Just like the weather, the action out on track during round three of the AMCA British Motocross Championship at Frocester on Sunday proved to be very hot!
In the series powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, Luke Burton(Rikki Priest Frasier Husqvarna UK) and Josh Waterman(JD Racing/IDS Transport KTM) comfortably maintained their respective MX1 and MX2 series advantages but for the chasing pack it proved to be a day of very contrasting and at times frustrating fortunes!
Although Burton is still the MX1 pace-setter, he had to settle for 2nd overall at Frocester as Gary Gibson took the win with Richard Cannings on his 29th birthday getting home in a well deserved 3rd, also moving into the bronze position in the title standings. In MX2 Waterman was in truly fantastic form, scorching to a maximum points score and thus top the podium ahead of Jansen Day and Bradley Tranter. Over in the 2T and Vets Championship chases, it’s again all change at the top as Ben Saunders(2T) and Matt Gordon(Vets) have regained control.
On the steep and demanding hillside Gloucestershire venue, the organising Dursley MXC had worked overtime for two weeks preparing the surface. And despite some unwanted technical issues with the track watering resources on what was the hottest day of the year so far, they should receive a massive pat on the back for their efforts in not only initially producing prime conditions but also for ensuring that dust never became a major issue. Indeed the circuit was to conjure up an abundance of close, exciting racing, typified by a classic opening MX1 encounter.
After Gary Gibson had grabbed the holeshot, he then became locked into a serious battle for supremacy with John May and Luke Burton. Four laps in and both Burton and May passed the early leader who then also lost the use of his front brake. Despite that double setback, the DK Ofroad Kawasaki pilot fought back and showing great determination took 2nd spot at the flag behind winner Burton as Richard Cannings moved up to earn 3rd. After earlier being in contention for the win, May had to settle for 4th despite coming under very heavy pressure from James Dodd and Ryan Crowder. For current Champion Luke Dean, this moto proved rather disastrous, forced out after just one lap when a large stone pierced his goggles and badly cut his head. Talking of goggles, Brad Turner forgot to wear his, realising his mistake as the pack reached turn one! Quickly stopping to insert the protection, the very embarrassed Turner eventually fought back to earn 16th.
On his fast but very trusty 2T Yamaha, Adam Harris made a fabulous start to MX1 moto two and thus lead the contest for five rip-roaring laps. It all changed though when Gibson surged to the front and take control with Harris unfortunately falling and dropping back to 6th. From here onwards, Gibson controlled for the win as Burton moved through from 8th to take a strong 2nd ahead of Crowder, Cannings, Dodd, May, Harris, Turner, Clinton Barrs and Luke Meredith. In this moto, Curtis Blamey who had held 3rd in the title standings fell on lap one suffering a leg injury.
With Crowder in trouble on the opening lap of the final MX1 clash, it was Harris who again brilliantly grabbed the holeshot only to be quickly passed by Gibson. Suffering another crash, Harris was to eventually drop right back to 23rd as Gibson took the win, this time nearly ten seconds clear of Burton who had initially gated in 5th. The highlight of this moto was two terrific scraps as Dodd just edged out Cannings for 3rd whilst May got home for 7th after seeing off Barrs and Meredith. Also inside the top ten were Turner, Dean in a brave 6th and Ryan Morris. After bagging his maiden AMCA overall win, Gary Gibson said “It was great to finally get on the top step today. I thought it wasn’t going to my day after leading race one then losing the use of my front brake. I made up for it though by winning the next two. Really enjoyed the track and combined with the 26 degrees heat the conditions sorted out the men from the boy’s! Role on round four.”
It was Lewis King who grabbed the opening MX2 holeshot to lead Josh Waterman, Jack Timms, Paul Neale, Luke Blanchard and Brandon Benjamin. Quickly though the pattern was to change as Neale stalled his Kawasaki engine on lap two, restarting last whilst King surrendered top slot to Waterman after falling. From here onwards it was Waterman all the way ahead of a remounted King as Cory McShane after gating in 7th got home 3rd after a fabulous battle with Luke Mellows and Blanchard. In this red hot moto one, Jansen Day, Bradley Tranter, Benjamin, Jack Gardiner and James Wainwright also started in style by putting some big points on the board. After his earlier stall, Neale had to settle for 27th whilst Zac Stealey(16th) and Adam Wells(29th) also found themselves further down the leaderboard than expected.
