A year after he died in a racing crash, the late Steven Lenoir was remembered an honoured by all the riders and officials at the Canada Heights MX Nationals on Sunday. Bikes that had been raced by the former British champ were displayed, and all the riders assembled for a photo before a lap on honour to remember the Frenchman who did most of his racing in the UK, writes Dick Law.
In the racing, on-form Jake Nicholls on his fast Buildbase Honda led every lap of both pro combined MX1 and MX2 races at a very hot circuit nestled in a valley beside the M25 in Kent to take the overall MX1 win. But his team mate, Josh Gilbert had to settle for second overall in the MX2s to forceful Mel Pocock on his Revo Husqvarna, though the pair finished on the same points.
The club did an excellent job keep the track in racing condition considering the 30-degree heat and blazing sunshine with and acceptable amount of dust on just a couple of places on the track.
Nicholls got the holeshot at the start of the first pro race from Elliott Banks-Browne, Brad Anderson, Gilbert and Kristian Whatley and by the end of the opening lap Nicholls and Banks-Browne had already opened up a gap on the rest of the chasing pack.
Anderson and Whatley changed places on lap two but another couple of laps later the pair of ex-champions started to drift down the lap charts, Anderson suffering from his knee injury and Whatley with just a lack of bike and track time.
This put Gilbert up to third on the rack but first MX2 rider from Gert Krestinov who had fought his way from ninth at the start and wildcard rider Graeme Irwin who had been boxed in at the start. Liam Knight was the second MX2 rider at the time but he had Pocock on his tail and was becoming under pressure for his position.
Nicholls crossed the finish line at the end of the hot 25 minute plus two laps race just under 28 seconds clear of Banks-Browne, Irwin and Krestinov. Gilbert was fifth on the track, but first of the MX2s from Pocock, Taylor Hammal with Anderson fighting the pain back to ninth on the track but fourth of the MX2s.
Once again Nicholls got the holeshot at the start of race two but as he disappeared round the opening lap with Pocock and Irwin on his tail some of the front runners were off in the sand as Banks-Browne, Dan Thornhill and Ryan Houghton were all suffering.
Halfway round the lap Anderson had a big one over the whoops but luckily didn’t damage his hurting knee more. Lewis Hall came off his Team Green Kawasaki on the modified part of the track and was given a trip to the medical centre on the back of a quad while one of the first aid personal rode his bike back for him.
On lap two Irwin passed Pocock for second on track while Krestinov slipped by Whatley for fourth. Two laps later Krestinov was in third and the order stayed the same till the end of the race with Nicholls notching up his second win but just under eight seconds from Irwin with Krestinov a distant third and with Whatley showing signs of his old self an excellent fourth. Pocock crossed the finish line in fourth but was first MX2 rider from Gilbert, Martin Barr and Lewis Tombs.
Over all in the MX1s it was Nicholls from Irwin and Krestinov with Banks-Browne just missing the podium by a single point despite his almost last to ninth place second race. Pocock and Gilbert tied for point at the top of the MX2 with Pocock’s second race win giving him the top step, with Barr third as Hammal just missed the podium with the same points score as Barr.
“It’s been a good day for me and I really enjoyed racing the track today,” said a happy Nicholls. “I managed to fit in some more bike time last week on my practice track, and that makes a big difference. Like everywhere else the heat has affected my track but with a bit of work I got in some nice long motos and got my rhythm back. I thought I rode the first race well but in the second I had to go out on my spare bike as there was an issue with the race bike. Trouble was that the mapping on the engine was out and it wouldn’t rev out. I had to ride it like a 250F. Going up the hills it would run out of revs and wouldn’t pull a gear higher. I was struggling all race long but still got the win.”
Irwin said: “I thought the second race was shaping up to be a good one with Jake, but I got pushed wide at the start and got passed by another rider going down the hill. By the time I got back in to second Jake had a seven second lead and the damage was already done. I would close the gap and bit and he would push a bit harder and opening up again and it stayed like that till the end of the race. I was happy with the way I rode but perhaps Jake rode a bit better.”
Krestinov was on the MX1 podium again and said: “It’s been a pretty good day, nice and warm. I was really tough to push all the way through the race in this heat and I could feel myself slowing down a bit in the five laps. In the second race I got a good start and was following Graeme, well I could see him up the track but towards the end I slowed a bit and it was a lonely ride from then on. I am happy with my third place and feel I am getting better and better each week so I am looking forward to next weekend already.”
At the top of the pro MX2 podium Pocock said: “It’s nice to be on the top step again and I would like to thank the Revo Husqvarna team for bringing me here on what would have been their day off. Despite the heat I had two good rides for the overall so it’s all good.”
Gilbert is getting used to winning and seemed a bit disappointed with second and said: “All day I think I have been the quickest MX2. Quickest in practice and winning the first race. But in the second race it started good as I gated third but going down on of the hills on the first lap another rider, I will not mention his name, came up the inside of me, looked over at me and then cleaned me out and over the berm. But I managed to get for a long way back to second and now have the championship leaders red plate going into the next round.”
A philosophical Barr said: “It’s been an OK day. In the first race I got a good start but came together with a couple of other riders that put me back a bit and from there it’s had to pass the 450s out there going up the big hill to get back to where you should be. Battled back to fifth in the end, but it’s not what I was looking for or wanted. Race two was a bit better battling Josh all race long for third. I didn’t excite myself to much as it was a bit sketchy out there in places and I have to look at the bigger year-long picture. But fair play to the Sidcup club and the MX Nationals team for the changes in the track and preparation and even just getting to run an event with this weather. Third is OK but I always want better.”
