top of page

Perce Simon 2023 Report

Andy Withers | Awsportsphoto

7 Nov 2023


The 81st Perce Simon lived up to the traditional expectations of the event with plenty of mud and water to challenge the 117 riders who entered this iconic event. Ben Lovelace who has become a ‘Ringwood Specialist’ in recent years added his name to the Perce Simon Winners list which boasts a who’s who of British Trials including Gordon Jackson, Steve Saunders and Jeff Smith who are all multiple winners. Run first in 1936, the rider with most wins is Sammy Miller with six in the 1960’s, and he spiced up the 2023 event by sponsoring this year’s Expert class with prize money for the top three.

Torrential rain before and during the event had water forming streams running down the tracks and flowing down through some of the steeper sections, with mud and water holes getting deeper   as sections generally deteriorated as the day progressed. 2022 winner Will McBain was a non starter but Ben Lovelace faced a tough expert field including five riders from the Trial Expert class of the ACU Trial GB series including four time winner of ‘the Perce’ Andrew Blackman.

The experts and clubman experts loosened up with multiple crossings over a fallen tree trunk on section one with Sammy Miller watching the action, most riders got through unscathed except for  clubman expert, two time Perce winner Kev Nolan who got sideways on the final slippery log which meant starting with an unwelcome five. The latest Perce venue, the Somerley Estate has some challenging steep stepped climbs over tree roots which came into play on both sections 2 and 3. Lovelace showed his class on section 2, which had a big tree trunk to negotiate mid section, there was no run up then to make the steep climb up the bank over the tree roots. He made it over the trunk and up the climb for a single dab and used the trunk as a brake coming back down, bouncing off and out the end gate to the appreciation of the hardened spectators. A two on the second lap was followed by the only clean of the day on the section which was particularly impressive. On lap one Matthew McDonald, Phil Wiffen and Hugh Barker all managed threes, but several riders including Andrew Blackman were annoyed not to make it over the trunk for fives. Section 3 had a similar longer climb up through the roots and a drop down a sandy bank which dug out on the return back up to the end card. This section claimed Lovelace’s only five of the day on lap two, on this difficult section, the ride of the day came from Alicia Robinson who showed why she’s one of the world’s top ten women riders, she produced the only clean of the expert class superbly finding traction to get out of the bottom sandy loop on the third lap.

Lovelace finished with just the one five on his card eight marks ahead of Blackman who rode well in the tricky conditions but section 2 was pivotal with Lovelace on 1+2+0 to Blackman’s 5+1+5,  which was the eight mark difference between the two. this gave Lovelace his first win and stopped  Blackman from adding to his Perce Simon tally. Blackman did match or outscore Lovelace on most of the other twelve sections. McDonald finished level with Blackman but was third on cleans 26 to 24. Joe Snelling was only one mark behind in fourth but he produced the best expert lap of the trial losing just nine on the last lap to Lovelace’s ten.

As the last round of the Southern Centre Championship Ben Lovelace’s win gives him second overall, ten points behind Thomas Moss who missed the final round. However, Ben does get to take home the £150 first place prize money donated by Sammy Miller.

In the clubman experts Martin Carter started strongest with a first lap of thirteen two ahead of Neil Hubbard, with championship leader Kev Nolan in third after his five on section 1. Carter followed up with two expensive laps which pushed him down to third with13+22+30 for sixty five on cleans from Daniel Hole who improved lap on lap for 24+21+20. Hubbard rode superbly losing just seven on lap two for a clear win 15+7+17 taking the class by seventeen. Kev Nolan took the championship, doing it the hard way after having a flat rear tyre on lap 3 to finish in second on the day 19+13+24 for fifty six. 

On the B route the lowest scores came from the Pastmasters with the top three covered by only three marks. Gary Tarrant finished top on forty to take his fifth win and the Pastmasters championship despite riding with a serious injury for much of the season. Keith Hitchings was a single mark behind in second and David Sherlock who won the Perce Simon in 2021 as the top Pre65 rider was two back in third. Jordan Peach continued his recent good form to take his second consecutive championship win six ahead of Wayne Vincent with championship leader Glenn Keet who had already secured the class win finishing third. Keet was one of the last to finish having to deal with mechanical problems of sons Richie and Tommy’s bikes.   

In the Sportsman which is a B+C route Perce Simon regular James Dean was a clear winner by thirty marks from Thomas De Jong with Tony Chalk just one mark behind. This produced one of the closest finishes to a championship class which will need sorting out by  Mike Wiseman at the Southern Centre as De Jonge and Chalk both finished on 111 points from seven rounds with one round win each, so it might come down to number of second places? 

On the C route the veterans also produced the lowest scores, local rider Kev Downer finishing ahead of Darren Howard who put in a great performance riding the ex Jack Somerton Beta  which he had not seen until the trial. Championship rivals Tim Owen and Andy Somerton were five marks apart in third and fourth. Somerton has competed in all nine rounds so had to drop his two lowest scores whilst Owen had only ridden in six. From these results provisionally it looks as though Owen pipped Somerton by two points for the championship win. Another local rider Jason Colein revels in tricky conditions and riding his aged Sherco he held off Mark Read by two marks in the main novice class, a championship class already sewn up by Jack Somerton. Neil Clarke topped the Pre 67 C George Allen Trophy class by four on his DOT ahead of John Miles on his Bantam, Clarke was particularly impressive cleaning the first two laps of the graded hillclimb before it got very gloopy at the bottom late in the day, he suffered a five on the third lap. That made it three wins from the three rounds he has contested but even though there is one round left he won’t be able to catch Graham Barton who tops the championship table. 

