The UK’s premier national downhill organiser Si Paton threw himself into the sport of enduro racing in 2016, going at it full guns with the British Enduro Series. He gave the UK scene the elite professional touch, with masses of prizes and his very experienced set-up. But with dwindling numbers and the whole thing affecting his home-life he had to pull the plug today, offering this statement.

Si Paton, he tried his best, but you can't force riders to pre-enter!
Si Paton, he tried his best, but you can’t force riders to pre-enter!

“It is with great regret to inform you that the 2017 BES is to be cancelled due to a number of factors.
The series was a great success in many ways, riders benefited from; Live Timing, £7k cash in prize money, Free Race Support from Shimano, SRAM, Hope Technology, Crankbrothers, onsite retailer Tred-Shop and GT85 with their Bike Wash, Air Hoses and Lube Station and a large media presence.The downfall was the number of riders entering, as low as 120 at Afan round 3. We appreciate the series was diluted with UK Enduro taking a slice of the riders and when that folded we offered all of their riders a free entry to the BES but even that never really worked.

Riders loved some of the testing BES events last season.
Riders loved some of the testing BES events last season.

We were all geared up for a successful 2017 season but with the recent loss of a few key sponsors that we have been unable to replace (Brexit is hitting the marketing budgets hard) and very low rider entry numbers to date. Then note the series unfortunately lost a lot of money last year and the time constraints involved in the running of the series. The stress and pressure that has delivered as you can imagine has sent my personal family life beyond breaking point, which I need to repair being the father of two young children.
It was a real pleasure to meet all of the riders last year at the events and I am deeply saddened that I have failed to deliver to you. I would like to highlight the work done by the British Enduro Series team and marshals that delivered last season. Their commitment, hard work and unwavering attention to detail, allowed us to safely and successfully deliver the events.

This series was very well set up for the more pro racer and top-end competitors.
This series was very well set up for the more pro racer and top-end competitors.

All riders currently entered will be refunded in full including the online booking fees. Active Network the online payment company will refund everyone directly for both the race fee and booking fee in two separate transactions. Anyone who took out Booking Protect will also be refunded in full. Please note this will take several days to be completed.
Yours in Sport.
Si Paton.”

We asked original top man behind the previous UKGE, Steve Parr, of he would step up. His reply- "No chance in 2017!"
We asked original top man behind the previous UKGE, Steve Parr, of he would step up. His reply- “No chance in 2017!”

We would like to step in and thank Simon for all his considerable efforts in 2016, bringing his brilliant series to the UK, he tried his best, but it would seem that the sport of enduro has become so watered down by the upstart of so many different regional race series’s and of course there was that original competition from the (now bankrupt) UK Enduro; that didn’t help! After talks with Simon’s timing guy and man behind Mini Enduro, 4X Pro Tour and Mini Downhill, Chris Roberts, we have some good news when it comes to the running of what was to be the Dyfi BES round. Chris and Charlie Williams (the man behind Welsh Gravity Enduro) are still going to run the Dyfi round on the same date as the planned BES; this will be the Welsh EWS feeder round on May 20/21.

What will the pro-level and seriously competitive UK racers do in 2017? Your guess is as good as ours!
What will the pro-level and seriously competitive UK racers do in 2017? Your guess is as good as ours!

So where does this leave the state of elite enduro in the UK, is it just destined to become lots of local style grass-roots races and one-off events? Maybe this is what the riders want in the UK, or maybe it just needs to be left for a while till riders demand a more “pro” series for EWS preparation. Either way it has lost us, we are just going to have to sit back now and see what becomes of this mess; will there be another race promoter who can step up to the reigns and take on this seemingly doomed task?

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Words: Jim Buchanan Photos: Doc Ward