Although only three of the nine rounds in the 2017 AMCA British Motocross Championship have been completed, the early title standings in MX1 currently make very pleasant reading for the FUS/FRO/CPS Husqvarna team. Currently on top is the defending MX1 champion, Luke Burton, who already has a big gap of eighty-nine points over his teammate James Dodd.
At Lower Drayton on Sunday, Burton produced another perfect performance to bag three more moto wins and thus top the podium. Whilst Burton stretched his advantage in the standings, two of his main title rivals (Gary Gibson and Shane Carless) were hit by mechanical issues. Not only did they lose ground in the race for top honours, they were also denied a podium place. With Gibson and Carless out of the reckoning, it was Dodd and a delighted Richard Cannings who took home the remaining silverware.
Over in MX2, defending champion Josh Waterman has regained his place at the top of the table after taking a strong runner-up slot behind Ray Rowson at Lower Drayton. Completing the podium was Lewis King, who also sits third in the early MX2 table. After a nightmare at round two, Brad Turner was back to his very best to bag maximum points and also regain his series lead in the very competitive 2T class. The trio of James Russell, Simon Lane and Terry House again dominated proceedings in the Vets. Russell now enjoys a twenty-two-point advantage at the top of the AMCA standings.
After having two hard-pack circuits to open the series, the Lower Drayton surface (with its mixture of soil and woodchip) provided a whole different challenge. Despite that change in grip, the opening MX1 moto produced a very familiar result! Taking the win was Luke Burton who, after grabbing the holeshot and leading, was passed by Gary Gibson. After two further laps, Burton was back in control and stayed in that position. Shane Carless moved through to snatch second from Gibson, Dodd, John May and Luke Meredith. Deciding to jump aboard his 2T 250cc Yamaha instead of the 450F Honda, Adam Harris started strongly with a seventh place and was joined inside that top ten by his fellow 2T pilot Ben Saunders.
One of the top MX1 pilots was in trouble in moto two, as the frame broke on Shane Carless’ Honda when he was holding fifth place. At the front, Burton led from start to finish ahead of Gibson. Richard Cannings took third, despite persistent pressure from Dodd. After failing to score at round two, after injuring his knee in practice, this was a very welcome result for Cannings. Saunders got home in sixth, just behind Meredith, with Paul Neale, Andrew Smart and John May also in the mix.
Whilst Burton produced another motocross masterclass to take moto three with a gate-to-flag victory, one of his main rivals failed to score. Gibson’s Kawasaki screeched to a halt four laps in, so Cannings took an impressive second from Dodd and May. Although the track was now at its most demanding, the action was still equally as fierce. Ashley Thomas just edging out Sean Wainwright in a great tussle for fifth, whilst Saunders stormed past Smart in the closing stages to bag seventh. That result also earned Saunders a superb fifth overall on the day. After suffering that broken frame in moto two, Carless was kindly offered the use of an AMS IDS KTM for this last clash. Despite being on that rather unfamiliar mount, the Welshman gated strongly in fifth and eventually settled for twelfth.
In the opening MX2 clash, which was restarted, Ray Rowson showed no signs of slowing down after sustaining a shoulder injury during round two at Nympsfield. He blasted into control and set a very hot pace. Rowson really turned on the style and took a comfortable win from Luke Dean, Josh Waterman, Bradley Tranter, Lewis King and Cory McShane.
Proving that he was indeed up for the challenge to make up lost ground in the standings, Rowson again stormed to a gate-to-flag victory in the second clash of the day. King, Waterman, Tranter, Jack Cox, James Wainwright and Luke Mellows followed him. Starting the meeting as the series leader, the Yamaha-mounted Dean did not enjoy the best of fortunes in this moto. After starting in sixth, Luke dropped back to fourteenth after a crash and recovered to earn eighth.
Looking for the hat-trick, Rowson again led the way in moto three. On this occasion, however, Waterman was on his tail and rapidly reeled him in. Waterman eventually came through to take the win. Producing another determined and polished performance, King held onto third spot for the entire duration with Dean in fourth. Waterman (472) is now back in charge in the standings from Dean (453), King (424) and Rowson (389).
“Today was weirdly successful," Waterman said. “Hope Roderick-Jones is ok after his first-race crash. After starting tenth in moto one I worked my way back to third. In moto two I gated tenth again, got up to fifth and then collided with another rider. I had it all to do, but again finished third. In the last race I had a nice battle with Ray before passing him with three laps to go. I have got to be pleased, as I now lead the championship. Thanks to everyone who supports me. It is much appreciated."
Going into the event, Jason Kendrick was the 2T series leader. However, just like Brad Turner at round two, he endured a day that he would rather forget! Forced out with mechanical gremlins in moto one, a crash in the last race meant he scored just sixty-eight points for nineteenth overall. In contrast, Turner was back to his very best. He had a comfortable gate-to-flag victory in moto one ahead of Sam Smith, Jordan Saunders, Bradley Doyle, James Lane and Jack Waterman.
After that strong opening ride, Doyle had another good one in the second clash of the day. He came through from seventh to take second, behind gate-to-flag winner Turner. Despite slipping off twice, Smith quickly regained his composure to still bag third from Lane and Kendrick.
All of the usual suspects again featured strongly in the last 2T moto of the day at Lower Drayton. Completing his maximum-points haul in style, it was another smooth win from Turner in moto three. Smith, Lane and Doyle were also right in the mix. In the standings, Turner is now back in charge and thirty-two points clear of Smith. Kendrick has dropped down to fifth, a remarkable ninety-two points off the top slot!
The delighted Turner said, “The track was pretty rough and technical. I felt good all day and got my starts dialled in on the concrete pad. Being in the lead on lap one of all three races certainly made it a whole lot easier! Many thanks to IDS Transport AMS KTM and the whole team for their support each week."
Resisting almost constant pressure from Simon Lane, it was series leader James Russell who took the opening Vets win. Terry House was in third and the always-consistent trio of Richard Chinn, Gary Jones and Martin Atherton were also in the mix. Looking to claw back some vital points, Lane led moto two just about all the way and looked like a winner. However, throughout this clash, Russell was all over him and timed his strike to perfection! On the final lap of the contest, James went for the pass and took the moto victory in a dramatic fashion. Whilst Lane and Russell had disputed the win, House was closing in and he was just a yard away from snatching second spot from Lane.
In what was to be virtually a repeat of that battle, Lane again led the last moto and was then passed by Russell. House reeled them both in, but did indeed get around Lane this time to earn second. Although the going was tough in this last moto, the Vets class entertained in style to wrap up proceedings. Jones, Sean Smith, Atherton, Darren Bennett, Brian Staples, John Heath and Paul Wieczorek completed the top ten.
After this hectic programme of three rounds during April, the AMCA chasers now have a break of four weeks to regroup and try to find that extra bit of speed before they are asked to go into battle again!
Words: Mike Wood | Lead Image: Mike Wood