The British weather has unfortunately been unkind to the Maxxis British Motocross Championship in 2018 as after the cancellation of Lyng in early March, the competitors had to suffer horrendous conditions at Culham Moto Park on 1st April 2018. With Culham becoming the opening round of the championship, this meant Canada Heights would take the slot of round two in what would be much warmer April conditions. The man to beat in the MX1 division after the season opener is defending champion Graeme Irwin, this year with the Hitachi ASA KTM UK squad after moving over in the winter from the Buildbase Honda squad. Irwin secured a 1-3 finish at Culham Moto Park to lead the championship on forty-five points, but he is closely chased by Culham race two winner Evgeny Bobryshev (Lombard Express Suzuki with PAR Homes). The Russian has come back to the British Championship after a number of seasons away at GP level and has looked quick ever since joining the Suzuki squad. A fourth-place finish in race combined with his win left him on forty-three points coming into Canada Heights. The Russian will very likely be a championship contender in 2018 with history in MXGB after lifting the MX1 title back in 2010. With Irwin departing Honda for KTM, one rider went the other way as Suffolk’s Jake Nicholls joined the Honda squad for a campaigning in MXGB and Jake’s hungry for a title that has so far eluded him. The season opener left Jake third in the overall standings on forty points after finishing second in race one, but down in forth in race two. The best news for Jake though was that Culham was his first MXGB round since April 2016, as injury in MXGP ended his season. Whilst the top three may be as expected in MX1, there are plenty of race winners in this class including former MX1 champions Brad Anderson and Kristian Whatley, MX2 Champion Elliott Banks-Browne and Estonian Gert Krestinov. To mix up the competition a little bit, Canada Heights would see a wildcard entered in MX1 as 2016 Champion Tommy Searle was returning to MXGB in preparation for the MXGP of Latvia on the 13 May. Since the MXGP of Europe in March at Valkenswaard, the Bike It DRT Kawasaki rider has been on the side-lines recovering from a broken collarbone, to add to a number of injuries sustained in 2017. Canada Heights would be a good test for Searle against his British rivals and prepare him well for a return to the world stage.
Action out on Track Hot under the Sun
The opening MX1 race of the day at Canada Heights had drama on the opening lap, as series leader and reigning champion Graeme Irwin went down on turn two, remounting at the back of the field. Irwin’s mistake opened the race up to everyone else to score highly and as a result Irwin looked set to be dethroned as championship leader before race two. With Irwin out of contention, Jake Nicholls broke away at the front of the field on the Buildbase Honda, chased by fellow Suffolk rider Elliott Banks-Browne. The Geartec Husqvarna rider kept Nicholls in his sights around Canada Heights whilst Bobryshev was on a charge on the Suzuki along with GP rival Tommy Searle. In his comeback ride since breaking his collarbone, Searle looked steady on the Kawasaki and was hungry to mix it up, showing why he is a former MX1 champion. Italian MXGP star Ivo Monticelli was getting in the mix on the I-Fly JK Yamaha Racing, challenging for a podium place. Bobryshev got the better of his MXGP rivals in the end and set his sights on Banks-Browne, but a mistake cost him third as the Russian took a tumble, landing heavy and nearly busting the handlebars on the Suzuki. The loss of Bobryshev from third gave Elliott Banks-Browne a comfortable second but Nicholls was long gone, riding away to secure victory by twenty-eight seconds. Inheriting third was Ivo Monticelli with Bobryshev holding onto fourth ahead of Tommy Searle. Reigning champion Graeme Irwin showed why he was MX1 champion in 2017 recovering to finish eleventh and collecting ten points.
MX1 Race One, Canada Heights – Top Five:
- Jake Nicholls (No.45 – Buildbase Honda) = 14 Laps = 2:07.145s
- Elliott Banks Browne (No.44 – Geartec Husqvarna) = +28.195s
- Ivo Monticelli (No.128 – I-Fly JK Yamaha Racing) = +43.605s
- Evgeny Bobryshev (No.777 – Lombard Express Suzuki) = +1:06.521s
- Tommy Searle (No.100 – Bike IT DRT Kawasaki) = +1:11.291s
The temperatures continued to rise as the day ticked by at Canada Heights and come race two, the track had to be heavily packed with water to keep the dust down, at times making areas slippery for the riders. With Jake Nicholls the new series leader following victory in race one, Graeme Irwin would be looking to make amends and once the gate dropped for race two at Canada Heights; it was Irwin vs Nicholls vs Banks-Browne on the opening lap. This time the rider making a mistake on the opening lap was Tommy Searle, as the Kawasaki rider fell way down the order, out of contention for victory on his return from injury. Elliott Banks-Browne was the early leader in race two but it didn’t take Nicholls long to be up to full speed and mastering the conditions, led as quickly as race one and would disappear to victory by fourteen seconds. As Banks-Browne and Irwin duelled for position, Bobryshev was again the rider making grounds on the Lombard Express Suzuki and looking to close down any gaps between himself and race leader. Bobryshev broke into the top three as Elliott Banks Browne slipped to fourth, whist as a group they started to split and break from the rest. The four positions remained as they were to the flag, as Ivo Monticelli would end up in the top five for the second time in the weekend but had to be weary of Stuart Edmonds throughout the race. In his return to action, Tommy Searle would end race two down in seventh, after a first lap incident left him towards the rear of the field. Showing why he is a former MX1 champion, Searle moved up the order throughout the race, only finishing four seconds back from Edmonds at the end of thirteen laps.
MX1 Race Two, Canada Heights – Top Five
- Jake Nicholls (No.45 – Buildbase Honda) = 13 Laps = 2:09.863
- Evgeny Bobryshev (No.777 – Lombard Express Suzuki) = +14.686s
- Graeme Irwin (No.1 – Hitachi KTM UK ASA Scaffolding) = +22.631s
- Elliott Banks Browne (No.44 – Geartec Husqvarna) = +37.739s
- Ivo Monticelli (No.128 – I-Fly JK Yamaha Racing) = +58.655s
The series now moves onto the Suffolk venue of Blaxhall on the 6 May 2018 were all championships will be out in full, as MX1 and MX2 classes are joined again by the British 2 Stroke Championship and the youth of MXY2. Blaxhall is the home venue of Jake Nicholls and the Buildbase Honda rider would be coming home with the No.1 Red Plate due to his double in Kent. Taking maximum points of fifty, Nicholls moved into the lead of the championship, demoting reigning champion Graeme Irwin. Unfortunately for Irwin he is now fifteen points behind Nicholls and third in standings due to his low points finish in race one. Remaining in second in the overall standings is Russian Evgeny Bobryshev on eighty-three points. The Russian on the Lombard Express Suzuki trails Nicholls by seven points but a haul of forty points which included a second at Canada Heights continues to leave the former MX1 Champion as a threat to Irwin’s defence of the title.
To keep up-to-date with the series throughout the year, please check out www.mxgb.co.uk.
For more photos from Canada Heights including full MX2 action and the British 2 Stroke Championship, please click here.
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.