There’s no doubt that the biggest smile on display following round 1 of the 2018 AMCA British Motocross Championship at Norley, Cheshire on Sunday belonged to the very talented Lancashire based rider Ryan Crowder.
Gaining reward following a Winter of hard training, the Hazport/Sandiford Husqvarna ace who is currently in the best form of his life went 2/2/1 to earn the overall win in a MX1 class simply stacked full of quality. Almost matching that smile was ironically one of Crowder’s close friends, fellow youngster James Wainwright. Aboard his Gear4 KTM, Wainwright took the overall MX2 success, his first podium top step in the AMCA Championship. Making it a very special day for the very fast and equally talented KTM pilot, he also recorded his first ever AMCA Championship moto win. Completing the round 1 winners circle were Richard Cannings (2T), Terry House (Vets) and Joseph Brooks (Youth) with Cannings and Brooks starting their respective title quests in style by producing unbeaten performances.
So after the Winter break it was time for the talking to stop, the gate to drop and the 2018 AMCA title race powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop to commence. On a Norley circuit that was after qualifying already becoming brutally rough, axle deep in the corners and requiring a rider’s total respect and attention, Ashley Greedy grabbed the MX1 opening race holeshot. Quickly the contest was to become an enthralling three way battle for honours as fast starting Greedy was closed down by Ryan Crowder and Josh Waterman making his AMCA MX1 debut. On lap seven, Waterman looking strong in the tough conditions moved past Crowder then just one circuit later relieved Greedy of the lead. Following him through, Crowder also then passed Greedy for a well deserved 2nd spot. So with the first moto of 2018 completed it was Waterman, Crowder and Greedy the top three as FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna pilot James Dodd on his return from injury taking a solid 4th. The 2017 AMCA MX2 Champion Ray Rowson also made his MX1 debut in this moto and took 5th, initially gating down in 17th. Andrew Smart, again impressing, Shane Carless riding with a rib and shoulder injury, Jansen Day, Luke Meredith and Luke Mellows completed the top ten.
There was drama at the start of moto two as Waterman was forced to jump astride his spare machine at the last minute! In the early stages, Josh was down in 11th and with it all to do as Greedy again set the pace ahead of Gary Gibson, Rowson and Crowder. By lap five, Gibson on the TMC/LDR Kawasaki after suffering a blown rear shock in moto one had hit the front and there he remained. Gibson’s win though was to be by the narrowest of margins as Crowder closed very hard in the closing stages. Greedy was again 3rd with Waterman recovering to earn a great 4th ahead of Dodd and Day. After making a strong start, Rowson slipped back to 8th.
With his starting technique well and truly dialled in, Greedy made another supersonic holeshot to thus lead the final MX1 charge. Once again though super Crowder was right on his tail before passing for the win on lap ten. Having his best ride of the day, Rowson despite not having raced for some five months showed great strength and determination to get home in 3rd with Dodd, Smart, Meredith and Carless again in the frame. Back on his number one bike, Waterman had to settle for 8th after crashing hard in the early exchanges, in the process totally wrecking his KTM’s front mudguard and the peak of his helmet! Moto two winner Gibson also endured a painful encounter crashing three times and having to settle for 24th spot. Afterwards round one victor Crowder said, “It was a great day and I am very pleased with the start to my season after having put a lot of hard work in during the winter. It so good to see the results and to be pushing for the moto win everytime and eventually taking victory in the last one it was a great feeling. The bike and set-up are unreal at the moment. Roll on round 2”
There was controversy in the opening MX2 race at Norley when favourite Luke Burton was left stranded by an erratic start gate. As Burton remonstrated with officials, the pack disappeared into the distance led by James Wainwright ahead of Lee Sealey, Josh Coleman, Jack Gardner and Brad Tranter. Meanwhile back at the start, Burton realising that the race would not be rerun was now on a mission in an attempt to grab as many vital early Championship points as possible despite already being nearly a full lap behind! At the front, Luke Dean had stylishly moved up from an early 7th to muscle past Wainwright and Sealey for the lead. Luke’s advantage though was to last just a couple of laps, falling twice and slipping back to 7th. Also becoming a victim of the rough, tough Norley circuit, Coleman on his AMCA debut after switching across from the Maxxis British series slipped back to 9th. So on completion it was Wainwright bagging his first ever AMCA Championship win from Sealey, Clinton Barrs, Gardner, Cory McShane and Matt Ridgway. Incredibly after his start gate issue, Burton recovered to earn an incredible 18th place. This moto also included top British Women’s Championship rider Chelsea Gowland who not only qualified but also finished all three motos and finished 28th overall, well done Chelsea!
