Nico Aubin heads into this weekend’s final round of the Red Bull Pro Nationals with one hand already on the MX1 title but the 24-year-old knows that with a 19-point lead over Martin Barr and 50 points up for grabs just one slip could cost him the championship.
“Of course I want to win but I need to ride smart,” says the Buildbase Honda rider. “Martin will be hopeful of a mistake so I must be very sharp.”
It’s been an up-and-down sort of season for Nico but he’s been able to draw upon the wisdom of three-time world champion and team boss Dave Thorpe to help turn things around and he’ll turn up at Culham on the back of three overall Red Bull Pro Nationals victories on the bounce.
Nico’s main rival for the title is 25-year-old Martin Barr from Northern Ireland. The 2010 Red Bull Pro Nationals MX2 champion knows he’s got his work cut out if he’s going to overhaul the Frenchman for the title and will come to Culham aiming for all-out attack.
“That’s definitely the plan,” says Martin. “I lost a few points at the last round so it’s going to be tough but I’ll be giving it 100 per cent to win. It’s been a tough season with switching teams and to get back up at the front and fighting for the championship is brilliant! To get another Red Bull Pro National championship under my belt would be fantastic.”
The MX2 title fight is another two-horse race with South African Neville Bradshaw holding a comfortable 32-point lead over Frenchman Steven Lenoir. It’s familiar ground for 29-year-old Nev who was the inaugural Red Bull Pro Nationals MX2 champ back in 2009.
“Going into Culham I just want to do the best I can and hopefully come away with two race wins,” says the Evotech Stevens Honda rider. “I’m lucky that there is a decent points gap so I can just concentrate on my racing. I’ve been doing a lot of riding getting ready for the final races as it’s going to be a long off-season and I want to try to end 2012 on a high.”
Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert may have checked out with the BW85cc crown a round early but there are still three Red Bull Elite Youth Cup titles to be decided this weekend when the series comes to a climax at Culham Park.
On paper the Rookies class looks pretty much a done deal in favour of Oakleaf Kawasaki’s Jake Millward. The 18-year-old from Sheffield is sitting on a healthy 107-point lead after dominating round six at Hawkstone Park. But with five races left to run and a possible 225 points on the table second-placed Dan Thornhill is still in with a shout.
The SW85cc division has also boiled down to a two-man battle with Keenan Hird leading by 95 points from Marcus Phelps. After missing most of the 2011 season through injury, Keenan’s comeback has been stunning and once he found his feet following a nervous opening round he’s shown himself to be a class act.
Standing between Keenan and the title is 12-year-old Marcus who flies to every round of the Red Bull Pro Nationals from his home in South Africa. For the final round Marcus’ gameplan is simple – come out with his race face on and go for broke.
The battle for top honours in the 65cc division is between Powerband KTM team-mates Christopher Mills and Tom Grimshaw with Christopher holding a 43-point advantage.
In the two-stroke championship Expert Open class series leader Matt Moffat is still carrying an injury. With a maximum of 75 points available – and the gap to the season-long pace-setter reduced to just 31 points after round six at Hawkstone Park – second-placed Lewis King knows his hopes of the title are still alive. And King’s also got his eyes on the Expert 125cc prize where he trails leader Carlton Husband by just three points.
In the Junior Open category Robbie Waller starts as an overwhelming favourite. After finishing second at the opening round back in early May the 19-year-old has gone on a five-round win-streak and has a 44-point cushion over Adam Harris. The Junior 125cc battle is much closer with Ryan Snaith leading Alec Everitt by 23 points with Jordan Bachelor a further nine points adrift.
Culham Park is on the banks of the river Thames. Set your satnav to OX14 3DA or follow the AA roadsigns on the A415 between Abingdon and Clifton Hampden.
For more information go to www.redbullpronationals.com