Local hero Jake Nicholls proved his Canada Heights double win was no flash-in-the-pan as he took both MX1 wins at Sunday’s round three of the Maxxis British Motocross championship at a sunny Blaxhall circuit in Suffolk, writes Dick Law.
But the large partisan crowd seemed even happier when another local rider and Nicholls’ life-long rival Elliott Banks-Browne was second overall.
Russian rider Evgeny Bobryshev had two “come from behind” races and earnt himself the third step on the podium with his Lombard Express Suzuki.
Nicholls was only fifth in qualifying, behind Bobryshev, Graeme Irwin, Tommy Searle and Banks-Browne, but that didn’t matter to him as at the drop of the start gate he was on it and lead the race for start to finish. Banks-Browne put him under pressure for the first half of the race till Searle passed him on his way to try and close the gap to the leader, Nicholls.
Irwin was hurting. He had a big crash early in qualifying with his bike ending up across his back. Playing it down a lot, Irwin said before racin: “It wasn’t that big really. Just unlucky as the bike landed on top of me and I got burnt by the exhaust. It’s not too bad and the medics say I can ride OK. I did a couple of laps after and it seemed OK and is no big deal.”
But perhaps it affected him more then he thought as he didn’t get his usual start and was way down in 14th going into the first turn but managed to get up to fourth before the end of the race.
Others that suffered at the start was Ryan Houghton and Bobryshev in 19th and 20th. Houghton was flying and finished seventh while Bobryshev did even better in fifth despite another small tip-off, chasing Irwin over the line.
Banks-Browne got the holeshot at the start of race two, but it took three laps before Nicholls found a way through for his second win of the day. Bobryshev missed that start again but came from 13th to apply a bit of pressure to winner Nicholls on the last couple of laps of the race with Banks-Bowne holding on to third.
Ivo Monticelli seems to have trouble putting two races together as he was 12th in race one but after a good start finished fourth in race two. Irwin didn’t do so well in race two either as at one time he was in third but drifted back to seventh come flag time. As for Searle, he gated eleventh did a lap and disappeared back in to the paddock with a mechanical that no one would talk about but was later revealed to be a broken rear hub.
Over all it was Nicholls from Banks-Brown and Bobryshev with Irwin, Gert Krestinov, Monticelli and Houghton filling the next four places.
“It couldn’t be better coming to a local race and going one, one,” said Nicholls, “I had a lot to lose coming here today and people expected me to do well and winning both races at the last round it made me a bit anxious. But I put that out of my mind and got out there and did my own thing, and it seemed to pay off. But I had to work hard for it, most so in the second race with lapped riders. Once I had passed Elliott (Banks-Browne) I thought I would pace myself a bit, but once in the backmarkers I got held up so much he closed in on me again, so I had go for it again. It was great to see people hanging over the fence cheering and waving as it really spurs you on.”
Banks-Bowne was happy with the result, but not with his riding, and said: “All day I seemed to have lacked a bit of intensity in my riding. I think I had the speed in both races but was just missing that little something in my riding and I have been a bit tired the last couple of weeks, but I don’t know. I will have to work on some things to sort it out. Jake (Nicholls) rode great today and we all come here with the idea of getting on the podium and we did that in first and second.”
It was great to see some new young riders up the pointed end of the MX2 races as Liam Knight on his Pope Racing KTM led race one from start to finish. But he didn’t have things his own way as Josh Gilbert, from fourth at the start, powered his way in to second by lap three and closed Knight down but run out of time to try for a pass, and the win.
Brad Todd gated second but faded back to eight while Mel Pocock and championship leader Conrad Mewse were together the whole race and finished third and fourth. But that place was short lived as they were deemed to have jumped on a waved yellow and docked five place which dropped Mewse to eighth and Pocock ninth.
Mewse had been dead last off the start and his rear brake failed on the first lap. He later vented fury at the ACU, saying he couldn’t have slowed down on the face of the jump where the yellow flag was being waved or else he would have had to slam on the front brake with disastrous consequence.
