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2013 Maxxis British Championship Predictions

The 2013 Maxxis British Championship has the potential to be great; it more than likely will be. With an influx of GP riders joining the MX1 class and contenders both young and old in the MX2 class, both title fights should be memorable. But, what riders will have a number one plate in their hands when the series leaves Farleigh Castle in October? Well, this is what we think.

Lewis Phillips:

MX1 FatCat Winner: Tommy Searle

Final Championship Standings:
1st Tanel Leok
2nd Brad Anderson
3rd Jonathan Barragan

Admittedly, there are a number of different riders who could potentially find themselves on top of the podium at different points in the year. But despite this, I am finding it very hard to look past anyone other than Tanel Leok for the title. With everything going his way, he could land on the GP podium. So, why can’t he win the Maxxis British Championship? Of course he has contested this series before; it has changed drastically since then, the knowledge that he garnered in that time could prove valuable though. Tanel is a very good sand rider also, with four rounds taking place on the softer soil; this should be an advantage to him.

You just can’t bet against Brad Anderson, can you? The British Bulldog is always there at the end of the series. Honestly, I am skeptical about how he will gel with the Kawasaki; it seems that he has only ever excelled on a Honda. However, I’m sure that Ando will show up FatCat this weekend ready to race. It might take him a round or two to get used to the Kawasaki in race conditions, though. His experience with the tracks, weather and series format means that he will there at the end, most definitely.

Jonathan Barragan is an enigma; whether he will be in a position to win or not remains to be seen. His performance at FatCat will be telling though, he always excels on the sand. So, if he is not at the front this weekend, he probably won’t be when the series arrives at some of the hardpack circuits. Despite this, I put him third in the championship, as I cannot see any riders (other than the two already mentioned) beating him over the course of a season. Of course, Nicolas Aubin and Steve Ramon will be good; but will they be there at the end of the year?

Remember, Tommy Searle will be behind the starting gate at FatCat this weekend; I am sure that he is the favourite for the win. But, I do not think that he will have it easy. Tanel Leok, Jonathan Barragan and Steve Ramon are all “sand specialists”. Tommy seems to struggle in the sand; however he is still going in as the favourite. But the gap might not be as big as everyone thinks that it will be.

MX2 FatCat Winner: Mel Pocock

Final Championship Standings:
1st Elliott Banks Browne
2nd Martin Barr
3rd Graeme Irwin

Before we get to my thoughts on the final series standings, I think that I need to justify why I picked Mel Pocock as the winner of round one. It is worth noting that Mel Pocock will not be contesting the full series; like Searle he has a wildcard ride for FatCat only. EBB may be faster than Mel, however Pocock has had a better start to the season; his momentum will help him at FatCat. I would not be surprised to see Elliott on top of the podium though, as I have stated previously both riders are very close in speed.

Unless some goes drastically wrong, I do think that this is Elliott Banks Browne’s title to lose.  Sure, the competition will be fierce. But he proved last year that he has everyone covered in regard to raw speed. I am slightly skeptical about his machine. The HM Plant KTM UK bike is one of the fastest on the starting line; however they have struggled with mechanical failures in the past. Just last week, they were struggling with an issue with the bike losing water. But, apart from this I can’t see any problems with his program; hence why he should be tough to beat this year.

Stephen Sword and Martin Barr are two of the more experienced rider in the field; they are actually quite similar to each other. So, why did I put Barr in the top three and not Stephen? It seems as though Barr has more raw speed, and intensity; in the MX2 class, this will be an advantage. Stephen is most definitely a veteran of the series now. But, not too long ago he was dominant on the 250f. So, potentially he could jump on the smaller bike and rediscover that magic. However, at the moment I cannot see him having the intensity to match the top MX2 guys. Stephen will be there, right in the mix for the podium each week though.

