Following a turbulent start to the current campaign, Canada Heights gave the Maxxis British Championship a much-needed boost this past weekend. The event acted as the second round, following a cancellation in March, and really did have everything that a fan could want. There are many intriguing stories to ponder moving forward as well.
1st Jake Nicholls (1-1): Jake Nicholls obviously hogged headlines on what was a perfect day at Canada Heights. There has been some chatter about how he is riding better than he ever has on a 450F and it honestly seems believable at this point. This is only the second time that he has swept both motos in the premier division, after all, and the field is not exactly weak. Hey, Evgeny Bobryshev finished eighth at the Grand Prix of Portugal just seven days before that! This is turning out to be a great story and one that a lot of fans are responding too, as there was a lengthy queue of spectators waiting to congratulate the Buildbase Honda star once he hopped off of the podium.
2nd Evgeny Bobryshev (4-2): Evgeny Bobryshev expects to win every single time that he lines up at a round of the Maxxis British Championship, as he has achieved a lot more than most of the guys in this class, so results like this must be a little disappointing. Things could have been worse though, just as he recognised in our post-race interview, following a significant crash in the first moto. The footage of that was actually captured and placed into this MX Vice video. Additionally, constant improvements are being made to that RM-Z450 and he is obviously getting to grips with it on the world stage as well. It is not ridiculous to assume that fourth will be his worst finish of the current campaign.
3rd Elliott Banks-Browne (2-4): Elliott Banks-Browne is obviously much better this year, which is positive for the Geartec Husqvarna squad, but just imagine how things would have turned out had he been at this level last year. There is no doubt that he would have been right with Graeme Irwin the whole way. Those on the domestic scene must be opportunists, one could argue, as the depth in the classes can fluctuate so much from one year to the next. It is important that the guys take advantage of those seasons where there are not many MXGP stars on the starting line. Gert Krestinov is a perfect example; he won at Canada Heights last year and was not even close to the top five on Sunday.
4th Ivo Monticelli (3-5): Ivo Monticelli is a great yard stick for this series, as he offers a real look at how the level in the premier division compares to MXGP. Monticelli has scored nine points at the highest level thus far, with a season-best finish of eighteenth, but is arguably the sixth-best rider in this class. Along with those above him on this list, Graeme Irwin and Tommy Searle are obviously capable of more. Anyway, moving on, it is surprising that he has been labelled as the shock of the series, as he was obviously going to be able to hold his own against the Maxxis British Championship regulars. The guy has never been out of place in the FIM Motocross World Championship!
5th Graeme Irwin (11-3): Graeme Irwin was obviously frustrated and disappointed at the end of the day, which is understandable on many levels, but things could have been so much worse. Irwin was more than a minute down on the leader at the beginning of moto one and around twenty-five seconds behind the next rider. Pushing up into the points seemed realistic early on, but very few people would have bet on him finishing inside of the top eleven. Frustration undoubtedly stems from the fact that he was just a second down on the rider in ninth, Brad Anderson, at the end. Two valuable points were left on the table , but are they really going to matter when this thing wraps up in October?
6th Tommy Searle (5-7): This was great. It was quite clear that Tommy Searle was playing it safe in the first moto, just as one would expect with his lack of time on the bike, but then he ripped through the field in moto two and had some of the quickest times. Searle faces a deficit of sixty points currently and, although that is a hefty number, there is no way that anyone can rule him out. The remaining twelve motos will be run across six months and obviously a lot can happen in that time. Adam Sterry followed a similar path to a British title two seasons ago, so it can be done. It is certainly going to be interesting.
7th Gert Krestinov (7-8): A handful of issues hindered Gert Krestinov at Canada Heights, as he suffered with arm pump in the first stint and then leg cramps in the second moto, but this was a huge improvement from the first round. This goes back to what was written alongside Elliott Banks-Browne. To put it into perspective, just two of the riders ahead of Krestinov were on track at this venue last year. Really, this would have been a podium finish a year ago and the perception would have changed completely. Anyway, speaking of Krestinov, he had sixteen weeks off with a shoulder injury through the winter, so a slow start should have been expected. A top-five finish must be around the corner.
8th Ryan Houghton (6-9): If someone chose to name Ryan Houghton as the most impressive guy thus far, it would not be insane at all. Houghton had thirty points to his name after the first two rounds a year ago, you see, but has acquired fifty-five this time around. That total puts him sixth in the championship and just ten points down on Elliott Banks-Browne in fourth. Who would have predicted that heading into the first round? Heck, most would have presumed that Kristian Whatley would be leading the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha charge. It will be most interesting to see how he improves moving forward, as one would presume that he will only get better.