On the D route John Long who has recently dropped down a class produced the lowest score of the day on fifteen finishing well ahead of Simon Smith and Steve Barrett in a class where all the riders were Montesa 4RT mounted.  Trev Newell took his second win in the Pre67 class to take the lead in the class championship by two points from Andy Withers who could only manage third behind Karen Clarke, it’s all to play for in the final round. Steve Dibdin and Geoff Parker both clocked up the ton in the Twinshocks, Dibdin on a hundred three ahead of Parker, second was enough to give Parker the championship lead going into the final round.

There were some impressive performances by the youth riders. In Youth A, local rider Adam Kilbey is making a strong end to his season, despite losing ninety two marks he took an impressive second consecutive championship win by twenty eight marks from the championship leader Rowan Stewart. Richie and Tommy Keet topped the Youth B and C classes respectively. Richie having to overcome an overheating machine and a chain coming off in a deep muddy rut, but he kept going to finish eleven ahead of Kai Fisher with David James in third on a tough route. Richie Keet has a full house of six wins from the six rounds he has contested, whilst James is second in his first season on the ‘red’ route, Fisher added to his total to move up to third.  Tommy Keet had a puncture on the last lap but kept concentrating on finishing the trial, although some would say in the conditions a flat tyre might be an advantage. He finished sixteen ahead of championship winner Jack Holdsworth, Keet having contested a mix of Youth B and Youth C during the year he is not in the top positions but his score would have put him well up in the adults classes on the route. Tommy Wakeford pushed on to finish the trial as the only Youth D rider to take on the challenge on his petrol GasGas Boy 50,  to complete the challenging trial was very impressive.

The Perce continues to evolve from a road trial with sections throughout the New Forest, to a two groups of sections linked by road work, to Ashley Hollow which has been lost at the moment due to a lack of parking to the Somerley Estate. Ringwood LC&MCC have managed to modify the trial year on year whilst maintaining the tough challenge and this year the weather allowed for the tradition of mud and water in plenty!

Results (Top six)

Experts A: Ben Lovelace (GasGas) 36, Andrew Blackman (Beta) 44, Matthew McDonald (TRS) 44, Joe Snelling (GasGas) 45, Phil Wiffen (TRS) 62, Alicia Robinson (Beta) 63, Hugh Barker (Sherco) 67, Jack Stiles (GasGas) 67, Oli Gray (Beta) 68, Tom McCabe (GasGas) 74, Luke Hora (Sherco) 109

Clubman Expert A+B: Neil Hubbard (GasGas) 39, Kev Nolan (Vertigo) 56, Martin Carter (TRS) 65, Daniel Hole (Beta) 65, Michael Hayden (Sherco) 96

Clubman B: Jordan Peach (Beta) 54, Wayne Vincent (Montesa) 60, Glenn Keet (GasGas) 68, Mark Ward (Montesa) 69, Mark Owen (GasGas) 84, Mark Hebditch (Montesa) 85, Chris Hay (Beta) 85

Pastmaster B: Gary Tarrant (GasGas) 40, Keith Hitchings (TRS) 41, David Sherlock (Vertigo) 43, Derek Francis (TRS) 48, Alex Taylor (Vertigo) 59, Paul Doney  (GasGas) 60

Sportsman B+C: James Dean (Beta) 21, Thomas De Jonge (TRS) 51, Tony Chalk(TRS)52, Tony Lucas (TRS) 76, Clint Sparrey (GasGas) 85

Novice C: Jason Colein (Sherco) 55, Mark Read (Vertigo) 57, Scott Owen (GasGas) 68, Greg Seymour (GasGas) 68, Gary Plews (EM) 86, Danny Orr (Montesa) 110

Veteran C: Kev Downer (Beta) 21, Darren Howard (Beta) 30, Tim Owen (GasGas) 47, Andy Somerton (GasGas) 52, Shamus Doohan (TRS) 59, Bob Privett (Beta) 63

Twinshock C: Ian Wakeford (Fantic) 25, Tim Carter (Bultaco) 56

Pre67 C: Neil Clarke (DOT) 80, John Miles (BSA) 84.

Beginners: John Long (Montesa) 15, Simon Smith (Montesa) 51, Steve Barratt (Montesa) 72, Simon Ward (Montesa) 85, Lloyd James (Montesa) 89

Twinshock D: Steve Dibdin (Bultaco) 100, Geoff Parker (Fantic) 103

Pre67 D: Trev Newell (BSA) 61, Karen Clarke (BSA) 63, Andy Withers (BSA) 78

Youth A: Adam Kilbey (Beta) 92, Rowan Stewart (TRS) 120

Youth B: Richie Keet (GasGas) 58, Kai Fisher (TRS) 69, David James (GasGas) 128

Youth C: Tommy Keet (Beta) 60, Jack Holdsworth (GasGas) 76

Youth D: Tommy Wakeford (GasGas) 103.

For full results see Ringwood MC&LCC website

All Southern Centre Championship results/ championship positions are subject to confirmation from Mike Wiseman - these will be posted on ACU Southern Centre Facebook

Photos are posted on Awsportsphoto on facebook

Ringwood  MC&LCC would like to thank all observers helpers, suppliers and officials for making this event possible.

Many thanks to Sammy Miller for his continued support and sponsorship of the expert class. 

bottom of page