INGHAMS GP * RACE 4 * IPSWICH * PRESS RELEASE
Forget SW19 & Silverstone. All eyes point to Suffolk.
So what exactly do the organisers of this race know that those a little further up the British sporting ladder donít? As Lewis Hamilton sailed to victory at a monsoon swept Silverstone and Federer & Nadal attempted to produce another SW19 classic between the rain showers the 4th race of the Inghams sponsored Snowsport England Grand Prix series took place amid a windswept but sunny and, more importantly, dry Ipswich.
Sat on the edge of the River Orwell, overlooked by the spectacular Orwell Bridge and surrounded by pretty rural setting of Bourne Hill, Suffolk Ski Centre provides a wonderfully picturesque backdrop amid the flurry and bustle as the nationís very best ski racers locked horns for the penultimate battle of this summerís series.
With course setting duties shared by Sally Bartlett and Marc Telling the racers were provided with a brace of challenging runs that whilst asking many questions also offered those who learned from their inspection time the opportunity to expose their talents to the full.
In the female race, blown wide open by the first run demise of pre-race series leader Rachel Adcock, Charlotte Evans mirrored her early summer Grand Prix success by producing a solid first run that found her well placed for an afternoon challenge and then demolished the hopes of those around her with a blistering second run that none of her peers could either emulate or improve upon.
Closest of the chasing pack finished runner up and new series leader Alessia Thomas-Jackson. The junior 1 racer finishing 0.01 seconds in front of third placed Gloucester racer Rowan Vernon.
In the categories 4th placed overall athlete Alice Thelwell claimed 2nd place in the seniors with Emily Goddard following home in 3rd. Katherine Barber placed 2nd in Jun 2 (behind Evans) with Danielle Freeze posting 3rd. Behind Thomas-Jackson in the Jun 1 category and in 4th placed overall finished Jeni Thomas with Claire Brown (6th overall) completing the podium positions. In the childrenís categories Stephanie Davies took the Chi 2 honours, followed home by Nia Jenkins (2nd) and Sarah Lambden in 3rd whilst in the Children 1 category saw Polly Shailes demolish her seed point ranking to claim victory in front of 2nd placed Georgia Hallett and Jenny Davies in 3rd.
With the male race enhanced by the entry of British Senior team member David Ryding those chasing his tail were in no doubt that if they had any serious pretensions of going home as overall victor they needed not only to bring their ĎA Gameí but be able to execute it from the first gate to very last.
Whenever Ryding snaps his binding in the start gate a notable hush falls around the slope as each and every spectator looks up the hill to witness what might be one of the final times we get to see the ever popular Pendle racer compete on the plastic circuit. Long since his peers and rivals have abandoned dendix, Ryding commendably continues to support the surface and series that those who aspire to his achievements depend upon.
The fact that he also continues to put himself through the pressures of potential defeat should not be underestimated. Not that that was ever likely to happen here as Ryding dominated the male race, posting fastest times in both runs whilst making the whole thing look almost breathtakingly easy.
Only overall runner up Andrew Watson looked capable of mounting any sort of credible challenge and even then you got the feeling that, if required, Ryding still had an extra gear or two to go through. Series leader Nicholas Robinson confirmed his place at the top of the standings with a fine 3rd place overall with Craig Ruddick and Alex Jeal claiming 4th & 5th respectively.
In the categories Sunderland victor Andrew Crawford claimed 3rd place behind Ryding and Ruddick whilst Watson, Robinson & Jeal filled the podium in Jun 2 category. In Jun 1 Gerard Flahive produced his best display of 2008 to claim the honours in front of a consistent Michael Molloy and Ian Williams. In the childrenís categories Shaun Blyth claimed a deserved 1st place closely followed by James Grant (2nd) and Samual Fairbairn (3rd) whilst Max Moss proved too good for the rest of the field in children 1 category, taking 1st place with James Sieber in 2nd and Daniel Poth 3rd.
The first Grand Prix to be held at this wonderful facility had not disappointed. Location, both geographically and aesthetically, will surely make this a key race in future years and the organisers truly deserve great credit for both ensuring the Grand Prix series benefits from what will hopefully be an annual visit and for providing another very smoothly run race.
The final stage of the series sees us heading back up the M6 to Rossendale in three weeks time. Even at this late stage nothing is settled, titles are still begging to be won. Expect it fast and expect it furious. Just donít expect the organisers to be quite as good when it comes to sorting out the weather.