Excitement levels are reaching fever pitch as the 2017 AMCA British Motocross Championship kicks-off on Sunday, April 9th at Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire, and what a series it again promises to be with all classes, MX1, MX2, 2T and Vets stacked full of quality! Not only are new pilots coming into the title chase powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, but also some of the top stars have changed classes and even switched race teams. If you then throw into the mix the fact that this opening round is on a circuit staging its first ever race meeting, it’s easy to understand why nerves are jangling increasingly loudly and adrenalin pumping hard!
In MX1, reigning Champion Luke Burton (FUS Husqvarna) goes again in defence of his title, “It’s been a very good close season for me this year working with Justin Morris and friends Rhys Meakin and Luke Ursell. Rhys has helped me in his gym, Shreds Fitness, and I can say I am feeling 100% and certainly ready for the new season.” Challenging Burton in what is sure to be a very competitive class are the likes of 2016 top ten finishers, Gary Gibson, James Dodd, Richard Cannings, Ryan Crowder, John May, Luke Meredith and Adam Harris. You can also then throw into the mix pilots such as Shane Carless, Curtis Blamey, Matt Ridgway, Arron Poolman and Andrew Smart amongst others. With some of the fast 2016 MX2 aces, Paul Neale, Zac Stealey and Adam Wells along with 2016 AMCA 2T Champion and former top ACU star Ben Saunders also now starting in MX1, it’s easy to see why this class should be an absolute cracker!
Defending his MX2 crown, Josh Waterman (JD Racing/IDS KTM) is ready for another tough challenge ahead, “Preparation for this season as been a weird one as I picked up a hand injury in September which then took 3 months to heal. Once fit the wet winter weather then stopped me from getting out on the bike so I spent a lot of the time in the gym instead. I feel ready but know that MX2 is definitely going to be as strong and competitive as ever. I now can’t wait to get behind the gate and go racing.” Top three finishers in 2016, Jansen Day and Lewis King both go again but are now teammates racing for TMC Kawasaki. Finishing in last season’s top ten, Bradley Tranter, Cory McShane and James Wainwright will also be out to challenge Waterman again along with fancied runners Ray Rowson, Jack Gardner and Lee Truman. Dropping down from MX1 to try their luck on the 250F machines are 2015 AMCA Champion Luke Dean and Clinton Barrs whilst Jack Cox, a former double MX2 Champion returns to the fray after injury.
With the 2016 2T King, Ben Saunders moving up to MX1 as mentioned, the two-smoker class as again proved its popularity with qualifying required to confirm the Championship entry. 2016 podium finishers James Lane(2nd) and Richard Lloyd(3rd) will be attempting to move on up whilst top ten finishers Rory Jones, Sam Callow, Jamie Powell, Matthew Nash and Jack Waterman all go again. Dropping down from MX1 and swapping their big 450F mounts for a two-smoker are Brad Turner, Scot Bates and Sam Smith. It will certainly be interesting to see how these lads perform!
2016 AMCA Vets Champion Matt Gordon is a non-starter this time around so Simon Lane and Terry House look to be the pre-season favourites to take home the 2017 title! There’s plenty of eager competition though looking to have their own say on the destination of the Vets crown. Making a comeback in this class, watch out for former AMCA Champion James Russell whilst the likes of Brian Staples, Shaun Hayles, Stephen Elford, Martin Atherton, Barry James, Gary Jones, Sean Smith and Stephen Marlow could well be in the final shake-up for honours come September.
So Minchinhampton is certainly the place to be this Sunday with the action due to be underway by 11am. The circuit can be found just off the A419 Cirencester to Stroud road, postcode GL6 8HS. Admission prices for the event are £7 and £2 OAP+ Children Under-12. With the organising Dursley MXC also providing Saturday night live music and a bar, there will be overnight camping available for a £5 fee. Words and pic by Mike Wood