The opening round of the 2018 Power Maxed Arenacross Tour certainly incited plenty of cheering this evening, from an excitable Manchester Arena crowd. Several of the Pro class front runners failed to automatically qualify to the climax of the show whilst, away from the race track action, the headline-hitting Freestyle MX athletes hit new heights, with jaw-dropping tricks aplenty.
The racecard was virtually thrown out of the window when reigning AX champ Thomas Ramette (SR75 World Suzuki) – the three-time holder of the title – and one of his closest racing rivals, Cedric Soubeyras (Team Fro Systems), the current French Supercross champ, together with former British MX champ Elliott Banks Browne (Geartech Husqvarna) and winner of the first-ever Arenacross Pro series Adam Chatfield (Team Green Holeshot Kawasaki), all ended up battling against each other in the head-to-head eliminator segment of the show. Soubeyras and Ramette fought tooth and nail right to the end to win the highly prized top two slots which gave them a guaranteed passage to the Main Event, whilst Chatfield and Banks Browne earned the recognition of the promoter to also make it through to the 14-lap final.
An all-French podium was the order of the night with an unexpected winner in the form of new-to-AX Charles Lefrancois (Buildbase Honda), and the Suzuki pairing of Cyrille Coulon and Ramette second and third. Banks Browne had a good pace in the early stage of the race, but a couple of offs put him out of contention, leaving seventh-placed Jack Brunell (Team Green Holeshot Kawasaki) as the top-placed British rider.
As ever, the Freestyle performances kept the audience on the edge of their seats and AX newbie, Australian Ryan Brown, was a welcome addition adding a new and edgy angle to the show. He joined popular regulars Edgar Torronteras, Dan Whitby, Samson Eaton, Arran Powley and Nez Parker as they thrilled their growing army of fans with their daring antics.
Moving down the racing ranks and testosterone levels were at an all-time high in the Pro Lites class which saw Joe Clayton (Team Green Holeshot Kawasaki), Jason Meara (JK IFly Yamaha) and Chris Bayliss (Wooldridge Demolition) dicing and twisting to the wire. The youth classes were equally as furious with German rider Carl Osterman cleaning up in the Supermini group and Harvey Antrobus dominating the youngest race category, the 65cc Youth.
The second leg of the 2018 Arenacross Tour now heads to the north-east to the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, next Saturday the 13th of January. Tickets are on sale now via www.arenacrossuk.com or by calling the Box Office on 0844 844 0444.
1. Charles Lefrancois, Buildbase Honda, 23 points
2. Cyrille Coulon, SR75 World Team Suzuki, 18
3. Thomas Ramette, SR75 World Team Suzuki, 16
4. Cedric Soubeyras, Team Fro Systems, 15
5. Fabien Izoird, Buildbase Honda, 14
6. Adrien Escoffier, MVR-D St Blazey Husqvarna, 13
7. Hugo Basaula, Shocktech Kawasaki, 13
8. Jack Brunell, Team Green Holeshot Kawasaki, 12
9. Adam Chatfield, Team Green Holeshot Kawasaki, 10
10. Dan Reardon, JK IFly Yamaha Racing, 9
11. Elliott Banks Browne, Geartech Husqvarna, 8
12. Ashley Greedy, Team Fro Systems, 8
1. Joe Clayton, 40 points
2. Jason Meara, 34
3. Chris Bayliss, 34
4. Scooter Webster, 30
5. Lewis Dowdeswell, 26
6. Oliver Benton, 24
1. Carl Osterman, 20 points
2. Buster Hart, 18
3. Raife Broadley, 16
4. Robert Storer, 15
5. Kai Tucker, 14
1. Harvey Antrobus, 20 points
2. Shaun Mahoney, 18
3. Jake Davies, 16
4. Zane Stephens, 15
5. Kyron Carron, 14