Little-known FrenchmanCharles Lefrancois aims to make it to wins from two starts as the second leg of the 2018 Power Maxed Arenacross Tour bursts into life at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle on Saturday. The Buildbase Honda rider, making his debut for Dave Thorpe’s team in his first UK Arenacross, romped to the win in the opener in Manchester, beating lots of the established names.
Many of the leading contenders found themselves at the bottom of the pile and having to fight for a place in the final via the last chance qualifier. The main protagonists made it through, apart from GP winner Evgeny Bobryshev having his race debut on the Suzuki. He’s been out testing new BOS suspension this week as he tries to get dialled in to the bike.
And he was to be joined in the RFX-backed Suzuki team by American Collin Jurin, to replace the injured Angelo Pellegrini. Jurin, who last year rode for the XBladez MotoHead Husky team and took a third place in the Wembley finale, usually rides a Kawasaki in US Arenacross so decided he wouldn’t have time to get used to the new bike. So there’s no news yet of a replacement.
Last week’s event had an all-French podium of Buildbase Honda’s Charles Lefrancois and SR75 Suzuki’s Cyrille Coulon and Thomas Ramette. Racing battle lines were drawn, and the scene is set for a showdown at Newcastle. Double British MX2 champ Elliott Banks-Browne, who won the qualifier before crashing out of the lead of the final in Manchester, will be aiming to make amends in Newcastle, too.
Amongst the glitz and razzmatazz of the three-and-a-half-hour evening show, a couple of local lads will take centre stage as they prepare to do battle with their racing compatriots and bring their respective class trophies home to the North East.
Buster Hart, a 14-year-old seasoned motocross racer from Newcastle, will re-enter the arena for the first time since 2014, when he contested and won the mini 65cc category. Hart set out his stall at Manchester when he finished a very close second in his ultra-competitive Supermini class. The Farringdon Community Sports College student is focussing on one thing only now, and that’s to go all out and win in front of what he hopes will be a partisan crowd. “I love racing Arenacross and, whilst my goal is to win the series, it would be really special to stand on the top step of the podium at Newcastle as there’s nothing like having a home crowd cheer you on.” Looking ahead to the weekend and his chances of home turf success, Hart added; “don’t worry, I’ve got this!”
Contesting Arenacross for the very first time will be 10-year-old Ryan Waggott from Carlisle. The 65cc racer is the newly-crowned North East 65cc Champion. He has a big group of racing friends from the Newcastle who will be cheering him on from the trackside as well as family and schoolfriends from Fir Ends Primary School in Smithfield. Waggott was hooked on Arenacross from the age of seven and can’t wait to get out on the tight and twisting man-made circuit to live the dream. “This will be my first year doing Arenacross. Fingers crossed it will be a good one, and I can make the North East Motocross Club proud!” Waggott struggled with his starts at the Manchester opener last week, but with an extra week’s practice under his belt, he’s confident he can rocket off the line at Newcastle.
Interspersing the racing, with three sets of high-flying Freestyle motocross shows, will be a team of FMX greats, with the UK’s Dan Whitby, Arran Powley, Samson Eaton and Nez Parker getting up close and personal with new-to-AX Aussie Ryan Brown, and making a star appearance, the one and only Jamie Squibb.
When these reprobates get into the flow, with their flips, whips, and tricks all performed some 60’ high and without a safety net in sight, there is no telling what will happen. The louder the roar of the crowd, the more outrageous the performance.
There are a range of different prices tickets now on sale, with child prices from £16, adults from £27 and family tickets from £78. Anyone looking for an incredible family night out in the gloomy month of January should visit www.arenacrossuk.comor www.metroradioarena.co.uk/
2018 Tour Dates
Saturday 13th January, The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Saturday 20th January, The Genting Arena, Birmingham
Friday 26th January, The SSE Arena, Belfast
Saturday 27th January, The SSE Arena, Belfast
Saturday 10th February, FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
Saturday 17th February, The SSE Arena, Wembley
Friday 3rd March, Ethias Arena, Hasselt, Belgium
Saturday 4th March, Ethias Arena, Hasselt, Belgium
Saturday 10th March, The Esprit Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany – AX World Tour Finals