IMBA Report: Lower Drayton

The Union Jack was certainly flying high and proud above Lower Drayton on Sunday evening, after the riders representing AMCA Team Great Britain produced yet another stunning performance. At their home round of the IMBA European Championship, promoted by Cannock MXC and sponsored by FUS, Luke Burton (FUS FRO CPS Husqvarna) stormed to three MX1 wins and thus also extended his lead at the top of the title standings, joined on the podium in third by wildcard Gary Gibson (DK Offroad Kawasaki). In this class the British riders were in a ruthless, dominant mood; James Dodd, Shane Carless, Paul Neale, Andrew Smart, Ryan Crowder and Edward Briscoe also finished inside the top ten.

Just one week earlier the British MX2 team had totally dominated the podium places at the French round of the IMBA series and then incredibly were at it again back in the Lower Drayton bash! This time it was Ray Rowson (Apex Geartec KTM) taking the win from Josh Waterman (IDS Transport JD Racing KTM) and young wildcard rider James Wainwright (Moto4 Husqvarna). With Lewis King, Jack Cox and Clinton Barrs bagging overall top ten placings on the day, the IMBA MX2 table also makes very pleasant reading with Waterman leading from Rowson. For Rowson, it was an extra special weekend. Not only did he take that win, he also saw his wife give birth just twenty-four hours earlier to a little girl. Many congratulations, Ray!

Earlier in the day, and on a rather damp and heavy circuit, Luke Burton had posted the fastest MX1 qualifying time before clearing off to win the opening moto. Throughout this first contest, Ryan Crowder on his new Apico Husqvarna held a super second spot resisting at times heavy pressure from Belgian rider Frederic Wiegert. Next up was a trio of Brits with Gary Gibson in a rather lonely fourth spot, as James Dodd just got the better of Paul Neale for fifth after a race-long tussle. Andrew Smart started well with a ninth place.

After his moto one performance, Crowder was forced out in the early exchanges of the second clash with clutch problems. There were no such issues for the immaculate Burton, who took another win from his closest title rival Wiegert. Shane Carless bounced back strongly in this one, after being surprisingly downfield in moto one,  to get the better of Dodd for fourth with Smart in sixth, Ed Briscoe ninth and Neale tenth.

Confirming his overall win in style, Burton then led moto three from start to finish with Weigert again giving chase. Gibson, Crowder, Carless, Dodd, Neale and Smart finished strongly and the only European to join their party was Swiss rider Daniel Huser. In the IMBA standings with three of the six rounds completed its Burton leading the way, forty-four points clear of Weigert with Dodd in third. Both Briscoe (sixth) and Smart (ninth) were going well.

Afterwards winner Burton said, “On a track that was heavy I wanted to save the bike as much as possible so I quickly put in a lap fast enough to earn pole position. Following my recent knee injury I have been training hard for this and going cycling and now feel almost back to where I want to be. I felt good today and it’s not only great to win the home round, but also extend my lead in the series. Thanks to all my family and friends for their support.

Still on a high after the birth of his daughter, Ray Rowson posted the fastest qualifying time then led the opening IMBA MX2 moto from gate to flag. For the opening three laps, James Wainwright had held second before being overhauled by Josh Waterman who had initially gated in tenth. After being relegated to third, Wainwright then came under heavy pressure from the hard charging Dutch duo of Joshua van der Linden and Jacky Tausch. Showing great composure and maturity, Wainwright continually resisted the challenge from Holland until the latter stages. However, although van der Linden went through, he then crashed thus handing third back to Wainwright. In this moto, Lewis King took a strong sixth despite stalling on the penultimate lap with the next best Brits being Jack Cox in seventh and Clinton Barrs tenth.

Buoyed by that strong opening performance, Wainwright was very quick off the mark in moto two before Waterman got through on lap one. From here onwards the battle was on and it raged all the way to the flag as Waterman just held on for the win with Rowson a very safe second after having thrown away his goggles in the closing stages. Once again Wainwright had a great ride for third as Bradley Tranter got the better of his FUS teammate Cox for fifth, with King finishing ninth.

In a restarted MX2 moto three, Wainwright led on both occasions before being overhauled again by Rowson and Waterman. Just like the previous encounter, a fast and exciting tussle unfolded with the roles being reversed as it was Rowson’s turn to just hold off Waterman for a narrow victory. Earning his well-deserved podium place, Wainwright got home in third as Tausch and van der Linden both passed King. After clashing with Italian Riccardo Vitaliani, Cox took a tumble in this one but still finished eighth with Barrs ninth.

Rowson reflected on the podium stating, “I started the day well by getting pole position. Race one went well and I took the win, but in race two could just not find a way past Josh. In the last one we had another great battle, which could have gone either way, so was nice to bag the win and take the top step on the podium in our home round. Now can’t wait to get home and see my new baby daughter.

In the MX2 championship table, Waterman was pleased to still be leading the way. Fourteen points is the gap between him and Rowson. With three rounds to come in Switzerland, Italy and Germany it’s certainly still all to play for!

Sunday’s meeting also featured the opening round of the AMCA 85cc championship. In moto one, Alfie Rickwood made a flying start only to lose all that momentum when his TM machine developed a serious misfire. However, despite being quickly passed by Brandon Hill, young Alfie still somehow nursed his bike home to take second from Max Lewis in third. With his bike then back on point, Rickwood blasted to a brace of wins in the remaining motos and was chased home by Hill. Joshua Fletcher Williams, Lewis, Jake White and Josh Ames were right in there too.

Words: Mike Wood | Lead Image: Mike Wood

MX Vice Editor || 25