It was Britain’s GP men Tommy Searle and Conrad Mewse who were the stars of the show as the Maxxis British championship headed to Northern Ireland on Sunday, writes Dick Law.
Mewse was back with a bang for round five of the Maxxis British Motocross championship at a very hot and very sunny Desertmartin track. The likeable youngster had the usual big smile return to his face after decimating the opposition in both MX2 championship raced on his Hitachi ASA KTM. He won race one by just over 35 seconds, and the second by just over 40 seconds and no-one else stood a chance.
And in the MX1 class ex champ Searle proved he was back to full racing speed by winning both races on his Bike it DRT Kawasaki as the championship front-tunners Jake Nicholls and Evgeny Bobryshev both suffered from crashes on the fast, sandy track surface. And local favourite Graeme Irwin had to chase through the pack after bad starts but still managed to finish second overall.
Elliott Banks-Browne got the holeshot at the start of the first MX1 race, from Searle, series leader Nicholls, Jamie Law and Irwin, but by the time they came around to complete the first lap Searle was in the lead and flat out.
Nicholls followed Searle through in to second on lap two and Bobryshev, after gating seventh pushed the still injured Banks-Browne back to fifth a lap later. Nicholls slipped off his Buildbase Honda on lap five stating that perhaps he was pushing: “A little too hard” but re-joined the race in fourth just behind Irwin.
Just past the halfway point Irwin pulled the pin and set off after second place man Bobryshev while Nicholls had Banks-Browne closing back in on his fourth place.
With four laps to go Bobryshev crashed off the side of the track handing second place to the flying Irwin as Nicholls now occupied third and fourth places with Ivo Monticelli, after starting well down in nineteenth place, fifth and the re-mounted Bobryshev sixth.
Searle crossed the finish line at the end of the race just under two seconds clear of Irwin with Nicholls a distant third from Banks-Browne and Bobryshev who passed Italian Monticelli on the last lap.
Ryan Houghton and Dan Thornhill, who seemed to spend all race together, finished seventh and eighth with an unwell Gert Krestinov ninth.
Bobryshev led the pack in to turn one at the start of race tow with Searle, Thornhill, Monticelli and Tony Craig with Nicholls in tenth, Irwin 16th after getting boxed in at the start and Banks-Browne 17th after a first lap crash.
Straight away Bobryshev and Searle began to pull away from the rest of the pack with Monticelli on his own in third from Gert Krestinov, Thornhill and Nicholls.
It all went wrong for leader Bobryshev at the halfway stage when he crashed off the track and, as Searle later said: “He disappeared in to the bushes out the back of the track.”
This left Searle with a comfortable lead over Monticelli with Bobryshev re-joining the race in third. Krestinov was fourth but had Irwin and Nicholls all over him like a rash.
For the rest of the race the top three stayed in the same order but behind them, Irwin once in fourth closed in on Bobryshev and perhaps with another lap could have past him. Nicholls was fifth from Krestinov with Thornhill, this time beating Houghton, in seventh.
Overall it was Searle from Irwin and Monticelli on the podium and with Bobryshev and Nicholls tying on points in fourth and fifth but in the championship, Nicholls holds on to the red championship leaders plate from Bobryshev and Irwin.
“It’s nice to get a couple of wins in,” said overall winner Searle, “I think I was fastest all day and that’s good as until now I seemed to have been coming back from an injury. I have still got some things to work on, but then again there always is, but I feel like I am improving week after week. It’s mainly my race craft as I am fast enough in practice but need to be a bit better in the races.”
Irwin had a busy day and said from second place on the podium: “I am working so hard to turn this season round. I have had the pace in bits and pieces but need to piece all the bits together and I know my starts today have let me down. The team are great and working well and it’s just down to me to get the last bit right.”
Monticelli was pleased with his day and said: “It’s been a good day. It’s my first time with the asphalt start and I didn’t get it right in the first race, but my speed was good, and I passed many of the guys and even with a little crash still finished sixth. I had a better start in the second race and followed Bobryshev and Searle. I just managed the gap behind Tommy as he was very fast today and after Bobryshev crashed I finished second. It’s all good training for the GPs.”
