Round 1 of the 2017 British Youth Round was spread over two weekends and a brand new venue for the Championship, and what a venue it was, as the championship went to Peterborough’s East of England Showground for the very first time.
The first part was held on Sunday 9th April where there was six riders competing in the 500cc class, and twelve in the 250s.
As expected the 250 class looks as if it is going to be the most open class of 2017 with at least six of the twelve riders all in with a shout of a final place right up until the last qualifying heat.
Nathan Ablitt who went the entire 2016 season undefeated in the 150 class, stepped up to the 250s this season and was making his competitive debut, and again this year it looks as if Ablitt will be chasing a British Title, as it looked as if he would have gone through the qualifying heats with four wins, but unfortunately broke a chain on the last lap of his fourth ride when in front.
The reigning British 250cc Champion Leon Flint and the 2016 Runner Up Jason Edwards were also in good form, along with three riders who have stepped up from the 125cc class Jordan Palin, Dan and Joe Thompson.
Both Palin and Joe Thompson were cursing engine failures in each of one of their heats, as that cost both riders a place in the final, but sure that both riders will be challenging for finals in the remaining seven rounds.
So with Palin and Joe missing out on a final place, that left Flint, Ablitt, Edwards and Dan Thompson to battle it out for the top prize.
Flint made no mistake in the final, and after making the perfect start, the very stylish British Champion secured his first eighteen point score of the season.
Edwards kept Flint honest during the final, with Thompson getting the better of Ablitt to claim the last rostrum place.
All twelve riders were competitive and this is going to be an exciting year for the 250s.
The 500 class only had six riders competing with the eventual top three being the stand out riders, and again it was a matter of any of the top three could have taken the top prize.
The winner of round one was Drew Kemp, although it is fair to say that his afternoon did not go all to plan, in fact he had a tough day on his way to making it to the final.
After leading both his first two rides, Kemp had engine problems but managed just enough points in his remaining two rides to make the final, and all credit to the 14 year old for keeping his composure on what was a tough day to go out and win the final.
This was Kemp’s first go on the 500s, and when the engine was going looked very stylish indeed and one to watch in the future, and no doubt after claiming 18 championship points will be aiming to win his first British Title.
Daniel Gilkes who was returning from a badly broken wrist in 2016, will also be challenging for that British Title, and after claiming the runners up spot is only two points behind Kemp, and Buxton’s new signing Carl Basford got the third place, although his championship hopes could be disrupted by his commitments to Buxton during the season.