After six months of mud, sweat and gears, the destination of the 2023 AMCA British Motocross Championship titles have finally been decided. During the final round promoted by the Cheltenham Spa MXC and held on a Brookthorpe track that was super tacky and very raceable, there was to be hardly any major movements in the hunt for titles bar one very notable exception!!
During the season, a rider can earn himself an extra 300 Championship points by competing in a maximum of three AMCA Group events. In the MX2 title chase, whilst leader Shane Carless had only added 100 points to his total, closest rival Rory Jones increased his own score by the full amount available! And following a very late recalculation of the standings, it meant that defending Champion Carless was dropped down to 5th in the table whilst Jones was on top and having turned a 34-point deficit into a massive 114-point advantage. Making that swing in fortunes pay, and despite having to race in a combined contest with the Open class boys, Rory was to be right on it and in very hot form. Starting with a 4th and 3rd, that was already enough to confirm that he was the first 2023 Champion to be crowned and with still a couple of moto’s to spare!
With that MX2 title in the bag, Rory could have elected to then sit out the second day but no, the IDS/J. L Cox Cranes Ltd rider was on the start line. And finishing it in style he took a fantastic last moto win after beating Open class star Henry Williams in an absolute thriller. Riding on what is in effect his home circuit, CPMX Racing KTM pilot Lee Truman, having arguably his best AMCA campaign, was to go onto earn him the Championship runners-up slot. This was just reward for a very popular competitor and making it a memorable year in which he has also become a dad. With the change in standings due to those bonus points, there was to also be a dramatic twist in the MX2 final Championship battle for the bronze medal position. Going into the last moto of the season, Jake Preston looked favourite for the honour holding a 27-point gap over Liam Gale. For Preston though it was to be heartache, forced out just three laps from home with mechanical issues. Despite having competed all weekend whilst suffering from flu, LRT Yamaha rider Gale on his fast 2T 250cc machine got home in 5th. That meant that he had done enough to leapfrog Preston and earn 3rd in the 2023 AMCA MX2 Championship.
The second rider to get the business done and put the crown in the bag on day one at Brookthorpe was the Meredith MX Fantic 125cc ace Luke Dean. After passing the always fast starting Wildcard rider Paul Neale, it was super Dean all the way in moto one before he then confirmed the AMCA 125cc title with a typically stylish gate to flag victory in the second clash. On day two, Dean was then still right on the gas, fighting off Corey Hockey and Neale to finish the season with a cool maximum point score. Runners-up spot in the 125cc title race was to go to Jack Cox who has had a great season after not competing for several seasons. The former three times AMCA Champion went 5/5/7/6 at Brookthorpe for his silver medal but like MX2 the main question was who would take 3rd in the series. Originally holding that position was Damon Strydom but he was another rider who had not claimed those vital 300 bonus points on offer! So, taking the vacant bronze spot was the stylish CPMX KTM pilot Harry Linton who eventually finished 50 points clear of Charlie Palmer with Yarin Evans next up.
The final rider to enjoy the sweet taste of a Championship title on day one was BWMA Women’s competitor Marni Saunders. On her booming Kawasaki, Marni started with a steady 12/11, enough to claim the crown before then going 13th and finishing with an 8th, her best result of the weekend. Going into the Brookthorpe event, Hannah Jones and Caitlin Newman had held 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Championship and they both got the job done by maintaining those positions. For Caitlin though, it did go down to a last moto decider with Hollie Roberts and Grace Bates closing in hard and being less than 20 points in arrears. This class as normal incorporated the Youth 125cc contest so a special shout-out should go to the fine efforts of Wildcard BWMA Woman Ria Truman who twice led the entire field of lads and lasses into turn one!. Right on it, Ria went onto earn 2nd overall in the event behind another fast Wildcard rider Grace Richards.
