After weeks of dry, hard and slick tracks, riders contesting the latest AMCA British Motocross Championship action at Culham on Sunday had to change their focus to instead tackle some wet weather racing! Despite that constant rain threat though, the superb Culham circuit which sits on the banks of the River Thames coped admirably with the sudden climate change and thus produce plenty of incident packed action. The main headlines on the day came in MX2 where Josh Coleman, a serious title contender saw his season come to a painful end and Clinton Barrs scored what will surely prove to be one of the most popular overall wins of the season! Also hitting the headlines, the MX1 and 2T class produced maiden AMCA Championship overall wins for Ray Rowson and the hard-charging Jake Parker respectively.
With the rain at its worst, Ray Rowson made his intentions for the day perfectly clear by posting the fastest MX1 qualifying time ahead of Ryan Crowder and series leader Josh Waterman. One very notable absentee from the MX1 field though was Ashley Greedy who had led the series for most of the season but is now nursing a broken collarbone sustained in a mid-week practice crash.
Transferring that qualifying speed into race action, Rowson then led the opening moto from start to finish. In the early stages, Ryan Crowder, Jansen Day, Ashley Thomas, Gary Gibson and Josh Waterman were the next best. Whilst Crowder slipped back to finish 8th, Waterman showed just why he is the man to catch in MX1 by soaring up to get home in a great 2nd as Day had one of his best rides of the season to take 3rd. Unfortunately the closing stages of this moto was marred by a big crash which resulted in a very lengthy delay and ultimately the whole event being restricted to just two blocks of racing.
So in the decisive second MX1 battle, it was Gary Gibson, buoyed by recent podium finishes in the IMBA European Championship who was fastest away but after two laps, Rowson had swooped from 4th up to pole position. From here onwards, Ray controlled all the way to the chequered flag and thus record his first ever AMCA MX1 overall victory. Following him home in moto two were Gibson, Waterman who completed the race without the use of his rear-brake after initially gating 8th, Lee Harrison, Shane Carless and James Dodd. On the podium, Waterman took silver and Gibson bronze but more significantly, Waterman has now opened up a very healthy 94 point lead at the top of the standings.
Aboard his new 2019 FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna which he had only collected midweek, MX2 series leader Luke Burton not only posted the fastest qualifying time but also strolled to victory in moto one. Whilst Jonathan Roderick-Evans had claimed the initial holeshot before dropping back to 14th, there was to be several riders producing a seriously impressive climb up the leaderboard. Clinton Barrs went from 7th up to snatch 2nd, young Henry Williams went from 6th up to 3rd, Kieran Cooke stormed from 11th to take a great 4th and Lee Sealey despite suffering from a bout of food poisoning took a super 5th after gating 12th. Also in this incident packed moto one, Josh Coleman who had previously led the title chase saw his season come to a painful end when crashing out and suffering a fractured right fibula and dislocated right shoulder.
Burton, Jack Gardner and Lewis King all took turns to lead MX2 moto two before Barrs smoothly moved through from an early 4th to take control on lap three. From here onwards, the DK Off-road Kawasaki pilot enjoying easily his best performance of the season kept the throttle wire tight before racing onto a great win. After admitting in his own words that he had made the wrong tyre choice for the ever changing track conditions in the second clash, Burton slipped off and dropped to 7th before recovering in style to get home in 2nd spot. Having another very impressive ride, Williams took 3rd from King, Gardner, Sealey and Tranter. Just two weeks after becoming a father for the second time, Barrs was to be a very popular and deserving overall victor afterwards saying, “Qualifying did not go well and had a few set-up problems which left me down in 12th so I wasn’t happy! In race one I gated 9th and just got my head down and after a few good battles found myself in 2nd. I felt like I had some really good lines that nobody else was on and that really made a difference as I was not getting roosted! Race two I made a better start and this time managed to pull off some quick passes. It took me 3 laps to get to the front and my lines were still good but it’s been a while since I won a Championship race so I tried to make sure that I remained composed and did not ride tight. I had so much incredible support from trackside that it just helped push me onto victory and it was certainly a great feeling passing the chequered flag in first place!”
Extending his 2T series advantage, Richard Cannings cruised to a big opening moto win at Culham, leading from gate to flag in style. In the early stages, Mark Young held 2nd with Sean Eckersley in 3rd but the man on a serious charge was Jake Parker. In every round so far, Parker has been knocking on the door and in this moto he showed his speed again by climbing from 7th to bag the runners-up position. Eventually an equally quick Young took 3rd from Eckersley, Doyle, Ryan Zebedee, James Lane and Jack Waterman.
In the second clash for two-smokers, Cannings looked on course to record another runaway win before being halted on lap seven with a collapsed rear-wheel. So taking the moto victory was that man Parker, passing Eckersley on the final lap as Young got home in 3rd. Once again Doyle, Ashley Beniston, Lane, Zebedee and Alec Everitt were in the frame and bagging more vital points. On the box though, top honours belonged to a rightfully delighted Parker who proved to be a very worthy Culham winner.
Following a big crash at Hawkstone, Terry House was a Vets class non-starter and in his absence, Simon Lane took full advantage! Bagging another maximum point’s haul, the JSR Honda rider increased his series lead. In moto one though it was Sean Smith who was fastest away, heading the charge for two laps before being replaced by Lane who had gated 4th. So on completion of a typically competitive Vets contest it was victory to Lane from Richard Chinn, Smith, Gary Jones, Colin Conduit and Stephen Elford.
Certainly proving that he had the Culham starts well and truly dialled in, Smith was again quickest away in Vets moto two this time leading for seven laps as Lane surprisingly found himself down in 11th. Showing though just why he is the series pace-setter, Lane then stormed up the leaderboard before taking control just two laps from home. As for the fast Smith, well he had to be satisfied with 2nd place with Chinn, Jones and Brian Staples the next best.
At Culham, Youth series leader Joseph Brookes faced a new challenge in the form of Team Green Kawasaki ace Ben Mustoe who was having a wildcard ride. Brookes though was determined to maintain his incredible unbeaten record in the AMCA series and that’s just what he managed to achieve! In moto one it was Brookes all the way from gate to flag as Mustoe passed Charlie Palmer early on for 2nd. Holding 4th spot throughout the contest was Matt Tolley from Joshua Main, Mitja Krasniqi, Henry Tomes and Ezra Blackwell.
With another very accomplished performance, Brookes took another gate to flag win in moto two from Mustoe, Palmer, Krasniqi, Tolley, Tomes and Main. Next up for the entertaining Youth aces and all other Championship chasers is the big, spectacular jumps of Brookthorpe in Gloucestershire on August 12th. Report and stock pic by Mike Wood