It’s the week after the weekend before, and if you didn’t get to Matterley or stay glued to the screen all day on Sunday you are a fool. What we, the assembled motocross devotees of the UK witnessed on Sunday the 19th of August was our own Olympic moment. It was Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy, Mo Farrah and Tom Daley rolled into one. It confirmed Matterley Basin as one of the best venues on the Grand Prix circuit and Tommy Searle’s double win turned this field into sacred ground. It was and will be for years to come an ‘I was there moment’.
So just in case you were locked in a padded cell all weekend, or struck temporarily blind and deaf, here the British Grand Prix broken down into ten slices of goodness.
1. Weather Man. According to ageing fat guys with pony tails and denim waistcoats, God rides a Harley, Well that’s just bullcrap, as from the evidence of the weekend, Jesus’ Dad is quite obviously British and rather than riding chrome plated monstrosities, actually is a huge motocross fan and probably has a Pro Circuit Kawasaki. Nothing else can explain the glorious weather throughout the event, the azure blue skies and baking sun from Friday through to Sunday. I mean Sunday was just about the hottest day of the year – a bit uncomfortable for the riders but for the fans – absolutely perfect.
2. Track and Field. Matterley has had a bit of a chequered history, with the council forcing Steve Dixon to flatten the track between events, roving hordes storming over the security fencing and traffic chaos. But Mr Dixon has stuck with it, never giving up on the circuit that he had so much faith in, and this year it all fell into place. The track had been immaculately prepared by Justin Barclay and Johnny Hamilton, the logistics guys kept the traffic flowing in and out, the fans came in droves through the turnstiles, and the Youthstream team kept everything running to a tight schedule over four days. Steve even came on the PA system to thank everyone for supporting him and the event. Good work all round chaps.
3. Low life. OK so for all the good things about the event, there were some ugly moments. It’s an unfortunate aspect of any large attendance event that a tiny proportion of people turn up to take advantage of others. And this year was no different, with bikes being stolen from privateers and manufacturers alike. Bike theft is an unfortunate aspect of our sport, and it’s a sad inevitability that the contemptible low-life’s see the GP as rich pickings. If you are or if you know any of these people, may a plague of flies infest your bum hole for the rest of your life. You are not welcome, and we hope the owners catch up with you….
4. Festival Feel. Whilst this might have been just another GP, Youthstream and Dixon worked with not only the FIM but the UEM also to bring together a staggering ten classes of racing for the weekend. The youth were represented by UEM 65, 85, 125 and 250cc classes, the Amateurs had a class, the Veterans got a crack at the circuit, the women were represented in the WMX championship and finally MX1, MX2 and MX3 all had practices, qualifying races and championship races. The racing went on for a staggering four days and comprising an almost unprecedented 339 riders. This has never been attempted before and it worked so well that Youthstream will look to incorporate more of this type of event. Even Champion Antonio Cairoli was moved to praise the format and the inspirational feeling of the event. And as for the Parade lap, unexpected and inspiring genius – loved it.
5. Fantastic Fontanesi. Just as she did at the very first GP of the season, Yamaha’s Chiara Fontanesi stamped her mark onto the WMX championship, wrapping up the title with one GP to go ( there is no women’s race at Lierop). Chiara has been fast and confident all season, grabbing ten wins and four overall GP victories, way beyond her rivals. Britain’s not doing to badly in this championship too, with Natalie Kane getting third overall at Matterley to maintain second in the table. Proud of you Natalie.
6. Classy Conrad. Whilst the UK did not manage to reach the top ten in the 65cc class, Dylan Woodcock fighting to an overall thirteenth, the 85cc class was dominated by an astoundingly confident and super fast Conrad Mewse on his KTM. Conrad was unlucky in Moto 1 to pick up a front wheel puncture, taking him from the front to nursing the bike to a point saving thirteenth place. In the last moto, Mewse crushed the opposition with lap times around 2 seconds faster than his rivals and winning with a 20 second lead. This lad will be British Champion and has enough talent to compete on the world stage. You don’t need to write his name down – you’ll be hearing it a lot….
7. The boy Dunn well. Again mounted on the omnipresent KTM – 29 of the 40 strong grid were on SX125s – British MX2 rider switched classes to the EMX125 for this weekend and did rather well. A solid 8th place in race one was followed up with a close win in the second outing, the points all added up to overall third. James looked well chuffed to be on the box at the end of the second race and the crowd gave him a huge roar – top stuff Jimbo.
8. Carbon Copy Cairoli. As expected, Antonio Cairoli came to Matterley as a clear favourite and proceeded to knock out two text book wins. Tony continues to be a delight to watch, yet although it kind of feels odd to say it, his ability to win virtually every race with such ease is beginning to make the races a little predictable. OK so it happens when any rider dominates series, but it ain’t great if you are just left wondering who is going to be second. Cairoli’s team mates of Nagl and De Dycker did their best to track him down, but if anyone got close, No222 just hits the hyperspace button and is gone. Even title second place guy Desalle had nothing to give this weekend, seemingly giving in to the inevitable.
9. Twelfth Man. OK let’s get all Delia here – the crowd this weekend were absolutely fantastic in their support for our riders this weekend, particularly for Tommy Searle. Even on the parade lap, the Union Jacks, St George crosses, St Andrews crosses and air horns were a frenzy of excitement, and once the races started it was unreal. Home GPs are special for riders, and the chance to win in front of the British fans was clearly very much on Searle’s mind….
10. TOMMY, TOMMY, TOMMY, TOMMY, TOMMY. If there was ever a time for Tommy Searle to pull off two straight wins over his nemesis Jeffrey Herlings, this was the time. And Searle did it in such style, nailing both hole shots and leading every single lap of the two gruelling races. Herlings tried everything to get past him, but Tommy had it all covered. Even when No 84 briefly sneaked past at the far end of the circuit, Searle took him straight back and dropped the hammer. And all the time the crowd were screaming him on – magical. In both races, Herlings tried to pressure Searle into a mistake, only for the pressure to bounce straight back. When Herlings lost the front right in the lion’s den of British fans, the roar was ear splitting, if beautifully unsporting! Tommy won the races from the front and it was wonderful to see.
So that was it – British GP, British win, job done. Perfect
Words by Julian Challis
Images by Ray Chuss