Wow, just where do you start to tell the stories of what unfolded during an incredible final event of the AMCA British Motocross Championship, full of drama, controversy, rider tantrums and great racing! On conclusion though of a weekend which included five moto’s and a possible 250 points on offer, the one undisputable fact is that the 2021 title winners have now been decided. So its many congratulations to Ashley Greedy, Shane Carless, Kieran Banks, Phil Mercer, Andy Watkins, Ollie Rigby and Oakley Kettle on your eventual victories, welcome to the roll of honour.
Going into this finale of the series sponsored by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, just 13 points separated the MX1 top two of Ashley Greedy and Josh Waterman with James Dodd and Luke Hawkins also right in the mix. Right from the off in this one the drama began as Greedy and Waterman made contact in turn two with the Honda rider falling. Quickly up and restarting, Waterman was on a chase as Greedy led all the way to the flag. With Luke Burton, Dodd and Hawkins next up, Waterman got back to 5th as Damon Strydom, Adam Wells, Sion Talbot, Zac Stealey and Will Hughes started the weekend with strong rides.
In an explosive and very fiery MX1 moto two it then really kicked off! At just about the exact same point of the opening race coming together, Greedy drove hard under Waterman resulting in the Honda rider careering off the track and into the Lower Drayton undergrowth. Restarting last, Waterman now had it all to do as a super four way battle developed at the front with Hawkins, Dodd, Greedy and Burton regularly swapping positions. But in another late development as that fast leading quartet lapped Waterman and Greedy had already been shown the black flag to stop,the shenanigans were far from over. Still seething after that turn two incident, Waterman waited before driving across the front of Greedy and blocking his progress. With Burton finally taking the win and the overall verdict in this crazy contest, the results were announced that both Greedy and Waterman had been disqualified for their actions. However following protests, Waterman was later reinstated and that changed the Championship chasing picture. After having led the series since round one, Greedy had now dropped to 2nd and level on 1397 points with Dodd, just 4 behind Waterman with Hawkins also only a further 13 points in arrears.
Thankfully after that very stormy day one, Sunday was relatively calm as a very determined Greedy went to work, immediately regaining his series lead by passing Hawkins in the opening moto. With Waterman taking 3rd after Dodd had crashed hard on the final lap, day one victor Burton started with a 5th. With a very daring blast right around the outside of the pack in turn one, Greedy led MX1 moto two with a superb gate to flag win from Hawkins, Burton, Dodd and Waterman. That meant Greedy was now 10 points clear in the race for the title with one moto to go.
And the determined and hungry LHRT Kawasaki rider then wrapped up the 2021 MX1 crown in style with another rapid victory in the final race. Battered and bruised from that day one crash, Waterman was unfortunately on his way to hospital and not able to compete in this last moto so that allowed both Dodd and Hawkins to overhaul him in the Championship standings. The three ‘Double Header’ events throughout the season also counted towards an AMCA Superclass title and with the points added up in that one it was Ultimate Wheels/Thunderroad Honda star rider Dodd taking the top honours from Hawkins and Greedy.
Just 15 points separated FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna teammates Shane Carless and Nev Bradshaw in the MX2 class going into this final event. And those two very fast lads started the weekend by producing an absolute cracker, Nev getting the holeshot before Shane came through for the win with Henry Williams, Rossi Beard and Wildcard rider Jake Preston on a FUS Husqvarna 2T mount next up. If moto one was good though, what followed was an absolute classic as Williams led the way and defied Bradshaw and Carless for six pulsating laps. Eventually Carless came through for another win as Bradshaw also managed to overcome the talented Apex GasGas UK youngster.
After Carless had won Sunday’s opening moto from Bradshaw, Williams, Corey Hockey making a very welcome return to racing following a long injury absence and Josh Coleman, there was to be a few anxious moments in the FUS camp. With the series leaders bike sick and time running out, Shane was forced to jump aboard his spare bike for MX2 moto two. Feeling rather uncomfortable, Shane then completely lost the use of his back brake early on but still somehow got home in 4th as Nev bagged a richly deserved race win to thus keep his title hopes very much alive. However after swapping his suspension over from his main race bike to the spare mount, Carless was right back on the full gas for the last moto of the series. In that one though, initially Bradshaw had again led the way only for his Husqvarna’s subframe to break causing him to grind to a halt as electrical connections came apart! So that superman Carless took the win as Williams got home in 2nd with Rory Jones, Coleman and Brooklyn Evans chasing hard.
That result meant that it was Carless the MX2 Champion, his third consecutive AMCA title success after bagging the MX1 crown in 2019 and 125cc glory in 2020. Infact you can make that four titles as Shane also picked up the AMCA MX2 Superclass win for results gained during the ‘Double Header’ events, what a massive achievement that is!. Although naturally disappointed to have lost his amazing 100% record of earning top three moto placings and podium spots at every round in 2021, Nev Bradshaw still finished as the AMCA MX2 series runner-up with the equally consistent Williams 3rd.
