Words and pics by Mike Wood
Just one week ago, MX2 top pilot Josh Waterman was left bitterly frustrated by an under-performing KTM engine lacking power and punch which lost him vital points during an IMBA European Championship round in Italy. But then just seven days later and proving how quickly fortunes can change in motocross, at Frocester for the penultimate round of the AMCA British Motocross Championship that frustration was to turn to total smiles and elation! Those niggling mechanical gremlins, caused by an electrical fault had finally been identified and rectified thus allowing Josh to not only scorch to a hat-trick of moto wins but also keep himself in contention to retain his AMCA MX2 title when the series concludes at Norley this weekend. Topping the Frocester podium, Josh reduced leader Ray Rowson’s advantage down to 43 points. Rowson though the MX2 man very much inform was also on that box along with Luke Dean, the rider that currently sits 3rd in the series powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop.
In MX1, defending Champion Luke Burton calmly collected another calculated overall win and now requires just a further 49 points to retain his title. During Sunday’s action, Ryan Crowder claimed his third successive MX1 podium spot with 2nd overall whilst Gary Gibson took 3rd. When the AMCA series wraps up this weekend at Norley, the rider with what appears to be the least work to do and thus get over the line is 2T leader Brad Turner. Following another overall win on Sunday, Turner requires just 8 points to secure his first AMCA title. Bagging his first ever podium, a simply delighted Jack Waterman took 2nd in the 2T at Frocester with James Lane the 2016 series runner-up recording his best finish so far this campaign with 3rd. The last class for Vets which as proved to be a season long three-way domination looks like going in favour of James Russell. The former AMCA Open class Champion took victory on Sunday and now needs another 91 points to earn the 2017 Vets crown.
Despite rain falling pretty much throughout the entire proceedings thus making corner entry particularly slippery and visibility for riders difficult, the big old Frocester circuit was in great shape and survived the weather to dish up some very exciting racing thanks to the sterling efforts of the Dursley MXC.
Currently in a rich vein of form, Ryan Crowder grabbed the opening MX1 holeshot of the day before Luke Burton moved through just as the pack completed lap one. From here onwards it was the MX1 Championship leader controlling all the way although he did have a nervous moment in the closing stages, making contact with a backmarker in a corner which stalled his FUS Husqvarna’s engine. Taking 2nd in this one and just over 3 seconds in arrears was Shane Carless who had been on a massive charge. Gating 7th, the Marsh MX Honda rider was really on it as Crowder took 3rd from fast 2T ace Adam Harris and a great race long tussle for 5th featuring Gary Gibson, Paul Neale, Luke Meredith and Ashley Thomas.
MX1 moto two and Crowder again took the holeshot to thus lead the opening lap. This time around it was to be Gibson claiming the eventual win as Burton moved up to get home in 2nd ahead of fast starting Crowder, Jack Timms, Thomas, Harris and Matt Ridgway enjoying one of his best rounds of the campaign. In this second clash the man in trouble was Carless who after being involved in a turn one collision lost his handlebar grip! Quickly repairing the damage, Shane was right down in 22nd before recovering back to finish 13th.
Desparate to make amends and claw back vital points, Carless then led the final MX1 clash all the way to the finish after passing holeshot king Crowder. With Burton, struggling for clear vision in the rain and suffering a fall early on which dropped him down to 6th, the Champion elect decided to settle for a safe 2nd. Finishing their respective performances off in style, the smooth Crowder was again to take 3rd ahead of Harris, Gibson and Ridgway, all right in the mix and fighting hard. In this moto, Brandon Benjamin enjoyed his own best ride of the day, getting it home in 7th.
Lewis King on the TMC Kawasaki was fastest away in the opening MX2 clash before being passed by Josh Waterman. In a frantic few early laps, Bradley Tranter, Jansen Day and Clinton Barrs were also right on it as series leader Ray Rowson in 8th and Luke Dean 9th had plenty of work to do. As Waterman raced off to bag the win, Rowson stormed back up the leaderboard to snatch 2nd, followed through by Dean who also had a great ride in 3rd. Early leader King eventually had to settle for 4th with Tranter, Day and Barrs the next best.
