When the moment comes to hand out the awards for the 2017 AMCA British Motocross Championship, the results generated following round five (held at Hawkstone Park) could well prove to be very pivotal in their destination! Several top contenders went into this latest action, powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop, hurting badly from recent injuries, but still remarkably competed and managed to bag vital points.
Both of the series leaders from the main classes, Luke Burton (MX1) and Luke Dean (MX2), were on that injured list, but will be more than happy with the end outcome of Sunday’s racing. Burton, despite cruciate knee ligament damage and a sore spine sustained at the previous weekend’s IMBA European Championship event in France, finished a very brave seventh overall and still leads the MX1 title charge by eighty points with Gary Gibson now in second. At Hawkstone, the Northern Ireland born DK Offroad Kawasaki rider was in fantastic form taking the overall with a big 1-2-1 scorecard.
In MX2 Dean, suffering from back, chest and arm injuries, was a surprise starter, but still dug very deep to somehow get home in a great eighth overall, although he is now fifteen points off the top slot. The man taking over at the top is Ray Rowson, who produced a stunning Hawkstone performance and thus scored maximum points. He took the overall ahead of the defending MX2 champion, Josh Waterman, and young star James Wainwright. In the remaining groups it was a little less complicated, as Brad Turner increased his advantage at the top of 2T to eighty points after scoring a faultless hat-trick of smooth Hawkstone moto wins. James Russell tops the Vets by fifty-eight points after Terry House took the overall win on Sunday.
The drama at round five started right from the off when top MX1 runner Adam Harris failed to make the qualification cut after realising on completion of practice that he had failed to attach his timing transponder to his Yamaha machine! So, with a naturally dejected Adam watching on, Gary Gibson led the opening MX1 moto charge with Richard Cannings hot on his heels. Cannings’ challenge though was to never materialise, as he fell shortly after the completion of lap one. Moving up into second now was the fast-starting Paul Neale, before he was replaced just one lap later by Adam Wells.
At the front it was Gibson leading all the way with a motocross masterclass, his eventual winning margin being a big nineteen seconds. Wells got home in the runner-up spot. In a great tussle for third, Ed Briscoe just edged out Ryan Crowder and Shane Carless. Earlier Andrew Smart and James Dodd had been part of that above battle whilst Cannings, after suffering another three tumbles, got home in eighth. MX1 series leader Burton, in obvious pain, finished thirteenth after originally gating nineteenth.
In moto two it was Cannings who led the charge before Gibson got through after just one lap. Quickly the Kawasaki pilot put the hammer down and was gradually building a big lead until biting the dust on lap six. Clipping the chestnut paling, Gary was catapulted off his machine and into a tree! Despite being grazed and dazed, he quickly regained forward momentum and still somehow maintained second spot. Taking the win was a very delighted Cannings. Dodd, another dislocated shoulder victim in recent weeks, just got the better of Luke Meredith, Crowder, Briscoe and Neale for third.
Desperate to make up for that little collision with Hawkstone Park shrubbery, Gibson led the final MX1 moto from start to finish. Cannings kept him honest throughout and thus earn a well-deserved second. Buoyed by some recent strong rides in the IMBA European series, Briscoe completed what was easily his best performance on home soil by getting home in third. He kept the likes of Carless, Dodd, Burton, Wells, Meredith and Ben Saunders at bay.
Afterwards the delighted overall victor, Gibson, said, “I started the day feeling good but in qualifying and then had back brake problems. Switching bikes, I still managed to post the fastest time and thus have first pick of gate position. Felt comfortable in winning race one and looked to be on my way to doing the same in moto two, but I clipped the fencing and had a big one into the trees. I was quickly up and the marshals did a great job in covering me as I sorted myself out. In moto three I had to redeem myself, so paced myself and took the win. This was my first overall of the season, so I’m very happy. It would have been better if Luke Burton was fully fit, but that’s motocross! After all I have had a DNF already this year and been riding with an injury since round two, so it is swings and roundabouts.”
