Is there a more historic track on the schedule than Hawkstone Park? The natural landscape has played host to a number of memorable moments in Motocross history, maybe this weekend some more will be created?
Not too long ago, the MX1 title fight was looking as close as it could possibly be, however just one round later and Kevin Strijbos is in quite a comfortable position. On paper, Kevin only has a five-point lead in the series over Mattis Karro. However, Karro is out for the year most likely, so the next rider in line to challenge the Belgian is Shaun Simpson – with a thirty-six-point gap separating him from Strijbos. As well as riding maybe the best he has in five years, the sand will also see Strijbos extremely strong this weekend. From nine starts in the sand this year, Kevin has won all of them – and in convincing fashion to. If he can replicate those performances this weekend he could put himself in a very good position heading into the final two rounds.
Of course there are too many variables in Motocross to just presume the Belgian will walk away with the win this weekend, and he knows it. As he has had a comfortable points gap once before this season, until mechanical gremlins struck him. If that happens again, the championship will be blown wide open. Shaun Simpson (who will probably move into second in the series this weekend) knows to well what a DNF can do to your title hopes. As his chain broke in the most recent moto, and is the reason he sits thirty-six points down. Shaun is our only hopes of having a British rider win our MX1 domestic series this year, but unfortunately he hasn’t proven he can beat Strijbos straight up, yet.
Although he has had a consistent presence on the podium, he has only one moto win to his name this season (something that surprises me). However, if you’re looking on the bright side Shaun has evidently upped his game in recent weeks – the highlight being a fifth overall at the Swedish GP. The Brit is also comfortable in the sand, because of the time spent in Holland throughout his career. Maybe there is a chance he could pull off an upset this weekend and collect his first overall win for the Dixon squad.
It looks as though American Zach Osborne may be riding the MX1 class this weekend. Although not officially confirmed by Zach – or the team, his tweets suggest he may be jumping up to the 450 just for Hawkstone. If Zach does end up racing the bigger bike, he could have an affect on the point’s chase, if he can get between the two contenders. If you’re wondering just how good Osborne is on a 450, look no further than the 2008 Motocross des Nations. Where he battled with guys like Tim Ferry. The potential is there for Zach to definitely make a run at the podium – and maybe the win, as his speed is undoubted.
Max Anstie will definitely be on the start line to make a rare wildcard appearance, and he to, will be ditching his normal 250f for the 450 Honda. For British fans, to see Max on the domestic scene is a rare treat – and is definitely something worth taking advantage of this weekend. Sand might be considered Anstie’s speciality, so he might just end up getting in the mix for the podium also.
Marc de Reuver has been picking up speed in recent weeks whilst racing the GP series with the Ice One Racing Kawasaki team. The Dutchman will be back on his usual Lanes machine this week, but the experience of racing circuits like Kegums with the worlds best could see him come in and steal points away from the title contenders – as he done back at round two. The problem for Marc this year seems to be consistency, as he is yet to put together an entire round with three strong moto finishes. Eleventh in the series standings is not where he should be – most tipped him as a favourite for the title at the beginning of the year! But if he can put some strong rides in over the last three rounds he might be able to sneak into eighth place and salvage a top-ten finish.
An added variable in the Hawkstone Park program is the mixed MX1 and MX2 race, that was first implemented at the Milton Park round of the series. The one time the race has featured it caused a huge shake up in both MX1, and MX2 points standings. Around Hawkstone, surely the 250f will be underpowered in the power-sapping sand, up the famous Hawkstone Hill, as well as the long fast start straight. This moto alone could be crucial for the MX2 series leaders especially.
Speaking of the MX2 class, with just eight points separating Elliott Banks Browne and Mel Pocock, the series is turning into a real dogfight. The similarities between the two are endless; however there is one major difference heading into Hawkstone Park that might have an affect on the point’s standings by the time the day is over. Momentum. It’s something Pocock has, and Elliott doesn’t – at the moment at least. Whilst Mel has been away winning countless EMX250 races, Elliott has been on the sidelines with virtually no race time under his belt since the last British Championship round over a month ago. How Elliott will perform is unknown, but he will most definitely be giving it his all to keep a hold of that red plate.
The battle for third spot in the championship is still raging on, and is as close as ever with just thirteen points separating third place Steven Lenoir and fifth place Bryan Mackenzie. Steven might be a bit stronger this weekend, as he has had arm pump surgery in the last few weeks. Maybe that will see him elevate his game and run the pace of the leaders? He has shown flashes of speed that indicate he could do so at different points thus far this season. Neville Bradshaw sits in fourth, and judging by his performance at the Red Bull Pro Nationals this past weekend, he has recaptured the form that saw him a regular fixture on the podium earlier in the year. Which is bad news for the riders he is battling with. Mackenzie will be making his British Championship debut aboard the Pendrich KTM this weekend. Despite going down and suffering a concussion last weekend, Mackenzie will most definitely be on the start line at Hawkstone.
As well as the MX1 and MX2 classes, the MXY85 and Veteran series will run alongside the main action. The two classes will give fans a great chance to see the stars of tomorrow, and the riders of yesteryear. As always you can keep up with the what’s going on at Hawkstone on this very site, as well as discussing the racing in the forums and getting involved and being your own team manager on MX Vice’s exclusive ‘MX Manager’! Give it a go and get started by clicking here if you haven’t already registered a team.