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Commentator’s Eye: Revo British Round 1 at Oakhanger

The Revo ACU British Motocross Championship fired into life at the new venue of Oakhanger in Hampshire yesterday, and already the 2023 season has delivered plenty of surprises!  As the commentator for the championship, this is how I saw events unfold around the wild and wooded circuit.

Words: Ben Rumbold

Now there is one thing which fans of the British scene might want addressing, especially as my face and voice is all over it, and that is the Livestream.  I don’t feel that I should be silent about it, mainly because I work with the organisation that is getting attacked online, so I will run through that at the end of the report. Ultimately, the point of us being there was the racing itself, which was truly epic.


These guys had it tough – the big bikes must have been such a handful around the deep, sandy circuit, even if the extra power would have helped to pull through the deepest sections and not get buried as badly. In the two starts that actually counted, Harri Kullas was immense out of the gate on his new Cab Screens Crescent Yamaha, and that familiar white crash helmet was out front from the very beginning of both races.  However, in the initial gate drop for race two, defending Champion Tommy Searle did his usual trick of bossing the inside of the corner with his new GTCI Revo Kawasaki, to the extent where he made contact with Kullas which sent the Estonian over the outside bank.  That confusion ultimately led to the second corner crash that led to the red flag.  Had that red flag not gone out, the Championship picture could have looked very different at the end of the day!

Three newcomers to the class topped qualification, although in the case of pole man Conrad Mewse, that came as no surprise. The Crendon Fastrack Honda man was one of the first to complete a flying lap before things got seriously rough, and it was only 2nd-placed ASA United GASGAS rider Ivo Monticelli that set his best time after his first real attempt. MX1 rookie and Kullas’ new teammate Jamie Carpenter stuck it in a great 3rd, just ahead of Searle. Kullas himself was only 9th in qualification.

Harri fired into the lead at the start of race one, with Monticelli and Searle giving chase.  ASA United GASGAS’ John Adamson was in there as well but suffered a first lap crash in a tough day for the battling Scot.  Mewse was outside the top 15 and only 12th by the end of lap one. In a superb charge he had reached 4th by half distance, as he and teammate Josh Gilbert both got past another MX1 rookie, Chambers Racing’s Tom Grimshaw. Grimshaw held on for 7th, just getting passed at the end by the Gabriel SS24 KTM of Shaun Simpson. Gilbert stayed steady in 5th.

Kullas was consistently pulling away, a second or more faster per lap than Monticelli and Searle, with Mewse trying to claw back a 15-second deficit to the two men in front of him.  Suddenly two-thirds of that gap was gone, as the Italian stalled in front of the Champ, who stalled himself as he shunted the GASGAS’ rear wheel, deep in the woods! As the two-lap board came out, Searle finally got into 2nd, but Mewse had got there and nabbed the pair of them! Monticelli took advantage of the confusion to pass Searle for 3rd in a wild final lap!

The first attempt at race two resulted in a massive pile-up on turn two, involving Martin Barr, Grimshaw, Tristan Purdon, and right at the bottom of it all was Monticelli.  At first it looked like he was holding his leg, but the main injury is a dislocated shoulder. We keep our fingers crossed for Ivo, as such a wild addition to the Championship would be sorely missed.

The restart was disastrous for Searle, who got an awful jump as Kullas jetted out at the front again. As he approached the end of the lap Tommy caught a bump wrong and got thrown over the bars.  He crawled off the track and sat on the side for most of the race. After getting checked at hospital, Tommy is “OK, just sore maybe some ribs broken”. Once more we hope that he’ll be back for one of his favourite rounds at Canada Heights in two weeks’ time.

Gilbert & Simpson got a much better start this time,  but Harri again stretched his lead, this time by between two and three seconds per lap as the track started to deteriorate! Mewse had to charge from 5th, and passed Ashton Dickinson’s TALK Templant KTM early. As he caught Simpson, the Scot then got past Gilbert! Mewse got to 2nd eventually but looked unable to catch Kullas. On his way to taking the two-lap board, the Yamaha suddenly tipped over down a savagely bumpy straight, and amazingly Harri only lost 7 seconds in the fall! He held on to win by 5.6 seconds, whilst on the last lap two major passes altered the top five overall, with Gilbert overhauling Simpson for 3rd, and Grimshaw passing Dickinson, who had been all on his own for most of the race, to move into 5th overall behind Simpson. Kullas did not win the second moto for the entirety of 2022, so he was very pleased to cure that problem at the first attempt, whilst Mewse showed great speed for a brace of 2nds and that position overall.


