What a bizarre contest the race for the 2018 AMCA MX2 British Motocross Championship is proving to be as it’s fast becoming a battle of survival and the last man standing! Before Sunday’s round 4 at Lower Drayton, the top two in the standings, Jamie Wainwright and Luke Dean were both missing after recently breaking their wrists! Now in the latest action, Josh Coleman has picked up a triple break of his collarbone whilst Bradley Tranter as snapped his shoulder! Whilst the above unfortunate MX2 pilots contemplate a period on the sidelines, in contrast Luke Burton is on his way back in style following recent shoulder problems. With a simply stunning performance, Burton on the FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna comfortably took all three wins to move from 8th up to 3rd in the standings and just 27 points off the top slot which is currently held by the now injured Coleman, it’s a funny old game! Joining Luke on the MX2 podium at Lower Drayton were Lewis King (LDR/TMC Kawasaki), now 2nd in the standings and Jack Gardiner (KTM) who produced another very impressive showing.
In this fourth round of the AMCA series powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, Burton laid down a big marker for the day by clearing off to a comfortable opening MX2 moto win ahead of Coleman as King had to work hard to see off a very determined Tranter for 3rd. In this opening clash, Gardner, Lee Truman, Luke Newman, Matt Ridgway, Clinton Barrs and Gareth Artus were the next best. Inserting maximum energy into his first ride of the day, Lee Sealey was forced to come from last to earn a top 15 finish.
As the gate dropped for MX2 moto two, it was to be a disastrous start for main contender Barrs as he clashed and fell just yards into the contest leaving him a distant last! Undeterred the tough Bristolian then gave it his all, storming back to earn 14th as Burton again took the win from Coleman and King. The main battle in this one featured Tranter, Gardner and Ridgway disputing 4th with the former getting the verdict with a brave last lap pass.
Unfortunately the final MX2 contest was to then prove to not only be very painful for Coleman and Tranter but also potentially pivotal in the eventual destination of the 2018 MX2 honours. Coleman hit the ground hard in the opening turn not only suffering injury but also badly bending his LRS/HTF Husqvarna. Despite being in immense pain, Josh was soon back on-board before going onto finish the race in an incredible 14th spot only to later following x-rays then discover that he had broken his collarbone in three places, what a truly heroic performance that was! Also in the wars, Tranter crashed out on lap six when in 9th place and when charging hard in his own typically thrilling all-action style, breaking his shoulder in the process! Up front though there was no such drama for the superb Burton as he completed his maximum points haul as Sealey, having his best ride of the day, chased him home with King, Barrs, Gardner and Truman, under the radar but certainly right in the mix. The injured warriors Wainwright, Dean, Coleman and Tranter have four weeks until the next round at Hawkstone Park but at this stage it looks very unlikely that any of them will be fit enough to compete! So the title advantage now swings in the favour of King, Burton, Gardner and company, it’s over to you guys!
In the high quality and very competitive MX1 Championship, Josh Waterman on the fast IDS Transport/JD Racing KTM produced a terrific performance and thus take a deserved first overall win in 2018. In moto one though it was Gary Gibson (LDR/TMC Kawasaki) who grabbed a glorious holeshot and thus lead the way for two frantic laps before Waterman glided through. From here onwards Josh smoothly stretched the throttle wire to thus take a convincing opening moto victory as Shane Carless (FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna) came through strongly from 4th to take 2nd. Eventually early pace setter Gibson had to settle for 5th as series leader Ashley Greedy and Ray Rowson both overhauled him.
Fast out of the blocks, Waterman then led MX1 moto two all the way. On the final circuit, Greedy passed Ryan Crowder as Carless was the next best from Rowson, Jansen Day, Gibson, Dodd, Josh Taylor and Andrew Smart. In this one both Gibson and Dodd had been forced to work particularly hard after circulating in 19th and 15th places respectively during the early stages.
