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Preston preview: What’s happening at the Docks

125 hero returns! Vets Nations star Rob Holyoake to face youth aces in the Preston Docks Fastest 40. He wowed the massive crowd with his come-from-behind 125 racing in the Vets Nations, and took on the world 2-stroke championship in California. Now Rob Holyoake is back in the UK and taking on the new crop of 125 youth aces in the new Apico 2-Stroke festival British 125 championship.

Run at the totally revamped Preston Docks circuit, he faces new star 125 racer Josh Vail and Jamie Keith, as well as a host of top adults as we preview the weekend’s action. The MX1 classes will have a rematch between Conrad Mewse and the rest of the field including Tristan Purdon, Martin Barr and Taylor Hammal.

While Tommy Searle defends his MX2 lead from young hopefuls like Joel Rizzi, Charlie Heyman, Billy Askew and Ben Mustoe.

With classes for amateurs as well as the Honda CRF250R Cup, we take a look at who is racing, who is in form and reveal who will be the guest rider on the Honda CRF! He’s very well known to fans of MotoHead!

Don’t want to watch the video? The transcript is here…

It’s time for the long-awaited return to the fully revamped Preston Docks this weekend for round two of the Motul Fastest 40 championship powered by Michelin. The sandy circuit has been totally changed in the last couple of months and this will be the first meeting to take place on the newly revamped track. It’s actually a totally different track – on a different bit of land – to the circuit that histed British championships in the past. And with the forecast for sunshine and high temperatures, it’ll be a tough test.

Perhaps the most exciting of all will be the ACU Apico 2-stroke Festival British 125 championship round on Saturday where it’s a case of the new young superstars facing up to the master of the 125. That’s Rob Holyoake, who stunned the massive crowd with his rides on a 125 Husky at the Vets Nations at Farleigh Castle last year and has recently returned from the USA where he’s been riding lots of more modern smokers in the heat of California. Including the world two-stroke championship at Glen Helen. Which is just like Preston Docks, but hotter, bigger, hillier and a bit more famous, of course.

This experienced Holyoake makes his debut in the series and will face young guns like Scunthorpe’s own Josh Vail, who only last season was racing on 85s. Vail  enters round two as the current leader, holding the coveted red plate after a clean sweep bagging maximum points at round one in Foxhill where he trounced the opposition. He’s been dialling in his sand riding with wins at Hawkstone Park last weekend, then a day in the sand of Fatcat riding in the World Junior team try-out day, followed straight away by some open practice at Preston Docks.

He is riding incredibly well and is determined to continue his winning streak. However, there are plenty of riders in the stacked gate of 40 riders including Jamie Keith and Charlie Richmond.

The competition is fierce, and the excitement is building across this eight-round championship in conjunction with the Apico 2 Stroke Festival who will host rounds 6&7 on August 16-18 at Sellindge in Kent.

Also on Saturday are the pro MX1 and MX2 classes, run separately this season.  

The defending champ and red plate holder is Crendon Tru7 Honda rider Conrad Mewse, a clear winner of both motos in the opener. Even when he thought race one had finished and he pulled off the track with a couple of laps still to go. He had such a big lead he went back out and still won. He loves the sand, and beat Jeffrey Herlings in the sand and mud of Lyng in the British championship opener too. So he’s definitely the favourite, of course.

Second at the opening round was the much-improved South African Tristian Purdon who had some impressive starts at Foxhill and held off Mewse for the opening laps in race two. And that is not an easy thing to do. Purdon is really coming into his own but riding sand has not proved to be his strength so far, it seems. He was blazing fast on the hardpack of Foxhill but a week later in the sand of Lyng was not up at the front as much as he’d have wanted. Maybe he’ll be on podium pace at Preston, where he’ll face a challenge from Mewse’s team-mate Taylor Hammal.

