After a few years of sponsoring his brother Dave, Shaun Anthony of Oakleaf Building decided to increase his involvement in Motocross and take the Taunton based, Oakleaf Kawasaki Team to the next level in 2011.
With a increased amount of support from existing sponsors, outside and inside the Motocross industry, Shaun took the decision to run 2 riders for 2011, with Dave remaining on the team to race in local championships and the British Masters National Championships, and the addition of 14 year old Taunton teenager Tommy Alba to compete in the Red Bull Pro Nationals Elite Rookie Championship and other selected events.
Dave’s season started well in the local South West championship and he was running well inside the top 10 frequently in the Kawasaki MX1 class of the British Masters Championship, gaining a fair amount of TV coverage when these races were shown on Motors TV during the Blood, Sweat and Gears program. Things took a turn for the worst though during the midseason as a quite serious hand injury saw Dave having to take a long break from race action, leaving Tommy as the sole Oakleaf Kawasaki representative.
Nobody was really sure what to expect from Tommy in 2011 as this would be his first season fully racing Motocross, having come from an Enduro background, but as the Team arrived at round 1 of the Red Bull Pro Nationals it soon became apparent that Shaun’s decision to take a gamble on ‘Enduro racer’ Tommy was a good one as he was immediately on the pace of the countries top Youth Motocross racers. Taking a fine 7th overall, his form continued throughout the season and he was inside or just on the fringe of the top 5 at everyone of the 7rounds finishing the championship in 5th place, the highlight being a excellent 3rd place overall at round 5 giving Tommy and Oakleaf their 1st ever podium finish, giving the Team and it’s sponsors excellent exposure at the top level of British Motocross.
With Dave’s injury reducing the Oakleaf Team to a single rider, Shaun was desperate to get another rider on board with the Team to continue it’s great progress that had already been made in 2011, and it was Weston-super-mare based privateer James Dodd that attracted the attentions of Shaun. With Dodd and his family being well known to the Anthony’s through years of racing together at various events, Shaun knew that James would be the perfect rider to bring into the Oakleaf set-up. As a deal was struck in mid-July, James’ 1st outing under the Oakleaf banner was to be Round 6 of the British Motocross championship, the pinnacle of domestic UK Motocross, and a long time dream of Shaun’s to see his Oakleaf Team in the paddock amongst the biggest teams in the UK.
The event was to be a great success for all involved as James took out his best result in that championship of the season, and the general public and industry folk alike took a large interest into the ‘New’ Oakleaf Team. Things took a sour twist at James’ next event as a crash saw him dislocate a shoulder, meaning several weeks off the bike and out of action. With the full support of everyone involved with the Team, he knuckled down with treatment on the injury and managed to make and early return to racing just before the end of the season and came back finishing just outside of the Top 10 in the Pro MX2 class at the final round of the Red Bull Pro Nationals, the next weekend saw the final proper Motocross race of the year, but in a cruel twist of fate another crash saw James this time dislocated both shoulders at once, ruling him out of all winter events including the Weston Beach Race and British Supercross races, both of which being events he seems to excel at having been on the edge of the top 10 several times in the beach race and in 2009, James was runner up in the British Pro Supercross Championship.
James’s injuries meant that the Team was again down to one rider, leaving just Tommy to compete in the Weston Beach Race, which is an important event for Oakleaf as being local to the Team is a great opportunity for the local sponsor’s to see things in action, and a measure of the Team’s success and growing profile in 2011 can be shown by the fact that in the days leading upto the Beach Race, they were invited by the organiser to the official Press Day which was filmed by local TV News stations, and documented by local Newspapers and the national Motocross specialist publications. When race day came along Tommy scored and excellent result by putting his Oakleaf Kawasaki in 11th place on his first attempt at the race, another pleasing fact for Oakleaf was that Tommy’s 11th saw them finish as leading Kawasaki in the race.
As the team continues to grow into 2012, they would like to thank all their sponsors for their support 2011 and into the future, also everybody who helps out the team through the week, on weekends, and by hanging over the fence to cheer on the rider’s, without all your help and support none of this would be possible.
With negotiation’s still ongoing with all aspects of the team for 2012, expect some very exciting announcements in the near future from, Shaun and the Oakleaf Team.