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HEIGHTS ‘N’ LOWS Samsung Yamaha Race Report

The eagerly awaited second round of the British Maxxis Motocross championship arrived in Swanley, Kent at the infamous Sidcup club’s Canada Heights circuit and as the crowds gathered they saw a re-vamped track in front of them, a daunting ‘bombhole’ at the top of the big downhill section threw the riders skywards as the ground beneath them dropped away! The track may have been spectacular for the large crowd but for a few unfortunate riders it was to be their undoing, with several top stars suffering big crashes including Samsung RFX Yamaha’s Graeme Irwin who, through no fault of his own ended the day on lap 1 of the first moto with a trip to hospital after colliding with the stricken machine of Arnaud Tonus over the finish line jump! Thankfully Irwin only suffered concussion and despite waking Monday morning the the mother of all headaches (and no pleasure of a boozy night) should be fit to race round 3 in 4 weeks time.

Qualification for the MX2 riders in the Samsung RFX Yamaha camp went well, Irwin came in behind Mackenzie in 8th and Lenoir took his YZ250f to a credible 3rd. So Tonus it was setting fastest lap by a large margin, followed home by Aubin, Mackenzie and Pocock edged Lenoir back to 5th and Irwin managed to move up to 7th.

As they lined up on the concrete grid for race 1 there was an air of expectation in the Samsung RFX camp, with Osborne out could both Irwin and Lenoir climb the podium, it certainly looked possible. The gate dropped and the Samsung RFX Yamaha of Irwin hit the front in aggressive still, Tonus was up there and Lenoir was towards the top 10, all looked good. Tonus got past Irwin before the lap concluded and as he crested the finish line jump he lost control of his Yamaha in what looked like a very un-characteristic rider error, jumping off his machine mid flight and landing heavily but Irwins Samsung RFX Yamaha was so close behind he had nowhere to go and collided with the Yamaha caused a horrendous endo leaving the Samsung RFX star concussed and neither rider would take any further part in the days racing!

Lenoir crossed the line in 7th but immediately found himself in 5th with the two fallen riders lying in the track. The whole top 6 riders where now locked in a tight battle Lenoir moved past a fast starting Lewis Tombs into 4th behind Aubin on lap 2. Aubin hit the front, Mackenzie clung onto 2nd, Lenoir had the Samsung RFX machine up to 3rd. Mackenzie couldn’t stand the pressure that both Lenoir and Bradshaw were applying and both pushed past. It was now Aubins turn to feel the pressure as Lenoir turned up the wick as he could smell a win. The Samsung RFX pilot said later he could here his fellow Frenchman really clutching it for all he was worth in the corners so he knew he was giving it all he had. As Lenoir tried to get close enough to make the pass Aubin responded and the cat and mouse game played all race long with Bradshaw getting in on the action in the dying stages to make it a 3 way battle but that was how it ended with 2 Frenchmen and a South African taking all 3 podium places.

Race 2 was one that didn’t go well for Samsung RFX Yamaha with only Lenoir on the line and Irwin now in a hospital bed for observation, Lenoir got caught up in a gaggle of riders in turn 2 going down and getting ridden over by several machines right in front of the pit crews where team manager Jon Gifford watched in disbelief as his second rider of the day looked to be down and out… the gritty teenager remounted but almost 2 minutes down on the leaders it was inevitable that he would score no points and lose the chance of an overall podium.

With the final race cut short due to a rider being treated in the track by medical staff it was a luckily a good start from Samsung RFX’s Lenoir, his starts normally not the best and this time he pulled one out of the bag to come round on lap 1 in 3rd behind Banks-Browne Bradshaw. EBB set the pace and led for the entire 5 laps!!! Bradshaw held down second setting the fastest lap in his attempt to catch the flying KTM, Lenoir was suffering from the 2nd race crash but was hanging in there till lap 4 when the hard charging Pocock got round him to push him down to a final finishing place of 4th and another 6th overall on the day, which by my reckoning puts him up to 5th overall in the standings after 2 rounds.

In the MX1 it was first time out for Samsung RFX rider Jake Shipton aboard the mighty YZ450f Yamaha. Still possibly a bit early to be riding such a tough circuit as Canada Heights Jake was eager to put the power down round the rough Kent track. The hard work he’d been putting in over the winter break had ended up with frustration as he missed round one due to a wrist injury and although not 100% had made the decision to try to make up some of the points deficit  from missing that opening round.

Qualification proved to be harder than he had expected as he posted a 2:18 placing him 28th for gate selection and in fairness with little bike time prior to the event a respectable lap only 10 seconds down on some top Grand Prix riders. Unfortunately at the expense of possibly making things worse for his injury he carried on with heading to the start line for race 1. Shipton had the Samsung RFX Yamaha buried in the pack coming round on lap one in 30th in his first ride with the top UK riders in the country. After a few of the top contenders went past from a first turn incident he dropped down the order to 32nd before picking back up working hard through the obvious pain of his wrist to 27th on lap 8 before succumbing to the pain in the dying minutes dropping back to his original start position of 30th.

Race 2 saw a big pile up in turn 1 as de Reuver, Whatley, Dougan and Simpson all where left with work to do to climb back up the leader board, Shipton was not in a good state and after getting caught up in the fray at the start only completed 6 laps before pulling out and decided it better to not go out in the final race.
Race 3 had no Samsung RFX Yamaha rider with Shipton taking an early bath in the hope to come back stronger for round 3 at Lyng.

Race report and pictures by Ady Cowshall

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