This ruling bumped Martin Barr to third place from Michael Eccles, Todd Kellett and Brad Todd.
Eccles got the holeshot at the start of race two from Knight, Pocock, Carpenter and Barr with Gilbert down in ninth and Mewse 24th.
But Mewse was on it and by the end of lap three his was in seventh and by lap seven he was in the lead and went on to win. Barr chased him over the line for second and the overall win, all be it on the same points as Gilbert who was third in the race.
Pocock crashed out of second on lap five and never really got going again and finished the race in seventh place. Josh Spinks had a solid race for fourth, from Lewis Tombs and Eccles.
So overall it was Barr from Gilbert and Mewse on the podium with Knight, Eccles and Spinks just missing out.
“I am happy with my win today,” said Barr, “But it’s still a bit of a struggle as I am still not over the injuries from Culham as I can’t do any of my weekday preparation. I don’t ride to keep myself for the weekend. It affects me from about the half race distance as I am not as sharp as I want to be. But saying that my thumb is getting better and perhaps in a week or two I can get back to midweek riding and build things back up again. But with leading the EMX series and winning here today with an injury, I will take that all year long.”
A happy Gilbert making his second trip to a Maxxis podium in his young carrier said: “I gated fourth and it took me a couple of laps to get in to second behind Liam (Knight), but this track seemed to be harder to pass on this time. I caught him up but just couldn’t find a way past. I nearly had him on the last couple of corners and we went over the finish line almost side by side.”
A philosophical Mewse said, “Things are going OK, but I am not performing at the level I want to and know I can perform. Actually, a long way off where I should be. But it is what it is, and we have to work that bit harder to get it back.”
James Dunn on his GL12 KTM was in and unstoppable form as he set fastest qualifying time and led every lap of both races for the overall. His Dutch team-mate and series leader Mike Kras had two comfortable second places and still retains the championship leaders red plate while Ashley Wilde, who is still not 100% recovered from his last crash, was third in both races so it wasn’t hard working out the overall positions.
With a fifth and a fourth John Adamson was fourth overall from Ryan McLean and Manuel Iacopi.
“It was nice to get fastest on qualifying as that’s the first time I have done that this year,” said winner Dunn, “The track was quite technical, and they have put in some more jumps, so you had to hit your marks. I felt good on the bike and two holeshots and two wins so it’s a good day.”
Kras was knackered and explained why: “I am really happy to get second overall today as even before the Russian GP I was tired from racing and working. On the way to Russia we had an overnight flight, so I didn’t get any sleep. I rode there on Monday and Tuesday and had a flight back on Wednesday night, so I missed another night’s sleep. I went to work on Thursday and Friday and came here Saturday morning. So, I am completely empty and have nothing left in the tank, so I am happy I can take a week off, am happy with second overall and am now looking forward to the next two rounds in the sand.”
Ashley Wilde from the third step on the podium said: “It’s nice to be third but also it’s a bit frustrating as I feel I should be taking it to those two, but I just haven’t had enough bike time as this is only the third race I have done this year. They were both good today and I struggled with the track, so I have to keep on working and get some more events in.”
Rossi Beard completely dominated the first of the three MXY2 races with a start to finish race win by just over 14 seconds from Callum Green and George Sim-Mutch.
But in race two, and with a sizable lead he crashed out of the lead and dropped down to 24th place. He then re-mounted and raced his way back up to eighth place in the nine-lap race. Green took over the lead and went on to win the race by almost seven seconds from Sim-Mutch and Denny Rapson.
The third and finish race was all about Beard as he led from the drop of the gate till the chequed flag crossing the line almost 13 seconds clear of Ike Carter and Sim-Mutch. But with Green fourth place giving him the overall win by just two points from two race winner Beard. Sim-Mutch was third, one point behind Beard and Carter just missing out on a podium position.