When the moment comes to hand out the awards for the 2017 AMCA British Motocross Championship, the results generated following round 5 held at Hawkstone Park could well prove to be very pivotal in their destination! The reason, well several top contenders went into this latest action powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop hurting badly from recent injuries but still remarkably competed and managed to bag vital points. Both the series leaders from the main classes, Luke Burton (MX1) and Luke Dean (MX2) were on that injured list but will be more than happy with the end outcome of Sunday’s racing. Burton despite cruciate knee ligament damage and a sore spine sustained at the previous weekend’s IMBA European Championship event in France finished a very brave 7th overall and still leads the MX1 title charge by 80 points with Gary Gibson now in 2nd. At Hawkstone, the Northern Ireland born DK Offroad Kawasaki rider was in fantastic form taking the overall with a big 1/2/1 scorecard ahead of Richard Cannings and Ed Briscoe. In MX2, Dean suffering from back, chest and arm injuries was a surprise starter but still dug very deep to somehow get home in a great 8th overall although he is now 15 points off top slot. The man taking over at the top is Ray Rowson who produced a stunning Hawkstone performance and thus scorch to maximum points, taking the overall ahead of defending MX2 Champion Josh Waterman and young star James Wainwright. In the remaining groups it was a little less complicated as Brad Turner increased his advantage at the top of 2T to 80 points after scoring a faultless hat-trick of smooth Hawkstone moto wins whilst James Russell tops the Vets by 58 points after Terry House had took the overall win on Sunday.
The drama in this super round five started right from the off when top MX1 runner Adam Harris failed to make the qualification cut after realising on completion of practice that he had failed to attach his timing transponder to his Yamaha machine! So with a naturally dejected Adam watching on, Gary Gibson led the opening MX1 moto charge with Richard Cannings hot on his heels. Cannings challenge though was to never materialise after he fell shortly after the completion of lap one. Moving up into 2nd now was the fast starting Paul Neale before he was replaced just one lap later by Adam Wells. At the front, it was the super smooth Gibson leading all the way with a motocross masterclass, his eventual winning margin being a big 19 seconds as Wells got home the runner-up. In a great late race tussle for 3rd, Ed Briscoe just edged out Ryan Crowder and Shane Carless, another rider suffering from injury following a recent dislocated shoulder sustained at the Patchquick Trophy event. Earlier Andrew Smart and James Dodd had been part of that above big battle whilst Cannings after suffering another three tumbles got home in 8th. In obvious pain, MX1 series leader Burton finished 13th after originally gating 19th.
In moto two it was Cannings who led the charge before Gibson got through after just one lap. Quickly the Kawasaki pilot put the hammer down and was gradually building a big lead until biting the dust on lap six. Clipping the chestnut paling, Gary was catapulted off his machine and into a tree! Despite being grazed and dazed, he quickly regained forward momentum and still somehow maintained 2nd spot. Taking the win was a very delighted Cannings whilst Dodd, another dislocated shoulder victim in recent weeks just got the better of Luke Meredith, Crowder, Briscoe and Neale for 3rd with Smart and Zac Stealey the next best marginally infront of Burton who earlier had been as high as 4th spot.
Desperate to make up for that little collision with Hawkstone Park shrubbery, Gibson led the final MX1 moto from start to finish with Cannings keeping him honest throughout and thus earn a well-deserved 2nd. Buoyed by some recent strong rides in the IMBA European series, Briscoe completed what was easily his best performance on home soil in 2017 by getting home in 3rd and keeping the likes of Carless, Dodd, Burton, Wells, Meredith and Ben Saunders at bay. Afterwards the rightly delighted overall victor Gibson said, “ I started the day feeling good but in qualifying then had back brake problems. Switching bikes I still managed to post the fastest time and thus have first pick of gate position. Felt comfortable in winning race one and looked to be on my way to doing the same in moto two. But I clipped the fencing and had a big one into the trees. I was quickly up and the marshals did a great job in covering me as I sorted myself out. Moto three had to redeem myself so paced myself and took the win. This was my first overall of the season so very happy although would have been better if Luke Burton was fully fit but that’s motocross! After all I have had a DNF already this year and been riding with an injury since round two, so its swings and roundabouts.”
