Buildbase Honda’s Graeme Irwin raced to the 2017 Maxxis ACU British MX1 Motocross Championship with his fourth consecutive double win at round seven of the series at Preston Docks on Sunday.
The 24-year-old from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland sewed up the title with one round still to go thanks to a commanding performance that saw him take his eighth consecutive moto win aboard the CRF450R.
After qualifying in fourth in the deep sand Graeme holeshot the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto, briefly lost the lead in turn two before pulling away to win by almost 11 seconds.
Knowing that a finish as low as ninth in race two would guarantee him the crown, Graeme grabbed the holeshot second time around and after resisting pressure from Enduro World Championship contender Nathan Watson eased clear to win by over five seconds.
“It’s awesome, fantastic, amazing,” he said. “I can’t believe it. This year everything’s just clicked. The team, the bike, everything. I’ve been given the tools to do the job and I can’t thank everybody enough. My wife, my whole family, the team, all my sponsors – it’s amazing.
“We’ve won eight races in a row now which is some serious momentum. In that last race today I was like ‘should I think of the championship and let Nathan Watson by’ but I just couldn’t have anybody talking about an enduro rider coming to the British championship and winning so I put my head down.”
Martin Barr, racing the MX2 class on the team’s CRF250R, went into Preston holding second in the championship but struggled with his starts all day and saw his championship aspirations finally slip away.
Qualifying eighth, he found himself outside the top 10 after the opening lap of race one but in typical teak-tough fashion worked his way up to fourth after making a succession of passes.
It was a similar story in race two and despite a slightly better start he still left himself a lot of work to do. Refusing to roll over, he fought for the full race distance for another fourth-placed finish for third overall.
“It’s been a pretty frustrating day really,” said Martin. “In race one I just struggled to get out of the gate. I was way back but kept chipping away, kept fighting and got back to fourth and the second race was pretty much the same. I made a good few passes on the first lap and battled my way up to fourth again.
“It’s tough knowing I can do a lot better but it is what it is. I got third overall which is okay but I just have to get on with it. There’s one round left so I’ll keep fighting and try and make sure I get second in the championship.
“Congratulations to Ben – he won the championship so hats off to him.”
Team boss Dave Thorpe paid tribute to both his riders.
“It’s been a great day for Graeme and he thoroughly deserved it,” said Dave. “He’s ridden like a champion all year and pushed when he could and been clever when he couldn’t. The last four British championship rounds he’s been outstanding and we’re really pleased for him.
“The whole team are a great bunch of lads who work really hard together. At the end of the day we’re just a small team from Devon but we’ve got a fantastic product in the CRF450, a great engine tuner in Ryan, a great rider in Graeme and some super mechanics in Rob and Willy.
“Today’s been the story of the season for Martin. If you don’t start in the first three or four it’s going to be a tough race and we didn’t get a sniff of a holeshot but I can’t fault his effort or his professionalism.”