I am very excited to see what Graeme Irwin can do this year. I feel as though he has had the speed to succeed the last few years; it was only last year that he actually broke through and established himself as one of the top guys in the class. Although, Irwin may be inconsistent; those flashes of raw speed will see him finish inside of the top three at the end of the series, I believe. Of course Neville Bradshaw, Bryan Mackenzie, Stephen Sword and Steven Lenoir will all be in contention for this spot also. Evidently, both classes are stacked with talent.

Jonathan McCready:

MX1 FatCat Winner: Tommy Searle

Final Championship Standings:
1st Steve Ramon
2nd Tanel Leok
3rd Brad Anderson

This might be even harder to predict than MX2. With a few GP riders racing plus ex GP stars as well as the British contingent this championship should be a barnburner!

Just look at the names; Steve Ramon, Nico Aubin, Jason Dougan, Tanel Leok, Brad Anderson, Jonathan Barragan, Kristian Whatley and more all have a chance at the championship. It is going to be hard for a Brit to win it this year and if they do it will be quite an accomplishment.

It is hard to look past Steve Ramon for the title. The Belgian is a class act and although he didn’t look too good in pre-season, he has had 4-6 weeks of preparation since then and he is obviously going to be good on the sand.

Tanel Leok knows the tracks but his starts are a question mark. He is the Estonian Mike LaRocco, always fighting his way through the field and this just might stop him winning the title.

Brad Anderson will probably be Britain’s brightest hope again. He has a big money deal with LPE Kawasaki has a new son to motivate him (not that he needs it) and the contrast in styles between Ramon and Anderson will be worth the entry fee alone!

Nico Aubin should be in the top three, his raw speed could maybe be the best out of anyone but all too often he finds himself upside down in the first turn and that isn’t going to win you a championship against this field. He does know the tracks now however and that could work to his favour. It would be nice to see Whatley back in the mix too, he has a lot of talent and if he stays away from injury and keeps focused there is no reason why he can’t be in the mix again.

MX2 FatCat Winner: Mel Pocock

Final Championship Standings:
1st Martin Barr
2nd Elliott Banks Browne
3rd Graeme Irwin

I think it might come down to four guys, Elliott Banks-Browne, Stephen Sword and the Irish duo of Martin Barr and Graeme Irwin. They all have various strengths and weaknesses, they are all very close and it is really difficult to find a clear winner.

That is not to discount the speed of the Neville Bradshaw, Steven Lenoir, Bryan Mackenzie and many others – they can all win races and challenge for the title. However EBB is the defending championship so he has to be the favourite, Stephen Sword is a multi time British Champion and has always excelled on the smaller machine.

Martin Barr has been close for a number of seasons in both classes and he beat EBB to the 2010 Red Bull Pro National championship the last time he raced an MX2 machine. Irwin is just Irwin, he has so much raw speed and desire, his self confidence has never been an issue either and that can be key going down the stretch.  He gained a lot of confidence with his ride at Lommel in the Des Nations and has Neil Prince behind in his corner. Prince could be the key figure that helps Graeme really challenge for the title.

Right now my pick would be Martin Barr to win the title. It is getting to the point of stick or twist for Martin, he has been third a number of times and now he has to take the next step. He has all his ducks in a row, loves the MX2 bike, and is entering the prime of his career and for the first time in a while not doing GPs might actually work in his advantage.

Defending champion EBB will have a lot more racing and travelling to do having to contend with 18 GP weekends and this could hurt his performance at certain times throughout the season. He has a really big schedule this year but he will be there fighting to the end.

In third I think it could be Irwin. The only thing Graeme is lacking on paper is the experience in a title fight at British Championship level and both Barr and Banks-Browne have that. But in reality I don’t think that matters to him and he could just make it happen this year if he limits the mistakes!

Stephen Sword could well be there too but his injury record of the past couple of seasons have not been great and that is the only thing that puts him out of my top three. His speed and experience is not in question and if he can remain healthy he may show the youngsters how it’s done!

One of the other exciting aspects in MX2 is to see how the youngsters fair. Guys like Adam Sterry, James Dunn and the Watson brothers could all cause a shock or too this season.

Words by Lewis Phillips and Jonathan McCready

Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer

MX Vice Editor || 25

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