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Words and photos by Sutty

A few feet of snow is the last thing anyone expects in the run up to Christmas but come the start of December and the planned weekend of the FatCat Grand Prix the whole country is shivering under a thick blanket of the white stuff!

"This area's been snow free throughout November and December for the past 40 years so we never expected this..." claims FatCat Motoparc boss Martin Craven as he surveys a scene that looks eerily like something from the North Pole minus Santa and his elves. Just three days before the FatCat GP - and one day before his new practice tracks are due to open - Martin looks like a broken man but with a ton of hard work from event facilitators Dirtbike-Traxs and the FatCat team, come race day the course is set and the FatCat GP's good to go - and believe it or not the practice track's open too. Good times!

With a massive entry of racers - some of whom have travelled from as far away as the south coast to be here - the action kicks off at 9.30am with the start of the Youth race which unfortunately for the nippers takes place in the deepest of the conditions. While Luke Owen yanks the Rip n' Roll holey on his RM85 it's Bedford rascal Joe Wright who's the star turn in the Youth field. Powering through the snow like it's barely there, the Honda-mounted 15-year-old battles against the technical course and an ill-sounding bike to lap the field on his way to a well-deserved victory with seven tours. Finishing second on five laps meanwhile is Hitchen's James Miles while Donny lad Jake Keogan secures third.

For the 65cc racers the going is particularly tough but after 90 minutes of hard slog there are two brave finishers - the winner Dawson Marriott and nine-year-old Jacob Dell who manages a single tortuous lap with the help of his mum and dad.

With the course cleared of kids the Expert/Clubman/Over 40s Ironmen leave the line with Halifax's Harry Hillas ricocheting past the Rip n' Roll holeshot pole out front to take an early lead. Something of a hare scramble specialist, the 19-year-old manages to stay in the lead for the full three hours to take the FatCat GP win in the Ironman division with a massive 18 laps in the bag. Just over two minutes behind Hillas at the finish is runner-up David Myers and the consistent Coniston Brewery-sponsored Cumbrian is followed across the line by Rochdale's Damon Butler and Donny lad Alex Owen who definitely gets the award for running the biggest pair of handguards on the day. The prize? Toasty hands.

In the Clubman Ironman class Luke Copestake steers his 300cc Sherco to a convincing full-lap win over second-placed super hunk Gareth Lodge and bronze medallist Rob McCloud. Scarborough's Chris Cooper rockets to an amazing total of 17 tours to take the veterans Over 40 division ahead of Richard Cutts and Lincolnshire's Shaun Woffindon.

Mansfield's Shane Marriott claims the Sportsman Ironman division with a super-strong ride that sees him win his class by a full lap ahead of Rip n' Roll holeshot pole award winner Mark Mathison. Meanwhile, Leyland's Adam Zoellner keeps his 125cc Yamaha on the pipe to take a cracking third in a class stacked out with riders on much more powerful machinery. >>

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