Elliot Banks Browne was able to bury some of the recent frustration through racing misfortune by re-entering the top ten of the competitive MX2 class of the FIM Motocross World Championship yesterday in Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal. The reigning British Champion rode to tenth position in the second moto under bright sunshine and in front of 15,000 spectators. HM Plant KTM UK were able to count on a bolstered line-up at the sixth round of seventeen as the Grand Prix also hosted the second outing for the European EMX125 two-stroke contest and the opening foray for the European EMX250 division; the strong feeder class to the FIM series.
Agueda was a tough test. Hard-pack, bumpy and full of ruts; it was as technical as it was physically demanding and punished mistakes as well as the unfocused athlete. On his KTM 250SX-F EBB had cause to again curse lady luck as he could not avoid a fallen Alexsandr Tonkov in the formative stages of the first moto and crashed. It put the Brit far behind the pack and with a slightly damaged motorcycle ’44’ was able to recover and gain ground to secure one point for 20th. At the second time of asking later in the afternoon Banks Browne foraged a path into the top ten. Afterwards he insisted that he struggled to find an effective rhythm around the course but his raw speed was good enough for his second biggest points-haul of a turbulent 2013 campaign to-date.
Sadly team-mate James Dunn could not make the 108% lap-time cut on Saturday and was forced to the role of observer for Sunday. The rookie is confident of further progress in the coming rounds.
The Watson brothers, Ben and Nathan, were able to make it through the ultra-paced qualification process for the EMX250 main final. Although both classified outside of the top thirty the combination of the new event format (two semi finals and one moto) and the degree of difficulty around Agueda – that was wet and slick in the morning for the European outings – meant it was a valuable part of their learning process.
The fourth round of the Maxxis British Championship will take place at Milton Park in Northampton next weekend and HM Plant KTM UK will embark on their next Grand Prix trip directly after with round seven of the FIM series taking place at Beto Carrero in Brazil.
Elliott Banks Browne: “In the first race I didn’t get such a good start and then Tonkov made a mistake on the first lap, he just stopped and I double jumped and there was nowhere to go, so I hit him and went down. My throttle was a bit damaged and after ten minutes I got a little bit of arm pump, but twenty minutes into the race I started going fast and I got a point. In the second race I made an ‘OK’ start, but I rode tight during the whole race, I was not riding my best, but I managed to finish tenth, so I was pretty happy about it.”
James Dunn: “I was looking forward to riding here in Portugal because I had a podium here last year on the 125, so I came in with some confidence to do well. On Saturday morning I felt good and I had fairly good lap times, so everything looked OK but during the qualifying I was riding really tight and I could not get a good rhythm and good lap times. I need to bring my confidence up again by getting better results and start scoring a few points. It will take longer than what I’d thought because I’m finding the MX2 class really difficult. I have a few weeks off now, so I hope to come back strong.”
Roger Magee, Team Principal: “There were some positive parts to take from this Grand Prix. Elliott might have had two top ten finishes if it wasn’t for that collision with Tonkov but he recovered from a moment of bad luck with a good showing in the second moto. We’re disappointed for James of course but it was encouraging to see both Ben and Nathan make the main event of the EMX series; Nathan taking third position in his qualification heat. We’ll re-group and head back for more British Championship racing now and try to defend our first and second positions on home turf.”