Hockey and Roper face new championship race threat

FIRST IN: Chris Hockey, pictured in action at a previous event at Santon, was the highest-placed Sudbury rider in Thetford Forest's opening round
FIRST IN: Chris Hockey, pictured in action at a previous event at Santon, was the highest-placed Sudbury rider in Thetford Forest's opening round
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Chris Hockey got his bid to take his Eastern Centre Enduro Championships into double figures under way at Thetford Forest, but finished sixth.

Along with clubmate and current champion Jamie Roper (eighth), he knows they have a battle on their hands this year from past two-times Champion Aston Bird, who is going to concentrate on enduros instead of motocross.

Bird finished third on the day in round one of the G H Motorcycles/Husqvarna sponsored event, which was hosted by Diss Motorcycle Club in cold temperatures 
last Sunday over a 12-mile course together with a 1.5-mile course for the two special tests.

With several of the British Championship riders entered, it was always going to be a hard day for the East Anglian riders to score points.

Other Sudbury riders in the points in the championship class were: Stevie Roper 12th, Sam Toy 13th and Steve Mason 15th.

There was strong opposition in the expert class with Darren Nicolaou 11th and Nick Barrett 14th being the best Sudbury riders.

Gavin Hockey, riding in the expert veteran class for the first time, had a 3.78 second lead over Nick Ames after the two special tests and a 14.47 seconds lead over current champion Mark Chapman (Diss).

But it is usually the last session of the course that can make a difference and it certainly did for Hockey as he was two minutes late, incurring penalties and was second overall with Chapman taking the win as he was only one minute late.

Phil Roper, who was ninth after the special tests, jumped up to fourth at the end of the day while Ames secured fifth, Richard Walters 11th, Andy Quorn 12th and Mark Green 14th.

With four riders upgrading to expert class, the clubman class is now wide open for some younger riders to make their mark, and this is what Alex Rampton, riding in his second season, did securing second place by one hundredth of a second while Ryan McDonnell finished sixth, Alex Walton 11th and Martin Greenaway in his first full season finished 15th.

Dean Curry finishing fourth was the best Sudbury rider in the clubman veteran class with John Austin seventh, Martin Baker eighth, David Meehan ninth and Gavin Potter 15th.

In the clubman super veteran class Steve Finch finished third, Chris Ginn fourth, Gary Drage sixth, Trevor Scott 10th and Alister McFarquhar 14th.

Pete McDonnell was the only Sudbury rider in the sportsman class and plugged away all day, despite a few falls, to finish a surprising sixth.

The next Sudbury Motorcycle Club event is the six-hour endurothon on Sunday, March 8 at Foxborough Quarry, Sible Hedingham.