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Baja GB: Ian Rochelle and Lee Edmondson take Victories in the UK.

Bridgnorth's Ian Rochelle and Cannock's Lee Edmondson clinched victory in the car and motorcycle categories of the inaugural Baja GB, Britain's all-new candidate for the FIA International Cup for Bajas. Caerphilly's Hugh Haines and co-driver Peter Phillips won the National category in their Bowler Wildcat 200 and Doncaster's Matt Lee was classified as the leading Quad rider after two days of action in the rain-soaked Radnor forest complex in Mid-Wales.

"This was a fantastic event and it feels great to become the first ever winner of the Baja GB," said Rochelle, who led from start to finish with co-driver Amanda Garratley. "There was no doubt that we would enter this event. You only have to look at the entry list to see that people have made the effort to support the hard work of the organisers. We, as competitors, all want the Baja to succeed. I am sure that those people who did not enter will wish that they had been in at the start of this new chapter in British motorsport."

Competitors tackled three selective sections in Radnor forest on Sunday. Rookie Cannock-based rider Lee Edmondson began the final leg with a commanding lead of 12m 23s in the motorcycle category and he won his fourth successive selective on Sunday morning, with a time of 31m 12s through the Shepherd's Well section. The British Under-23 enduro rider suffered a scare in parc ferme when his bike failed to start, but he was soon into a flying pace and extended his advantage over Turkey-based Chris Pascoe to 16m 01s.

Stephen Malone maintained third place and Newcastle's Brian Eland and Heathfield's Clive Town for fourth and fifth. Mat Lee extended his lead over Quad rivals Daniel Upton and Matt Harrison, although he only beat Upton by five seconds in the fourth timed test.

Edmondson collected his fifth fastest time in SSS5 to extend his advantage to 18m 46s, but there was a frantic battle for the minor places behind second-placed Pascoe. Eland passed Malone to take third place and Heathfield's Clive Town closed to within one second of fourth place by setting the third fastest time. Lee maintained his Quad lead and ninth place overall, despite a puncture.

A mere 38.30 km stood between Edmondson and a stunning Baja victory on the nimble 250 KTM and the youngster was again fastest in the final section to record victory by the margin of 20m 48s. Wilmslow's Malone set the second fastest time to confirm third overall behind Pascoe, with Eland and Town completing the top five.

11th-placed Lee confirmed victory in the Quad category over Daniel Upton and Matthew Harrison, despite struggling in appalling conditions over the closing kilometres, but Richmond's Paul Blezard punctured and slipped further behind the leading pack, as Nick Plumb pedalled the unwieldy BMW 1150 into 14th place and Patsy Quick was the leading female rider in a fine ninth position.

Bridgnorth's Ian Rochelle headed into the fifth selective with an 8m 16s lead over Norway's Ivar Tollefsen and extended his overall lead to 9m 16s with a mere two sections remaining. Michael Jones maintained third position, but Chepstow's Richard Hopkins took the second fastest time and displaced Cannock's Derrick Edmondson to take fourth overall by 25s.

Hopkins set the fastest time on the penultimate selective to move menacingly close to third-placed Michael Jones, as Rochelle erred on the side of caution to set the fifth fastest time and head into the final section with a 11m 46s lead over Tollefsen.

Tollefsen beat Rochelle by 14s in the final section, but the Shropshire driver did enough to preserve overall victory in the first ever Baja by the margin of 11m 32s. Tollefsen confirmed second overall, but Hopkins was unable to catch Jones, despite setting a second successive fastest time on the final selective. Edmondson and Northern Ireland's David Johnston completd the top six.

Caerphilly's Hugh Haines had dominated the National category over the opening four selective sections in his Bowler Wildcat and the winner of the recent Baja de France edged a further 2m 50s clear of Raymond Kempster's Milner Pro Truck in the fifth selective. Hinckley's Ryan Cooke was unable to restart after sustaining terminal clutch problems following the fourth selective on Saturday afternoon. His demise promoted Lee Mansfield's Range Rover into third overall.

Haines set the fastest time in the final selective to take victory in the National category by 13m 36s from Kempster, with Mansfield in third overall.

The brainchild of officials at Marches 4x4 Ltd, Britain's first ever official candidate event for the FIA International Cup for Bajas received the full backing of the Motor Sports Association (MSA), the Forestry Commission Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and Andrew Davies, the Welsh Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks. An extensive highlight programme will be shown on Sky Sports television in the coming weeks.

Baja GB 2006 ­ Final positions

Baja GB T1-T2 Cars ­ after SSS7 (top 6 only)

01 | Ian Rochelle/Amanda Garratley | Bowler Wildcat 200 | 04:34:24
02 | Ivar Tollefsen/Quin Evans | Bowler Wildcat | 04:45:56
03 | Michael Jones/Paul Round | Desert Warrior | 04:49:24
04 | Richard Hopkins/Gary Torosyan | Land Rover Discovery | 04:49:59
05 | Derrick Edmondson/Neil Ruffle | Range Rover | 04:51:51
06 | David Johnston/Tim Hamilton | Bowler Wildcat 200 | 04:54:00

Baja GB National Cars ­ after SSS7 (top 6 only)

01 | Hugh Haines/Peter Phillips | Bowler Wildcat 200 | 04:23:46
02 | Ray Kempster/Ivan Dudley | Milner Pro Truck | 04:37:22
03 | Lee Mansfield/Paul Slack | Range Rover | 04:50:53
04 | Glen McKeith/Caroline Smith | Land Rover Warrior | 05:06:37
05 | Roland Marlow/John Cockburn | Land Rover | 05:14:05
06 | Jeremy Fearn/Martin Gould | Bowler Wildcat 100 | 05:23:54

Baja GB Bikes ­ after SSS6 (top 10 only)

01 | Lee Edmondson | KTM F-250 EXC | 03:36:07
02 | Chris Pascoe | KTM 525 | 03:56:55
03 | Stephen Malone | KTM 525 | 03:57:04
04 | Brian Eland | KTM BCE | 03:57:15
05 | Clive Town | KTM 525 | 03:57:31
06 | Adam Evans | KTM MXC 525 | 04:12:59
07 | Ian Myers | KTM 525 | 04:14:44
08 | Jon Mackeen | KTM 525 EXC | 04:16:38
09 | Patsy Quick | KTM 525 | 04:26:17
10 | Darren Duesbury | KTM 600 Rally | 04:29:48

Baja GB Quads ­ after SSS6

01 | Matt Lee | Yamaha Raptor | 04:35:30
02 | Daniel Upton | Bombardier DS 650 | 04:49:31
03 | Matt Harrison | Bombardier DS 650 | 04:56:28

2006/08/26 | 15:49 CET | Editor: MR/Neil Perkins

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