With most of the weather forecasts and apps widely predicting a very wet weekend, the prospects of being able to complete round 7 and 8 of the AMCA British Motocross Championship at Brookthorpe did not look at all positive! Although the rain did arrive and there was some localised flooding, thankfully the worst accumulations appeared to somehow miss the Gloucestershire venue during race time, so it was full steam ahead! And, what a super weekend it was with five blocks of top class racing, producing great action, all played out infront of a sizeable crowd.
In this series powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, both of the MX1 podiums on Saturday and Sunday featured the same riders, Championship leader Ashley Greedy, Luke Hawkins and Josh Waterman as James Dood took 4th on both day’s. Although this may suggest rather predictable results, the moto’s were far from processional as the MX1 boy’s served up several stunning encounters. The fun all began in the opening clash of the weekend as Dodd(twice) and Greedy took turns to lead the way only for Waterman to come storming through and snatch a dramatic victory on the final lap. With conditions at this point still totally dry, Hawkins, Luke Burton, Adam Chatfield, Luke Meredith, Jamie Skuse, Luke Dean and Damon Strydom started the event with strong top ten finishes. With just two blocks planned for day one, Hawkins then passed Waterman on the opening circuit of Saturday’s second moto before racing onto the win. That meant that it was Waterman taking the overall verdict from Hawkins and Greedy. Despite having broke a couple of ribs just a week earlier, Dean produced a very gutsy performance during round 7 to thus earn a super 5th overall.
Following a period of heavy overnight rain and the need to slightly reroute the track, conditions were rather slippery early on day two but gradually the going dried out to produce some very tempting line choices! And,by the time MX1 came under starters orders for moto one, the circuit was prime thus helping to produce another thriller and victory for Waterman. Early on Greedy had led the way before first Hawkins then race winner Waterman found a way through. Hawkins then dropped down to finish 5th just behind Burton as Mark Young, Josh Taylor, Skuse, Zac Stealey and Dean were next up. Greedy was again fastest away in MX1 moto two on Sunday and led for four laps before the very quick Hawkins took control for the win. With Dodd in 3rd, Waterman was working very hard to come from 9th up to 4th just ahead of Burton and Meredith.
Unfortunately for Meredith he then fell on turn one of the final clash, restarting last. Upfront though Hawkins led from gate to flag to also bag the overall win on day two. So on the round 8 box it was Hawkins, Waterman and Greedy. In the race title it just keeps getting tighter with Greedy on 910 points and still in control as Waterman narrows the gap on 893 and both Dodd 884 and Hawkins 860 waiting to pounce. With just three rounds remaining that high quality leading quartet know that they can ill afford one of those dreaded DNF’s against their name!
What a weekend it was to be for Welsh MX2 ace Shane Carless as he won four out of five moto’s and bagged both of the overall victories on offer. Making it an extremely productive event for the FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna team, Shane’s teammate Nev Bradshaw was 2nd overall on both day’s. In the Championship race, Shane now leads Nev by 12 points as Henry Williams holds 3rd, a further 66 points in arrears.
In the Brookthorpe opening MX2 clash, fast Shane made his intentions perfectly clear with a gate to flag victory ahead of Nev, Henry, Rossi Beard, Harry Linton, Rory Jones, Lewis Dowdeswell and Josh Coleman. Moto two on Saturday and it was a repeat performance as Shane dictated proceedings ahead of most of the above mentioned riders with Lee Truman and James Hanscomb breaking into the top ten.
Coming out in a very determined and focussed mood, Nev Bradshaw blasted his 250cc 2T into pole position right from the off in Sunday’s opening MX2 moto, leading from gate to flag despite Carless closing in hard during the final stages. Such was the terrific pace of the top two that they lapped right up to 8th place in this one, the top seven being filled by Beard, Linton, Coleman, Dowdeswell and Martin Jones as title contender Williams got home in 9th. After getting the better of Carless in moto one, Bradshaw set about repeating that feat in the second clash on Sunday, leading the opening five laps. Carless though was on a mission and fought back to bag the win. In the last MX2 clash of the weekend, Shane was right on the gas with a smooth start to finish win as Nev took 2nd from Willams, Beard, Rory Jones and Linton. On the day two podium, Beard replaced Williams but it was the FUS Marsh MX team who displayed the biggest smiles as they tightened their relentless grip on the MX2 title race.
Having only just gone to the summit of the 125cc Championship standings, Lloyd Morgan announced just before the Brookthorpe event that he will unfortunately now miss the remainder of the season after suffering two broken bones in his hand. So with the unlucky Dirtwheelz Fantic rider out it meant that yet again there would be a different name at the top of the series standings. Although Morgan was missing though, extra spice was added to what is already a thrilling class by the addition at Brookthorpe of two wildcard entries, former ACU Championship winner Kristian Whatley and Matthew Bayliss. Although Whatley won moto one on Saturday, he was certainly made to work very hard for his glory in what was a super contest. Up until midpoint, local lad Jack Timms the way before both Whatley and Kieran Banks came through. With Bayliss taking 4th, next up were round 6 winner Matt Ridgway, Bradley Tranter, Luke Newman and Aaron Colley.