Moto two and King made another initial great jump although by the end of lap one it was Mellows in charge with Waterman already up into 2nd. Four laps in and the stylish, smooth Waterman had hit the front before racing onto the win despite the close attention of a very determined Mellows. In a great scrap for 3rd, Neale passed King with just two laps remaining as Day and Blanchard again got home in strong top ten placings. On this occasion, Stealey, Ryan Jones, Wells and Elliot Barrs were also in the mix.
Showing just why he is the current leader of the MX2 series and a massive 145 points clear at the top of the standings, Waterman blasted to a gate to flag win in the last clash of the day ahead of Wells and Day. Having his own best ride of the meeting, Tranter got home in a solid 4th spot, enough to earn him a podium placing. Suffering from badly blistered hands and with the track at its roughest, Benjamin somehow held on in this moto to earn a very brave 5th just ahead of McShane. Both Lewis Meadows(7th) and Shaun Pearce(10th) finished the meeting strongly but for Blanchard who fell on turn one, King and Mellows, moto three was a disaster! Suffering from a slowly dropping start gate, King was down in 14th before brake problems forced him out on lap four. In contention for a podium place, Mellows was going well in 5th place before an electrical fault with his Husqvarna stopped him in his tracks. After extending his Championship lead, Waterman said “Turning up to a perfectly prepared track by Lawson and his crew I managed to put in just one fast lap during qualifying and thus grab pole position on the start. In moto one I was chasing Lewis when he crashed, allowing me to take the win, I really feel for him at the moment as he’s not having good luck! In moto two I gated 3rd before coming through for victory. Adam Wells then kept me honest in the last one and chased me hard but again I took the win. I have extended my series lead mainly due to other riders misfortunes by still feel good. Many thanks to all my sponsors, family and friends for their support.”
Despite regularly competing on 150cc engine power, Ben Saunders decided to switch to a 250cc KTM mount for Frocester and what a wise move it proved to be! Storming to all three moto wins, he has in the process now also regained the series lead, 6 points clear of James Lane. On Sunday, Lane certainly did his very best to halt the Saunders express, chasing him home in all three clashes and even briefly leading moto three. Whilst the top two dominated, there was though still plenty of great racing from the two-smokers at Frocester to entertain the large crowd. Eventually taking the final podium step was Aston Illsley with a 3/8/3 scorecard as Richard Lloyd, Sam Callow, Elliot Stones, Kristofer Ayres, Jack Waterman, Matthew Bath and enduro bike mounted Jordan Ridgway were always in the mix.
It certainly proved to be a very eventful day in the Veterans Championship at Frocester as Matt Gordon moved back to the top of the standings, also taking the overall win ahead of Simon Lane and Danny Blakeley. Typical of the action, Gordon and Lane hotly disputed the moto one lead before Terry House moved through from 5th to mix it up. Passing Lane on the final lap, House then almost snatched a dramatic win away from Gordon. In moto two, House was at it again, closing hard on Gordon and momentarily moving into pole position before disappearing five laps in due to mechanical gremlins.
In the last race that elusive win appeared to be finally on the cards for House as he led from the off. However with just three laps remaining he slipped off thus instead handing Gordon another victory and maximum points. So in the overall final placings it was Gordon the victor from defending Champion Lane with 2T ace Blakeley in 3rd. In another hard fought contest, Gary Jones, Garry J Williams, Christopher Brown, Stephen Marlow, Brian Staples and Darren Bennett returned big points hauls.
Completing the hot Frocester event, John McKenzie(MX1/MX2) and Aarron Kitching(2T/Vets) topped the battle of the Championship Non-Qualifiers. Well done again to Dursley MXC on their hosting of another top AMCA event and many thanks to the meeting sponsors Red Eleven Creative, Thornbury MX Practice Tracks, Con-form Ltd and Berekley Heath Motors .
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Mike Wood http://www.offroad-action.co.uk/
The results of the event are below.