A Star Called Brown

Browny is a real star – and if you don’t know what I am writing about, then let me tell you.

For the second year, The Tough One extreme enduro had a trials race as an opener to the main event at Nantmawr Quarry near Oswestry, and it was Scarborough’s Michael Brown who proved to be the clear winner, with Graham Jarvis in second and Alexz Wigg, debuting the TRW/Sandiford Montesa in third place.

There was a £750 first prize up for grabs so the top lads had a lot to aim for. On past history and his Scott Trial performances Graham Jarvis was the rider most folks would have picked as the potential winner – me too!

But John Hulme, Trial Magazine’s owner/Editor said to me just before the start, “watch out for Browny, he’s up for it today” and Yoomee was absolutely spot on. Browny was certainly up for it, setting a cracking pace, though he didn’t lead off the start.

At the end of lap one he was certainly in the first six, behind early leader Ben Hemingway, but it was not long before he and Grimbo had the race to themselves and for the best part of an hour, they went at it hammer and tongs, with little to choose between them.

But then Graham became tangled in some trees out the back of the course, and from being just a few wheel lengths behind Browny, he had dropped to 20+ seconds and that was enough to hand the race to the Beta man.

So, what makes Browny a star?

Steve Ireland, boss of Wirral Off-Road, the event organisers offered the trials race winner a one hour session in the main race if they so wished – with the offer of a £1000 purse if they could lead the race at the end of the hour. A tall order against the likes of David Knight, Taddy Blazusiak, Wayne Braybrook, Tom Sagar, Paul Edmondson et al on pukka enduro bikes and all extreme event stars.

At first, having just finished and weary after a one-and-a-half hour blast, Browny was not so sure, but later on the podium to collect his trophy and winner’s purse, when Steve Berry asked the question again, the answer was simple ”I’ve got to give it a go!”

Come the start of The Tough One, at the drop of the flag the Experts were away first with the main contenders, Browny included, still fitting their rear wheels. Knighter was soon away and amongst the Experts but Michael Brown was not so far behind and when they all reached the first massive hold up over the log pile, Browny quickly found a way through. Knighter was after him and during the first part of that hour there was little to choose between them. But the trials bike, with a real rapid ace on board was more than a match for an enduro bike with a real rapid ace on board and slowly but surely Browny opened up a lead until the hour mark came, at which point he was 75 seconds ahead of the KTM man and lapping the field by the dozen.

Steve Ireland flagged him off at the end of the next lap, still with 75 seconds advantage which left Knight, Taddy and Braybrook to circulate, eventually taking the top three places come the end of the two-and-a-half hour race which finished in the dark.

So Michael Brown, who was guest at a Northampton dinner later that evening, left the quarry £1750 better off, but perhaps more importantly, had firmly established himself as the trials racing star.

Many years ago, when Browny was about eight years old, he test rode a kid’s trials bike for the newspaper I once worked for, and even then it was obvious he was going to be a star. Those who have followed his career, will have seen him progress steadily, without once reaching a plateau from which he found it difficult to escape. He’s got better all the time, and following on from his fantastic performance at Sheffield, and now this weekend at The Tough One, we can only hope his superb progression continues apace.

This column brings to an end my first full year with Centrally Speaking on Trials Central – where has the year gone? – and I’m delighted to see that last week’s column about the Pre 65 scene has produced over 3100 hits with 85 postings to date. I feel obliged to make further comment, something suitably cynical perhaps, but instead this week’s view is justifiably about Michael Brown. So it may be next week or certainly very soon that I will post my final words on the Pre 65 debate. It will probably be short and sweet.