The Maxxis British Championship roared into life with a thrill-a-minute opening round at a perfect Little Silver today, where Bike-It Cosworth Yamaha new signing Arnuad Tonus and LS Honda’s MX1 rookie Shaun Simpson took the all important wins on a day marked by the misfortune of major championship contenders as much as the success of others.
Pristine track conditions made for a fast and frantic series opener, but the Bike-It partnership of Tonus and reigning MX2 champ Zach Osborne were on another level to the MX2 competition. They set the pace in qualifying, with Osborne dropping a scorcher in Superpole just over a second faster than Tonus, but Osborne had to contend with Samsung Yamaha’s Ray Rowson – celebrating his return to racing after two years on the injured list – by nailing the holeshot.
Rowson would eventually drop back to fourth at the flag, his best ride of the day, whilst Osborne cruised to an unchallenged win by 12-seconds as Tonus came through the pack to pass Jake Nicholls for second late in the race. Osborne and Tonus romped away from the rest of the field in moto two in a race long battle that Osborne again triumphed in, but such was the pace of the Bike-It duo that they’d gapped third place Nicholls by 35-seconds at the flag. Nicholls himself was 15-seconds clear of Mattis Karro on the MVR-D Honda.
Osborne looked like he was on for a perfect start to his championship defence as he stalked Tonus during the early stages of the final moto, but disaster struck for the American as hi bike came to halt just as he made his move for the lead, robbing him of the overall and team owner Steve Dixon of a 1-2. This gifted the grateful Tonus with the win and the overall, as Mattis Karro put in his best ride of the day to grab second in the moto and on the day from Nicholls who could manage only a fifth in the heat behind Elliott Banks-Browne and Bryan MacKenzie.
So it was Tonus, Karro and Nicholls who stood atop the podium to kick-start their seasons in style, but Osborne still banked enough points to claim fourth overall ahead of EBB, PAR’s impressive young gun Luke Hawkins in sixth, crash-happy but fast Mel Pocock, MacKenzie and Rowson whilst Lanes Kawasaki’s Scott Elderfield rounded out the top ten.
Shaun Simpson made the first of his two Maxxis appearances a winning one with the first overall victory of his 450 career, but he did it without winning a moto as Jason Dougan, Tom Church and Steven Sword took the individual race wins. The Scot looked smooth, fast and most importantly consistent however as his trio of second places netted him the win whilst none of the other big players could string three top-three rides together.
While Simpson took the win, much of the talk at Little Silver was of how mechanical misfortune robbed CCM’s Steven Sword of the potential win. Not once, but twice, Sword’s rear tyre rolled off the rim as the Scot was in positions to win, resulting in two heartbreaking DNFs and putting him very much on the back foot in the championship chase already.
Swordy rebounded with a superb final moto win, but the damage was already done and allowed CCM team-mate and second moto victor Church in to claim a strong second overall and Dougan to round off an almost perfect day for the Bike-It team with third. PAR Honda’s Brad Anderson was a fighting fourth but looked a little race rusty, Samsung Yamaha’s MX1 new by Kristian Whatley was a very impressive fifth from fellow class new boy Graeme Irwin, evergreen Gordy Crockard and LPE’s Estonian charger Gert Krestinov, whilst fastest qualifying but crash-happy Martin Barr and Lanes Kawasaki local boy Alex Snow rounded out the top ten.
The Vets championship kicked off at Little Silver too and as expected it was a battle for honours between Greg Hanson, Terry House and Brian Wheeler. Wheeler took the opening moto honours from Hanson and House, but as Wheeler came home fourth in moto two Hanson was romping away at the front from House to bag the win and the overall. Wheeler hung on to take the second step on the podium by a point from House.
Words Ben Johnson
Images Ray Chuss
1 24 Shaun Simpson 66 22 22 22
2 4 Tom Church 63 18 25 20
3 21 Jason Dougan 57 25 16 16
4 60 Brad Anderson 52 20 18 14
5 227 Kristian Whatley 46 11 20 15
6 555 Graeme Irwin 41 15 15 11
7 7 Gordon Crockard 40 16 12 12
8 37 Gert Krestinov 39 12 14 13
9 50 Martin Barr 36 8 10 18
10 31 Alex Snow 33 14 11 8
1 7 Arnaud Tonus 69 22 22 25
2 91 Mattis Karro 56 16 18 22
3 45 Jake Nicholls 56 20 20 16
4 338 Zachary Osborne 50 25 25 –
5 44 Elliott Banks Browne 48 12 16 20
6 12 Luke Hawkins 39 14 15 10
7 119 Mel Pocock 37 15 7 15
8 121 Bryan Mackenzie 32 – 14 18
9 111 Ray Rowson 31 18 13 –
10 60 Scott Elderfield 29 13 5 11
1 8 Greg Hanson 47 22 25
2 2 Brian Wheeler 43 25 18
3 1 Terry House 42 20 22
4 22 Jason Morris 38 18 20
5 25 Ricky Hanson 32 16 16
6 28 Phil Lewis 28 13 15
7 17 Adrian Bradley 27 15 12
8 48 David Dunn 25 11 14
9 26 Richard Brown 25 12 13
10 27 Colin Thomas 21 10 11