Temperatures had a distinctly wintry feel as Rockstar Energy KTM pulled into the paddock at Lyng in Norfolk for the third round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship this past weekend. Although the weather did not improve much on Sunday, there was still some good racing to be had.
Qualifying on Sunday started with the MX2 class, in which team star Bryan Mackenzie scored a fourth in the super pole, while fellow riders Shane Carless and Mark Perfect qualified on the lower end of the spectrum in twenty-ninth and thirty-eighth respectively. In the MX1 class, Pete Mitchell qualified in twenty-sixth, and in the MXY2 class, Ben Howell ended the session in sixth.
For Mackenzie, consistency proved to be the day’s mantra. Third around the first lap, he found himself in fierce competition for much of the first race. At the halfway mark, he was forced to relinquish his position as arm pump set in, but soldiered through to the end to finish fifth. In the second race, an errant rock made his goggles unusable from the start, leaving him with no protection against the fine sand at all. The risk notwithstanding, Mackenzie kept his cool and rode smartly, taking third place at the finish. The final race went as smooth as clockwork. Third off the start and with the competition ahead pulling away quickly, Mackenzie settled into a rhythm and took home an unchallenged fourth place, ending the day fifth overall.
Carless on the other hand had a nightmare of a day. After recovering from bad start in the back of the pack, it looked as if he would re-enter the top twenty, but a crash with a mere two laps to go dropped him back down the pack for a finish in thirtieth. The second race did not go much better for Carless. A better start saw him in the top fifteen, but a failed back brake forced him to retire four laps in. A crash on the start of the third race stacked the odds against Carless, but hard work throughout the race returned him to just outside the top twenty with a twenty-second place.
In the first race, Perfect found himself in the middle of the pack in the first lap and started making good progress, but two crashes undid all his hard work and more. Restarting in near-last, he was unable to recover his lost positions, ending the race in thirty-fifth. Perfect didn’t get as good a start the second time around. Starting near last, he kept pace with his older rivals, pulling through to thirty-first at the chequered flag. The final race once again saw Perfect get off to a good mid-pack start. Faster rivals behind him forced him back several positions, but as the race wore on, he was able to recover those positions to end in twenty-ninth, his best result to date.
In the MX1 class, Mitchell also found himself with the short end of the stick. Crashes at the start set him back in his first race, and he found himself struggling to find a good rhythm on the ever-changing track. Battling with fellow Scotsman Ross Rutherford and George Baldwin, Mitchell ended the race two positions up in twenty-ninth. The second race was somewhat more improved. The bad start was soon forgotten as he found himself in a battle for a top twenty spot against world championship rider Alfie Smith. Some last minute passes forced Mitchell back several positions to race across the finish line in twenty-fifth. The final race was marred by a puncture, but this misfortune notwithstanding, Mitchell returned from another crash on the start to a twenty-second place at the finish.
In the MXY2 class, Ben Howell proved himself with a fantastic recovery from a crash whilst in seventh in the early moments of the race. Taking no prisoners, the youngster made rapid progress throughout the race, his ascent up the pack slowed only with the timer at zero and the two-lap board out. Howell then proceeded to show what the first race could have been with a start in sixth and a strong performance in the front of the pack, taking fourth with three laps to go for a tenth overall on the day.
“Lyng’s turned out a bit of an up and down sort of day for the team,” team principal Darren Wilson commented. “Bryan has again shown his class, but we’re still missing that last piece of the jigsaw. Bryan’s got a really good race bike, but he needs to be a harder character on the track if he wants to be a front runner. That’s the order after this weekend anyway. As for Shane, today’s performance is not like him at all, he is a genuine top six contender, and he just wasn’t himself today. I was not happy at all with the situation, and I told him that in those words. He’s going to have to up his game a bit.
“Mark Perfect showed some glimpses of what is going to come in the next few rounds. Perhaps not in Milton Malsor, but by round five Mark is going to reach his goals. I’m happy with the way Mark has progressed today, he’s come a long way from Fat Cats and you can’t ask for anything more than that. If Pete can carry on his form from the Scottish to British championship level, he would be there in top fifteenth to twentieth straight away. He also needs to intensify stuff and transfer his pace in the Scottish to the British, I can’t do much more than that. We’ve pushed him to train with Bryan and Mark, so watch this space and we’ll see. I’d hoped for a podium with Ben today, we built him his first race bike during the week, and he’s running almost an identical bike to the MX2 boys now. He had a crash in the first race, but we watched him in the second race and he came through to fourth, which was a good result. We know he can do better than that, but he’s still a young lad and we don’t want to put any pressure on him, just groom him a bit, and if he gets on the gas we’ll draft him into the main team for next year.”
Bryan Mackenzie (#121): Lyng was a good day, another improvement on the start of the season. I got a fifth overall again today which isn’t where I wanted to be, but overall it’s a better fifth place. Qualifying I was fourth and the first race started terribly, but I pulled through on the first lap. I was third for most of the race but struggled a lot with arm pump and finished fifth. Second race started pretty well, but on the first lap a rock hit my goggles and popped the lens out, so I bailed them on the first lap, which isn’t really the thing to do on a sand track. I rode in third the whole moto, luckily never really got into anything with anyone else, so ended up third. The third moto was the best start of the day, I was feeling good but then stalled it up the top of the hill. I had a big gap back, so I settled for fourth.
Shane Carless (#68): Today has been a total nightmare for me! In qualifying I had a nasty crash off the start on the S-bend and qualified twenty-ninth. In the first race I came off on the start, got back up to the top twenty, went down again and finished twenty-eighth or something. In the second race I was fourteenth or fifteenth and lost my back brake, so had to retire that race. In the last race I crashed on the start again, had to pull through, and came in around top twenty-five or something like that.
Mark Perfect (#125): Things seem to be improving round by round, proved today that with a good start I can hang with some of the guys, best result was a twenty-ninth and hopefully they will get better every round. I felt I rode good, as soon as you lose tow with the mid-pack guys you’re kinda in no-man’s land and it’s hard to get going, but it seems to be coming together so by the end of the season we should have some good results!
Pete Mitchell (#911): Today started off all-right, never got in the greatest of qualifying laps. First race went down in the first corner, was coming back ok, then managed to drop the anchor really. In the second race had a bad start again, the pace was good. I think today everyone was going the same pace and it was hard to pass. In the third race I had a bad start again and was coming back through ok, then ended up with a puncture which is just one of those things, finished the race in twenty second there. I take it as a sort of a stepping stone, am looking forward to the next one and see what happens.
Ben Howell (#5): The weekend was good! I rode really strong and was happy with my performance! I had two top 8 starts but went down early in the first race and couldn’t get the bike started. I regrouped at the back of the pack and managed to scrape into 19th place. The second moto was good, I started out around 8th and picked a few people off and got my way up to 4th and stayed there till the end! All in all I’m happy with my riding, just a bit disappointed with the 19th, but everyone crashes, that’s just motocross.