Just 12 points separated the 125cc series top two of Bradley Tranter and Kieran Banks and by the end of day one at Lower Drayton that gap had been halved. In the opening moto it was Tranter who made the better start, leading the contest for three laps before fast Wildcard rider Matt Bayliss came through for the win. Crucially after gating in 4th, Banks passed Tranter and got home in 2nd with Matt Ridgway, Jack Timms and Jordan Wright next up. In the second clash on day one, Bayliss led all the way with Banks, Tranter, Wright and Timms following him home.
With it all still to play for, day two started with the 125cc lads making plenty of noise on the start line before practice in memory of the late Jude Morris, a very fitting tribute. When racing commenced, moto one on day two produced a repeat of Saturday’s results before the series standings were then turned on its head by a very dramatic second 125cc clash. Crashes and a hotly disputed sticking start gate stopped the first couple of attempts to run the moto. Then in take three, Tranter crashed hard whilst leading, causing the race to be red-flagged. With the battered and bruised Six10 Motorsport KTM rider feeling concussed and being assessed by the medical team, at the fourth time of asking the moto was finally underway.
And although Bayliss glided to another smooth win, Banks on his super Meredith MX Fantic took 2nd ahead of Ridgway, the fast starting Wright, Timms and Jordan Ridgway. That result meant that Banks now just about had the 125cc title in his pocket, 47 points clear at the top and just requiring to finish the last moto and get it confirmed. And in his own typically classy style, Banks easily got the job done with a comfortable 2nd place behind Bayliss. So in the final title standings it was Banks the Champion on 1514 points with Tranter still maintaining the runners-up spot on 1417 and Ridgway 1399, Jordan Wright 1343, Timms 1319 and Joel Fisher the 2020 Youth 85cc Champion making an impressive impact in the 125cc class on 1303 next up. Special mention to Fisher for also lending his spare bike to fellow 125cc competitor Jake O’Gorman.
Going into the final event with a 59 point lead, Vets star rider Phil Mercer quickly got down to business at Lower Drayton. In moto one, he led all the way ahead of his closest rival Gary Davies who was out on his big red 500c Honda in preparation for this weekend’s mega Farleigh Castle event. Unfortunately Gary’s bike suffered from a split exhaust system so it was quickly placed back into the crate! In this opener, James Lane took 3rd from Paul Burn aboard a borrowed bike, Simon Lane and Sean Smith. With ‘Factory Phil’ then also winning moto two on Saturday it meant that he carried a 65 point advantage going into day two.
Maintaining his relentless consistency and speed, Phil then won both of Sunday’s opening two moto’s after overcoming a fast starting Simon Lane to thus wrap up what was his 4th AMCA title. On both day’s at Lower Drayton, the podium was completed by Davies and Burn. Despite those two placings on the box though, Burn could not quite overhaul reigning Vets Champion James Lane in the race for the bronze medal position of the Championship standings.
In the separately scored Vets Over 50’s contest, Andy Watkins, a double AMCA Champion back in 1997 and 1998 added another title to the bag. Having led this series for most of the duration after early pace-setter Kev Rogers was injured, Andy finished the job in hand. On day one at Lower Drayton though it was Gareth Dunsford who took overall top slot before normal service was resumed on Sunday. In the final Championship standings Brian Staples took 2nd with Dunsford 3rd. Despite being Over 50, the very experienced Watkins also perfomed well in the main Vets class, eventually going onto claim 7th spot.
Incredibly going into the Lower Drayton event just 3 points was the difference at the top of both the Youth 85cc and SW85cc classes. In the main Youth contest , second placed Charlie Hucklebridge then turned the deficit into a 2 point advantage in his favour on day one. Despite a crash in qualifying, Charlie went 1-2 on day one with title rival Ollie Rigby recording 2-3. Although Jack Evans won the second clash on Saturday, he had to settle for 5th overall as Benjamin Sullivan bagged the final podium spot.
After that promising start for Charlie on day one though, Sunday was to prove to be a bit of a disaster! Crashes and back brake mechanical issues saw him in last place finishes on both occasions. Battered and bruised, Charlie sat out the final clash of the series and Rigby took full advantage. Riding with style and speed, Rigby was superb on Sunday, starting with a 2-7, the Edge-One Motocross KTM lad finished in the best way possible by bagging a moto win. Although Sullivan had still took the overall win on the day and Alfie Crealock-Lovell also made the podium, more importantly a jubilant Rigby had been crowned the 2021 AMCA Youth 85cc Champion. Despite his day two heartache, Hucklebridge finished as the series runner-up with Jack Davis in 3rd.
Over in the SW85cc class, Oakley Kettle was simply on fire throughout the entire weekend, continuously making fast starts and really mixing it with those big-wheeled bikes. On day one, Oakley overhauled his title rival and leader Harley Prickett by 7 points. Then on the deciding second day with another superb performance Oakley opened that gap up to a title winning 19 points. Taking 3rd in the SW85cc Championship was Harrison Davies ahead of Oliver Bebb and Logan Chinnock.
Words and Images by Mike Wood
The results of the event are below.