What a weekend our British riders have ahead of them. Following the Red Bull Pro Nationals at Hawkstone Park on the Sunday, domestic teams will drive to a circuit that is the complete opposite – Langrish. The slick, hard pack track will pose a challenge riders have not yet faced this year. The hillside based in Petersfield is a typical “old school” circuit, where throttle control will undoubtedly be key – especially if the weather doesn’t co-operate. Of course, this year’s event will be running in unison with the ‘Ken Hall Trophy’, meaning the Maxxis British Championship round will run on the Monday, rather than the traditional Sunday.
It’s hard to believe but the series is now in it’s final stint, with Langrish marking round seven of eight. Heading into Monday, Mel Pocock is the man who will have the red plate planted firmly on his bike, however he has just a slim sixteen-point lead between himself and Elliott Banks Browne. Now, Pocock seems to have more of an advantage on the sandier tracks, but his ability on the harder terrain is not to be discounted. Mel will undoubtedly have some added help in the form of his teammates Arnaud Tonus and Zach Osborne, who will be making a return to the domestic level after a prolonged absence.
The pair both came into the season as the firm favourites to lift the crown – especially considering one of the two had won the series the last two years (Osborne in 2010 and Tonus in 2011). However, their title aspirations were ripped from their grasp when they were dealt a crawl blow in the form of injuries. Both riders have been back racing at World Championship level for around a month now, and are back to their best ready to prove what could have been, if only they had been healthy all season long. Zach heads into Langrish as the most likely winner of the MX2 class, especially considering his form at Matterley Basin, where he finished on the podium at a track not too dissimilar from the one prepped for action this weekend.
For Banks Browne the prospect of facing not one, but three Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha’s this weekend is surely daunting. But, at multiple points this season he has proven himself to be the best rider on track, and in all honesty, if not for two mechanical failures he would have a healthy lead in the series. Still, in a mechanical sport such as this mechanical problems can strike you – so Elliott has to get to work and dig himself out of the deficit he has found himself in. When you take the stats from the season thus far, he has been practically unstoppable on the hard pack surfaces (and they don’t get much more hard pack than Langrish). All it would take is three wins from the KTM UK rider this weekend, and we would head into the final round with a winner takes all scenario.
Being French, stereotypically Steven Lenoir should be on for a good weekend at Langrish, the fast, hard-packed hillside is almost identical to the ones witnessed in France. Then again, he has had better results in the loamier soil this year. Still, the Frenchman hasn’t been as consistent as of late, most notably the last round at Hawkstone Park really hurt him in the points as he now sits with seventeen points between himself and third place Neville Bradshaw. This weekend however, as well as trying to close in on Bradshaw, he also needs to keep an eye on Nicolas Aubin, who sits just fifteen points back in fifth.
Aubin himself has been on a run of good form lately, and has started achieving the results many thought he would garner at the beginning of the season. Although it’s too late for the Frenchman to make a run at the title, if all goes well maybe he could creep into the top four, or maybe even the top three by the time the years over?
Kevin Strijbos really is on another level compared to his competitors currently, just one look at the point’s standings will tell you that. From eighteen starts the Belgian has won twelve of them, and if not for that one mechanical at Milton Park, he would more than likely clinch the title this weekend. The hard-pack isn’t exactly Kevin’s forte, and when you consider his average results (when compared to his podiums earlier in the year) in the last few GP’s, maybe Shaun Simpson will finally win an overall this weekend, which quite frankly I am surprised he hasn’t done yet.
Of course, Strijbos has been stealing the top step quite often this year, but surely a rider of Shaun Simpson’s caliber can win at least one overall before the year is over? Although he has been a firm fixture on the lower steps of the podium, that hasn’t been enough to keep him in close contention for the title. However, if I had to guess I would think Simpson will come out this weekend with something to prove. As he surely feels as though he should have got a spot on the Motocross of Nations team. What better way to prove that then to go out and convincingly win the MX1 overall?
Outside of those top two, no one else is really capable of stealing a win, however the battle for the final spot on the podium should be intense as always. With Karro out injured I’m sure riders like Martin Barr and Gert Krestinov will be frantically trying to earn enough points to grab third in the championship by the end of the year. Despite Krestinov being closer to Karro in the points, I actually believe Barr stands more of a chance at grabbing the position. Ever since he made the switch to the Tyco Suzuki he has looked completely different, that confidence and momentum should help him to some more great results in the final two rounds. However, as well as making up the fifty-two points on Karro, he is also going to have to try and close down the twenty-one points between himself and Gert. Which should be particularly hard seeing as Krestinov is a very consistent rider.
The MX1 and MX2 riders may be heading into their penultimate round, but for the MXY2 guys Langrish is where a champion will be decided! Considering the MXY2 runs just a two-moto format, Dan Thornhill is in a pretty comfortable position, as he has over a moto gap (twenty-nine points to be exact) between himself and Rob Muscat in second. The battle for the final two spots on the podium is pretty wide open currently, as twenty-five points separates Muscat from fourth place Ben Watson. With Robert Davidson sat between the two, nine points out of second in the series. Watson has been picking up speed lately, and has the momentum from his first MXY2 moto win last time out at Hawkstone on his side – he might be one to watch.
As always you can get involved in the action from the comfort of your own home, just simply make an account on this very site, and create your own British Championship team in ‘MX Manager’, it’s that easy!
For directions and more info go the Maxxis British MX championship website here