Honda’s Jake Nicholls tightened his grip on his first Maxxis British Motocross championship on Sunday by notching up yet another overall win at a damp and humid Hawkstone park in Shropshire as his biggest rival Evgeny Bobryshev had a troubled day include a penalty for a failed noise test. But Nicholls didn’t have it easy as in race one defending champion Graeme Irwin pushed him all the way and in race two GP rider Tommy Searle cleared off to the win, leaving Nicholls to fight over second place, writes Dick Law.
And in the MX2 class, run-away winner of race one and series leader Conrad Mewse crashed out of race two and hurt his hand, leaving Mel Pocock to take the overall from Liam Knight and Steven Clarke. Former MX1 rider Ashley Wilde took two race wins to clinch the battle of the two-stokes but Mike Kras won the war and is now the 2018 champion.
Nicholls got the holeshot at the start of the first MX1 race with Irwin and Elliott Banks-Browne on his tail. Bobryshev went down in a soft patch of dirt in turn two, leaving Searle with nowhere to go but into the back of his fallen bike which put them both at the back of the pack.
With the heavy overnight rain, the track had become a bit one liney and try as he could, Irwin just couldn’t find a way past Nicholls as the pair crossed the finish line at the end of the 25 minutes plus two lap race separated by less than a second. Irwin was troubled by a niggling back injury.
Banks-Browne was in a lonely third place till with three laps to go Searle, from 20th at the end of lap one, came past to snatch third place albeit just over a minute behind the leaders. Banks-Browne held on to fourth from Gert Krestinov who had had a race-long battle with Brad Anderson in fifth. The ever-improving Dan Thornhill was a solid seventh from Ryan Houghton and Carlton Husband. Despite a crash on the last lap, Bobryshev took tenth and the last rider on the lead lap.
Searle made sure he didn’t get held up at the start of race two by getting the holeshot from Nicholls, Banks-Browne, Irwin and Bobryshev then he just put the hammer down and cleared off at the front leaving the rest to fight over the lesser places. Banks-Browne was putting Nicholls under a great deal of pressure for second. And after Nicholls made a couple of mistakes on lap eight he was through, but behind them Bobryshev had found a way past Irwin and was closing in very fast. With four laps to go it all went wrong for Banks-Browne. He landed in the bomb hole and tweaked his damaged wrist again causing him a lot of pain and forcing him to slow.
As they started the last lap Bobryshev was all over the back of Nicholls and was looking to make a pass, but a series of crashes dropped him back to a disappointing seventh place which was made worse after the race when he was given a five-point penalty for failing a sound test. He ended up in 12th for nine championship points.
All this left Nicholls in a comfortable second, behind Searle, with Irwin third and the struggling Banks-Browne fourth. Houghton was fifth from Krestinov with Thornhill eighth from Anderson, Husband and Eythor Raynisson, who was the last rider on the lead lap.
Overall it was Nicholls by three points from Searle and Irwin with Banks-Browne missing out on the podium by two points from Krestinov, Houghton and Thornhill. As for Bobryshev, he finished eleventh overall and is losing touch with championship leader Nicholls who now has a 37-point lead with only two rounds to go.
“Both races were tough today as the pressure is now on a bit” said overall winner and series leader Nicholls. “I need to relax a bit as all day I have been riding a bit tense and making a lot of mistakes which uses up quite a bit of energy, which I did in the first race so come the second I was a bit worried about me energy levels.
“My fitness is good but just needed a sugar rush or something to get me going. So, I took it a bit steady at the start, well for the first ten to 15 minutes to be honest. Elliott had been following me for some time and when he came past be I followed him in some of the places he was quicker than me. But it was so tough with the pressure from him and Bobryshev, but I enjoyed the race and I think that kept me going and it’s what it’s all about really.”
A philosophical Searle was happy with his day and said: “In race one Bobryshev looked like he hit a soft spot and went down. His bike did a cartwheel and hit me, but it’s just one of those racing incidents. I came from dead last to third and I have to be happy with that and the way I rode epically with this track and the conditions being so hard to pass on. In the second I led from start to finish and you can’t do better than that.”
Irwin was in a great deal of pain all day and said before the podium: “My riding had been getting better and better over the last couple of weeks and I have just come away from my best GP results ever and then I caught a bump wrong in qualifying and put my back out. Lucky for me the ACU have doctor on hand and he had a look at it and said it was nothing series, just a misplaced disc or something. But we struggled through and got third overall which wasn’t bad considering I had to pull in from qualifying early and wasn’t even sure I would be racing at that time. Looking at the results after today, Jake is 52 points ahead of me and 39 ahead of Bobryshev so it looks like he can cruise home for the championship now. His is a smart guy and won’t take any big risks now, so it’s his championship to lose. For me, second would be reachable and nice considering the roller coaster of a year we have had.”
