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Walsh gets Honda MXGP ride

British MX2 champ Dylan Walsh will race in the remaining MXGPs for Jacky Martens’ JM Honda team, replacing the now-retired Julien Lieber. Walsh’s MXGP campaign starts with the third Latvian GP round at Kegums on Sunday.

He’ll also continue race the MSR Redline Honda CRF450 in the next MX National round at Landrake on August 23, and any other rounds that don’t clash.

The 22-year-old British-born Kiwi was brought to the UK recently to race for the privateer Honda 450 team. He made his 450 race debut in the opening MX Nationals round at Hawkstone where he battled for the lead. He was due to race the rest of the series and the four-round British championships, but of course that has now been axed.

When Belgian Lieber announced his shock retirement recently, Martens approached Walsh’s UK backers who were keen to continue supporting him. So he went to Lommel in Belgium on Friday to test Martens’ bike and the deal was done.

Walsh will run MSR and Revo logos on his clothing in the MXGPs and British rounds, and it’s believed there are behind-the-scenes plans being hatched for him to race full-time in the UK next season on the 450, and do some GPs.

Walsh said: “I’m super excited about this great opportunity! I realise it’s a big step but I’m motivated to work hard with the team to improve each time I’m out on track. I’ve only done a couple of weeks on the Honda 450, but even in stock trim it’s a very solid bike that’s easy to get used to. All of this would not be possible without Matt Smith Racing and Only Revo allowing me to grab this chance with JM Honda Racing, especially on such short notice so I’m very thankful for that.”

Former world champ Jacky Martens, JM Honda Racing team manager, said: “We’re really looking forward to having Dylan come on board. He has proven before that he has raw speed and is eager to learn. To fill in for a rider like Julien Lieber who started his third season MXGP is a big ask but that’s not what this is about. We just want him to make the most of this experience and continue to make progress. Dylan immediately felt comfortable on the JM Honda Racing bike in testing so that’s been a nice introduction. A big thanks to Matt Smith (MSR Redline Motorcycles Honda) and Mark Yates (Only Revo) for their understanding and cooperation.”