With a little over six weeks to go until the 2017 Arenacross Tour gets underway at the Manchester Arena on the 7th of January, the Pro teams rider line-up is looking impressive with some of the UK’s top motocross stars ready to do battle with all three former AX Pro class champions.
Several of the top runners have switched teams and machinery for next year, and there are some new names on the start gate which could well spice things up a little for the upcoming series. British MX fans will be stoked to learn that the likes of Tommy Searle and Kristian Whatley will be going flat out to bring the AX crown home, and stem the French invasion. Whilst those AX fans who witnessed the racing carnage at the 2016 Wembley final, will be cheering and probably racing to get their seats booked, when they learn that machine-bashing Gallic protagonists Thomas Ramette and Cedric Soubeyras are fired up and ready to return to the AX ring.
Leading the 2017 AX charge is double AX champ Ramette, who returns to the AX stadium with team-mate Cyrille Coulon and their two-time Arenacross winning SR75 World Suzuki team, proudly steered by Geoff Walker. Ramette’s smooth style and determined attitude served him well in the closely-contested 2016 series and, as a team, Ramette and Coulon enjoyed ten podium finishes, gifting the SR75 Suzuki outfit another championship title. Ramette has been racing virtually non-stop since Wembley and it’s a sure bet that he’ll be hot for 2017.
2016 runner-up Cedric Soubeyras, obviously felt he was robbed of the Pro class title after the controversy that surrounded Wembley, and he has already made clear his intent to come back to the UK for one thing only, and that’s to win the 2017 AX series. He will be paired with Angelo Pellegrini and run under the RFX St Blazey MX Racing team banner – interestingly, both riders will be Suzuki-mounted. With a hunger for glory, similar machinery to the reigning champ and a strong team, including his trusted chief mechanic Rob Stringer, we can expect sparks to fly when Soub and Ramette line up for the first time at Manchester.
Next up is the overall third-placed contender from this year’s series and the first-ever Arenacross Pro champion, namely, Adam Chatfield. Chatfield tops an all-British team backed by FRO Systems PAR Elite and in his stable will be the always-entertaining Welshman Ashley Greedy. Fondly referred to as the ‘Ginger Ninja’, Chatfield ended the 2016 championship in winning form, having used the last three rounds to solidly work his way up through the podium to win the final in epic style – he stayed out of trouble! With the sweet taste of success still on his lips, he’s sure to be in the thick of it and will be one to watch.
Also on the returning champ front, is Fabien Izoird who’s 2016 charge came to an unfortunate halt at the Birmingham round of AX when he broke his leg. He was leading the championship at the time and so his form was never in any doubt. He’ll definitely want to prove he’s got what it takes to lift the AX crown again and with popular Brit Matt Bayliss at his side, and multi-British and World MX champ Dave Thorpe behind their Buildbase Honda team, he’ll have the tools and motivation to go out and kick dirt.
A vocal AX ambassador and strong team leader, ‘DT’ is possibly something of a glutton for punishment as he’s fielding two teams next year; the Buildbase Honda team he’s had such success with over the years and a newly-formed Keystone Honda Racing. The new team will support another AX favourite, Flo Richier and MXGP runner Alex Snow.
Headlining the British contingent is the British MX1 number one Tommy Searle, who has already acknowledged that entering the Arenacross stadium isn’t going to be easy. But he’s been hard at it training and is off to the States in the next week to concentrate on his racing fitness, starts and tactics. It’s going to be pretty awesome to see him in action and he’ll have the full weight of Team Green behind him and AX racing partner, Jack Brunell who will also want to prove he is capable of being a front runner.
Another top Brit entering the fray is Kristian Whatley who joins the Husqvarna team of MVR-D Husqvarna. His new-to-Arenacross stable-mate Adrien Escoffier was the 2011 French junior vice-champion and we hear he’s a tidy rider.
JK Yamaha, with Dickie Dye as team-manager is the most recent AX team signing and it will run the popular American Collin Jurin who popped a collarbone at Sheffield in 2016 and sadly left the series. Australian Jay Wilson will be his team-mate.
Shocktech Racing will also be in the mix with Frenchman Roman Biela. The second rider is yet to be announced. Check out www.arenacrossuk.com for the latest news and to book tickets.