As mentioned, the BWMA Woman race with the Youth 125cc lads and in that one the superb Shane Jones on his Apex GasGas UK machine led the title race from the equally talented Wyatt McGregor. These two lads have pretty much dominated the entire season at the front and with Jones having already won 18 out of 20 moto’s, he was the rider in control although just 49 points clear of his rival. At Brookthorpe, Jones scored another three moto wins to wrap up the title, his only defeat over the weekend being inflicted by none other than that man McGregor! With the top two decided, the battle was still on for 3rd, a dispute which as thrillingly raged at just about every round! Jack Evans, Will Turner, Phillip Tchorek, Max Brick and Logan Jay-Powell were really going for it. In the race for bronze, it was Evans, the 2022 AMCA Youth 85cc Champion who got the verdict, 30 points better off than Turner.
Staying with the Youth and the Kettle was red hot in the Youth 85cc class as Oakley on his AD Modular/Beer Trading Ltd KTM wrapped up the title in style by scorching to four Brookthorpe moto wins. The only rider to get ahead of the flying Kettle was the brilliant SW85cc pilot and schoolgirl Leah Rees-Evans but more of that later! In the race for Championship honours amongst the lads, Oliver Bebb scored 2/2/2/5 which was enough for the silver medal spot. Holding 3rd in the standings, George Clark was a non-starter at the final round so the bronze medal was up for grabs. The lad on a mission was Bobby Watson, surging up from 5th to earn that glory as Irish visitor Ryan Jackson on the small wheel 85cc KTM took 4th, five points better off than Mason Care. Super Jackson was also a very clear winner of the separately scored SW85cc Championship chase as Jacob Ince just held onto 2nd ahead of the hard charging Aston Whitehead. Aston had finished the campaign in strong form, scoring overall runners-up spot following the four moto’s completed at Brookthorpe.
So, what about the BWMA 85cc Girls then, well going into the decider another competitor from across the Irish sea, Checoby Rainey, held a very narrow 10 points advantage over Holly Williams. It was to be a very tense affair as the two title contenders matched each other. In the first three moto’s, Holly finished just one place ahead of Checoby and thus inch gradually closer to her rival. Going into the last and deciding clash it was still Checoby in Championship control but now only a very nervous 4 points ahead. In the decider though, Checoby after not having the best of starts then moved through from 17th and get right up to 9th, crucially passing Holly on her way through. She then saw off the challenges of her rival and thus beat her to the chequered flag and the title! Taking both the overall win at Brookthorpe and 3rd in the series standings was the very fast Leah Rees-Evans, overhauling Erin Howes. So good was Leah at this final round that she also claimed 2nd on the podium in the weekends main 85cc class results, simply superb!
Going back to the lads, and all season long the super-fast James Dodd and Henry Williams have been disputing honours at the front of the AMCA Open class. Going into Brookthorpe it was advantage Dodd on the FUS Marsh Geartec Husqvarna, 31 points clear of Apex GasGas UK mounted Williams. Knowing that he had it all to do whilst hoping that Dodd might suffer a dreaded DNF along the way, Williams went about his business in his usual efficient, classy style. Winning three out of four moto’s, his only defeat in a mixed capacity class came in a last race thriller with Rory Jones but it was not to be enough. Riding with great composure and class, Doddy scored 2/4/2/3 to ensure that after going so close on more than one occasion, he was to earn his first major AMCA title. Taking 3rd in this Open class was SRH Racing pilot and equally consistent Will Hughes as Mark Roberts had a great season to earn 4th.
