It was all change at the top of the MX1 leaderboard after round three of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean at Canada Heights on Sunday.
With Jake Nicholls (Hitachi KTM UK), the series leader after two rounds, sidelined through injury the way was clear for a new rider to take over and Frenchman Steve Lenoir (Hobbs Racing Kawasaki) stepped up to the mark, running 3-2 to move into a slender two-point lead from Graeme Irwin (Buildbase Honda).
The overall win on the day went to Gert Krestinov (Phoenix Tools Honda Racing) who picked up where he left off at Lyng and followed up his second-placed finish in the red-flagged opening moto with a win in race two.
“It’s been a really good day and I continued my progress from the last round at Lyng,” he said. “The first race I was eighth and then came through to second then we got the red flag but I was pretty close to Elliott [Banks-Browne].
“In the last one I got a better start and got into the lead on the third lap. Steve Lenoir was pushing a little bit and then I had arm-pump but thankfully he made a mistake so I could bring the win home and I got the overall as well.”
Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna) has looked fast all season but until Sunday had failed to string two solid races together. That all changed at Canada Heights where his 1-3 score earned him the second step on the podium.
“Today has been much better,” said EBB. “I feel like I should have been doing this from round one but I’ve had some bad luck the last few weeks. We finished both races but I felt like the second race I got going good at the beginning and then halfway through I got into a bad rhythm.
“I’ve been suffering a lot from arm-pump recently when I’m out front but if we can sort that out I feel as though we can be up there every week and battling for the wins.”
With Irwin running 4-5 after crashing in the opener and suffering a technical problem in race two it’s Lenoir, third overall on Sunday with a 3-2 card, who is now the man everyone’s shooting at.
“It will be good to have the red plate at Hawkstone,” he said. “I rode okay today but I’m just a bit disappointed I crashed in the second race. I was pushing Gert but that’s racing and we got good points.”
It was disaster for former champ Kristian Whatley who crashed in the opening race and broke his leg. It’s a season-ending injury.
In MX2 the win for the second round on the trot went to Harri Kullas (MVR-D Route 77 Husqvarna) who, for the first time this season, opted not to race MX1 as well.
Fresh from a round of the Estonian national championship the previous day, Kullas looked super-sharp as he pulled clear of Mel Pocock (REVO Husqvarna UK) to win the opener and then followed Ben Watson (Hitachi KTM UK) home in race two.
“I can’t ask for much more,” said Kullas. “I’ve closed up on first and I enjoyed the riding, that’s the main thing. The bike was better than the last round and the team is working, working and doing a great job so I’m really happy.
“They are supporting me and they want to give 100 per cent and I want to give 100 per cent and that way the results come.”
Watson, who saw his series lead cut from nine points to three, was disappointed with his opening race.
“I didn’t have a great first race just because of the start but the second race was a lot better and I showed I had speed and that’s what matters to me along with keeping the red plate,” he said. “I’m looking at the bigger picture. It’s been a bad day but at the same time it hasn’t as I’ve lost hardly any points.
“I’ve just got to keep the flow going and I’ve got my favourite track up next so I’m looking forward to that and going into it with confidence actually.”
After DNFs at the opening two rounds Kiwi teanager Josiah Natzke (Hitachi KTM UK) ran 3-4 to take his first Maxxis podium.
“It’s been a good day,” he said. “Finally some things have come together so I could have a good race and I was pumped to be on the podium.”
The series now moves to Hawkstone Park for round four on May 14.