Dean made a flying start in moto two, putting in a big few early laps before being reeled in by Waterman. After a super battle, Waterman then moved to the front before racing off to another impressive win. Day and Barrs were to be the next best as Rowson got home in 5th. This was certainly to be a very painful moto for the series leader Rowson after earlier suffering a nasty cut to his head when a flying stone pierced his goggles. Also not enjoying such good fortune this time around, King crashed on lap one when entering a fast downhill corner. Restarting last he got home in 12th.
Dean and Tranter were very fast off the mark in the final MX2 clash before they both fell on the completion of lap one. Quickly remounting, the rider in trouble was Tranter, suffering a painful injury to his rear end and also losing all the fluid from his back brake system! Upfront the rejuvenated Waterman was simply flying, blasting to another win chased home by Rowson, Day, Barrs, Luke Mellows and James Wainwright. After their earlier tumble, Dean recovered for 7th and Tranter was 13th whilst King was forced out early on with mechanical gremlins. Afterwards a relieved Waterman said, “For the last couple of months we been having problems which we thought was down to the engine but found it was an electrical issue which we rectified just yesterday at 4pm. What a difference I had in speed and power today and felt like I was riding a different bike. The track was really good so well done to Lawson Benjamin and the Dursley MXC crew”.
Enjoying the Frocester terrain, Jack Waterman led the charge in 2T moto one for three laps before being overhauled by Championship pace-setter Brad Turner. Getting home in 3rd was Shaun Buchan passing Jason Kenderick late on. Having campaigned on a KTM all season, Kenderick was out on a TM at Frocester and looked very comfortable aboard his new mount whilst James Lane, Bradley Doyle, Jordan Saunders and Rory Jones all started strongly. Having finished her BWMA Ladies campaign, Nadiya Jones was competing for the first time in the AMCA 2T series and got home in 30th place in moto one.
What a classic 2T moto two proved to be as again Waterman grabbed the holeshot before Buchan, Lane, Doyle and finally Waterman for the second time all took turns to lead. Taking the win it was Waterman from Lane enjoying easily his best performance of the season, Kendrick, Doyle and Saunders. Not having it all his own way, Turner was 17th before falling and dropping right back to 31st. Showing his class though the AMS/IDS KTM ace eventually recovered for 9th. The final 2T clash also produced more super action as Buchan led a four way battle at the front which featured Saunders, Turner and Alec Everitt. Eventually though that man Turner took the all-important win to just about tie up a much deserved title. On the podium though the happiest man was certainly Jack Waterman, “ Today went well and I made good starts which helped. The track was superb and I am so pleased as that was my first ever podium.”
In a great Vets moto one battle, Simon Lane, James Russell and finally winner Terry House all took turns to lead the way. Such was the pace of the top three that they forged a massive advantage for themselves at the front. The main focus then turned to a terrific scrap for 4th in which Richard Chinn got the verdict just ahead of Gary Jones who had gated right down in 14th and Brian Staples.
Vets Champion elect Russell then led moto two all the way as House held 2nd, then fell dropping back to 3rd before again recovering to reclaim the runners-up position. Next best was Lane, Jones, Chinn, Darren Bennett and Staples. The best race of the day though was certainly to be moto three! In that clash both Russell and Lane took turns to lead but the man providing the entertainment was House. Holding 2nd the KTM rider fell and dropped back to what appeared to be a distant 3rd! Undeterred he not only remounted but passed Lane for 2nd before then remarkably reeling in and passing a very surprised leader Russell on the final lap. In an incredible finish, Russell then responded to regain his leadership on the very last corner, getting the verdict by just a tyre’s width, simply superb!
Sunday’s event also featured round two of the AMCA 85cc/150cc Youth Championship, the youngsters on duty displaying plenty of skill and courage to master the slippery conditions. Taking moto one it was Alfie Rickwood all the way ahead of Harrison McCann and Max Lewis. In the second encounter, Rickwood looked set to record another big win until his engine stalled on several occasions. Losing valuable ground and places, the distraught youngster was eventually forced to retire from the moto. So bagging the win this time around it was McCann from Lewis, Jack Loveridge and Ben Dutton. In the last clash, Rickwood had his bike back on song to thus record another win with McCann, Joshua Fletcher-Williams and Lewis the next best. That stoppage for Rickwood in moto two though also meant that he would not feature on the podium with the trophies going to McCann, Lewis and Loveridge.