It’s hard to believe, but the 2012 Maxxis British Championship is very close to the halfway point, as the series moves forward to Milton MX Park, Northampton this weekend. The circuit first hosted a British Championship round last year under sunny weather, and the same conditions look to shine once more this weekend. When a series reaches this point, you really begin to establish an idea about who is going to be in the running for the title towards the end of the year.
At Milton MX Park however, the series points will be shaken up as a new format takes place for the first time this year. In order to ‘mix things up a bit’ the series will introduce, the mixed MX1 and MX2 race. Having the 450’s alongside the 250’s will be a unique thing, and the power difference between the two will make for some interesting battles and line choices!
This race will follow two, separate races for both groups. In MX2, we really are starting to witness a two-horse race for the title. As Mel Pocock (Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha) and Elliott Banks Browne (HM Plant KTM UK) are gradually edging away from the field. Despite both riders having success in other series, this is the first time they have been in a position to challenge for the British Championship. That makes for some exciting racing, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see similar action to what took place at Lyng, the two swapping moto wins.
As these two stretch away, they leave a very interesting battle for third in the championship. As a South African (Neville Bradshaw), a Frenchman (Steven Lenoir) and a Scotsman (Bryan Mackenzie) all fight over that third position. The British championship definitely has some international flavour this year! Bradshaw, on his Evotech Stevens Honda, has had quite an up and down year, with some problems (like his second race DNF in Lyng, which cost him dearly) but some good rides also. If he can just find his groove – and I do believe the Milton Park circuit will suit him quite well – he will definitely be in contention for a win.
Steven Lenoir is probably the surprise package this year, when he signed with Samsung Yamaha, a lot of people were left scratching their heads on who he even was, but as the series has progressed, he has more than solidified his place as a proven front-runner. Coming from France, the Milton Park circuit will suit his style a little better than the sand tracks – like Canada Heights did. If he can get a start, there’s no reason why he can’t replicate his second place from moto one at Canada Heights, or maybe even better it. Seeing as he’s tied with Bradshaw in the points standings, points like that could come in handy.
Despite suffering a concussion at round two, Graeme Irwin returned at round three and proved to be fully fit, and ready to claw some points back. When you look at his results this year, you can clearly see that they are much improved on previous years, and to be honest it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the top three in points at the end of year. That is, if he can maintain his current form throughout the rest of the year. Irwin is another, in a long list of contenders for the win this weekend.
In MX1, there’s really one question I have going in. Can Kevin Strijbos win on hard pack? Thus far this year, his only wins have come in the sand, a surface he is known for being impressive in. However, in the only hard park race so far this year, he wasn’t on the top step, which makes me wonder if maybe the other contenders will be closer to challenging him this weekend. One thing the Belgian does have on his side is momentum. Following his podium at the GP of Brazil just a few days ago, he’s got to be riding a wave of confidence, which he carry into Milton MX Park this weekend, and maybe put to good use.
Realistically, Shaun Simpson (Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha) and Mattis Karro (STR KTM) are the only two truly capable of challenging Strijbos in the point’s standings at the moment, as Simpson sits 31 back, just two points ahead of Karro. Whether or not Simpson is feeling 100% is unclear, however if the shoulder injury sustained two weeks is still bothering him, it must surely be only minor. As he still managed to break into the top ten at the GP of Brazil this past weekend.
Matiss Karro is having the best year of his career, and to be honest I didn’t expect him to be this good in his first year contesting MX1. However, every time the Latvian lines up he has a shot at victory. Interestingly, only five riders in the MX1 have scored points at every round this year, which could explain the gap between the top three, and the rest of the field.
Stephen Sword currently sits fourth in the series, and really lost touch with the leaders in Lyng, he’ll be looking to rebound in a big way this weekend and inch a bit closer to the top. In 2011, Sword finished just outside the top three on this track, if he can improve on that result slightly, it will really help him out in the points standings.
Tied with Sword in the title chase, is Gert Krestinov on his Route77 Energy MVRD Honda. The Estonian has been quite consistent this year, and even jumped on the podium a few times. Although his results at round three wasn’t as successful, he’s still capable of moving forward in the points, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the podium this weekend.
Despite being considered a legitimate title contender, Marc de Reuver has had a very up and down season and really has lost touch with the leaders as he sits down in sixth in the points. Although, he’s climbed onto the podium in three moto’s this year – even winning one of them, a couple of DNF’s have cost him dearly. His moto win came at Canada Heights however, which should slightly resemble conditions this weekend, so maybe we will see the Dutchman on the top step once again?
One rider who is definitely looking to finally get on the podium this weekend is Kristian Whatley. Despite having a career best season in 2011, this year just hasn’t gone to plan. However, he heads to Milton MX Park with the knowledge of knowing he was very good there last year, and maybe that will help him resurrect his season.
Fans this weekend will get a rare treat, as Josh Coppins looks to make an appearance, and race MX1 whilst the Australian Nationals are on a break. Josh, will be quick, his speed is undoubted. When you consider he is currently beating reigning champ Brad Anderson in Australia you’ve got to expect him to be battling for the win.
In addition to MX1 and MX2, the MXY2 series will tackle it’s third round of 2012, with Dan Thornhill currently leading the series by a mere eight points over Chris Bayliss. Also, for the first time the ‘MXY85’ series will take to the track. With both of these classes on track, it will offer fans a great chance to see our future stars in action.
Remember if you want to get involved in the action, be sure to sign up to this very website, and create your own British Championship team in ‘MX Manager’.