Following very heavy overnight rain, the organisers of the penultimate round of the AMCA British Motocross Championship at Brookthorpe on Sunday had a very big call to make! With vital late series points at stake, the decision was eventually made to run and what a correct move that eventually proved to be! With the rain quickly stopping, three full blocks of action were completed and without incident. Yes the track became totally technical with a maze of ruts and just about only one dry racing line. Going off that line was a major gamble and would take you into a deep, slippery sea of mud which was waiting to devour it’s unfortunate victims but after all this is UK motocross! Despite those very testing conditions, all of the current Championship leaders, Josh Waterman, Luke Burton, Richard Cannings, Simon Lane and Charlie Palmer came safely through this stern test of attrition and thus in the process maintain and even increase their respective series topping advantages.
Although some riders decided to leave for home before racing had commenced in this latest battle powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, the opening MX1 title chase proved that you could certainly still race on the sodden surface! Ryan Crowder and Shane Carless swapped positions at the front while gradually being reeled in by the hard charging Josh Waterman and Ray Rowson. Two laps from home, Carless slipped off and dropped to 4th as Rowson upped the tempo to move menacingly into 2nd spot. On the gas, Rowson then looked to put a pass on leader Crowder only to drop his KTM on the final circuit. So at the end of a breath-taking affair it was Crowder, Waterman, James Dodd who had gated in 6th, Carless, Rowson and Gary Gibson filling the top six positions.
MX1 moto two was a little more straight- forward as Carless led from start to finish in style with Waterman in 2nd and all of the above mentioned cast the next best. After slipping off in that second clash, Gibson was determined to make amends in the last MX1 moto and quickly took control by passing the fast starting Crowder. Four laps later though and the cool, composed Crowder was back in charge, racing onto victory and also earn the overall verdict, his first podium since bagging the top slot at Norley during round one. With another accomplished performance, Waterman glided into 2nd from Gibson, Carless, Dodd, Luke Meredith and Luke Mellows. Very happy to be back on the podium, winner Crowder said “ The last two months I have been struggling with a few small injuries so it felt great to be riding at 100% again . The track started wet but turned out nice and technical which I enjoyed. I had some great battles in all three races and had to work hard for my moto wins. I would just like to say thanks to everyone for their support in 2018, especially my dad and family for all they do to make this happen.” So with one round remaining, Waterman tops the standings 102 points clear of Carless whilst Crowder has jumped back up to 3rd and is a further 38 points in arrears.
Having missed the last three rounds due to a broken wrist, James Wainwright returned to MX2 action in style by winning the opening moto at Brookthorpe. The fast KTM ace was made to work extremely hard though for that win being put under seriously heavy pressure throughout by a fast, hard-charging Matt Ridgway who indeed could have took the victory himself but for slipping off in the closing stages. Matt though did manage to keep the Kawasaki engine running and still earn 2nd spot ahead of Cory McShane, Henry Williams and Luke Burton. For the MX2 series leader this was to be a very dramatic affair, gating 11th, Luke dropped to 14th before storming back in style and earn 5th. Those extra points gained could prove crucial as his main title rival Lewis King endured a moto one nightmare! After falling on turn one and restarting last, Lewis stormed back to 12th spot only to slip off again when about to pass Burton! Then in the closing stages, Lewis disappeared completely from proceedings, not a good start to his hoped for late title charge!
Moto two and it was Lee Sealey leading from start to finish producing a classy ride as Burton followed him home with Clinton Barrs just getting the better of Ridgway following an epic and very entertaining tussle. With rain again temporarily falling, Jack Gardner, Wainwright, Williams and Lee Truman, making a comeback after missing rounds due to a badly broken finger were the next best. After his opening moto problems, King finished 9th this time out.
So going into MX2 moto three, Burton, Ridgway and Wainwright were favourites for the overall win on the day and what a classic they were to serve up! Wainwright led for two laps before Burton took control as Ridgway was right on the gas in 3rd inserting some serious pressure and waiting to pounce. Unfortunately just as he was about to then make his move, Matt’s challenge ended when he slipped off although such was the pace of the top three that he still had time to remount in a safe 3rd place. It was to be though still a best of the campaign result for Matt joining winner Burton and runner-up Wainwright on the box. After his earlier disappointments, King took 4th in the last moto from Williams, Barrs, and Gardner and race two victor Sealey. Entering Brookthorpe, Burton’s series advantage was just 40 points but it’s now increased to a very healthy 115 gap as Barrs holds 3rd.
Getting incredible drive and grip where others failed, Richard Cannings saw off the early attention of Ben Gillett to win the opening 2T moto. The main action in this one was provided by the trio of Sean Eckersley, Mark Young and Henry Linton in their quest to be the 3rd place finisher. That honour eventually went to title challenger Eckersley with James Lane taking 6th.
Right on the gas, Linton and Young inserted some heavy pressure on Cannings in moto two in a great scrap at the front. Despite their efforts it was series leader Cannings though who bagged another win as Linton took 2nd from Young, Lane, Jack Seaborne, Gillett and Eckersley. Indeed Eckersley had to work very hard for his points in this one after originally gating right down in 16th.
In the last 2T clash, Cannings saw off Young with the front two forging a massive advantage for themselves at the front. Once again Linton, Lane, Seaborne, Eckersley and Gillett were right in there and fighting hard for their points. After bagging the overall win last time out at Culham, Jake Parker rounded-up his Brookthorpe event with a 8th place finish. In the race for the title it’s Cannings still leading the way on 1243 points with Eckersley 1159 and Bradley Doyle 967 next up.
Showing all of his experience gained at the top level of racing, Gary Davies made an absolute mockery of the conditions early on by blasting to a smooth Vets moto one win from series leader Simon Lane, Gary Jones, Colin Conduit, Ryan Baker and Sean Smith.
There was drama right at the start of Vets moto two as Davies and Lane made contact racing into the opening turn. The collision causing Lane to fall and also bringing down Brian Staples who tried to take evasive action. Restarting last, Lane and Staples had it all to do as Davies took another win after seeing off a very determined Jones. As Smith got home in 3rd, Lane recovered superbly for 4th with Paul Wieczorek, Conduit and Staples who also stormed back strongly for 7th.
Making it a hat-trick, Davies also took the last win from Lane, Jones, Smith, Conduit and Staples. With Davies having only competed in three of the six completed rounds the favourite for the title looks to be Lane. With one event to come the Gloucester based ace holds a 138 point advantage at the top with Smith and Jones still chasing hard.
Having gallantly chased home Joseph Brookes in all of this seasons Youth Class encounters, Charlie Palmer finally got some reward on Sunday. After passing Matt Tolley in moto one, Charlie blasted his Kawasaki KX85cc to victory as Wild-card riders Billy Duke and Ben Mustoe took 3rd and 4th with Brookes in 5th.
Enjoying the taste of success, Palmer then initially led moto two before being relegated by Duke, Brookes and Tolley with Harry Ridgway and Mustoe the next best. In the last clash it was Duke all the way as Brookes passed Palmer for 2nd. So on the podium it was high flying Severn Valley youth ace Duke taking a well-deserved top step from Palmer and Brookes. In the race for the title Palmer leads the way on 1205 points with Brookes 1113, Tolley 943, Joshua Main 845 and Ridgway 839 next up. Words and pics by Mike Wood.