Nathan Bache was quickest away in MX2 moto before Coleman found a way through early on lap one. With Burton gating down in 9th this was to be unfolding into a very intriguing contest with all the main protagonists right in the mix. Up until the midway point, Wainwright, Lewis King and Gardner looked to be the main challengers to Coleman but Burton was charging hard. By lap nine the FUS star was up to 2nd and beginning to reel in Coleman. At the flag though it was Coleman claiming on his first ever AMCA Championship moto win by the very narrowest of margins from Burton, Wainwright, Dean, King, Gardner and Tranter.
As Sealey crashed just after the start of the final moto then somehow recovered bravely to go from last back to 13th, Burton led the MX2 clash from start to finish with Dean, Coleman, Wainwright, King, Barrs and Tranter chasing hard. So that meant the overall win went to a delighted Wainwright and there’s sure to be more to come from this super talented young racer! After taking his winner’s trophy, James commented “It was great to win moto one, my first in the Championship then to top it off with the overall just makes it feel amazing. To be leading the Championship now makes all the training and riding feel worthwhile.” AMCA debutant Coleman was also very happy with his podium placing whilst 3rd placed Dean probably just felt a sense of relief! Whilst travelling up to Cheshire on Saturday and just 30 miles from the venue, Luke realised that he had left his race boots at home! So it was a long journey back to his Gloucestershire home to collect the missing items, returning back to Norley around midnight!
After years of being a MX1 front runner, Richard Cannings has decided to compete in the 2018 AMCA 2T chase instead. And on his SevenSeven2/M & S Brettle supported 250cc Yamaha, Yorkshireman Cannings started the campaign in style with a blistering maximum points haul. In moto one though it was Ashley Benniston who was quickest away before being passed by Cannings after just three turns. From here onwards Cannings turned up the gas to fabricate a massive winning margin of some 28 seconds. After being the 2T series runner-up in 2017, Jordan Saunders started strongly again by chasing Cannings home with Jason Kenderick, Sean Eckersley, Jack Waterman and Stuart Owen in the mix.
With Cannings strolling to victory again in moto two, most of the above challengers were in there again on this occasion joined by Jake Parker and Bradley Doyle. So to the final 2T moto and after starting with a 2/4, Saunders was well on course for a round one podium. However his hopes literally came crashing down at the start of the last clash, suffering a heavy fall which also saw Ryan Zebedee taste the Norley soil. Restarting last, Saunders recovered to bag a gutsy 14th with Zebedee in 20th.As Cannings took the win, Parker got home in 2nd from Eckersley, Owen and Kenderick. After falling three times in moto two, James Lane despite feeling very battered and bruised finally gained some reward for his efforts with a hard earned 6th place.
After missing out on the AMCA Vets title in both 2016 and 2017 due to a frustrating combination of falls, misfortune and fairly minor mechanical gremlins, Crescent KTM rider Terry House will be fairly happy with the start to his 2018 campaign. House started by passing Simon Lane for the moto one victory as the 2016 AMCA Vets Champion Matt Gordon took 3rd from Gary Jones, Colin Conduit having a simply stunning ride on his little 2T Yamaha and Richard Chinn. In moto two it was House all the way from Lane as Gordon passed Sean Smith late on to bag another 3rd spot. Despite the track now at its very roughest, the final Vets race proved to be an exciting affair. Gordon, Jones and finally Lane all took turns to lead as House gated 3rd, fell and dropped back to 22nd then recovered in style for a great 3rd. In moto three, Smith, Chinn and Conduit were also entertaining as Stephen Elford, Brian Staples and John Moreland rounded out the top ten.
New for 2018 there’s an AMCA Youth Championship for 85cc/150cc mounted riders who will be competing at every main round. At Norley, a superb 22 riders came to the start line ready for action. Although the impressive Joseph Brooks took all three wins he was certainly made to work very hard by LDR Kawasaki rider Charlie Palmer. On his immaculate Green machine, Palmer led both moto’s two and three before KTM mounted Brooks made the pass. With Brooks winning all three races from Palmer and Matt Tolley, there was still plenty of great action in this class. Under the watchful eye of former AMCA Champion Richard Main, young Joshua Main took 4th overall from Joshua Fletcher-Williams and Harry Ridgway.
Completing the Norley racecard, Richard Gray took all three wins in the battle of the Championship Non-qualifiers ahead of Jake Boote and William Morris. After a tough opening round, the title chasers have little recovery time as they back in action at Boraston on May 13th!
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The results of the event are below.