Hammal rides the MX1 class at the fastest 40 and was third overall in the opener at Foxhill. After being quickest in qualifying, he crashed twice in the first moto and had to come through the pack but overhauled Purdon to take second place in the final moto. Again, Hammal is totally at home on hard pack so sand will prove to be a big test for him.

Also fresh from great rides are Ulstermen Jason Meara who took a solid third in the Foxhill opening moto, from fellow Ulsterman Martin Barr. Barr says he’s loving the handling of the bike now the Apico team have switched to Honda, and he’s simply brilliant in the sand. His team mate Tom Grimshaw will be hoping for some better results while joining them on the line for round two is former British champion Kristian Whatley, 2023 expert champion Ashley Greedy and 2023 Scottish Champion John Adamson. Adamson is not contesting many English races this year and he’s always incredibly quick and aggressive. Watch out for him at Preston Docks.

In the Leatt MX2 class, former British champ Tommy Searle leads the way with his Dirt Store Kawasaki team-mate Joel Rizzi who is in third place, separated by Ben Mustoe who had a storming ride at the opener.

Charlie Heyman – now looking very comfortable on the SC sporthomes Husky – plus Joe Brookes and Mackenzie Marshall make up the top six. And fresh from his 11th place in last weekend’s Portugal MXGP, Billy Askew returns this weekend to throw his helmet into the mix.

The opening MX2 race at Foxhill was a thriller between Heyman and Searle as the teenager held off the 30-something man Searle until half way through the first heat. Mustoe came through to third from Joe Brookes and Joel Rizzi.

Searle led away in race two and controlled the pace, keeping a decent distance from his Rizzi in second, with that man Mustoe third again. Jamie Wainwright took fourth while Heyman had problems on the first lap and came around in 17th spot. He pulled back up to fifth with a gritty ride.

So Searle took the overall from Mustoe and Rizzi, with Heyman on the same points but in fourth place. That’s a lot of young talent chasing down the master. Will Preston Docks see Searle dominate again or will it be someone else on top of the podium?

Following Pro Saturday all eyes turn to The Fly Racing Official ACU British Championships for Amateur and Clubmen classes plus the ‘ALL – NEW’ Honda Cup.

With 40 riders on the line ready to contend for the RFX MX2 Clubman British title it is all still to play for. Richard Roberts carries the lead into round two but just 13 points separates Joshua Fletcher Williams in second place and Aaron Framingham in seventh, with Maff Pocock, Harry Foster, Alex Hamer, and Toby Lightbown occupying places three, four, five and six respectively.

Harry Fletcher secured the red plate at round one for the Oakley MX1 Clubman class and will be looking for a repeat performance this weekend in his pursuit of the British title. Luke Bull will be charging to close the gap as will Charlie West, Matt Dowse and Ryan Daniel when the gate drops for this forty-deep class.

There is another British title up for the taking in the Fly MX1 Amateur class. Josh Greedy lines up after showing us how it was done at round one. Scott Alldridge improved race on race at Foxhill and took the final win of the day.  Who will come out the gate swinging at round two?

Harrison Greenough, Daniel Brough and Jonathan Roderick-Evans all secured race wins first time out and Greenough secured the overall win in the Bell Amateur MX2 Class.

You have to be in it to win it in the all-new for 2024 Honda Cup!  There is plenty of prizes on offer, including the chance to win a brand-new bike! Currently Howard Wainwright, Adam Chatfield and Henry Williams have all secured a great start. But it’s not just the winning that counts in this class with a fly formula helmet being given away each round, oh and a special Honda guest rider making appearance! For Preston Docks, that’ll be MotoHead’s own chief tester Dave Willet who hasn’t raced an MX2 bike in a very long time!

Gates open to the venue at noon on Friday, May 10th. Be there for fun in the sun. And with the venue being so close to Blackpool, you can always cool down aferwards with a dip in the sea and a ride on a Donkey. If that floats your boat!

Spectator and camping passes are available online and on the gate.