Downhill Legends, part two – Dave Wardell and Tim Ponting

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Jamie Edwards continues his feature on some of the old school legends racing last weekend in Jason McRoy’s memory.

Dave Wardell

So. What’s your name, how old are you and where are you from?
I’m Dave Wardell, I’m 34 and I’m from Whitby. I’m better known as Bullhead!

And what’s earned you the reputation of a BDS Legend?
I have no idea! I think I’m too young to be one looking at everyone else!

Fair enough! What does your race CV include then?
Junior National Points Series champ, 2nd junior World Champs, several top 20 World Cups, selected for Great Britain for 4x and DH probably seven or eight times. I was on the MBUK team for four years and then I was with GT for probably eight years? That was World team and European team. Good times!

And what was the proudest moment of your career thinking back?
Proudest moment of my career? Oh I dunno! Obviously when I was young second in the junior World Champs. And then coming into elite and top three at the first National behind Minnaar and Steve. Unfortunately that year I got injured pretty soon but probably my first World Cup was the moment I got to the bottom and thought “yeah, that was brilliant!”. That was Les Gets.

And have you kept riding since your time on the pro circuit?
Yeah I do bits and bobs. I usually end up doing one national a year. I always intend on doing them all but only make it to one. It’ll have been three months since I’ve ridden a DH bike. I went over to Morzine with twelve of my mates and it was the best trip ever! It was all people that love bikes but they’ve never raced – it was just funny laughing at them all!

And what do you think of the vibe at the BDS since your days racing?
Yeah, the vibe’s alright! It’s good to see all the old faces back here. That’s the hardest part about walking away from it all. You spend all the time with these people and you pack it all in and walk away and you never see them again. It’s good to catch up with people and see how much weight they’ve all put on!

Who’s your biggest rival then this weekend?
Oh – I dunno! Steve Peat? Ponting will be fast, Will Longden’s always a dark horse. He pretends not to be bothered but he definitely puts the hammer down!

Serious question then before we let you get off. You grew up in the same area as Jason McRoy. Was he someone you had much to do with?
I was just starting when he passed away. I remember being at a NEMBA race as I think it was back then. You sued to race downhill and trials on a Saturday and then XC on a Sunday and I remember he was at Bradford and it must have been a couple of nights before that, that he passed away. He was always somebody that you looked up to and you looked at his bikes. Obviously I knew Pete Tomkins quite well and he was near them. The Dirt video came out and me and my friend Paul Garrett used to watch that every night and go outside and practice wheelies! Yeah … it was sad news.

Talk to me about bikes for a second. What bikes did you race through your career?
I spent most of my time on GT. I started out on the original iDrive and then onto the aluminium one and onto the carbon one. The suspension design has come on a lot since then! The first bikes we started out on are a lot more like the trail bikes we ride today. The equivalent of a Nomad now is probably what we started out racing DH on. But that that time you thought that bike was the dog’s bollocks and and indestructible. If you told me to go down that track today on my old bike I’d be like “no thank you! No way!”.

Tim Ponting

Hey Tim. Can you tell the guys who you are?
I’m Tim Ponting. I’m 43 and I live in Andover.

And what’s earned you the BDS Legend title?
Oh I dunno! Just old school downhiller from when it started I suppose! Going on to the Animal team for all those years and I guess just being around the sport for 15 years.

What would you say are some of the highlights of your career racing bikes?
Obviously winning World Masters last year was pretty awesome. But the years on the Animal team and winning the NPS was pretty special. It was a fun time with all of my best mates and I got to win as well.

And you got to jump that massive jump at the RAV4!
Yeah that was mint! I hit that every run, it was perfect! I remember seeing it in practice and thinking “what a perfect landing” and it was alright, it was a pretty good booter!

Tim Ponting’s giant jump (Pic from Dirt Magazine)

 

So what bike are you riding today and what did you race for your time on the Animal Orange team?
I’m on my Mondraker Summum which is what I won Worlds on last year and I wanted to keep it. I got it out the shed for this weekend and she’s rolling well. On the Animal team we rode the Mr O and the Patriot was a big one. The 222 really took off for us then, they were great bikes.

And how does your Mondraker compare to the Orange back in the day?
I think probably one is the lightness and the other is geometry. The wheel base these days is massive, they’ve slackened out more. I think they’re easier to ride. Tracks are changing and the geometry just makes it easier to ride. You can trust the bike a bit more.

What riding do you do these days?
I’ve been doing the Enduro series this year, that’s been really cool. It’s almost old school downhill and it’s been on some of the old school NPS tracks which is pretty cool!

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