When the UKGE announced that it would not be continuing for 2016 there was a sadness that swept through the UK racing community, but also a hope that something new would guide enduro into the next phase, a National series that would bridge the gap between grassroots and the now very international Enduro World Series. We waited excitedly and then out of nowhere we had two competing series both aiming for national domination – the collective UK riding community gave a deflated slow clap! But shock news hit facebook yesterday when one of the series, the UK Enduro, shut up shop without any explanation. UK Race scene expert Jim Buchanan airs his thoughts.

From the beginning of 2015 things were a bit wrong in the UK when it came to the national enduro series. We had a UK Enduro run by Red Kite Event’s Neil Delafield and a British Enduro Series, run by The British Downhill Series Si Paton. These events were like chalk and cheese when it came to their formats and the way they were run. British Enduro, sports big prize money for the elites, a very professional feel, great sponsorship and a very regimented racing structure. Whereas UK Enduro went with the ‘mate’s racing’ kind of feel, any stage in any order and a much more regional low-key kind of atmosphere.

When reading between the lines we could see the cracks beginning to appear with UK Enduro, as taping was atrocious at the last round and riders boycotted one stage. Next up rounds started to get cancelled, swapped, then the final nail in the coffin was the countless complaints from riders concerning a lack of communication and zero refunds leaving only disappointment.

Finally today Neil’s dream was over, way after we had pulled our support, after the series Facebook post about refunds being made by the end of June and all it’s disgruntled rider comments were just removed from the group! Then we got the announcement that the series is over and refunds are to be looked into and will take a while, with no explanation of exactly why and no decent apology or message explaining that all efforts will be made to refund racers. In our eyes it wasn’t enough, so we did some sniffing to look behind the Facebook fob-off!

Sources told us of how the first round at Crychan was cancelled last minute, due to stages having been dug without permission. The Scotland round only had 40 riders booked in and there was no permission to camp at the round up in Sheffield. Whether these are 100% true, we will probably never know for sure, but they were from a good source, and without Neil offering any explanation, people are bound to speculate. But we hope he is now doing all he can to get the money together to refund the riders left out of pocket.

This kind of thing is never good for our sport, as it makes riders un-trusting of new organisers who may try to start their own series. But for Si from BES it can only be a good thing, especially as Si is offering a silver lining for this cloud, albeit with a very diplomatic press release of his own.

It is with great regret we hear the news today that UK Enduro is to close its doors. Competition is always good, as it offers a choice for the riders to choose between the competing organisers. Those organisers then strive forward to deliver the best service and experience at their events for the riders. The only downside to this is the two national level series competing for riders. This means entries have been diluted, putting a financial strain as you can imagine on both organisers. The British Enduro Series – BES will continue throughout 2016 with thanks to the generous sponsors that support the series. As well as being in a unique position to pull resource from its sister company the British Downhill Series – BDS. We have spoken at length today with Neil Delafield of UK Enduro and offered him our full support and assistance at this difficult time. We would also like to offer our support and assistance to riders who have entered any upcoming UK Enduro Events. Therefore as a gesture of goodwill the BES would like to offer those riders a free entry to round 4 of the Cannondale BES at Eastridge on the 13th and 14th of August.
Please forward a copy of your Eventbrite receipt to any upcoming rounds as proof of purchase to si@pinkbike.com by 18:00 on Monday the 18th of July 2016.

Of course, this is sad news but in the long run we have to ask if this is a good or bad outcome. It’s never a good thing to hear someone has finished, when they put their all into something. But with there now being only one national series (as there should be) then hopefully this will unite the British riders so the BES becomes fully booked for future events, much like the early days of the UKGE. We wish Si all the luck in building his numbers up and continuing to bring us a class premier event that the UK riders deserve.

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Words & Photos: Jim Buchanan