Mewse crashes out of MX2
Conrad Mewse set fastest qualifying time from the on-form Josh Gilbert, but come race time Mewse got the holeshot and just cleared off in to the distance to win by over 40 seconds. Todd Kellett, Pocock and Michael Ellis chased him round the opening lap with series contender Marin Barr pinned under his machine after becoming involved in a first turn pile-up. He had burns to his arm from the hot exhaust but remounted and charged back through as best he could in the tough going.
Pocock managed to slip by Kellett on lap four but by the time that happened Mewse was way up the track and the chance of catching him was long gone. Gilbert had gated sixth and had taken two or three laps to settle down but the he moved up the running order past Steve Clarke, Ellis and Kellett to finish third behind Mewse and Pocock. Kellett hung on to fourth from Knight, Clarke, Josh Spinks and Alexander Brown. As for Barr, from being under his machine in turn one and having to have someone lift it off him, he came back to 12th place for nine important championship points.
Clarke got the holeshot at a hectic start of race to and led Ellis, Knight and Pocock round the opening lap but race one winner Mewse had had a coming together going up the start straight and was at the back of the field. Mewse got back to 20th place before crashing out at the top of the track pulling back in to the work area a lap latter with a hurt hand and a trip to hospital.
By the halfway stage Pocock was in second and closing in on the leader Clarke as Knight fought over third place with Ellis and Taylor Hammal and while Gilbert, with a sick running Honda, slowly made his way forward from an 11th place at the start. With four laps to go Pocock took the lead from Clarke for the race win and the overall. Knight also found a way passed Clarke with two laps to go from second and second overall with Clarke hanging on to third.
Gilbert was passed on the last lap by Barr who didn’t have the best of starts which cost him another podium position.
Mewse still holds onto he championship lead but now by just 14 points from Gilbert as Pocock closes in on the leaders with four championship races to go.
“I am very happy as I have had four big race meeting wins in a row now,” said overall winner Pocock. “I have just been keeping my cool and not doing too much heavy training. It’s a long season and anything can happen towards the end if you’re worn out. I have two championships within reach now and I have to do what it takes to win both of them. Today and second and a first is the best results I have had at a British championship round in a long time and it’s great to stand on the top step of the podium for Revo Husqvarna.”
Clarke was happy with his day, considering all the changes that had been going on with his rides. His original team folded but Apico stepped in to help him for the rest of the year. He said: “I didn’t have the best of starts in the first race but was towards the front of the pack but eating roost a lot of the time. I dropped it on the last lap and lost a place, which was a bit disappointing. In the second I got the holeshot and rode my own race till towards the end when I started to make some mistakes and Pocock and Knight got by me. I was happy with my third considering I have been suffering with a chest infection. I would have settled and be happy with two top tens on the way here, so a podium is great.”
Kras takes the smoker title
It was Oliver Benton who beat the more established stars from the start of the first two-stroke race from Kras, Jack Brunell and Wilde but by the end of the lap Kras was in the lead and it looked like that was going to be it. But on lap three Kras’s GL12 KTM broke its silencer and he called in to the work area to have it replaced. This left Mancunian Wilde in the lead from Brunell, Benton and John Adamson with Kras re-joining in fifth. Wilde crossed the finish line just over eight seconds clear of Adamson, Brunell and Benton as James Dunn pushed Kras down to seventh place on the last lap.
Once again Benton got the holeshot at the start of the second race but by the end of the lap Wilde was in the lead and heading for his second win of the day. Kras followed Wilde over the finish line for fourth overall but it was enough to win the championship. Brunell was second overall with Adamson taking the last place on the podium.
Final championship positions were Kras by seven points from Wilde with Adamson third.
Beard heads youth body
Rossi Beard won the first of the MXY2 races but was pushed all the way by Dominic Lancett with Joel Rizzi a distant third after passing Josh Greedy, Bobby Bruce, Max Ingham and Josh Peters on the way.
Beard got his second holeshot of the day in race two but was chased over the finish line by Rizzi who started the race in fifth.
In race three it was Beard once again who got the holeshot and his third win of the day, but this time Aaron Lee Hanson followed him over the line with Lancett coming from fifth to third and with Rizzi starting in ninth before getting to sixth from where he crashed back to fifteenth.
Overall it was a clean sweep for Beard from Lee Hanson and Rizzi with Beard leading the championship from George Sim-Mutch and Rizzi with it all still to play for.