The final titles to be decided was in the Vets class and in that one there was early drama. Crashing the previous week at a club event and cracking some ribs, series leader Simon Lane then badly injured his left wrist after crashing again in the opening Brookthorpe moto. As the wrist then swelled and the pain became immense as the weekend progressed, Simon on the LRT Yamaha had to dig deep if he was to bring the title home! Starting with a brace of 3rd spots, he then got the job done with a brace of two steady 4th spots on day two. At the front in this one, Phil Mercer was back and on it after missing just about the entire season due to injury. It was great to see ‘Factory’ out there and flowing as he went onto earn the overall verdict with a 2/2/1/1 scorecard. Phil’s defeats were inflicted by the super-fast James Lane, the other rider chasing the Vets crown and of course Simon’s brother. Motocross can be a cruel and painful sport on occasions and although James outscored Simon in the moto win count throughout the campaign by a 12-6 score, he was still 27 points down in the final table, left to curse what proved to be a crucial DNF earlier in the series at Long Lane. So, Simon took his fifth AMCA title and also earned himself a holiday in Spain after topping the Planet Moto First Lap Leader award. He may have to put any quick trip into Europe on hold though after discovering 24 hours after the event that his wrist injury was in fact a nasty double break!
Taking a great 3rd overall in the Vets series was Matt Ryder, the Champion back in 2012 and who had returned to have another go at the series after eight years off! Matt’s comeback was certainly productive, also wrapping the 2023 AMCA Vets Over 50’s crown at Brookthorpe as Brian Staples took 2nd from Stuart Kilmarten. In this last round, Staples had ditched his 350F KTM for a 150cc 2T KTM and certainly finished with a big smile on his face, that’s the way the sport should be enjoyed!
Completing the Brookthorpe programme was a Juniors Support contest in which they enjoyed three moto’s on Sunday only. In that one, Ryan Neale, Joe Willoughby and Ricky Ryder all scored a win each but it was Neale who claimed the overall verdict ahead of Willoughby and Grant Reed. So, with action done, all that remains is to say many congratulations to the 2023 AMCA Champions, James Dodd, Rory Jones, Luke Dean, Shane Jones, Marni Suanders, Oakley Kettle, Ryan Jackson, Checoby Rainey, Simon Lane and Matt Ryder.
Final Championship standings
Open 1 James Dodd 1511 points 2 Henry Williams 1492 3 Will Hughes 1397 4 Mark Roberts 1325 5 Aaron Collins 1099 6 Kian Bown 921.
MX2 1 Rory Jones 1454 2 Lee Truman 1323 3 Liam Gale 1242 4 Jake Preston 1222 5 Shane Carless 1188 6 Logan Wilcox 1155.
125cc 1 Luke Dean 1505 points 2 Jack Cox 1374 3 Harry Linton 1315 4 Charlie Palmer 1265 5 Yarin Evans 1124 6 Olly Hathaway 1099.
Youth 125cc 1 Shane Jones 1494 points 2 Wyatt McGregor 1437 3 Jack Evans 1391 4 Will Turner 1361 5 Philip Tchorek 1272 6 Max Brick 1070.
BWMA Women 1 Marni Saunders 1528 points 2 Hannah Jones 1412 3 Caitlin Newman 1215 4 Hollie Roberts 1358 5 Grace Bates 1342 6 Amber McGregor 1285.
BWMA Girls 85cc 1 Checoby Rainey 1458 points 2 Holly Williams 1452 3 Leah Rees-Evans 1358 4 Erin Howes 1329 5 Sophie Jones 1263 6 Cameron Mansbridge 1237.
Youth 85cc 1 Oakley Kettle 1449 points 2 Oliver Bebb 1388 3 Bobby Watson 1242 4 Ryan Jackson 1199 5 Mason Care 1194 6 George Clark 1136.
SW85cc 1 Ryan Jackson 1528 points 2 Jacob Ince 1419 3 Aston Whitehead 1393 4 Lewis Day 753 5 Harrison Rees 566 6 Arthur Moore 550.
Veterans 1 Simon Lane 1469 points 2 James Lane 1442 3 Matt Ryder 1397 4 Matthew Chaplin 1257 5 Brian Staples 1236 6 Richard Tudor 1206.
Veterans Over 50’s 1 Matt Ryder 1520 points 2 Brian Staples 1451 3 Stuart Kilmarten 1356 4 Simon Bonser 439.
Words and Images by Mike Wood
The results of the event are below.