After two hot and testing pro races, Ryan Houghton climbed on to the top step of the winner’s podium at last weekend’s round four of the Bridgestone British Masters at the historic Hawkstone park track in Shropshire while race one winner and series leader Elliott Banks-Browne had to settle for second overall as a reoccurring hand injury and a crash slowed him in race two, writes Dick Law.
Once again Josh Gilbert won both pro MX2 races but had to fight his way to the fount of the pack past many on the 450s on a power sapping track that favoured the bigger MX1 machines.
With the heavy downpoor of rain Friday evening and with a large amount of water being sprinkled on the track Saturday evening there was very little dust to be worried about but the high humidity on Sunday took its toll on many of the riders.
Houghton, who is not usually known for his starts but who has gated well at Hawkstone before, got the holeshot at the start of the first combined pro MX1 and MX2 race from Banks-Browne and Liam Knight who was making a rear appearance on an MX1 machine -ma KTM 350 – instead of his usual MX2 with Houghton’s RHR Yamaha team mate Kristian Whatley fourth. Houghton was out on the 2019 Yamaha YZF450 – the first to hit the pro ranks in the UK.
Gilbert was the first of the MX2s in eleventh place with the second of the MX2s with Glenn McCormich one place behind him.
On lap four after a long time trying, Banks-Browne finally found away past the flying Houghton and went on to take the first pro win of the day. Houghton kept the pressure on Banks-Browne and came him in a comfortable second place. Knight spent all race in third with Whatley holding on to fourth despite being under pressure from Carlton Husband for the last four laps.
Gilbert came from eleventh to fourth on the track but first MX2 home from McCormich and Jay Hague who was riding a 250 two-stroke Husqvarna instead of his usual 450 Kawasaki.
At the start of the pro second race and to prove race one wasn’t a fluke, Houghton once again got the holeshot, this time from Whatley, Banks-Browne, Knight, Nathan Dixon and Gilbert but things got really mixed up on lap two. Houghton dropped down to third after making a mistake with Whatley taking over the lead from Knight as Banks-Browne came off the side of the track.
A lap later it was Whatley’s turn to mess up as Knight took over the lead with Houghton moving in to second a lap latter followed by Banks-Browne and Gilbert with Whatley now in sixth.
After battling with Houghton over second place Banks-Browne had another crash and dropped to fourth place as Whatley fought over fifth place with Husband.
With three laps to go Houghton re-took the lead of the race and went on to win from Knight and with Gilbert closing in on the leaders very fast and perhaps with another lap could have taken the win.
At the flag it was Houghton from Knight, Banks-Browne, Husband and Whatley while in the MX2s it was Gilbert from Hague, Gavin Stevenson and Sam Talbert.
“Two holeshot? I can’t believe it!” said a happy Houghton. “Mind you, I usually get good starts at this track. I don’t know why I just do. I tried my hardest in the first race, but Elliott got past me and put down two really fast laps to gap me and I just couldn’t get it back. But in race two after getting the holeshot I stalled it in the wood and Kristian and Liam came past me. I managed to get past Kristian pretty quick and followed Liam for about fifteen minutes but once I had found a way past him I dropped the hammer and went for it. Really happy as I finally have a win.”
Banks-Browne was in some pain and said: “I am lucky to be racing the last couple of weekends as I have broken a bone in my back and I am really struggling at the moment. Even standing up straight is an issue. It’s OK for the first ten minutes then I just switch in to survival mode. But my fingers have been a problem today as I dislocated two of them and I am finding it hard to hold on. Coming down one of the hills in the second race and my hand just came off the bars and I went off the track and ending up in the biggest puddle and I have no idea how that got there. I was covered from head to toe and in my tear-offs. I had to take my goggles off and just struggled from then on. Fair play to Ryan he was going good today.”
Knight was more than happy with his second outing on a MX1 machine and said: “I got on the podium at Culham the first time I rode the big bike, so this second podium is great. The first race was as I stayed with Elliott and Ryan for about the first ten minutes which was good as I haven’t ridden the 350 with that intensity before. I the second race I got another good start but Ryan stalled it and Elliott had a big crash in the same section which left me in second to Kristian. I managed to pass him and held the lead to about four laps to go when Ryan got past me. Got the fastest lap of the race so it’s all looking good for next weekend.”
Gilbert is still riding on a high and is the man to beat in the nationals and said: “I was fastest MX2 in qualifying by a fair bit so it was good to have the 450’s to play with in the races. With power advantage of the 450s on the start I got buried in both motos so never got in to the actual race lead so it was always hard work coming through. Towards the end of the second race it was very close between Ryan, Liam and me. I though perhaps I could get them on the last lap but in a couple of places on the track they just pulled away from me with their MX1 power.”
Hague was surprised with his MX2 second overall and said when asked about his change of machinery: “I am not really meant to talk about that, but I have been having quite a bit of bad luck with the Kawasaki lately and have missed out on loads of bike time. I just needed to get more bike time on the track so why not give this 250 two-stroke a go. Today was the first time I have ridden a 250 two-stroke and went straight out in the first race with only ever having ridden it to the start line. I enjoyed riding a lot but it’s very different to what I am used to.”
Adam Wells with two wins and two second places won the amateur MX1 from race one and four winner Joshua Bentley as the pair ended the weekend separated by just four points. John Robson was a distant third with Zac Stealey and Scott Aldridge just missing out on a podium position.
Henry Williams was unstoppable in the amateur MX2s by winning all four of his races for a maximum with iron man Rob Yates, who was riding in the pro class as well, second from Corie Southwood and Kieran Cooke.