1st Conrad Mewse (1-1): Could Conrad Mewse go undefeated in the Maxxis British Championship? Well, based on how difficult Sunday was for him, it certainly seems possible. Mewse was really under the weather and even admitted that he thought about not lining up for the final moto. Chuck some bad starts into the mix, as well as the fact that two of his greatest competitors started near the front each time, and it should have been much harder for him to pull off this clean sweep. The confidence that he must gain from these victories should work wonders, as he may benefit from the momentum more than anyone else at the highest level.
2nd Martin Barr (3-2): Martin Barr is only going to get better, it seems, as he is still struggling with the hand injury that he sustained at Culham. Being in this position at the second round was probably a bonus! “My hand still is not one hundred percent and I am struggling a little, but just trying to forget about it and get on with the job,” Barr said in a post-race statement. “All-in-all it was not such a bad day. It is frustrating to come away with second overall, but it is my first podium of the season so it is a step in the right direction.” Had he not failed to finish a moto at the first round, he would actually be around third in the points.
3rd Mel Pocock (2-3): Mel Pocock is actually on a very impressive run currently. If you put his EMX250, Michelin MX Nationals and Maxxis British Championship results onto one scorecard, then it looks like this: 1-9-3-4-2-2-4-4-2-3. It is extremely interesting to have those results laid out in that fashion and, hey, a better start in the second race at RedSand would have transformed that ninth into a third or fourth as well. There is no doubt that he would like to have more victories, every rider would, but those are going to come. In comparison, he had finished in the top three in just a single moto in the Maxxis British Championship at this point a year ago.
4th Josh Spinks (4-4): Josh Spinks had a productive day at round two; he pulled off some great starts, led six laps, acquired a career-best finish of fourth overall and even won the Expert class in the MX2 division. A victory like that is great exposure for Spinks and his sponsors, but is the podium really necessary? Is it not confusing for some of the fans? It seems that could be one of the flaws and, hey, there are many other ways to give these guys and their sponsors exposure. The MX1 Expert results were added up incorrectly, by the way, so the wrong guy was on the top step. On top of that mishap, the third-place finisher did not even show up.
5th Liam Knight (6-5): KTM are enjoying a lot of success across the globe, thanks to the factory riders that are stationed in the different series, but Liam Knight is a great example of how great the Austrian machinery is. Knight was making good progress with the manufacturer and even finished fifth in the series two seasons ago, then moved onto a Kawasaki last year and lost a lot of momentum. It certainly made some question his potential. Two rounds have passed now, however, and it is quite clear that he is back where he belongs. Being on a team is not always the answer, as he has built a solid programme that clearly caters to his needs.
6th Josh Gilbert (5-6): This quote from Josh Gilbert effectively sums up the way that his performances are analysed now. “I would have been really happy with that result last year, but after the way Culham went I am disappointed,” he said in a team statement. “I know that I have got the speed, but I just struggled today with the track and the way it developed. I will take a fifth and a sixth on a bad day – I am still third in the championship and only five points off second.” Gilbert only finished fifth in a moto once last year, to put that into perspective, so this is still a significant step forward for the rising star.
7th Ashton-Lee Dickinson (8-8): So, who is this guy? A bit of research revealed this information; Dickinson has spent the last five years in the USA, preparing for his professional career in Europe, and then came back over here in January. It seems that he spent a majority of his time in the USA at MTF, so there is no doubt that his time was well spent. How about the fact that he is one of just five riders to finish in the top ten in every single moto and currently sits sixth in the points? It is likely this form will continue too, as he has thrived on various different surfaces thus far. It is always interesting when there is a breakthrough star.
8th Jake Millward (10-9): Jake Millward has perplexed some, as he has the ability to be up there with Josh Gilbert and Liam Knight. However, unearthing the consistency to do that appears to be a difficult task. Millward finished in the top five in five motos two seasons ago, for instance, but has not quite made it back to that level. Knowing that potential is there is something to fall back on and one would presume that it is all going to come together eventually. Having Millward put a CRF250R inside of the top ten is actually a huge positive for Honda, by the way, as they had the same number of bikes in the top ten as KTM and Husqvarna. It is rare for a Japanese manufacturer to manage that.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: MPS Images