All of the fancied MX2 Championship runners had a surprise announcement on Saturday evening, that the rapid Swede Isak Gifting, double moto winner at Canada Heights and Blaxhall last year, was suddenly in the race on a new team. Considering the 2022 situation last year, it did raise eyebrows that the late arrangement had been made with his former sparring partner Conrad Mewse, with his branding involved as well on GASGAS machinery.  The official team name is Stebbings Car Superstore Powered by Bikesure 426 Motorsport. He immediately made his mark with 3rd in qualification behind the two-stroke Verde Shiloh KTM of Jake Millward and pole-sitter SC Sporthomes Husqvarna’s Jorgen Matthias Talviku. Rookie Charlie Heyman put his new TRU7 Honda Racing Academy machine into 4th to show further promise, but sadly Jack Lindsay caught a kicker over the finish line jump and had to be taken to hospital with a broken tib and fib. We all wish him well as he faces surgery this week.

ASA United GASGAS rider Bobby Bruce, 6th in qualifying, took the holeshot in race one ahead of the in-form rookie Ollie Colmer on the TALK Templant KTM, who took the lead on lap two! Gifting and Talviku picked off the young Brits over the next few laps, although Bruce did fight back against the Estonian! Millward also briefly got past Bruce for 3rd until Bobby took it back.

Millward would lose out in an entertaining scrap with charging veteran Elliott Banks-Browne on the Geartec Husqvarna for 5th, with both men being overhauled by a stirring ride, one of the best of the day, from Gabriel SS24 KTM’s Taylor Hammal. 23rd at the end of the first lap, the local Hampshireman charged through to 4th, passing 19 riders in 12 laps!

Gifting made a mistake on lap seven that allowed Talviku through, but regained the lead two laps later and held it to the flag. A very nice result from someone who wasn’t in the programme before the weekend!

Gifting put in his own claim for ride of the day with a stunning performance to take race two as well. Bruce holeshot again and with Millward and the Chambers Racing machine of Alfie Jones behind him, stretched out a massive advantage and looked certain to take his first race, and overall win for a long time. Meanwhile, Isak was outside the top 15 at the start, with JMT outside the top 20! They seemed to stall in their charge from around lap two, but suddenly the track just deteriorated, with nearly everyone’s lap times dropping by about four seconds or more from the halfway point!

When I say nearly everyone… well Gifting’s didn’t. The Swede truly showed the difference between British Championship fitness and Grand Prix fitness as he just kept grinding in the deep sand, picking off more than a rider each lap to rise from 9th on lap five to take the lead by lap ten!  He instantly then eased it down to survive as he could see that Bobby had “Hit a wall” to use the Kentish man’s own words. Bruce & Millward finished 2nd & 3rd with Alfie Jones 4th. The former youth Champ Jones won a nice little battle with Hammal, who had emptied his tank in race one’s exertions and just got pipped by a fine ride from WPH/SBE/Pure/Redline KTM rider Jamie Wainwright for 5th.

Gifting clinched the overall with his fine maximum, ahead of Bruce and Millward, as Talviku could only recover to 8th in race two, enough for 4th overall ahead of Hammal. My podcast partner Bradley Wheeler was sadly proven to be correct with regards to Dylan Walsh. After qualifying 5th the GTCi Revo Kawasaki man had further technical issues which ruled him out of the day’s racing. I would say that it’s now unlikely we’ll see Dylan back in the UK this season, as the team would have to rack up serious air miles for him to do both championships in the next month or so. We shall see on that one, but Gifting is going to be a handful for anyone in this championship if he stays healthy.


The silver lining for the GTCI Revo Kawasaki team came in the shape of Billy Askew, known as “Little Bill” on Tommy Searle’s vlogs but putting in two gigantic efforts to clear off in both 125/250 races, winning by a distance after being over 7 seconds faster in qualification. Holeshot and hide was the name of the day and Billy only had to use his roll-offs when he caught lapped riders.

The only rider to match Billy’s speed was 125cc winner Reece Jones on the SJP Moto KTM. The 125cc two-stroke was definitely the inferior machine in such heavy going, but Jones started to reel in Askew mid-race. Jones admitted on the podium that even though they are in separate classes, he certainly was charging after the Kawasaki. This is the sort of mentality that I like to see in a young rider, and makes the #104 a real talent to watch.

The other youth podium finshers were Wal Beaney and spirited rookie Jake Walker in the 125s, whilst Mackenzie Marshall and Liam Bennett took 2nd & 3rd in the 250cc class.

The BW 85 class had a very tough day in the deep stuff, with lap times some 20 seconds down on even the Youth 125cc riders.  Josh Vail dominated proceedings with a double moto victory, his first after running Askew close last year, with Charlie Richmond and Drew Stock rounding out the podium. Watch out for 2022 SW85 Champion Hayden Statt in future rounds, as his first race in the BW class was blighted by first moto issues but he came through to 3rd in race two.

The Livestream:

So this really is the elephant in the room – the Livestream. One of the team bosses said his mission at the weekend was to do his job well and not upset anyone.  That is kind of my position this season! I have a working relationship with everybody involved and I have to stay professional. I did that over the microphone to do all I could in a very difficult situation. It soon became very clear that the Livestream was not going to turn out well. Many people will point fingers and the online backlash is rolling on.  Which is a major shame.

There was one thing that certainly wasn’t lacking from RHL, the Michelin Nationals organisers who got Motocross onto the circuit, the track builders, and all involved in the running of the event – and that’s effort.  Everybody worked hard to get things running as smoothly as possible.  Nobody can really say that anybody involved is useless because it is not an easy thing they are trying to achieve – bring a brand new venue to national championship standard and broadcast it to the world with very little time to prepare.

Right there is the one serious issue – time.  Motocross was supposed to be in on the 6th of March, run two weekends of racing, then level it by the 21st so that Soldier Soldier can have his training ground back.  This was disrupted with the weather that led to the postponement of the Michelin Nationals. The Ministry of Defence then had to be approached for an extension, the Revo series stayed on its original date, with the Michelin Nationals running the week after.

I am fairly certain that had the Nationals run first, then they would have had the same issues with the Livestream.  The Nationals dealt with a similar situation at Oxford Moto Park last year, which came off with a lot of success and praise.  With Oakhanger, I had technical people tell me all day about a nearby radar installation, and the condensed nature of the trees around the circuit, that all caused a lot of issues with filming and broadcasting. As frustrated as I was, I resisted the urge to tell them that those trees didn’t just spring up out of the ground last night, and neither did the radar problem.  I did my job as commentator and told the story of the race that I could see – three shots of various points on the circuit, plus the corner by the finish line that I could see out the back door.  I had a screen full of the various camera inputs – and they were all reminiscent of that scene in Aliens where the soldiers have cameras before they all get slaughtered.  It was just unworkable.

Simply put, the broadcast crew couldn’t do what they did at Oxford – turn up and make it work.  There were just too many technical obstacles.  Will they fix it for the Nationals this weekend?  That is uncertain, as there are tests and decisions being made as I’m writing this on Monday morning. How could it have been made better?  My opinion, which I will voice to the relevant parties, is that a test race meeting could have been run with local riders or schoolboys prior to getting the big Championships onto it.  Broadcast that without advertising, as a test livestream, and if solutions were to be found or not, that could have been dealt with. Many other issues with the site could also have been discovered and resolved as a result.  Was that possible? Only the contract writers really know. What to do from here? My suggestion would be to broadcast the Saturday as a test run, unadvertised or even on a hidden link, to again test it before the usual broadcast day of Sunday.  Again, I don’t know if that is possible or not. And it is a crying shame, because the track was fantastic, the viewing of the parts you could see was fantastic, and it was a true test of the best riders in the country.

I seriously hope that the issues of the site can be overcome, and that future meetings can show the real beauty of the circuit. That is visible on the track walk we did that is on the beginning of the Livestream, and I’m sure we will see a slew of awesome edits from around the woods getting posted online. The Michelin Nationals have definitely happen this weekend, that has just been announced, so hopefully things will be improved upon for spectators and broadcasting.  Fingers crossed!

Personal Highlights:

  • Working with Jeff Perrett again in the commentary box. Such a fun guy to call a race with even in the toughest of circumstances.
  • The joy on the face of Jamie Wainwright and his family. After a confidence-sapping 2022, Jamie was well chuffed to put in a good day’s racing again.
  • Lee Webber’s reaction when I shouted “you won the second race man!” – both arms aloft!
  • Learning that I actually raced against Conrad Mewse’s father Steve in the schoolboys – not only that but he took me out once and my Dad shouted like hell at him!
  • The track walk. That place is awesome. And there always has to be a lie-down somewhere on the track walk as well. 🙂