We are into the rundown towards the end of the British Championship, and Round 6 of 8 saw the Maxxis Roadshow turn up at the historic Hawkstone circuit cut into the Shropshire hillside. Whilst the MX1 class has seen little change for a while (and without the injured Mattis Karro this seemed likely to continue!), the MX2 class was still very much up for grabs between the main contenders. Strong results at Hawkstone could certainly seal the deal for the 2012 title. So in case you didn’t get there on Sunday, here’s out top ten from Round 6.
1. Glorious Weather. Either someone at the ACU has a very good knack at predicting the weather of they’ve been very lucky. Every single round has been bathed in sun, whilst across the UK major and minor sporting fixtures and events have been blighted and forced to cancel due to the appalling rain. Yet again Hawkstone was bathed in glorious sun, and even if there was a short burst of rain, they were over as quickly as they started and served to damp down the dust. Summer Motocross like back in the day!
2. Tough Track. Unlike some of the more hand crafted tracks in the series, such as FatCat or Milton Park, Hawkstone has big landscapes and natural contours. Added into this mix are the big jumps and hits on the bottom part of the circuit, the deep and unforgiving sand and you have a seriously tough ‘old skool’ circuit, With the extremely dry surface contributing to the difficulty, the days racing took prisoners left right and centre. There were multiple pile ups, individual crashes, bike failures, rider incidents – it was all going off! They’d even introduced a new chicane on the way down the big hill. If you wanted to know just how tough, just ask Jordan Booker who took a huge tumble down this section and did a passable impression of a rag doll being thrown over a cliff! Hardcore.
3. Crowds? Whilst everything was in place for the racing, the crowds were a bit disappointing for a British Championship round, and far below the levels of the International meeting at the start of the season. Those that were there were enthusiastic, but it does seem the ACU are relying the faithful few rather than attracting new audiences. But saying that families are now on their summer holidays. We also noticed a serious lack of signage on the way from Telford to the circuit. Would it be unreasonable to expect some way of catching families out for the day looking for something to do? Even the entrance into the track had just one A4 flyer tied to a hedge – you could have driven past it. Many probably did….
4. Start Line Dramas. OK so many of you may have seen this on AAA video footage, but if not here’s a little run down. At the start of the first MX2 race all the riders are busy prepping their start gates on the concrete. It’s part practical, part psychological, but very much part of race preparation. Just as they were putting the final touches to their positions, an unnamed club official (not ACU) came along and proceeded to brush all the dirt from the front of the gate all over their prepared positions. Riders, journos and even the ACU official stood by open mouthed at this, before many of the riders told the guy to stop and sling his hook. Did this work – No – he just continued and nearly came to blows with the riders that were objecting. Unreal.
5. Bipolar Bear. Hawkestone saw yet another hot and cold performance from the mercurial Nico Aubin. One minute he was busting enormous jumps on the lower section (watch the amazing video here), the next he was heading to the pits before the racing was done. Nico smashed super pole by nearly a second from Pocock, got third in race one and outright won race 2. Then he failed to even finish the final moto, heading for the pits after ending up at the back of the pack from an incident. Maybe his name should be pronounced ‘Or Bin’ as that seems the only option to finishing at the pointy end!
6. Dorren Dorren. PAR Hondas rookie Dorren Coutts was on fire (or maybe it should be ‘Hungry like the Wolf?)on Sunday, running 4th in qualifying, second in super pole and 5th in Race 1. A fuel problem in race two dropped him back from a similar place to a disappointing fourteenth come the chequers, but no doubt without the problem he would have kept in the top five. Race three was not quite as good, but his improvement each round is plain to see. With a bit of luck, Coutts could hit the podium in the last two rounds. With Sterry, Watson, Watson and Anstie having strong days, it was all smiles in the PAR camp, except maybe for Whatley who got bashed up on Race 2 after a good first race and not going out for the final.
7. No luck except Bad Luck. Whilst others on the orange bikes seem to be doing just fine in the championship, the black cloud of misfortune seems to hang over Elliott Banks Brown this season like a hungry vulture. Early in the season his bike was as reliable as a taxi controller’s promise, but for a brief while this had been sorted. However like the Hawkstone International, EBBs bike went pop in the very first moto to rob him of his front running position and maybe even his title hopes. Frustration was hardly the word in the HM awning, and with Pocock now ahead again, it’s going to take miracle for EBB or disasters for Pocock to prevent a third Dixon title on the bounce.
8. Magic Mel. Pocock has been the star of the show this year, and save for a bad day in Milton, has been on his game all season. No doubt buoyed up from his blistering form and multiple wins in EMX2, Dixons third wheel – promoted to ‘only wheel’ –is just a pleasure to watch. Oozing confidence and riding with a maturity that the international experience brings, Pocock is pure class on the track. Yet compared to EBB, Mel has only 4 wins this year compared to the KTM pilots seven and undoubtedly No119 has been the main benefactor of the orange bikes temperamental engine. At this point, the championship is his to lose.
9. Untouchable Strijbos. HM Plants top guy shows no sign of slackening off despite his 49 point cushion over Shaun Simpson. Try as they might, now Karro is on the sick bench, none of the regular MX1 riders have anything to challenge him, and his success in the British Championship is being mirrored by big scores and podiums on the world stage. Roger Magee made a very shrewd move in signing the quiet spoken Belgian and seems almost certain to get the MX1 title for 2012. Whether he can hold onto him for 2013 is another thing as Strijbos certainly has enough in his tank for a full factory GP ride next year.
10. Max Attacks. In what was a fairly unexpected wild card ride, Gariboldi Honda’s MX2 rider and ever happy Max Anstie was at Hawkstone riding for the PAR team. Manager Neil Prince had leant Max a completely bog standard, (and to be honest fairly shagged) CRF450. The machine was Dorren Coutts second practice bike, with not even so much as a sponsor’s sticker on it, let alone a graphics kit. Despite this, Max was all over the MX1 class like a rash, clocking a 3 / 2 / 2 positions to give himself an overall second on his very first MX1 outing. He was literally jaw droppingly smooth and fast – even leading much of the third race before Strijbos reeled him in.
But there was a bigger reason for Max’s appearance – that being a certain event in Lommel in a couple of months’ time. With Tommy and Jake fairly strong bets for the Nations team, the third spot is very much up for grabs and clearly Max fancies a place on the squad. And with form like Sunday, he certainly did himself a few favours – ride like that in the sand at the MXoN rather than Hawkstone and Great Britain has a genuine chance of at least a podium. How Shaun Simpson felt about this was as clear as the nose on his face…….
So there we go, Round 6 all done and two to go. The penultimate helping of the spicy soup that is the Maxxis British Motocross Championship is being served at the rather marvellous Langrish circuit in Hampshire on August Banks Holiday Monday. Sounds like a date for the diary.
Words by Julian Challis
Images by Ray Chuss