The Maxxis British Motocross Championship moved into the final half this weekend as round 5 beckoned the faithful back to the start line. In a welcome return to the circuit, this week’s venue was the former GP circuit of Desertmartin. The weather in the week looked far from promising, and you had to wonder whether a trip to one on the dampest parts of the UK was going to be a bad move. Team Moto were in attendance to witness the action, so without further ado, here’s our top ten pointers to what was occurring…..
Day Tripper. Despite the relatively long distance from the rest of the 2012 venues, the Northern Irish venue was in fact far easier to get to than tracks like Lyng. With cheap flights from Bristol, we just jumped on the Airbus, into the hire car and were at the track for 9.30am enjoying a bacon butty. The airport was flooded with MX traffic with team managers, sponsor and fans all taking the flight option. In retrospect we should have hired a coach to take us to the track. Moto would be straight to the back seat but no mooning though.
Good Impressions. Having never been to this part of the UK for the obvious historical reasons, this particular commentator was pleasantly surprised with just how welcoming, friendly and beautiful Northern Ireland is. OK so it’s odd to be driving through places that you’ve only seen on the news and it’s still a bit unexpected to see so many flags displayed in an area, but overall the towns had the look and feel of South Wales, and once into the countryside, the views were stunning. . If it’s on again next year it’s definitely worth considering a trip and maybe a over nighter.
Top Trumps. If the scenery was not fantastic enough, the Desertmartin facility is something else. The car parking was excellent, the marshalling firm but friendly, the paddock completely hard standing with concreted washing bays and a securely fenced waiting zone at the back of the start. Hell you could even hear the PA system all round the circuit, much improved by the lilting Irish voice of the commentator. Good work fellas.
Track Time. OK so enough of the tourist information blurb, all this makes no difference if the track sucks like an industrial vacuum pump. Luckily there no such possibility with Desertmartin, which without doubt is one of the best tracks in the UK. Sliced into the dark red sand of a collection of hills, the track was picture perfect. Despite the torrential rain that had turned much of the UK into a muddy swamp, the circuit had dried out immaculately by Sunday morning to offer great racing. This was without doubt the best track of the season – no argument.
Local Hero # 1. If there was one guy that must have felt the pressure of a home GP, it was Emberson Yamahas Graeme Irwin. Although his season was scuppered by Tonus’ crash at Canada Heights, Irwin has certainly not given up the chase and after a drop in form at Milton Park, was certainly keen to stamp his mark on the home gig. And it was certainly close in Race 1, with No. 5 hunting down EBB for the win when an uncharacteristically clumsy off left him two and a half seconds behind the KTM come the finish. A front end wash out left him down the field in Race two before rallying to 5th in Race 3. It was good enough for 5th on the day, but you could see that Graeme and the home fans wanted more.
Local Hero #2. Whilst Irwin just missed the mark, fellow Irishman Martin Barr had a storming day. On the second major outing on his immaculately turned out Tyco Suzuki, Barr was on it like a scrap yard full of car bonnets. Although he just didn’t have the speed to get the wins, his 2 /2 /3 scores were good enough to get him to the second step of the podium for the overall. The former Kawasaki pilot rode with far more style and speed than he’d ever showed on the KX450F at the start of the year, and the strong ride has propelled him to sixth in the Championship. Good work yourself.
Coutts Goes Large. In his first year with a big name team, the unassuming Dorren Coutts has taken his time to find his feet in the MX1 class and just as he was getting going, a collarbone snappage put a major pleat in his plans. But at Desertmartin, the Number 701 bike was at the pointy end all day, gating impressively on all three motos and clocking in a 6 / 9 / 5 scorecard for 5th overall on the day. Team Manager Neil Prince had recommended a sand tyre unlike many of the other riders and it clearly worked for Coutts.
Pocock Back to the Podium. After a lousy outing at Milton Park, Pocock needed a strong event to get him back to the top and within sight of new series leader Elliott Banks Browne. No doubt spurred on by his fantastic EMX2 win in France and GP experience in the intervening month, Mel smashed in a third and two wins for the overall honours and now sits just eight points behind Elliott. EBB was going well until a nasty crash in the third race left him going from a ten second lead to dropping back through the back with an injured neck and wrist. The KTM rider still holds the red plate and with five weeks till the next round will rest up away from the GPs to keep his championship hopes on track.
Lenoir is Le Bomb. Quiet spoken French import Steven Lenoir has to be the genius signing of the season, and continues to improve each and every race. OK so he was well known in his home country, but in the UK he was just Steven Who? Yet in the space of five rounds Lenoir has won respect and fans in British motocross, and looks set for a strong future in the sport. Stepping out of his trademark inflatable body armour at Milton, Lenoir promised a podium at the next round and delivered big style , going 4 / 3 / 3 for third overall. Congratulations to him and the Emberson Team.
Strijbos Stranglehold. Milton threw cup a couple of surprise results. And series leader KS22 was the biggest story, recording his only zero score at the Northampton circuit and handing the red plate to Mattis Karro. This must have irked Kevin more than a touch, and the Belgian came back in bullishly dominant form, blasting three straight and unchallenged wins, now running at 9 wins in 15 races. He’s only a slender 5 points ahead of Karro thanks to the no score race, so he can’t afford to let up all the way to Little Silver.
Next Round is at Hawkstone Park, and with another stunning sand track on offer, the pace will be as faster than ever in the final three rounds of the series. Who can get the titles – Mel or EBB –Mattis or Kevin? Place your bets gentlemen……