Both classes in this year’s Maxxis British Motocross championship went down to the vary last race as Evgeny Bobryshev on his Lombard Express Suzuki wiped away an injured Jake Nicholls 39-point lead to snatch this year’s MX1 championship, while in the MX2s Hitachi KTM’s Conrad Mewse had to fight off several other riders to become this year’s champion, writes Dick Law.
As the riders turned up on Saturday afternoon the sun was shining in a clear blue sky but come Sunday race day the sun was going and down come the rain that just went on and on. This didn’t affect the old school track excellently prepared by the Norwich Viking club.
As Nicholls just stood and watched, helped by a set of crutches, Tommy Searle on his Dixon Kawasaki got the holeshot from Bobryshev, Elliott Banks-Browne and Steven Clarke, making a one-off appearance on an MX1 Apico Honda instead of his usual MX2 ride in a bid to steal as many points as he could.
In the testing conditions, the order of the top three stayed the same at the front, with Searle holding off Bobby and Banks-Browne, till the chequered flag as Gert Krestinov battled with Clarke for fourth place. Ryan Houghton’s good year continued as he moved from tenth at the start to finish sixth, with another Honda rider, Petar Petrov seventh. MXGP rider Petrov was another Honda rider making a wildcard entry which could have helped Nicholls’ championship bid.
The second in the opening moto meant Bobryshev only needed to finish fourth in the last race of the year, but Clarke got the holeshot from Petrov, Bobryshev, James Dunn and Searle. The crowd where straining to see the riders coming around at the end of the first lap as Nicholls watched on, knowing he could do nothing as his championship hopes disappeared.
By lap six Bobryshev had passed Clarke for the lead but his pit board told him that Searle was coming and at a faster pace. Searle took the lead at half distance but Bobryshev didn’t chase after him knowing that as he crossed the finish line in second, he was the 2018 champion.
Behind him Petrov was third from Krestinov, Dunn, Clarke and Banks-Browne. Overall it was Searle with both race wins, from the new champion Bobryshev with Krestinov ending his year on a high claiming the last set on the podium.
“It’s been a very stressful day today,” said a happy Bobryshev. “I came here today 39 points behind Jake and it was stressful knowing I must do nothing wrong and make no mistakes. I knew I had to be in the top three in both races, but sometimes I do stupid things as I push myself hard like in the second moto when Tommy was leading, though he had a better rhythm and was faster than me today, I didn’t push harder to go with him and did just enough for the championship. I just rode at my pace.”
Overall winner Searle, who didn’t compete in all the rounds due to injury said, “I am pleased to finish the racing year on a high and healthy going into the winter to get ready for next year. I am staying on Kawasaki but with different suspension so we are starting testing almost straight away,” said the man who had his last ride for DRT Kawasaki before joining Bobryshev on BOS Kawasaki in MXGPs next year. His double win meant he took third in the series behind Bobby and Nicholls, with Banks-Browne fourth followed by absent Graeme Irwin and Houghton. Carlton Husband won the Experts Cup series for top privateer, but best privateer on the day was AMCA champ Luke Burton.
Third place overall Krestinov, who must have some pretty impressive air miles by now, was happy with his riding and said, “I had a decent start in the first race, fifth I think, then I seemed to follow Elliott for all of the race, but I had a bit more work to do in the second. I came from eighth place, at the start for another fourth place. I was out of the championship as we had some bad results at the start of the year, but I wanted to do well here as at this track I had my first Maxxis podium and I like it. It’s a good way to end the year.”
Before the event only 13 points separated the top three MX2 riders who stood a chance of claiming the title. Mewse leading the up and coming Josh Gilbert and Mel Pocock and before the end of the day there would be protests, complaints and bar banging action before the championship was decided. It started in qualifying when Pocock clashed with Mewse on the opening lap, with Mewse claiming he was just punted off the track which his team protested to.
New Zealand import to the Revo Husqvarna team, Dylan Walsh got the holeshot at the start of the first MX2 race followed by Glenn McCormick, Josh Spinks and Gilbert with Pocock way back eighth place but with Mewse, after being punted off the track, in 14th.
By half distance Gilbert was in second but Pocock was behind him and closing him down while Mewse was only up to eighth place. With three laps to go Pocock passed Gilbert and started to close the gap between them as Mewse slotted in to fourth and the stage we set for a grandstand finish.
The two team mates of Walsh and Pocock crossed the finish line separated by just over a second with Gilbert third and Mewse a distant fourth but still in the championship lead.
Mewse got the holeshot at the start of the second MX2 race and never looked back, winning the race by just under ten seconds and the championship by 15 points.
Gilbert and Pocock spent the whole race in second and third while Martin Barr pushed his team mate for a while was fourth.
“We were kept on our toes all day to day and things could have turned out completely different,” said the new MX2 champion Mewse. “The track rode great all day and the rain kept the dust down. It’s fantastic as we did what we needed to do for the championship. I got an OK start in race one but got pushed off the track out the back of the circuit by the same rider that did the same in qualifying, but it is what it is as I have come out on top and that’s all that matters.”
Gilbert was philosophical about his day and said: “I was disappointed with myself in the first race. I had a bit of trouble with my goggles and tensed up a bit which let Mel through to second. I know it wouldn’t have made any difference in the championship standings as I would have still second, but if I had kept him behind me I would have got the overall win.”
Pocock said: “I think I rode well, but the biggest problem for me today was Dylan Walsh winning the first race because I really needed those extra three points for the overall result and second place in the championship. I know in the second race Conrad and Josh were quicker than me, but I did what I could as it was hard out there. I am proud of third place in the championship but it’s a shame to lose second.”
As Mewse took the title from Gilbert and Pocock, Liam Knight finished fourth in the series from Martin Barr and Josh Spinks. Knight won the Experts Cup.
Rossi Beard won the MXY2 overall and the championship with two races in hand as with two wins and a second place from race one winner Dominic Lancett with Sam Nunn taking the final spot on the winner’s podium. In the championship Beard finished 52 points clear of George Sim-Mutch and Callum Green as Joel Rizzi suffered two DNF’s which spilt his day dropped to fourth.