Britain’s first ever Baja-type event on Saturday morning, with Newcastle’s Brian Eland and Dakar rider Nick Plumb, from Neath, leading the entire field into a brand new era for British motorsport.

Torrential showers and inclement weather failed to hamper final preparations for Britain’s first Baja and the service park and camp site, on a hill overlooking Parry’s Farm, near Bleddfa, was a hive of activity. Cars were flagged away from the The Lake in Llandrindod Wells on Friday evening by the Mayor of Llandrindod Wells, Councillor Tony Phillips, and Lembit Opik MP.

Heavy showers were forecast for the entire weekend and drizzle greeted the riders for the opening selective section in Radnor forest early on Saturday morning. Turkey-based Chris Pascoe considered riding a more powerful 950 KTM in a bid to match the likes of Eland in the power stakes. But the tension was obvious at the start, with each rider wanting to become the winner of Britain’s first ever Baja.

Eland set the early pace with a 44m 30s time through the opening 48.17 kms, but young Lee Edmondson, the brother of Cannock-based KTM franchise owner Derrick, pipped his rival with a fastest time of 42m 48s. Pascoe was third in 46m 19s, while Matt Harrison’s Bombardier DS 650 took the early lead in the Quad section, the Repton-based rider beating Matt Lee’s Yamaha Raptor by 28s. Eland was later awarded a three-minute time penalty for arriving late at the first control and Pascoe and Stephen Malone moved into second and third positions.


Riders tackled the stage a second time before the car entrants entered the forest and conditions were much brighter for the second selective. Rookie Edmondson extended his lead to 7m 05s, as Malone and Eland settled into the podium positions. Pascoe slipped to fourth place with the fifth fastest time and Lee continued his progress at the head of the Quad trio and moved into the final selective section of the day with a 3m 12s lead over Harrison. Daniel Upton was third.

~It is a very challenging stage, but it was never going to be easy as the day progressed and we had wear and tear of the tracks from the cars,~ admitted Lee. ~The cars leave two marked wheel tracks and these just get deeper and we find that the quads dig down on to the chain and sprocket. It makes it very tricky.~

Over the third and final stage of the day for the bikes and quads, Edmondson again crushed the opposition on his 250cc KTM and headed into the overnight halt with a massive 12m 23s lead over Pascoe, with Malone, Town and Eland completing the top five.

~This was my first time using a scroll reader for the road book,~ said Edmondson, a member of the ACU’s Under-23 Enduro Training Squad. ~I used it the first time, but the course was well marked and I was able to ride without using it again. I’ve made a great start and really enjoyed everything. I had some stick off my brothers in the past, so this is my chance to prove a point.~

Lee extended his lead in the Quad category to 14m 24s and was classified eighth of the bike and quad field, while Upton displaced Harrison to hold second. Heathfield’s Patsy Quick was the sole female entrant in 10th place and Nick Plumb pedalled the heavy BMW 1150 into 14th place.

Bridgnorth’s Ian Rochelle led the T1 and T2 contingent in a powerful Bowler Wildcat and was the fastest out of the blocks with a time of 43m 18s. Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen was his closest challenger, albeit 3m 20s behind, with Richard Hopkins, Michael Jones and Derrick Edmondson completing the top five. Banwell’s Nick Tidboald stopped in the stage with suspension problems.

Rochelle extended his advantage to 5m 11s through the second selective, as Tollefsen and Michael Jones stayed in contention. Turbo failure prevented Paul Green from starting the second selective in his Rally Raid UK Desert Warrior, as torrential rain returned to make conditions increasingly tricky. Rochelle took his third selective win in SSS3 and entered the final loop 6m 20s ahead of Tollefsen.

Local hero and former British National Rally Champion Graham Middleton shed a wheel in the third stage and had to be towed off the track by a Unimog. Norway’s Nick Tollefsen limped through the final 10 kms with clutch problems in second and third gears and were unable to tackle the fourth selective.

Rochelle entered the overnight halt with an 8m 16s lead over Tollefsen after setting a fourth fastest stage time, with Michael Jones in third overall and Derrick Edmondson in fourth.

Recent Baja de France winner Hugh Haines set the fastest time in the opening section of the National category, but Trevor Milner’s home-built Pro Truck incurred substantial time penalties and stopped on its debut. Milner admitted to having no time to drive his unique creation before the start, as Ray Kempster and young Ryan Cooke set the second and third fastest times. Chipping Camden’s Mike Jones was also in trouble in his Mitsubishi Shogun with a broken clutch and Frenchman Nicolas Gibon lost 40 minutes with road penalties for late arrival at a time control.

Haines extended his overall lead to 1m 08s with a second successive fastest time, despite driving the final 10 kms on a puncture. Kempster and Cooke maintained second and third with Jeremy Fearn in fourth place, but Somerset’s Peter Rowe retired his Land Rover in the stage with drivetrain problems.

National runners were given a notional time of 48m 23s for their third stage, while Middleton’s stricken vehicle was removed from the track. Haines held on to take a 5m 14s lead over Kempster into the second leg on Sunday.

~We are finally up and running,~ said a delighted Chris Tomley, Chairman of the MSA's Cross-Country Committee and Clerk of the Course for Baja GB 2006. ~It has taken several years to reach this point and now the hard work is being put to the test.~

The brainchild of officials at Marches 4x4 Ltd, Britain’s first ever official candidate event for the FIA International Cup for Bajas has the full backing of the Motor Sports Association (MSA), the Forestry Commission Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and Andrew Davies, the Welsh Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the second and final leg of Baja GB, with bikes and quads heading into three 38.20 km selective sections in the Shepherds Well area of Radnor forest from 06.51 hrs. Car entrants will also tackle the revised selective three times from 09.13 hrs, while the official finish ceremony will take place at Parry’s Farm from 14.10 hrs.

Baja GB T1-T2 Cars – after SSS4 (top 6 only)
1. Ian Rochelle/Amanda Garratley (Bowler Wildcat 200) 2h 52m 29s
2. Ivar Tollefsen/Quin Evans (Bowler Wildcat) 3h 00m 45s
3. Michael Jones/Paul Round (Rally Raid UK Desert Warrior) 3h 06m 34s
4. Derrick Edmondson/Neil Ruffle (Range Rover Desert Warrior) 3h 08m 21s
5. Richard Hopkins/Gary Torosyan (Land Rover Discovery) 3h 09m 19s
6. David Johnston/Tim Hamilton (Bowler Wildcat 200) 3h 11m 38s

Baja GB Bikes – after SSS3 (top 8 only)
1. Lee Edmondson (KTM F-250 EXC) 2h 03m 16s
2. Chris Pascoe (KTM 525) 2h 15m 39s
3. Stephen Malone (KTM 525) 2h 15m 57s
4. Clive Town (KTM 525) 2h 16m 44s
5. Brian Elan

The latest updated results for all categories can be found on www.nersresults.co.uk

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Baja GB Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Baja GB Media Centre, Parry’s Farm, near Bleddfa, Powys, Wales, Tel: +44 (0)1547 550626, Fax: + 44 (0) 1547 550670, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 (subject to network), E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com

Date issued: 19/08/2006

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