It’s all systems go for the opening round of the MX Nationals British Championship at Preston Docks circuit in Lancashire this weekend. The mid-week decision, made by the organisers of the leading domestic series, to switch venues from the originally scheduled Cadders Hill venue in Lyng, Norfolk, thanks to extreme flooding, was a difficult one. However, it has proved to be popular choice with a full line-up of riders across all classes making the trip to Preston, and blue skies making the track build crew’s life that little easier!
The elite class reads like a who’s who of British Pro MX, with established MX1/2 runners returning to the fold, and a few new faces joining in to keep things interesting.
Revo Husqvarna UK’s Mel Pocock – reigning MX Nationals Pro MX2 champ, and Martin Barr – third in Pro MX1 last year, both fresh from EMX250 success, are already showing their early-season form. They’ll be joined in the Sunday’s two ‘Fastest 40’ motos by 2017 Pro MX1 runner-up Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna), as well as Pro regulars Josh Gilbert (Honda Adventure Centre), Lewis Tombs (Planet Husqvarna), Jake Nicholls (Buildbase Honda), Gert Krestinov (Phoenix Tools Honda), Kristian Whatley (Rob Hooper Yamaha), James Dunn (GL12 Racing). Moving up from the Experts are 2017 class winners Declan Whittle (Herts MX Husqvarna) and Glenn McCormick (Norman Watt KTM) who could well upset the established order of play in the Pro class, whilst leaving the field wide open in the Experts.
With two-time MX1 Pro champ Graeme Irwin concentrating his 2018 race efforts on the world stage, Elliott Banks-Browne (EBB) has to be a solid bet for the 2018 championship. Runner up to Irwin last year, EBB’s early-season training, and assault on the Power Maxed Arenacross series, didn’t quite go according to plan when he was sidelined by a vicious dose of the Australian flu that culled so many at the beginning of the year. He did however, earn the accolade of being the only Brit to take an AX podium position when he finished third at Belfast. Looking ahead to the Michelin MX Nationals British Championship, he said; “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m currently feeling the best I’ve ever felt on a 450 and am ready. Since Arenacross, I’ve been training hard in preparation for the outdoor season and have just returned from Belgium where we’ve been testing the new engine. I’m riding four to five times a week and feel good, fit and strong and the bike is good. On paper, my good friend Jake Nicholls and I should be the ones to watch. We really get on well but, on the track …. A race is a race!
“The one thing I’d really like to see is for more fans to come and watch the MX Nationals. The racing is as good, if not better than some national motocross championships. Last year Graeme (Irwin) and I had some amazing and intense battles; ten times better than anywhere else we competed.
“It’s a shame for everyone involved with Lyng that another high-profile race weekend had to be cancelled, but it is the best all-round option to change the venue and give all riders a chance to get out race.”
Giving EBB a run for his money will be Jake Nicholls, whose return to domestic racing has been well documented. Having enjoyed a successful MXGP racing career with many highs; a few lows and season-halting injury caused the straight-talking 27-year-old to reassess his future aspirations. “I had to call it a day with the MXGP scene. I wasn’t enjoying it and really, was doing it for the wrong reasons. To have an opportunity with Honda and Dave Thorpe is amazing and one of the things I’m most looking forward to is getting out on good old hard and rough British tracks.
“In terms of competition, obviously the usual suspects will all be good on their day and I’m sure Elliott and I will have a few tussles. And, although I’m feeling strong and optimistic, there are a couple of MX Nationals tracks I haven’t ridden before, so there are loads of challenges ahead – which to be honest, I really looking forward to.
“If I had to sum up my upcoming MX Nationals venture, I’d say I’m most looking forward to rough tracks, practice on Saturday and race on Sunday, and a good family atmosphere.”
A two-day weekend pass is just £15 on the gate . Children aged 12 and under go free. Camping is available from Friday onwards for only £10. There’ll be on-site facilities as well as refreshments and trade stands.