Like Williams in the amateur MX2s Greg Fisher was unbeaten in the clubman class and ended the weekend 20 points clear of second place man overall Peter Sargent with Charlie Sutton third and with Alex Harvey just missing out on the podium.
The 125cc two-stroke races were some of the closest and best races of the weekend and had a different winner in each of the four races. Joel Rizzi didn’t finish out of the two three in all the races and with a win in race two was the overall winner from race four winner Dominic Lancett. Race one winner Sam Nunn was third with Sam Price, race three winner, fourth.
MXY2 was a duel between Danny Rapson and George Simmutch as the pair of fast racers had two win’s and two second places and ended the weekend tied on points with Rapson getting the overall win by winning the last race. Rory Jones was third overall.
Ryan Mawhinney after three wins in the big wheel class crashed in the fourth and final race of the weekend and could only get back to second come the end of the seven laps race. He did more than enough to take the overall with race four winner Alfie Jones second and Buster Hart third.
Ollie Colmer was the man to beat in the small wheel 85s and only a crash in race three that saw him drop out of the lead and back to third place stopped him winning all four races. Race three winner Arai Ellcock was second overall and was just four points behind Colmer with Charlie Raynolds third and Wal Beaney just missing the podium.
Only one point separated Will Haddock and Mckenzie Marshall in the junior 65s with Billy Askew third but tied on points with Warren Clarke.
1 Ryan Houghton 43 + 45 = 88
2 Elliott Banks-Browne 45 + 41 = 86
3 Liam Knight 41 + 43 = 84
4 Carlton Husband 37 + 39 = 76
5 Kristian Whatley 39 + 37 = 76
6 Matt Burrows 33 + 35 = 68
7 Ross Rutherford 34 + 33 = 67
8 Corey Nemeth 31 + 32 = 63
9 Nathan Dixon 35 + 0 = 35
10 Dan Thornhill 0 + 34 = 34
1 Josh Gilbert 45 + 45 = 90
2 Jay Hague 41 + 43 = 84
3 Sion Talbert 35 + 37 = 74
4 Gavin Stevenson 32 + 41 = 73
5 Simon Booth 33 + 37 = 70
6 James Angel 34 + 35 = 69
7 Glenn McCormich 43 + 0 = 43
8 Callum Mitchell 39 + 0 = 39
9 Rob Yates 37 + 0 = 37
1 Adam Wells 43 + 45 + 45 + 43 = 176
2 Joshua Bentley 45 + 43 + 41 + 45 = 174
3 John Robson 41 + 41 + 39 + 37 = 158
4 Zac Stealey 37 + 37 + 43 + 39 = 156
5 Scott Aldridge 39 + 36 + 35 + 41 = 154
6 Harry Bradley 28 + 34 + 37 + 34 = 133
1 Henry Williams 45 + 45 + 45 + 45 = 180
2 Rob Yates 43 + 43 + 41 + 39 = 166
3 Corie Southwood 37 + 41 + 37 + 41 = 156
4 Kieran Cooke 39 + 39 + 35 + 37 = 150
5 Charlie Putnam 34 + 37 + 43 + 35 = 149
6 Oliver Benton 41 + 29 + 29 + 43 = 142
1 Greg Fisher 45 + 45 + 45 + 45 = 180
2 Peter Sargent 43 + 41 + 37 + 39 = 160
3 Charlie Sutton 37 + 39 + 43 + 35 = 154
4 Alex Harvey 39 + 32 + 39 + 41 = 151
5 Josh Watson-Bailey 34 + 35 + 41 + 37 = 147
6 Mark Kingsley 30 + 37 + 35 + 43 = 145
1 Joel Rizzi 41 + 45 + 43 + 43 = 172
2 Dominic Lancett 43 + 35 + 41 + 45 = 164
3 Sam Nunn 45 + 43 + 34 + 41 = 163
4 Sam Price 35 + 41 + 45 + 39 = 160
5 Dylan Spencer 34 + 39 + 39 + 37 = 149
6 Troy Willerton 37 + 33 + 35 + 33 = 138
1 Denny Rapson 43 + 43 + 45 + 45 = 176
2 George Simmutch 45 + 45 + 43 + 43 = 176
3 Rory Jones 41 + 39 + 39 + 39 = 158
4 Aaron Patstone 33 + 41 + 41 + 41 = 156
5 Marshall Smith 37 + 35 + 31 + 37 = 140
6 Sam Ongley 31 + 37 + 37 + 32 = 137
Big wheel 85’s:
1 Ryan Mawhinney 45 + 45 + 45 = 43 = 178
2 Alfie Jones 41 + 41 + 41 + 45 = 168
3 Buster Hart 43 + 43 + 39 + 41 = 166
4 Sam Atkinson 39 + 39 + 43 + 39 = 160
5 Callum Baldwin 34 + 37 + 37 + 35 = 143
6 Sam Davis 35 + 35 + 35 + 37 = 142
Small wheel 85’s:
1 Ollie Colmer 43 + 45 + 41 + 45 = 174
2 Arai Ellcock 45 + 39 + 45 + 41 = 170
3 Charlie Raynolds 41 + 37 + 35 + 39 = 152
4 Wal Beaney 37 + 43 + 25 + 43 = 148
5 Braydon Ferguson 32 + 32 + 43 + 34 = 141
6 Ollie Addy 33 + 33 + 37 + 35 = 138
1 Will Haddock 39 + 43 + 45 + 43 = 170
2 Mckenzie Marshall 45 + 45 + 34 + 45 = 169
3 Billy Askew 41 + 37 + 43 + 41 = 162
4 Warren Clarke 43 + 41 + 39 + 39 = 162
5 Ryan Waggot 37 + 39 + 37 + 35 = 148
6 Charlie Richmond 35 + 35 + 41 + 34 = 145