The 2012 Maxxis British Championship is drawing to a close; as the eighth and final round of the series is to be held at Little Silver this weekend. Both the MX1 and MX2 champions are yet to be crowned, so for the title candidates there is definitely everything to play for on Sunday. Little Silver has hosted the first round of the series in past years; so most riders are familiar with the hillside circuit. Another plus is that it does hold water well; so it limits the chances of the final round being over run by treacherous autumn weather.
On paper the MX1 championship is still wide open, however the chances of Kevin Strijbos locking up the title are extremely high. It would take something drastic for the Belgian to lose the title, seeing as he has a fifty-eight-point lead over his closest challenger, Shaun Simpson. Strijbos has been on-form in recent weeks also; he has won nine straight moto’s in a row, and has only lost six moto’s in the series thus far this year. Quite simply, Kevin is extremely deserving of the title. If there is one disadvantage he may face this weekend, it is that he has never ridden the circuit, whereas Shaun Simpson has previous experience there. Will this see him lose a fifty-eight-point lead? I highly doubt it.
Shaun Simpson actually won the British Championship round at Little Silver in 2011, so the Scotsman has form on the track. Simpson has just one moto win to his name this year; so undoubtedly he will be trying to raise that number this weekend and maybe capture his first overall win on the Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha. It is mathematically impossible for Shaun to lose second in the series; so he doesn’t have to worry about the guys behind him, he will be focusing all his efforts on beating Strijbos. Although as stated previously, he will need a lot of luck on his side to make any kind of dent in the points deficit between the two.
However, in the MX1 class there will be a wildcard that could put some points between the leading two; reigning champ Brad Anderson will be making his first on-track appearance in the UK this year. I am particularly interested to see how his speed is after his time in Australia, and whether or not is has either helped or hindered him. Either way, I’m certain Brad will be in contention for the victory and he will undoubtedly want to give everyone a little preview of what he is capable of in 2013.
Gert Krestinov is sitting very comfortably in third in the series. It is mathematically impossible for Gert to grab second in the championship, as mentioned previously. But he also has a big gap back to Martin Barr in fifth place, which is his closest challenger. Although Mattis Karro is fourth in points, the Latvian is still out with injury so he is no threat to Krestinov. With Karro out, the door is open for Barr to move up a spot in the points. Maybe Jamie Law (sixth in points) could also pass Mattis, if he posts some solid results on Sunday? Law is actually just fifteen points back of Barr, the STR KTM rider could potentially move into fourth in points, however it will be tough.
It is also worth noting that the Frenchman Nicolas Aubin will be making the jump up to the MX1 class this weekend. Now that his title hopes are officially over in the MX2 class, Nico and the team made the decision to focus solely on the 450 from this point onwards. Don’t be surprised to see Aubin mixing it up for the win this weekend as he does already have a title locked up on the bigger bike; he claimed the MX1 Red Bull Pro Nationals championship just a few weeks ago. He will most certainly be looking to make an impression on the class ahead of his first full season in MX1 next year.
Stephen Sword will more than likely be making a return to the series this weekend after missing the last two rounds with a collarbone injury. Sword still has some pain, and is visiting a physio to ensure he will be back to normal quite soon. Stephen is ninth in points currently, and could move into seventh if he has the type of day we know he is capable of. He is also another guy that could be a wildcard in the title chase, and maybe put points between the top two, if some bad luck strikes Strijbos. If the veteran does make an appearance, it will undoubtedly be good for him ahead of the preparation for the 2013 season.
All eyes will certainly be on the MX2 class this weekend, as the title fight is wide-open still. Mel Pocock is the man who holds a sixteen-point advantage at the moment, however he is far from in a comfortable position. One plus for Mel is that he does have the momentum of the EMX2 title on his side. In order to take home the MX2 title; Pocock will have to finish on the moto podium in all three moto’s; that way no matter what Elliott Banks Browne does, it is impossible for the KTM rider to pass him. If the Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha rider does clinch the crown, it will cap off what has already been a remarkable year for the #119.
The man pursuing Mel (who is also going after his first Maxxis British Championship) is HM Plant KTM’s Elliott Banks Browne. As mentioned above, Elliott needs to go out, win all three moto’s and hope Pocock can’t make the podium in any of them if he is going to clinch the title, however he will need just a little bit of luck on his side. Whilst Pocock may have the momentum of an EMX2 title on his side, Banks Browne has been picking up speed in the World Championship lately, culminating in a podium-speed performance two weeks ago in the MX2 class. So it’s not as if he has no momentum on his side. The two are quite well matched speed-wise I believe, so it will truly be a fight to the finish.
Something that will play against Elliott is that there aren’t many riders that can get between the leading two; however the battle for third in the series is hotly contested. Neville Bradshaw (312 points), Steven Lenoir (294 points) and Bryan Mackenzie (286 points) are all in contention for the spot. Obviously with an eighteen-point lead over fourth place Lenoir, Bradshaw is most likely to secure the spot. However, how strong he will be or whether or not he will even ride is unknown after he pulled out of the Motocross of Nations last weekend with an injured shoulder. The South African is just hoping to get through the weekend at this stage.
Interestingly, Lenoir is no longer at Emberson Yamaha, so the manufacturer he will pilot this weekend is yet to be confirmed. At the final round of the Red Bull Pro Nationals, the Frenchman was riding a Tyco Suzuki so whether or not that will turn into a ride for this weekend remains to be seen but we’re hearing he’ll possibly be riding a LPE Kawasaki. Whether that’s true or not it’s not ideal for Steven with very little bike time on a different bike. But then again, the man eight points behind him, Bryan Mackenzie, will also have to get accustomed to the KTM 250 again, a bike he hasn’t been riding in recent weeks. Put simply, each rider in the battle for third in the championship has a bit of adversity to overcome.
Almost unnoticed, Graeme Irwin has climbed back to just six points down on Mackenzie. Although thirty two points might be a little too far for the Irishman to climb in order to pass Bradshaw, it’s remarkable Graeme is even in a position to do so, seeing as he scored zero points back at round two. It has undoubtedly been the best year of Irwin’s career, as he has established himself as a contender for race wins and maybe in the future, a championship. Maybe Irwin could get up front and split the two title candidates this weekend?
Who knows what will happen? That’s why it’s best to get there and witness it if you can. For more information click here to go the Maxxis British MX championship website.