A true summer day awaited the Rockstar Energy KTM team at Milton Park outside Northampton for the fourth round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship this past weekend. Scorching temperatures on Saturday were a preview of what was to come on Sunday morning. The team was down to the MX2 class this week as MXY2 rider Ben Howell is still recovering from injury, and MX1 rider Pete Mitchell was released from the team during the week for breach of contract.
During qualifying on Sunday morning, Bryan Mackenzie put in a top three time in super-pole and Shane Carless had to make do with twelfth after a mistake in the same session, while Mark Perfect qualified in thirty-fourth.
Mackenzie made his mark early on in the first race with a great start in sixth, but struggled to make any further progress beyond that. To add insult to injury, a small crash dropped him down to seventh, making that his position on the finish line. The second race got off to a better start. Third in the first corners, Mackenzie soon moved into second, where he put the pressure on leader Elliott Banks-Browne. Eager to gain the lead, a small mistake sent him to the ground and cost him two precious places. After restarting in fourth, he slipped to fifth, a position kept all the way to the end.
The super-final race, a race combining the top twenty finishers on the day of both classes, saw Mackenzie get off to a top ten start that translated to runner-up position in the MX2 class. A quick move on class leader Banks-Browne moved Mackenzie into the class lead, a position held all the way up to sixth in the field. With but a few laps to go, he made another mistake, going to ground yet again and losing two places for a third in the class, and a fourth overall on the day.
For Carless, the first race could not have gotten off to a worse start. After his front wheel tucked under in the first corner, Carless found himself last by a significant margin. Nonetheless, he soon made steady progress back up the pack, finishing the race in the points in twentieth. The second race got off to a better start; Carless in the top twenty this time around. By lap three, he had moved into sixteenth place, and with the one-lap board out, into thirteenth. Muscled out by the big MX1 bikes on the super-final start, Carless was nonetheless tenth in his class after the first lap. His battle for positions was cut short by a malfunction a third in, leaving him in eighteenth on the day.
For Perfect, things did not go entirely to plan. With a gate pick on the outside, Perfect struggled to make the jump on the start and found himself in the back of the pack in both races. Thirtieth off the gate in the first race, the youngster found himself moving up and down the pack, finally settling into thirty-third to the end. In the second race, a bad start dropped Perfect to dead-last. Hard work nonetheless allowed him to make progress to thirty-fourth by mid-race, from where he was not able to improve much, ending in the same position at the chequered flag.
“Not too bad a day, all things considered,” admitted team principal Darren Wilson. “Bryan’s done the team proud, he showed flashes of what I’d asked him to do in the last two weeks, which is to become a harder character on the track. I witnessed it myself today, and it is what we are looking for. We are looking to do what it takes to get to the front, and we missed the podium by a point today. BC and the mechanics are working hard to try and give him the best bike, I believe we have a real good bike out there now, so fingers crossed, we’ll have a podium at Desertmartin. We’ll need one of those podiums by the end of the year.
“Bryan had a bit of a disappointing first race, a couple of get-offs, a seventh and a fifth, and in the last race, the mixed super final at the end of the day, he was first MX2 for the whole race bar four laps, when he made a small mistake and end back to third, but still a good result. It’s the wins that we need needing. Shane has had a bit of an up and down kinda day. Qualifying started off with a ninth, in the super-pole he went back to twelfth; he made a mistake in his flying lap. Shane doesn’t seem to be himself right now, he is better than the results are showing, he’s a far better rider than on paper at the end of the day. Mark had two reasonably good rides, he’s never done well at this track. Desertmartin he’s rode before and had decent results there, so I hope he’s going to reach his goal, of between a fifteenth and twentieth place there. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, so hey-ho, on we go.”
Bryan Mackenzie (#121): Today was… very hot. The track was much better than last year but still pretty difficult because of the heat. qualifying started off pretty well, and the first race was really bad because I just couldn’t make any passes happen, and I had a small problem with my clutch lever which bothered me, but I had to adapt and overcome. I had a small crash as well, and I think I finished seventh. The second race was going really well, put a hard charge on in the first two laps and got to second, was sticking with Elliott and was pulling away from the others, and then again just over jumped a jump just ever so slightly, hit a bump wrong, cross rutted a little bit and crashed and that was that. That last race got an average start but I guess it was pretty good MX2-wise, and I moved into sixth in the combined race, I was first MX2 for ages for twenty, twenty-five minutes, made a small crash and my fault again, over jumped a jump and it caught me out again, so I guess I just need to minimise my mistakes and work on that. We missed out on the podium by one point today, so that was a bit of a gutter but I’ll redeem myself for the next round and keep on pushing forward to get a podium soon.
Shane Carless (#68): In qualifying I got seventh, which was pretty good. We went to super-pole, I made two mistakes and came in at eleventh, which was better than I’d done all year. In the first race I was going for the holeshot; the front wheel slid out from underneath me and I came off. In the first lap I came off four times, but came back to twentieth. In the second race I had a decent start, got Ben Watson’s leg stuck in my back wheel on the start and had to get it out, and got back to thirteenth. In the last race I had a good start, was in eighth position and then something broke and that was the day over.
Mark Perfect (#125): We had a good lap in qualifying which we thought was good enough, but the track dried out dramatically and the times dropped, so my time was good enough for 35th, which was not the start I was hoping for. I’ve got my times within a reasonable distance now, but I’m still looking for better the more I’m racing. I just have to go better and start bringing it to the races; in Scotland I’ve had a couple of good races and I believe I can bring that to the British championship.