When you go off racing in Europe to challenge the sand-track Experts, you know immediately that you are sure to be in for an ultra- tough and physically demanding event which often results in little or no reward for your efforts! Normally a top ten finish can rightly be considered as a big success so step forward and take a bow the 2017 AMCA Great Britain team competing in the IMBA MX2 European Championship. In the opening round of the series held at Stevensbeek in Holland on Sunday, Josh Waterman(IDS/JD Racing KTM) took a fantastic 2nd overall, Ray Rowson(Apex/Geartec KTM) was a super 3rd and Jack Cox(FUS FRO/CPS Husqvarna) was only denied a top four finish after a last moto fall. Despite badly twisting his knee in race one, Bradley Tranter(FUS FRO/CPS Husqvarna) still somehow bravely completed the event to earn a very gutsy 15th whilst Jack Gardner(Moto 4 Husqvarna) was 17th. Not so lucky though was Cory McShane who selected to make his full IMBA debut was taken ill on his journey through Belgium and required a trip to hospital, thus being unable to race. Get well soon Cory!
So with four time IMBA Champion John Cuppen of Holland not contesting the 2017 series, there is going to be a new King this time around. One of the big favourites for the crown was Cuppen’s fellow Countryman Jacky Tausch but what a nightmare he was to endure! Major bike problems and a massive crash meant that he was only 12th overall on Sunday. Instead it was Dutch lad Joshua Van der Linden who starred, blasting to a superb maximum points haul. Indeed the very fast Yamaha pilot had earlier made his intentions perfectly clear by recording the fastest qualifying lap with Ray Rowson the quickest Brit in 6th.
With the formalities completed, it was now time to go sand-blasting in the all-important racing and as the pack reached the first turn of moto one, Brit Jack Cox had gloriously hit the front. In the early stages with Cox in control, Rowson was 4th, Waterman 6th, Tranter 8th and Gardner 11th. For three frantic, all-action laps, Cox remained at the front despite being under tremendous pressure from Dutch duo Van der Linden and Tausch. Eventually the home duo found a way past Cox but just one circuit later it was all change again as Tausch, already aboard his spare bike, ground to a sudden halt. As Van der Linden stretched his advantage, the Brits were really flying high with Cox now back up to 2nd, Waterman 3rd, Rowson 5th and Gardner 13th. For the unlucky Tranter though it was pure pain, being forced out with a badly twisted knee. On completion of this hotly contested moto in the 2017 IMBA MX2 European series, victory belonged to Van der Linden from Waterman and Rowson whilst Cox dropped to 4th then just held onto his position despite a strong, late challenge from Erik De Bruyn. For the remaining Brit Gardner it was to be a 14th place finish.
Moto two and Cox made another dream holeshot to head Van der Linden, Tausch and Rico Lommers whilst Waterman was down in 8th, Rowson 9th and Tranter 12th. For Gardiner though he had it all to do after falling early on when inside the top ten. Lap four and both Van der Linden and Tausch passed Cox to then indulge in a super Dutch head to head for race control. Eventually Tausch hit the front only to then suffer a big off, also badly bending the front end of his borrowed bike in the process. So at the flag again it was victory to Van der Linden from Lommers. Having a great ride, Waterman was looking strong and right on the gas moving up to bag a super 3rd with Cox 4th and Rowson in 9th. Producing a heroic performance, Tranter despite struggling to even walk and suffering from a very swollen knee showed gritty determination to bag 12th with Gardner 18th after having his progress halted when tangling with the track marking.
Looking for that holeshot hat-trick and potentially a place on the podium, it all went wrong for Cox in the early exchanges of moto three, falling and finding himself down in last place. Although Cox was not the pace-setter this time around there was still though another Brit in control as Jack Gardner led the way. Unfortunately Jack slipped off and went back to 14th only to be replaced at the front by yet another Brit, Mr Ray Rowson! After controlling for two laps, Rowson was then overhauled by Van der Linden and Tausch who was on an amazing charge. Also having another stormer was Waterman, gating in 5th he got up to 2nd. At one point the Brit even started to rapidly reel in leader Van der Linden before settling for 3rd. So at the flag it was yet another big win for the very impressive Van der Linden from Tausch, Waterman and Rowson. Tranter dug deep yet again to earn 14th, one place ahead of his frustrated FUS teammate Cox with Gardner 16th.
Well done to the Brits on this super showing in the Dutch sand. There’s no time though to enjoy that glory as they go into battle for round 2 this Sunday when they travel to Belgium!
IMBA M2 European Championship Round 1, Holland
Moto one(top ten) 1 Joshua Van der Linden(Holland) 2 Josh Waterman(GB) 3 Ray Rowson(GB) 4 Jack Cox(GB) 5 Erik De Bruyn(Holland) 6 Axel Nijs(Belgium) 7 Glenn Bielen(Belgium) 8 Killigan Debroeux(Belgium) 9 Jamie Lucas(Holland) 10 Rico Lommers(Holland). Other British placings 14th Jack Gardner 22nd Bradley Tranter.
Moto two 1 Van der Linden 2 Lommers 3 Waterman 4 Cox 5 De Bruyn 6 Nijs 7 Debroeux 8 Bielen 9 Rowson 10 Ricardo Vitaliani(Italy) Other Brits 12th Tranter 18th Gardner.
Moto three 1 Van der Linden 2 Jacky Tausch(Holland) 3 Waterman 4 Rowson 5 Debroeux 6 Lommers 7 Bielen 8 De Bruyn 9 Nijs 10 Vitaliani Other Brits 14th Tranter 15th Cox 16th Gardner.
Overall 1 Van der Linden 180 points 2 Waterman 154 3 Rowson 134 4 Lommers 132 5 De Bruyn 129 6 Debroeux 125 7 Nijs 123 8 Bielen 121 9 Cox 120 10 103. 15th Tranter 77 17th Gardner 75.
Words and pics by Mike Wood.