Currently, there seems to be a lot of debate surrounding British Motocross. In recent weeks there have been some poor, misguided decisions made by those in charge. It is worth noting that it has not all been negative though; whilst some are criticised, others are being praised.
At the first round of the Maxxis British Championship last weekend, I heard a handful of fans ask the question, what exactly is the British Championship now? At first, you would think the answer is clear. Not too long ago the Maxxis British Championship was the only source of top level racing in the UK; but those days are gone. Now, we are spoilt with quite a few different series that can offer up some great racing from riders in the upper echelon. Namely, the Red Bull Pro Nationals and the GT Cup have come into the spotlight in recent years.
Obviously, the Maxxis British Championship still boasts the most prestigious lineup; it is also referred to as the biggest championship in Britain, which it still is. I do believe that this is in part thanks to the history that backs the series, whereas the Red Bull Pro Nationals does not have that same credibility yet. However, they are gaining this at a rapid pace; the Red Bull Pro Nationals are now recognised internationally. But, with so many professional series going on in Britain currently, the line between the British Championship and other series has become slightly blurred.
In the last week a lot of focus has been put on the Maxxis British Championship, because of the cancellation of the second round at Canada Heights; this event was meant to take place yesterday. At the same time, the guys behind the Red Bull Pro Nationals (Events 22, and the MCF) announced that the second round of their series would take place on the sand of Weston Super-Mare. This is where the Red Bull Pro Nationals excel, I believe. Apart from the format change, there has not been much change in the Maxxis British Championship in recent years. Whether this is a fault or not remains to be seen, it is a formula that has been tried and tested; clearly it is successful. Therefore, there is surely no reason for change?
Off of the track, the Red Bull Pro Nationals seems to be miles ahead when it comes to taking the sport to the general public. Ultimately this is something that will improve the state of the sport in the UK, as it will be presented to a much wider audience. You see, the spectacle that Events 22 provides in the pits is more likely to attract a casual fan. The Red Bull Pro Nationals certainly cater to both the hardcore fan, and the general public. In part, this is why I am very interested to see how the Weston Super-Mare round will play out. Matt Bates of the Events 22 crew put it best in a recent press release: “Why not take a motocross event to the general public?”
Interestingly the track will be purpose built by Johnny Douglas Hamilton, with lap times close to two minutes long; at least that is the plan at this stage. It will take professional motocross in the UK into new territory, undoubtedly. Whether the casual, and hardcore fans will accept the event remains to be seen. On paper, it is an idea that has intrigued most; we won’t know until May 19th if it worked out as planned. Fortunately the weather will have less of an affect on the track at Weston Super-Mare, because of the surface. Obviously in recent weeks the weather conditions have had an impact on motocross in the UK, most notably because of round two of the Maxxis British Championship getting cancelled just last weekend.
Some have questioned the decision to cancel round two of the Maxxis British Championship. But obviously, a lot of thought had to go into a decision such as this. If there was a way that they could of run it, you have to think that they would of. But nonetheless, perhaps we need to be asking why they were put in this position in the first place? In recent weeks, some have voiced their concerns about starting the season in the middle of March. Arguably, that is the source of the issues at the moment. However, the season started at the same time last year, with the opening two rounds basked in glorious sunshine.
Perhaps we need to entertain the idea of a condensed schedule starting a little later in the year? But even that poses some issues, as the MXGP series occupies most of the weekends throughout the summer. Even then perfect weather conditions are no guarantee. This year the Red Bull Pro Nationals are starting considerably later than normal; surely this is a result of them having to cancel round one last year due to flooding? However, they are able to do this, as they do not have to work around the MXGP calendar. There is a lack of GP riders in the Red Bull Pro Nationals (compared to the Maxxis British Championship), because of this.
There are so many questions, and few answers; most of the factors that make a series great come down to luck. Evidently, some are moving forward whilst others are standing still; but that is not necessarily going to work for the better. Of course, in a few months we will have answers to the questions above. But, we will also have even more queries and opinions on which direction the sport should head. All we can be sure of right now is that there is no harm in trying something different.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer