OK so it’s finally here. The biggest event in the domestic motocross calendar kicks off on Thursday 16th of August and the Moto team are as excited as bunch of five year old on Christmas morning.
But hang on – Thursday you say – Grand Prix run just two days over the weekend? And you’d be right for just about every other GP on the circuit, but not so with this year’s British Grand Prix.
In what is being rightly described as ‘A Festival of Motocross’ Matterley Basin will play host to a staggering 10 classes over four days. We have The European Motorcycle Union (UEM) EMX Championship rounds for the 65cc, 85cc, 125cc and 250cc classes to keep the junior riders occupied, then we have the often overlooked MX3 class, Women’s Motocross Championship, Veterans Championship and even an Amateur class to keep the hobby riders involved ( expect this to be won by a rider with a bigger motor home than Cairoli!) Oh and talking of the little Italian Stallion, whilst all these other classes are fine and dandy, they are all just starters to the magnificent main course to this feast, the MX1 and MX2 World Championship. This is without doubt a huuuuuuge weekend, and if you miss it you are madder than Mad Mick McMad.
If you haven’t been to Matterley before, you are in for a real treat. The circuit is located in a sweeping valley to the south of Winchester, and is arguably one of the finest motocross tracks in the world. The contours of the land make a natural amphitheatre, so you can virtually see the entire track from anywhere on the outfield. With Justin Barclay and his team adding to the work of the big fella upstairs, Matterley is just fantastic for racing – the fans love it, the riders love it – let’s just hope the weather is feeling the same way for round 13 of the World Motocross Championship!
Last years MX1 highlights from Matterley Basin.
We’d really like to say that this has been a rollercoaster season, with places swapping each round and no clear indication as to who will take the final crown. But that is not the case. KTM’s Antonio Cairoli has dominated this championship like a worthy successor to his team boss Stefan Everts. With Ryan Dungey almost assured to do exactly the same in the AMA National Series in the states under the stewardship of fellow legend Roger DeCoster, this looks like it’s going to be a historic year for the guys from Mattigoffen. Cairoli may only have won just over half the motos this year, but that’s street s ahead of any of his opponents, and with only two DNF to blot the score sheet, Cairoli is the clear favourite to win the double at Matterley, bringing back memories of his truly stunning performance here for team Italy at the 2006 MXoN.
Also vying for the podium will be the French guys who seem to do well here. Regular fans will remember last year s great moto one win from Christophe Pourcel. In the second race Pourcel had a complete nightmare, before the horrible crash between MacKenzie and Leok. Christophe was virtually in the car on the way back to the Chunnel, but when the race was restarted he went on to come in third. After a good result at the Czech GP, CP377 will be up for glory in Matterley.
Speaking of the second moto last year, few will forget Shaun Simpson’s superb performance before it all turned to dust with the red flag. Shaun will be desperate to put in a good performance in front of the home fans this year and can expect strong support from the UK fans. And he can do it – Simpson has been building his speed all year and now on the full Rinaldi machine we think this could be the time to get into the top three. Go Team GB!
A few of the regular Maxxis Championship British guys will be throwing their hats in for the weekend, and although they will doubtless enjoy the experience, all will be hard pushed to run GP pace for races twice as long as the current ACU series.
And on the subject of Maxxis riders, Kevin Strijbos is a strong podium contender too here as he is combining British Champs and GP duties well and seems to like the UK tracks.
Prediction – Cairoli, Pourcel, Strijbos.
Last years MX2 highlights from Matterley Basin.
So we are here again, hoping for some sort of miracle that will turn the tables towards Tommy Searle. Whilst Tommy can and indeed is extremely likely to win at least one of the races in Matterley, in terms of the championship, his efforts are never going to overhaul Jeffrey Herlings hard fought 57 point advantage unless Jeffrey has his bike stolen! Much like the MX1 class, little has changed at the top of the table all season long, and although the points difference has gone up and down a bit, the top four of Herlings, Searle, Van Horebeek, Roelants looks cast in stone. But as for fifth – Nicholls has finally overtaken Jordi Tixier thanks to his stunning performance in Loket. Jake was just squeezed off the podium by Zach Osborne thanks to his lower race two points, but nonetheless it was a great ride. Jake has the potential to do it again on home soil so let’s pin our colours to the mast – Jake can and will rise to the occasion on Sunday.
Other British interest will be from the force of nature that is Max Anstie, still out to impress Neil Prince for a Nations place, and from the Elliott Banks Browne, no doubt desperate to overcome his terrible luck in GPs this year. If everybody is on their A Game, we could have an all British podium, but it’s a tall order.
Prediction Herlings, Searle, Nicholls
If you can’t make it to Matterley for this astounding event (and why the hell not – there’s time to walk!) you can catch all the action right here on MOTO. The menu of choice whether in the garden or by the track is the same, barbecue, Thatcher’s Gold and a big Union Jack. GO Team GB, Go Team GB, Go Team GB!