In almost a repeat performance, Timms then again led Saturday’s moto two for most of the duration until Whatley took control with just a couple of laps remaining. With all of the main opening race finishers in contention again, Jordan Wright and Tomos Wright finished inside the top ten. On the podium it was Whatley from Timms and Banks, returning to action after missing round six due to a Covid infection. In the 125cc Championship table, Tranter in 5th overall on day one was now leading the way and proudly displaying the red plate.
Whilst Whatley started day two with a classy gate to flag win, the battle behind him for the right to finish runner-up was simply epic! For just about the entire duration, Tranter, Newman, Banks, Ridgway and Timms locked horns. Three laps from home and the super smooth Banks made his move and even closed rapidly on leader Whatley in the closing stages. After gating 8th and missing out on the early 125cc party, Bayliss also became involved in the fun and on an absolute mission even got right up to claim 3rd at the chequered flag, what a moto!
With Whatley deciding to sit out the last two moto’s of the weekend, Bayliss won Sunday’s second clash which was shortened due to a red flag incident. Signing off in style though, the final clash of the event was another thriller. Timms, Ridgway and then eventual winner Banks all led the way as Bayliss had a great ride coming through from an early 12th to snatch 2nd ahead of Ridgway, Timms, Jordan Wright and Joel Fisher. Cruciially in this one, series leader Tranter had to settle for 11th after initially finding himself down in 19th early on. So on the day two podium it was Banks from Bayliss and Timms whilst in the title battle it’s Tranter leading on 831 points just 7 ahead of Banks with Ridgway in 3rd.
The opening Vets moto of the weekend started pretty much true to form as Paul Burn grabbed the holeshot only for super series leader Phil Mercer to come through. Riding with injuries sustained during a club level event two weeks earlier, Phil still made it look so easy in his own cultured, smooth style. Taking 2nd in this one was local lad James Lane with Gary Davies next up from Simon Lane, Burn, Sean Smith, Andrew Watkins and Kevin Sanders. Although Davies then led the second clash on day one, the end result was to be a repeat of the opener with the only difference being that this time Andy Marchant, Brian Staples and Matthew Chaplin were inside the top ten.
Following overnight rain and being first out on track, the going was decidedly slippery and sticky for the first Vets clash of day two. Initially it was Davies leading the charge only to drop his Kawasaki on the exit from a corner. Taking full advantage was that man Mercer as Davies remounted for 2nd ahead of the Lane brothers James and Simon with Burn next up. Despite his painful injuries, Mercer then produced an heroic effort in Sunday’s second clash after crashing whilst leading. Dropping back to 3rd and behind Davies and James Lane, Phil somehow fought back to regain the advantage on the final lap and take another win with Simon Lane, Burn and Smith again in the frame. Digging deep, Phil then won the last Vets clash of the weekend from gate to flag and also bag yet another overall success. In the title stakes, Mercer has a 56 point advantage over rival Davies with James Lane a further 95 points in arrears.
Just two weeks before Brookthorpe, Youth 85cc series leader Oliver Rigby suffered a broken collarbone and his 44 point Championship advantage appeared to be in serious threat of being overturned. Bravely though Oliver refused to be defeated and after intensive treatment made the big decision to still compete at the weekend and what a very productive move that was to be. After earning 6th overall on day one, he then bagged a remarkable podium spot and 3rd on day two. That meant that he is still the series leader despite the very best efforts of rival Charlie Hucklebridge and a whole host of other riders.
Joining the Youth 85cc fun at Brookthorpe was Wildcard rider Ollie Bubb and he was to win moto one from gate to flag with Hucklebridge, Wyatt McGregor, Rigby, Jack Evans and Tyler Smith chasing hard. In the second one, Bubb again controlled all the way ahead of Hucklebridge as this time Jack Davis took 4th with Rheanna Morgan-Rogers also in the mix. Those results meant that it was Bubb, Hucklebridge and Wyatt McGregor on the Saturday podium.
In very determined mood to further close that gap at the top of the standings, Hucklebridge won both of Sunday’s opening two moto’s ahead of Bubb but cruicially Rigby dug deep and showed great composure to get home in 3rd. Looking to make it a round 8 hat-trick , Hucklebridge also led the final clash of the weekend until two laps from home before the determined Bubb on his GasGas came through. Yet again the brave Rigby was 3rd with Smith, Evans, McGregor and Linc Hasted next up. In the title race it’s now Rigby on 859 points from Hucklebridge 845 and Davis 747.
It’s also very tight in the battle for the Small-Wheel 85cc honours with Harley Prickett now 6 points clear of Oakley Kettle and Harrison Davies in 3rd. All riders now have just two weeks off before the next round at Long Lane and with the Championship approaching the serious business end, let’s see who can show the composure, deal with the added pressure and get the required results to finally seal those 2021 titles!
Words and Images by Mike Wood
The results of the event are below.