The final MX1 contest proved to be the most enthralling of the day as Carless led the thundering charge only to be passed by both Greedy (Andrew Marsh Motors Yamaha) and Waterman. For the next six laps, Waterman then inserted some heavy pressure on Greedy without though ever being able to get quite close enough to make a pass stick. Entering the final circuit the finishing places looked set as Greedy controlled with Waterman looking to be in a safe 2nd from Carless, Rowson, Dodd and Crowder, all looking comfortable in their respective positions. However in a very late drama, and just three corners from home, Carless dived hard under Waterman, unsettling the startled KTM ace. Although Waterman bit the dust, such was the speed of the top three that he still had sufficient time to dust himself down, remount and finish in 3rd thus earning him a super overall win. Also providing plenty of entertainment in this final MX1 clash was Gibson. Starting last he then went on a fast, serious charge and managed to get right back to 9th! The Lower Drayton results as meant that Waterman has moved up into 2nd spot in the standings and with the race for the title beginning to hot up, next it’s Hawkstone Park, so get your sand tyres at the ready for what should be a MX1 thriller!
What a great contest the opening 2T moto was to be as James Lane, Jordan Saunders and finally series leader Richard Cannings all led the way. Eventually Cannings got the win with Saunders in 2nd, Boraston victor Sean Eckersley 3rd and Mark Young making his first Championship appearance of the season in 4th. After initially grabbing the holeshot, Lane had to settle for 5th ahead of Bradley Doyle, Ryan Zebedee and Jake Parker.
As Cannings cleared off for the win in moto two, there was to be plenty of super battles to entertain the crowd. Early on it was Eckersley v Zebedee whilst Saunders took on Young and Doyle. As another super competitive 2T battle unfolded, Eckersley eventually got the runners-up slot as Zebedee dropped to 8th behind Saunders, Young, Doyle, Lane and Parker.
Giving his M & S Brettle Yamaha full gas, Cannings completed his 2T maximum points haul with a comfortable last moto victory. Having easily his best ride of the day, Ashley Benniston held 2nd throughout to defeat all the usual top ten finishers already mentioned above.
There was a very welcome new rider on the Vets Championship start grid at Lower Drayton in a certain Mr Gary Davies, the former multiple AMCA Champion. In moto one Gary started with a fine 3rd place as series leader Terry House passed Simon Lane on the final lap to snatch the win. Also in the top ten in this opener were Gary Jones, Sean Smith, Stephen Marlow, Colin Conduit, Brian Staples, Stephen Elford and former Vets Champion Matt Ryder who was having a very rare outing after being forced into retirement due to injuries.
Vets moto two and Davies was to prove that he was already quickly dialling back into the groove as he blasted his trusty Kawasaki into an early lead before Lane, House and Smith pushed him back. In the closing stages, House threatened to overhaul Lane before making a mistake which instead allowed Smith through to take the 2nd spot. On the gas the experienced Shropshire based Davies produced another great start in the final Vets clash before Lane on the booming JSR Honda took control on lap one. From here onwards super Lane controlled all the way to the flag with House, Davies, Jones, Smith and Marlow in hot pursuit. Also taking the overall win, Lane as now moved into top slot in the title race but just 2 points clear of House, this one could go right down to the wire!
Just what can you say about Youth 85/150 Championship leader Joseph Brookes on his Nationwide Signs KTM? Once again Brookes bagged maximum points at Lower Drayton and is yet to suffer defeat in the series. In all three rounds, Charlie Palmer as finished runner-up in every moto and is proving to be a very gallant challenger to Brookes dominance. Indeed Palmer briefly led moto two on Sunday before normal service was resumed. On the podium for the third time in 2018, Matt Tolley was again the bronze medallist although Joshua Fletcher-Williams did get the better of him in the last Lower Drayton mix.
Whilst the superb Brookes and Palmer continue to go clear at the front of the Youth clashes there’s still plenty of effort and excitement being shown from Fletcher-Willams along with the likes of Joshua Main, Harvey James, Ben Dutton, Reece Leverton and Henry Tomes. Well done to all the lads who have competed so far in this new series. Words and pics by Mike Wood.