In an exciting battle for the overall in the expert MX1, Conner Hughes who didn’t finish out of the top three all weekend and won race three was overall winner from Richard Bird as race one and two winner Brad Cavill crashed out of third place in the fourth and final race which dropped him to third overall.
The expert MX2 was all about Jason Meara. He made the long trip over from Northern Ireland after racing on Friday, then driving all night to Kent and won all four of his races for the overall. Charlie Putnam and Jake Edey battle all weekend for second place as the pair finished the event separated by just four marks. Harry Fletcher won all four of the clubman MX1 races for the class overall from Scott Bates and Aiden Christie.
The closest overall finish of the weekend came in the clubman class as just two points separated the winner Tallon Aspden and Richard Roberts with Ryan King third. Just five points behind them.
In the combined youth MXY2 and MXY125 Kacey Hird with two wins and two second places took the overall in the 250f side of things from Denny Rapson and Jake Winnard but in the 125 two-stroke part of the race a new 2018 champion was crowned as Joel Rizzi with four wins in the new champion. He said just after his third race, “It’s great to be champion and now I just want to go out and win the last race before we start some celebrations” Bobby Bruce was second with Sam Price third.
Ryan Mawhinney was in control of the of the big wheel side of the combined big and small wheel 85s by winning all four of his races from Trystan Williams and Cullum Baldwin while in the small side of things with four class wins Ollie Colmer climbed on to the top step of the podium from Arai Elcock.
1 Jake Nicholls 25 + 25 = 50
2 Graeme Irwin 20 + 22 = 42
3 Gert Krestinov 18 + 20 = 38
4 Elliot Banks-Browne 22 + 15 = 37
5 Kristian Whatley 13 + 18 = 31
6 Ryan Houghton 14 + 14 = 28
7 Jamie Law 10 + 16 = 26
8 Dan Thornhill 15 + 10 = 25
9 Matt Burrows 11 + 12 = 23
10 Nathan Dixon 9 + 13 = 22
1 Mel Pocock 22 + 25 = 47
2 Josh Gilbert 25 + 22 = 47
3 Martin Barr 16 + 20 = 36
4 Taylor Hammal 20 + 16 = 36
5 Lewis Tombs 14 + 18 = 32
6 Dylan Woodcock 11 + 15 = 26
7 Michael Ellis 12 + 13 = 25
8 Ashton Dickinson 15 + 10 = 25
9 Brad Anderson 18 + 7 = 25
10 Ben Putman 10 + 9 = 19
1 Conner Hughes 22 + 20 + 25 + 22 = 89
2 Richard Bird 20 + 22 + 20 + 20 = 82
3 Brad Cavill 25 + 25 + 18 + 8 = 76
4 Edward Briscoe 18 + 16 + 22 + 13 = 69
5 Steve Bixby 15 + 15 + 15 + 16 = 61
6 Zac Stealey 14 + 12 + 16 + 18 = 60
1 Jason Meara 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 = 100
2 Charlie Putnam 16 + 22 + 18 + 22 = 78
3 Jake Edey 22 + 18 + 20 + 14 = 74
4 Ryan McClean 18 + 16 + 16 + 18 = 68
5 Henry Siddiqi 20 + 15 + 15 + 16 = 66
6 Ben Franklin 10 + 20 + 14 + 20 = 64
1 Harry Fletcher 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 = 100
2 Scott Bates 20 + 18 + 22 + 22 = 82
3 Aiden Christie 22 + 20 + 20 + 18 = 80
4 Luke Coker 18 + 22 + 11 + 16 = 67
5 Matt Nash 15 + 14 + 12 + 14 = 55
6 Piers Skinner 13 + 10 + 15 + 15 = 53
1 Tallon Aspden 18 + 18 + 25 + 13 = 74
2 Richard Roberts 16 + 16 + 18 + 22 = 72
3 Ryan King 20 + 15 + 20 + 12 = 67
4 Fabio Rizzi 25 + 0 + 22 + 15 = 62
5 Harry Foster 14 + 22 + 0 + 25 = 61
6 Ben Thomson 15 + 9 + 16 + 20 = 60
1 Kacey Hird 25 + 25 + 20 + 20 = 90
2 Denny Rapson 22 + 22 + 22 + 22 = 88
3 Jake Winnard 18 + 18 + 18 + 18 = 72
4 Callum Green 0 + 20 + 25 + 25 = 70
5 Aaron Patstone 20 + 16 + 16 + 16 = 68
6 Conner Mullian 15 + 15 + 15 + 14 = 59
1 Joel Rizzi 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 = 100
2 Bobby Bruce 16 + 20 + 22 + 22 = 80
3 Sam Price 20 + 18 + 20 + 20 = 78
4 Luke Goodwin 18 + 15 + 18 + 18 = 69
5 Ollie Cole 14 + 13 + 15 + 16 = 58
6 Billy Wilson 12 + 14 + 16 + 14 = 56
Big wheel 85:
1 Ryan Mawhinney 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 = 100
2 Trystan Williams 22 + 22 + 20 + 22 = 86
3 Callum Baldwin 18 + 20 + 22 + 20 = 80
4 Ethan Sills 14 + 15 + 18 + 18 = 65
5 Harvey Cashmore 20 + 16 + 15 + 12 = 63
6 Thomas Harris 15 + 18 + 13 + 15 = 61
Small wheel 85:
1 Ollie Colmer 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 = 100
2 Arai Elcock 20 + 22 + 22 + 18 = 82
3 Boston Gilbert 18 + 20 + 20 + 22 = 80
4 Charlie Raynolds 16 + 18 + 7 + 20 = 61
5 Ollie Addy 14 + 16 + 14 + 16 = 60
6 Liam Bennett 15 + 14 + 16 + 11 = 56