With now just two rounds of the AMCA British Motocross Championship remaining, it’s still Luke Burton(MX1), Josh Waterman(MX2), Ben Saunders(2T) and Matt Gordon(Vets) leading the respective charges to the coveted 2016 titles.
However in an incident packed round five promoted by the Teme Valley MXC at Boraston in Shropshire on Sunday, it was not all to be total plain sailing for the pace-setters in the series powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop. Whilst the one exception was the supreme Saunders who dominated the 2T class with another faultless performance and both Burton and Gordon eventually made the podiums, for Waterman it was to be a 6th overall finish, his lowest placing of the season so far!
Following a couple of early lengthy stoppages as injured riders received medical attention, the meeting was to be eventually restricted to just two blocks of action. Steady rain also made the conditions rather slippery at times but it did not prevent Gary Gibson from scorching to a glorious double in MX1 aboard his DK Off-road Kawasaki. Despite making his first appearance at the tight, twisting circuit, Gibson quickly adapted to the terrain by recording the fastest qualification time. In a restarted moto one though it was defending Champion Luke Dean who led the charge from Burton, Gibson, Ryan Crowder, Andrew Smart and Matt Ridgway. After getting away to a flyer in the initial staging, James Dodd had it all to do this time around after falling on turn one whilst John May also crashed on the opening lap after being unable to avoid Luke Meredith who had slipped off right infront of him!
At the sharp end, battle was already raging as Dean, Burton and Gibson broke away from the pack. Three laps in though and it was all change as in a tight corner, Dean and Burton had a heavy coming together with both riders falling. As they picked themselves up, Gibson took full advantage to surge into the lead, a position he was to then hold all the way to the flag. Following their earlier collision, Burton and Dean managed to still take 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Getting home in 4th was Richard Cannings moving through from 9th despite suffering from a very sore shoulder injury sustained in the initial staging of moto one. Starting the day in impressive form, Smart, Crowder, Ridgway, Clinton Barrs and Meredith also finished inside the top ten. The ride of the moto though surely belonged to Dodd, coming from just about last place to take 7th. May also stormed back, getting up to 14th before overshooting the final turn and having to settle for 18th.
In a rain effected MX1 moto two, Gibson really put the hammer down. Grabbing the holeshot, he stormed to a big win well clear of Burton who had initially gated in 8th. Showing an abundance of determination, it took the series leader just three laps to move past his rivals and get up into 2nd spot although there was to simply be no catching the stylish Gibson. Taking 3rd in this clash was the always very consistent Cannings with Dodd on this occasion moving from 11th up to 4th, just ahead of Crowder. After suffering a moto one fall, Adam Harris gained some consolation this time around with a strong 6th place. In the title standings, Burton the leader right from the off is now 51 points clear of Gibson whilst Cannings has leapfrogged Dodd to move back into the bronze medal place.
Recording the fastest MX2 Qualifying time, Adam Wells then made a supersonic start to the opening moto whilst for Lewis King it was to be pure frustration! Hitting the start gate, Lewis then found himself in last place and with it all to do as the pack disappeared! As Lewis started the long climb black up the leaderboard, Wells was simply flying at the front ahead of Ryan Jones, Jansen Day, Ray Rowson, Luke Mellows and Bradley Tranter whilst series leader Josh Waterman was down in 10th. Four laps in and Rowson, the double winner at Hawkstone during the previous round moved up into 2nd before then storming past Wells on lap six. Although Rowson then raced onto the win, Wells made him work very hard for the glory, being just 2 seconds down at the flag. In a fantastic late scrap, Waterman who had moved up the leaderboard in style, passed Mellows in a thrilling last lap to snatch a hard earned 3rd with Day 5th, Jones 6th and Tranter 7th. What a ride though it was to be by King, getting right back to a superb 8th just ahead of Elliot Barrs and James Wainwright. Unfortunately in this opener, main contender Zac Stealey was to crash out, injuring his knee.
Whilst Rowson led MX2 moto two from gate to flag, this contest was all about a couple of thrilling scraps raging just behind him. Really going for it in the battle for the runners-up spot was Day, Waterman and Tranter as King, Barrs, Wells, Wainwright, Cory McShane and Paul Neale regularly swapped positions for the right to earn 5th. In the closing stages though the pattern was to all change as Day crashed and Waterman unable to avoid the carnage also went down. That incident elevated Tranter into a clear 2nd spot as King bagged 3rd from Barrs and Wells. Despite tasting the Shropshire soil, and with their machines looking decidedly second-hand, Day and Waterman both remounted to finish 10th and 12th respectively. This moto proved to be a particularly painful encounter for main contender Mellows who crashed into the track marking on turn one, suffering a dislocated knuckle and badly cut hand in the process. So on the MX2 podium it was Rowson, Wells and Tranter but in the race for the title, it’s still Waterman the favourite and in charge, a nice 151 points clear of King whilst Wells has moved up to 3rd.
With series leader Ben Saunders dominating the opening 2T race at Boraston, Elliot Stones and Jason Kendrick both took turns to fill the 2nd place spot in the early exchanges. However with the track conditions rather slippery, former AMCA Championship star Jamie Powell showed all of his vast experience to eventually be the man who chased Saunders home. As Kendrick took 3rd, James Lane, currently holding the silver medal spot in the title standings had to settle for 4th after initially gating 10th. Also in the mix were Stones(5th), Rory Jones, Alec Everitt, Luke Phillips, Jordan Wright and Matthew Nash. In 2T moto two it was Saunders all the way again from Powell, Lane, Kendrick, Wright and Richard Lloyd. In the race for the crown, Saunders continues to edge further ahead now 93 points clear of Lane with Stones 3rd.
Terry House led the early exchanges in the opening Vets race but was under constant pressure from Simon Lane. Indeed on lap five, Lane was to then briefly head the contest before House regained control to take the win. Series leader Matt Gordon also had to work very hard in this clash to see off the early challenge of two-stroke rider Danny Blakeley. At the flag Gordon got home in 3rd with Gary Jones, Sean Smith, Stephen Marlow, Brian Staples, Darren Bennett and Garry J Williams starting the day with impressive performances.
What a contest the second Vets clash was to be! Lane grabbed the holeshot and led until House moved through on lap three. Not to be outdone, the defending Champion Lane roared back and looked to have timed his move to perfection as he snatched pole position on the penultimate circuit. However in a thrilling finish, House dug deep to then brilliantly find a way back through and thus bag the win. Gordon was again to be 3rd from Blakeley, Jones and Smith. With just two rounds remaining in the title race, Gordon still holds the advantage on 704 points with Lane 659 and House 625 the closest challengers.
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The results of the event are below.