Desertmartin British Championship Preview
It’s almost here… the highest quality motorcycling event on the Emerald Isle in 2013!
The British motocross championship always attracts a big loud, enthusiastic crowd at Desertmartin and 2013 will be no different. The partisan support of the local fans makes it a favourite venue for many of the riders and not just the home heroes.
Let’s take a look at the favourites, the locals and the ones to watch this Sunday that might now just spring a surprise halfway through the season.
Kristian Whatley – Kristian is flying in 2013 and he now has the red plate to prove it. Desertmartin will be his first race with the new red number plate but it should give him confidence not increase the pressure. Two years ago Kristian was extremely impressive round the sandy circuit. If he can repeat that form on Sunday he could well win and extend his points lead.
Matiss Karro – The Latvian has had two big injuries since Desertmartin last year but was in top ten contention at the Italian GP last weekend and was extremely fast last year at the same venue. Don’t be surprised if he gets a moto win.
Tanel Leok – Leok will make a hurried comeback from his broken collarbone but the question remains as to how fit and pain free the Estonian will be around the rough Desertmartin circuit. Leok has some incredible corner speed and if even 80% fit should still be in the mix.
Jonathan Barragan – Second place in the series Barragan has been consistent if unspectacular this season but if he is going to come to life it will be at Desertmartin. He knows the track from the GPs and is good in the sand not to mention he will want to close down the championship lead.
Nico Aubin – Incredibly fast but incredibly inconsistent, it is hard to know just what form the Frenchman will show in Sunday. If he gets out of the right side of the bed and avoids the carnage at the first turn he could just win it all!
Brad Anderson – The mystery of the season might just have a break out ride on Sunday. Ando has had success there before having won at Desertmartin two years ago, holding off a motivated Martin Barr and a flying Whatley. The track seems to suit his aggressive style and despite being off the pace by his own standards this season he might find his way to the podium.
Wayne Garrett – The Ulster champion has had a difficult 2013 after a string of injuries. But Garrett has shown signs of returning to form and if he gets some good starts a top ten is not out of the question. Wayne is one of the most determined riders out there and will hang it out to get the job done for the JAR by IFS Honda team on their home turf.
Gary Gibson – After three wins at the Irish Championship last weekend Gibson is in top form and motivated to get some top tens. He ran top ten last year but had a couple of crashes, this year he wants to stay on the bike.
Richard Bird – Bird has shown some new found aggression this year and with Philip McCullough winding him up all week during training, Bird will be a like coiled spring ready to jump out of the gate come Sunday.
John Meara – The just turned 19 year old has a lot of talent and came close to scoring points last season in MX2 only to dislocate his shoulder with just a couple of laps to go. This year Meara has the speed to score more points but this time in MX1, he just needs to stay off the ground!
One(s) to watch
Gert Krestinov – Krestinov always goes well in sand and despite a bad race in the MX3 world championship in Italy. Expect the Estonian to go well and challenge at the front at Desertmartin.
Scott Elderfield – Scott Elderfield’s style should suit this track. He is a regular top ten points scorer so far but his talent is even higher than his results. If he gets out of the gate he could surprise some.
Elliott Banks- Browne – EBB is proving to be the class of the field in 2013 and riding for the HM Plant KTM team run by Roger Magee will give the local crowd a reason to cheer for the defending British champion. Banks-Browne had a huge crash while leading the race there last year and will be hoping to avoid a similar mistake this year.
Steven Clarke – Also in Roger Magee’s HM Plant KTM, Clarke won a race at Foxhill and loves the Desertmartin circuit. With his current form he should be battling at the front again.
Steven Lenoir – The Frenchman was on the podium last year in his first visit so should be even faster this year. He has just got his first World Championship points and will want to win to put a dent in Bank –Brownes lead.
Neville Bradshaw – The South African has Irish roots so it is also a home round of sorts for the likeable Bradshaw. The jump filled track suits Bradshaw and his fitness is never in question so looking out for him to be around the top three all day.
Bryan MacKenzie – Mackenzie just never gives up. Tough as nails and always finding a way to improve year after year, the Scotsman will be in the mix all day and maybe could score a moto win if everything goes his way.
Nathan Watson could also be a dark horse for a podium and Adam Sterry is also turning some heads this year. Both have experience of this track and both will want to be within the top five – but there isn’t enough room for everyone!
Graeme Irwin – As one of the favourites Irwin also comes under the local category. The ultra determined Suzuki rider almost won the first moto at Desertmartin last year only to crash while challenging EBB. The crowd were loving it at the time and Irwin will do everything to recreate that atmosphere this year. Irwin won the MX1 overall at the British Masters on Sunday so his confidence will be high. He is always rises to the occasion and this is his best chance to win a moto and an overall so far this season.
Martin Barr – Barr is always a favourite at Desertmartin but has had a difficult season with injury so far. However a second place at the British Masters at Hawkstone on Sunday shows that the Ballyclare man is ready to rock at Desertmartin. Barr loves the place and has been a podium regular in recent years – but can he get that elusive win? With no championship on the line Barr can afford to throw caution to the wind and just go for the win this year.
Barr says: “I’m getting there (race pace back from injury). All being well I can come out swinging at Desertmartin. It isn’t going to be easy, Elliott is going well and Graeme will be on home turf as well. It will be good racing, maybe I will be fresher than those guys but then they have the race pace. I’m just going with an open mind and ride the way I know I can and hopefully I can get the job done. The home support always helps and it is a race I’m looking forward to. Hopefully it can kick start the season and I will have a good remainder of the year.”
Both Barr and Irwin are the main draws for the spectators and if they are both at the front the atmosphere will be electric!
One(s) to watch
Jason Meara – The younger Meara has only just turned 16 and is ready to turn some heads. Fast, talented and determined Meara could well open some eyes in MX2 on Sunday and get some points. He has been the talk of the Irish paddock for the last year and with some good starts might well be the talk of the British paddock by Sunday night. This kid has a lot of talent, he just needs the opportunity to show what he’s got on the British stage.
Ben Watson – Ben Watson was touted as the next being thing during his schoolboy career but this season his brother Nathan has been overshadowing him. In his first year in the adults Ben has shown glimpses of his talent but Desertmartin could be the perfect location for Ben to really show us a glimpse of the future.
Article by Jonathan McCready
Picture by Suzy Bailey