Kristian Whatley and Steve Lenoir head into round three of the Red Bull Pro Nationals at Culham Park this weekend defending unbeaten records in the Pro MX1 and MX2 divisions.
After fiercely fought contests at Landrake in Cornwall and on the beach at Weston-super-Mare, Kristian (MBO Sport Yamaha) has taken both overalls and won three from six motos to lead by 15 points from Frenchman Milko Potisek (2B Yamaha). Defending champ Nico Aubin (Buildbase Honda) is a further six points adrift in third.
“I know Culham pretty well from back in the day but I’ve not raced there since the Red Bull Pro Nationals in 2011,” says Kristian. “It’s a great natural track that I really enjoy riding and I can’t wait to get there.
“It’ll be hard as Culham is a real man’s track and gets so gnarly and rough which suits me. I love it. I can find great lines around there. My confidence is pretty high but you can never rule out the other guys as there’s so much talent out there this year.”
The French pairing of Milko and Nico are aiming to close the gap on the 23-year-old series leader but must also keep daylight between themselves and two-time champ Brad Anderson (Maxxis Kawasaki by LPE) who’s currently in fourth, 30 points off Whatley’s pace.
After a below par start to the season the hard-charging 32-year-old North Easterner found form in the final race at Weston to take the win and he heads to Culham determined to close down the top three.
“I was struggling to get out the gate so we’ve changed the tuning and fingers crossed that’s all sorted now,” says Brad. “Starts are crucial and when you struggle with them it makes it such hard work having to come through the pack – especially when you’re racing against the MX2 riders as well. I just need to be more consistent and start to put it to ’em so I can get another Red Bull Pro Nationals title.”
Down in MX2 Lenoir (Evotech Stevens KTM) has won four from six races to maintain a 20-point lead over South African defending champ Neville Bradshaw (Putoline Honda) who in turn holds a two-point advantage over third-placed Graeme Irwin (Heads and All Threads Suzuki).
“I’m confident I can take three overall wins in a row,” says the 21-year-old Frenchman. “My speed is good, I just need to be more consistent with my starts especially with the 450s in the same race. There are some very fast riders in MX1 and MX2 so the start is really important but I will try to be more focussed and keep working hard.”
After super-consistent 3-2 overall finishes in the opening two rounds, 29-year-old Nev knows it’s time to step up and convert his great starts into race wins.
“My bike is just amazing,” says Nev. “My starts this year have been unbelievable – I reckon I must have nailed the holeshot in 60 per cent of my races – and a lot of that is down to the way the bike’s running. It’s awesome all the way through from bottom to top. I’ve been very consistent this year and not been off the podium – now it’s time to move up a gear and start to win some races.”
With former Red Bull Pro Nationals champ Martin Barr (VMXMOTO.com/Nutt Travel KTM) returning from injury and looking sharper than ever and Bryan MacKenzie (Pendrich Kawasaki) also on form this is shaping up to be an amazing MX2 showdown.
With Pro action on both days plus the UK’s top up-and-coming talent earning their wings in the Red Bull Elite Youth Cup and four two-stroke classes there’s a packed 29-race weekend programme.
Off the track there will be weekend-long youth MX Try-Out Experiences and the chance to chuck yourself from a 30ft platform into a giant airbag with the incredible UDrop attraction. Sunday will also see a series of Freestyle Motocross shows plus appearances from children’s TV favourites Peppa Pig and George, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder as well as other activities aimed at getting younger visitors active in Kidzone.
Tickets for Culham Park are priced at just £13 for adults, £3 for children and £30 for a family of four when booked online before midnight on Thursday. On-the-gate admission prices are £16 for adults, £4 for children and £36 for families (two adults and two children). For more details go to www.redbullpronationals.com
Culham Park is just off the A415 east of Abingdon. Postcode OX14 3DA.