On the 19th of January the Odyssey Arena will once again be packed out with fans cheering for their favourite rider as Belfast welcomes round two of a new four round UK Arenacross Championship.
The first round was a major success for the organisers Events 22 with 7,500 people enjoying the frantic arenacross action at the O2 in London.
Adam Chatfield, the indoor racing specialist, took an impressive victory there, but this Saturday the focus will turn to the Irish riders who will be hoping to win in front of their home crowd and to claw back some points on the championship leaders.
There will also be some layout changes to the Belfast track as Matt Bates tries to switch things up a bit from the previous years .“We are going outside with the track, and the freestyle landing ramp will also be the finish line landing ramp on the arenacross track as well,” enthuses Matt. “ It has to be different, and if we are putting freestyle in we need to make it big to see the riders hanging upside down, it has never been done here properly so we want to do that. “
Former British Supercross champion and Odyssey winner Gordon Crockard is keen to perform in front of the fans and after a DNF in round one due to a crash, he will be looking to bounce back in Belfast. “It is very important for the sport to have this here to give it exposure,” explained the LPE Kawasaki rider. “It allows the riders to try and get outside sponsors in. If you win it outright without anybody’s bike breaking or crashing it is a good feeling – you can walk around with your chest out and be all proud of yourself! “
Graeme Irwin hasn’t ridden at the Odyssey since he was on 85s but he is ready to rock on his 250f Heads and Threads Suzuki.“ The last few years I have been injured and missed the event ( at the Odyssey), so this time I just can’t wait to get out there and finally be able ride it as a pro and hopefully the crowd will get behind us!”
Ballyclare man Martin Barr won at the Odyssey two years ago and was on the podium again last year, proving his pedigree as one of the best supercross riders in Europe. He will be one of the pre- race favourites and after coming fourth at the first round at the O2 Arena, having only ridden his new VMX 250f KTM that morning!
The former schoolboy supercross champion will be more comfortable on the bike this Saturday night and is ready to do the business again in Belfast. “The last couple of years have been good for me at it and I want to try and keep that going. Obviously it is not going to be easy, there will be a lot of good guys there, and you need a bit of luck to get away at the start and stay out of trouble, but I am really excited just to get out racing in front of the home fans again.”
Dubliner Stuart Edmonds was a late entry at the O2 but he took a fine fifth place and will be hoping the support of the crowd will help him to get on the podium at round two on the Revo Kawasaki!
Adam Chatfield, Neville Bradshaw and Tom Church are the early championship leaders and they will be up for the battle in Belfast against the locals and you can never write of Eric Sorby or Jack Brunell’s chances either!
With some top class freestylers and schoolboys racing as well, the scene is set for a fantastic round two of series!
By Jonathan McCready