Buildbase Honda’s Graeme Irwin kept his Michelin MX Nationals win-streak going with his second MX1 overall victory at round two of the series at the demanding Lyng circuit in Norfolk on Sunday despite getting stung by a bee during one moto.
Martin Barr, switching up to a CRF450R from his regular MX2 machine, overcame crashes in the opening race to finish fourth overall and keep hold of his second place in the championship standings.
Despite a crash in qualifying Graeme – the defending champion – went to the line fourth. He came through the opening turn in the lead in race one and, resisting pressure from Phoenix Tools Honda Racing’s Gert Krestinov, held it to the flag for a wire-to-wire win.
He got his second holeshot of the day in race two and after losing a couple of places in the early stages – and being stung by a bee – he fought his way back to the front to claim a double win and maximum points.
“My crash in qualifying kinda knocked the stuffing out of me but I had two holeshots and won both races after good battles with Gert and rode really strong and smart so I’m happy,” he said. “I could have done without being stung by a bee in the second race though – I couldn’t take my hand off the bars to swat it away so it properly stung me.”
Martin qualified third – just 0.3 of a second off pole – and was shadowing his team-mate on the opening lap before a crash dumped him down the field. After quickly recovering another crash dropped him to 17th but he fired back through the pack for fifth at the flag.
In race two he started third, dropped to fourth and then recovered to run as high as second before losing a place on the last lap.
“I’ve been forced to make a lot of passes today because I’ve made life hard for myself,” he said. “I got a really good start in the first race and was second behind Graeme. Me and him were heading off and I just made a mistake and went through one of the berms. I got going again and picked up a few places and then had another crash.
“Once I settled myself I was able to work my way up to fifth at the flag but I was pretty disappointed with that because I felt I had the speed to win and blew my chances.
“In race two I got another really good start and was lying third. I tried to pace myself but Gert got me. We both moved past Elliott Banks-Browne and I tried to make a go at it for the last 10 minutes but I think everyone had the same plan. Gert made a mistake at the bottom of one of the hills which allowed me to move into second but he got me on the last lap.
“It’s frustrating the way the result was but I can’t be too disappointed as those guys are riding the 450 week-in, week-out and at the front of British championship races so for me to be running that pace after jumping off the 250 is not too bad. We’ll keep working and I’m just getting stronger and stronger coming back from my shoulder injury.”
With team boss Dave Thorpe unable to attend, Honda UK Off-Road Sales Manager Graham Foster-Vigors was acting as stand-in.
“It’s been a great day for the team and Honda with Graeme winning both and Martin showing good speed all day,” he said. “In the opening race Graeme managed the gap back to Gert Krestinov very well. In the second he took the lead, then lost a couple of places to Elliott Banks-Browne and Gert before regrouping and passing them both back.
“Martin fell off on the first lap of the opener and went back to 14th, picked up a few places and crashed again and went back to 17th and then fought his way back to fifth. In the second he got as high as second but lost a place to Gert in the closing laps which meant he just missed out on a podium but it was still a solid day for him.
“The second race was a Honda 1-2-3 so I was very pleased.”
After two rounds Graeme leads on 93 points with Martin 16 points behind in second.
Photo by Nuno Laranjeira