Mewse took the holeshot at the start of the first MX2 race from the Revo Husqvarna pairing of Mel Pocock and local rider Martin Barr with the ever-improving Josh Spinks fourth and the new Buildbase Honda signing Josh Gilbert in sixth.
On lap three and to the delight of the partisan crowd, Barr passed his team mate Pocock for second and as Mewse just pulled further and further away the order stayed the same for the rest of the race.
Behind them, Gilbert found away past Brad Todd for fifth on lap five and caught and passed Spinks for fourth place with two laps to go.
Liam Knight led the re-started race two from Mewse, Pocock and Todd Kellett with Michael Eccles fifth and Gilbert sixth, but as the leaders disappeared round the first lap Lewis Tombs and Barr were prying each other’s machines apart from a coming together and were dead last.
Mewse was in the lead before the end of the lap and that was the last anyone saw of him, apart from those he lapped. But behind him Pocock passed Knight for second as Gilbert moved in to fourth place at the expense of Kellett and Eccles as Tombs and Barr reached the back of the pack.
By the halfway stage Gilbert was third and was starting to close on Pocock as Tombs and Barr started to move up the field never more than a couple of rider apart.
On lap ten and under pressure from Gilbert, Pocock slid off and dropped back to fifth as Knight and Spinks to over third and fourth place.
Mewse took his second win of the day with Spinks chasing Gilbert over the line in second and third from Knight, Pocock, Eccles and Kellett with Barr just getting in the points in seventeenth and Tombs just missing out in twentieth.
Over all it was Mewse from Gilbert and Spinks with Pocock just missing out on the podium and in the championship Mewse has a 31 point lead over Gilbert with Pocock third.
“We have working hard over the last couple of months putting things right that had gone wrong and I am a new man now,” said a happier Mewse, “It’s been a fantastic weekend and this championship has a very strong riders. I did push all the way as I wanted to win by the biggest margin I could. I am not where I want to be at the moment and we still have to work hard at getting better.”
Gilbert seems to be going from strength to strength and said: “In the first race I struggled to find my rhythm, but I seemed to get it back later in the race. But the second race suited me a lot more as it was slower as the track roughed up and I seemed to be able to pick off other riders better and finished second and it’s been a good day for championship points as well.”
Spinks has been finishing near the front far more often this year and said from third place: “It’s my first Maxxis podium and add that to my EMX podium at Matterley, it’s been a good year so far. We have a good momentum at the moment and combined with changing some things on the bike we are now getting better results.”
The two-stroke races were all about Dutchman Mike Kras and his GL12 KTM as he led the first race from start to finish as Ashley Wilde, who spent most of the race in second place, was caught and passed by Manuel Iacopi with three laps to go.
It was a similar story in race two as Iacopi, from sixth at the start passed Ryan McLean for second on lap four but could do nothing to catch the leader and winner Kras.
Wilde relegated McLean to fourth place from lap four with John Adamson coming from all the way back in twenty first on lap one, to finish fifth.
Overall on the podium it was Kras from Iacopi and Wilde while in the championship Kras has a 21-point lead over Wilde and Dunn.
“I was expecting a little bit more sand as we don’t call this sand in Holland,” Kras said with a big smile on his face. “But it is sandy and that’s what I like, and I don’t think anyone expected anything else from me because of where I came from. I grew up riding the sand and have spent most of my racing carrier in the sand, so it would have been a big disappointment for me and the team if I didn’t win today. I like the track it has some good jumps and setting fastest time and having to wins, it couldn’t be better.”
MX2 Race 1:
1. Conrad Mewse KTM
2. Martin Barr
3. Mel Pocock
MX2 Race 2:
1. Conrad Mewse KTM
2. Joshua Gilbert
3. Josh Spinks
1. Conrad Mewse KTM 188
2. Joshua Gilbert 157
3. Mel Pocock 142
MX1 Race 1:
1. Tommy Searle
2. Graeme Irwin KTM
3. Jake Nicholls
MX1 Race 2:
1. Tommy Searle
2. Ivo Monticelli
3. Evgeny Bobryshev
4. Graeme Irwin KTM
1. Jake Nicholls 176
2. Evgeny Bobryshev 157
3. Graeme Irwin KTM 147