Josh Waterman grabbed the opening MX2 holeshot at Hawkstone with Cory McShane, Bradley Tranter and Ray Rowson hot on his heels. Three laps in and Rowson took control and that’s the way it stayed with Waterman chasing him home right to the chequered flag. Such was the pace of the front two that McShane was left to ride out a very lonely 3rd spot with Wainwright in 4th. The main battle in this opener was a right humdinger going on for 5th which Jansen Day just got the verdict after seeing off Jack Gardner, Jack Cox, Luke Mellows and Tranter. For series leader Luke Dean, despite carrying some particularly painful injuries he still managed 11th spot after starting in 22nd, picking up 33 vital Championship points in the process.
Showing just why he is the Hawkstone Park sand master, Rowson led the second MX2 contest from start to finish although he did have a very determined Cox right on his tail throughout. On completion Cox was just 4 seconds down as Waterman had to settle for 3rd. Right in the mix again were Wainwright, a rider who certainly enjoys the sandy going, Mellows, Dean in a great 6th, McShane, Day and Gardner.
Moving to the top of the MX2 series standings in style, Rowson completed his Hawkstone maximum by gliding to another gate to flag success in moto three. On completion, Rowson was nearly 13 seconds clear of Waterman as Wainwright was right on the pace to earn a well-deserved podium place in 3rd. After an earlier fall had dropped him back to 9th, Cox showed his liking for the sandy Shropshire circuit by staging a determined fightback. The FUS Husqvarna ace eventually took 4th from McShane and Gardner, another rider also enjoying his best Championship round of the season so far. Dean finished the day with a 9th spot and was quite rightly more than happy with his points tally from round five. Not feeling quite so elated though was Lewis King, returning from an elbow injury the TMC Kawasaki rider was 11th overall. Before the awards presentation, local lad Ray Rowson modestly stated “Started the day pretty good and got pole position but I did not expect it as after practising midweek I only thought I was riding ok! Gated 5th before moving through to take the lead in the first one, I knew Josh was behind me but then thought he had fell. After having another look and seeing him still there I then had to put in a couple of fast laps. Led moto two from the start which made it easier but Jack (Cox) stayed with me until tiring. Last one made another good start to control all the way and make it a good day.”
What a wonderful sound it was hearing a full line-up of 2T aces blasting up the main Hawkstone Hill! Leading that charge on every occasion was the immaculate Championship leader Brad Turner. Whilst Turner controlled moto one, Jason Kendrick, Sam Smith and finally Daniel Wright all took turns to hold 2nd place. After being a challenger, Smith eventually slipped back to 5th as Jordan Saunders, the 2T winner at Bevercotes moved up from an early 10th to grab a hard-earned 3rd with Kendrick having to settle for 4th. Also inside the top ten in this opener were Bradley Doyle, Ashley Beniston, Sean Eckersley, James Lane and Luke Craig.
In 2T moto two it was Turner all the way, finishing a big 17 seconds clear of Kenderick with Smith, Eckersley, Doyle, Jack Waterman and Saunders the next best. Following a similar pattern, Turner then completed what was the perfect day for himself as he galloped to another massive win in the final 2T clash. As Smith, Doyle, Kenderick and Saunders were right up there and in the frame, Ashley Beniston had his best ride of the day to earn 4th. Earlier in the moto, Waterman had also been going strong in 6th before being forced out after three laps.
Despite not bagging a single holeshot, Terry House still took the overall Vets win at Hawkstone with an accompolished performance. In moto one it was series leader James Russell who led the way for three laps with House for close company. Lap four and Terry was through and certainly looking good for the win until just a further two circuits later he stalled his KTM machine. So it was over to you Mr Russell as he regained control before racing onto the win with House restarting to bag 2nd ahead of Simon Lane, Richard Chinn, Gary Jones and Sean Smith.
Stephen Marlow was fastest away in Vets moto two before Russell quickly moved through. As the race settled down, it developed into three separate battles, Russell v House for 1ST, Lane v Chinn for 3rd and Smith v Jones for 5th. Lap four and House moved into pole position before racing onto the win from Russell as Lane won the right for 3rd and Jones took 5th. Early leader Marlow eventually got home 8th. Lane led the last Vets clash of the day before being overhauled by eventual winner House as Russell had a comfortable 3rd with most of the usual names finishing inside the top ten.
With Phillip Dyson and Rikki Wainwright taking the Non-Qualifiers wins, all of the injured heroes now have four weeks to try and heal their wounds before going into AMCA British Championship action again! Words and pics by Mike Wood