Josh Waterman grabbed the opening MX2 holeshot at Hawkstone with Cory McShane, Bradley Tranter and Ray Rowson hot on his heels. Rowson took control three laps in and that’s the way it stayed with Waterman chasing him home right to the chequered flag. Such was the pace of the front two that McShane was left to ride out a very lonely third spot with Wainwright in fourth. The main battle in this opener was a right humdinger that went on for fifth, which Jansen Day just got the verdict after seeing off Jack Gardner, Jack Cox, Luke Mellows and Tranter. Series leader Luke Dean still managed to take eleventh spot, despite carrying some particularly painful injuries, and picked up thirty-three points in the process.
Showing just why he is the Hawkstone Park sand master, Rowson led the second MX2 contest from start to finish although he did have a very determined Cox right on his tail throughout. On completion Cox was just four seconds down as Waterman had to settle for third. Right in the mix again were Wainwright, a rider who certainly enjoys the sandy going, Mellows, Dean, McShane, Day and Gardner.
Moving to the top of the MX2 series standings in style, Rowson completed his Hawkstone maximum by gliding to another gate-to-flag success in moto three. On completion, Rowson was nearly thirteen seconds clear of Waterman as Wainwright was right on the pace to earn a well-deserved podium place in third. After an earlier fall had dropped him back to ninth, Cox showed his liking for the sandy Shropshire circuit by staging a determined fightback. The FUS Husqvarna ace eventually took fourth from McShane and Gardner. Dean finished the day with a ninth spot and was quite rightly more than happy with his points tally from round five. Not feeling quite so elated though was Lewis King, returning from an elbow injury the TMC Kawasaki rider was eleventh overall.
Local lad Ray Rowson modestly stated, “Started the day pretty good and got pole position but I did not expect it as after practising midweek I only thought I was riding ok! Gated fifth before moving through to take the lead in the first one, I knew Josh was behind me but then thought he had fell. After having another look and seeing him still there I then had to put in a couple of fast laps. Led moto two from the start, which made it easier, but Jack [Cox] stayed with me until tiring. Last one made another good start to control all the way and make it a good day.”
What a wonderful sound it was hearing a full line-up of 2T aces blasting up the main Hawkstone Hill! Leading that charge on every occasion was the immaculate championship leader, Brad Turner. Jason Kendrick, Sam Smith and Daniel Wright all took turns to hold second place. After being a challenger, Smith eventually slipped back to fifth. Jordan Saunders, the 2T winner at Bevercotes, moved up from an early tenth to grab a hard-earned third, with Kendrick having to settle for fourth. Also inside the top ten in this opener were Bradley Doyle, Ashley Beniston, Sean Eckersley, James Lane and Luke Craig.
In 2T moto two it was Turner all the way, finishing a big seventeen seconds clear of Kenderick. Smith, Eckersley, Doyle, Jack Waterman and Saunders were the next best. Following a similar pattern, Turner then completed what was the perfect day for himself as he galloped to another massive win in the final 2T clash. Smith, Doyle, Kenderick and Saunders were right up there and in the frame also. Ashley Beniston had his best ride of the day to earn fourth. Earlier in the moto, Waterman had also been going strong in sixth before being forced out after three laps.
Despite not bagging a single holeshot, Terry House still took the overall Vets win at Hawkstone with an accompolished performance. In moto one it was series leader James Russell who led the way for three laps with House for close company. Lap four and Terry was through and certainly looking good for the win, until just a further two circuits later he stalled his KTM machine. It was over to you, Mr. Russell, as he regained control before racing onto the win with House restarting to bag second ahead of Simon Lane, Richard Chinn, Gary Jones and Sean Smith.
Stephen Marlow was fastest away in Vets moto two before Russell quickly moved through. Lap four and House moved into pole position before racing onto the win from Russell, as Lane won the fight for third and Jones took fifth. Early leader Marlow eventually got home eighth. Lane led the last Vets clash of the day before being overhauled by the eventual winner, House, as Russell had a comfortable third with most of the usual names finishing inside the top ten.
All of the injured heroes now have four weeks to try and heal their wounds before going into AMCA British Championship action again!
Words: Mike Wood | Lead Image: AMCA Events