The British championship opener at Culham on Sunday is ON as the track and paddock have been walked and inspected this morning by ACU, RHL Activities and the Track Manager. The photo above was taken just before lunchtime on Friday.
“The track is in great condition for two days of action packed racing from the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship and the St Blazey Premier MX. We are going racing!” said a statement from the organisers.
After poor weather meant the first round at Lyng was cancelled, there were fears Culham could also be off due to the rain. It was part of a four-day British Motocross Festival, but the opening two days of this event – scheduled for today and Saturday – were axed due to the rain. It means the crew have been able to focus on getting the venue ready for Sunday where the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship gets under way. The Oxfordshire track is a firm favourite with fans with uninterrupted views of the circuit that winds up, down and around an imposing bank by the side of the River Thames.
Picking a winner at such an early stage of the season is a thankless task – especially when there’s such a huge pool of talent to choose from – so we’re making no predictions.
However, there’s no harm in looking at a few of the fancied runners and riders who’ll be in action at round one…
#1 Graeme Irwin (ASA Hitachi KTM UK)
The defending champion from Northern Ireland made a solid start to the season at the Hawkstone International and on his return to world championship action has noticeably picked up the pace every weekend.
#37 Gert Krestinov (Phoenix Tools Apico Honda)
The Estonian Express ended last season in second with four overall podiums and one overall win.
#44 Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna)
A two-time MX2 champion, EBB has suffered a string of injuries since he moved to a 450 and a series of team changes haven’t helped but he’s coming into 2018 fighting fit on the same team as last year with a few impressive arenacross performances under his belt.
#45 Jake Nicholls (Buildbase Honda)
Jake missed Hawkstone and has quit GP racing but he’s been busting out wins in the Eastern Centre and you can be sure he’s put in the hard yards over the winter. He won at Culham last year before a season-ending injury.
#60 Brad Anderson (Verde Substance KTM)
A two-time champion, Brad was third in the 2017 title fight and has looked fast in EMX300 in Holland and Spain despite reportedly carrying neck and arm injuries.
#227 Kristian Whatley (RHR Yamaha)
The 2013 champion hasn’t raced a top-flight event since he crashed at Canada Heights last April so is coming in under the radar but he certainly has the talent to win.
#777 Evgeny Bobryshev (Lombard Express/SRD Suzuki UK)
The 2010 champion, Bobby lost his HRC ride at the end of last year but has scored solidly in two out of the three MXGPs he’s contested this season.
#3 Josh Gilbert (Honda Adventure Centre)
The young Cornishman had some great results last season on his way to seventh in the championship but didn’t make the EMX250 cut at Redsand last weekend.
#33 Josiah Natzke (Buildbase Honda)
The young Kiwi finished sixth last year after an inconsistent campaign with two race wins and four overall podiums punctuated by a number of costly no-scores. There is, however, a question mark hanging over his attendance at Culham after a big crash in Spain as he contested the EMX250 race one holeshot.
#50 Martin Barr (REVO Husqvarna UK)
The fastest EMX250 rider on the track at Redsand where he won the second race, the 30-year-old from Northern Ireland was second last year with three overall podiums and one overall win and started 2018 in great form at Hawkstone Park.
#57 Darian Sanayei (Bike It DRT Kawasaki)
A wild card for Culham, the young American contested the final two rounds in 2017 and won them both. At Redsand he missed the MX2 GP podium by a single point.
#98 Todd Kellett (Verde Substance KTM)
Winner of the overall at Blaxhall last year on his way to fifth in the championship, Todd broke several vertebrae in a practice crash in December and was a long way off full speed at the EMX250 opener at Redsand but expect him to build as the season progresses.
#119 Mel Pocock (REVO Husqvarna UK)
A two-time vice-champion, Mel was fourth last year with three overall podiums and after his EMX250 race win in Spain has to be considered a contender.
#426 Conrad Mewse (ASA Hitachi KTM UK)
We haven’t seen the teenager in Maxxis action for two years but he’s contesting the full season in 2018 and going on his GP form so far this season – he’s currently fifth in the world championship – he has to be one of the favourites.
#2 James Dunn (GL12 Racing KTM)
James missed last year’s championship opener but after finding his feet won the final two rounds on his way to third in the series. A solid fourth at the EMX300 opener in Valkenswaard, he dropped down to EMX250 for Redsand but by his own admission wasn’t on top form.
#55 Mike Kras (GL12 Racing KTM)
The reigning champion, Mike has started 2018 in great form and currently leads the EMX300 series after taking a double win at Redsand.
#272 Neville Bradshaw (272 Race School Honda)
The veteran South African was never off the podium last season on his way to second in the championship and has been working hard over the winter.