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Desertmartin Preview

One of the most popular circuits on the calendar – Desertmartin in Northern Island will host the fifth round of the 2012 Maxxis British Championship this coming weekend. The circuit has not only hosted British Championship rounds, but also World Motocross GP’s in the past. So riders can definitely expect to arrive at a world-class venue and facility.

In both classes, the series is developing into one of the best in recent years. As over the first four rounds the results haven’t played out how we may have thought. In MX1, you have Mattis Karro leading the point’s standings after a remarkably consistent first half of the season. However, everyone but Kevin Strijbos will have an underlying thought lurking in the back of minds. The Belgian is undefeated in the sand this year – that’s six moto wins from six starts in the soft stuff. So large is the number, that surely luck isn’t a factor?

The confidence a sandy surface must bring Strijbos couldn’t come at a better time – as the Belgian lost a considerable amount of points in Milton Park after a DNF saw his comfortable margin overhauled. It’s not as if his main competitors are bad in the sand, in fact Mattis and Shaun both put in some of their strongest performance both on the domestic and world scene in the sand. Having grown up in the sand of Belgium however, the soil is obviously Kevin’s preferred surface, something he uses to his advantage.

To overcome ten points in one day isn’t an unattainable goal for Strijbos, however he would have to win all three races, and hope Karro doesn’t follow him across the line each time. Karro seems to be getting stronger, and more confident every time the gate drops, so it won’t be an easy feat. Not only does the Latvian have the momentum from the previous round on his side, but also some impressive results in the GP series as mixing it up with the very best the world has to offer has undoubtedly brought his speed along a bit. If Karro’s constant improvement continues he might find himself in a comfortable position in the championship in the near future.

I feel as though Shaun Simpson has flown a little under the radar so far this year. It may have something to do with his lack of wins, but it seemed as though no one really knew just how close to the championship lead Simpson was until after Milton Park. Where everyone was forced to sit up and take notice. The Scotsman is right in this thing! If the GP results were anything to go by, you would maybe think that Simpson is a little off both Strijbos and Karro, but as with any British rider. It seems they always find an extra gear once they get back to their homeland, we may see a similar situation play out with Shaun.

At this point in the season the MX1 field is split into two groups I feel. You have the top three who are in a different league, and then there’s fourth through tenth, which are all very close in speed. Considering the track, they will face. I feel as though Marc de Reuver will have a very strong ride, and here’s why. Not only does the Dutchman have previous experience on the track, he has previous success – at the very highest level. In 2005 and 2006 (when the circuit hosted GP’s) Marc was a contender for the win – and he did just that. Beating out the worlds best there in the first moto in 2005. If Marc heads into the round with that in the back of mind, he could have a real shot at a maiden overall victory for Lanes Kawasaki.

Remember Gordon Crockard? He will be making an appearance at Desertmartin in the MX1 class – his first of the series. ‘Crockstar’ definitely has the experience to finish around the top five, something that would please the local fans I’m sure. Another Irish superstar in MX1, Martin Barr will have a lot of eyes on him this weekend, because it will be his Maxxis British Championship debut aboard a Tyco Suzuki. His results in other series suggest the switch has been for the better, so maybe we will finally get to see what Barr is truly capable of.

MX2 saw a massive switch-up in the point’s standings also at Milton Park, something that has prompted a huge swing in momentum between the two main protagonists. Elliott Banks Browne is coming in after a very impressive Milton Park, and a disappointing three weeks in the GP’s. However Mel Pocock is coming in after a disappointing Milton Park, and an impressive three-week’s in the GP’s. Put simply both riders have had their ups and downs since the last chequered flag flew at Milton Park.

Both riders have been fairly well matched – and unchallenged out front all year, something that could make shortening the nineteen point gap troublesome for Mel. If there aren’t any riders (at least on a consistent basis) that can get between the two, the point’s difference in each moto won’t be to big. As far as reigning champ Arnaud Tonus’ status – he will not be riding this weekend for reasons unknown, as he confirmed via twitter.

Another factor to consider in this title fight is that EBB is riding with some hand problems that are affecting him so much – he pulled out of the GP last week. He will surely give it a go and try to preserve his lead, however with Mel riding better than ever the gap may shrink to virtually nothing when the series returns to the mainland.

There’s a whole bunch of Irishmen looking to impress in their home race – most notably Graeme Irwin. Irwin is most probably the fastest rider to not get a win in the MX2 class this year, and there is no better place for him to do it than Desertmartin. Irwin’s previous form suggests the sand is where he is most comfortable – so with that in mind I would predict a podium is definitely on the cards for the Samsung Yamaha rider this weekend. Another Irishman – Stuart Edmonds – will be looking to turn his season around in front of his home crowd. His first half of the year has been quite inconsistent and I definitely thought he would be a bit closer to the front, and I’m sure he did to. He has shown flashes of brilliance, if he can put it all together on the same day, he could have a very solid weekend.

Neville Bradshaw, Steven Lenoir and Bryan Mackenzie have definitely been the ‘second tier’ of guys so far this year, right behind the leaders. The three are also in a tight knit battle for third in the series standings as just ten points separate them. Both Lenoir and Mackenzie seem to be picking up speed every single round, as their results have seen an upward progression. Lenoir – especially has been impressive and is opening eyes all the time.

The MXY2 series will again be supporting the main show this weekend, with Dan Thornhill topping the point’s standings at this stage. However, Robbie Muscat is mounting a charge and will be looking to overcome the nine-point gap that separates him from the red plate. The MXY2 class has seen a lot of inconsistency thus far this year; and it most definitely would not be surprising to see a first time winner this weekend.

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