The start to the Maxxis British Motocross Championship is finally here, and the full Oakleaf Kawasaki team made their way up to FatCat Motoparc in Yorkshire for it this past weekend. Although the weather leading up to it was already looking ominous, things only got progressively worse, culminating in snow later on Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday morning though, after the officials changed to a wet-weather schedule, qualifying got underway with an hour’s delay. MXY2 rider Gradie Featherstone qualified in twenty-seventh, while Jake Millward qualified in twentieth in the MX2 class. MX1 riders Alex Snow and Shane Carless qualified in eighth and seventeenth respectively.
Although Gradie got off the gate in the top fifteen, several crashes in the race progressively set him back. Undeterred, he continued to make his way forward time and again, ending in twenty-fourth. The second race scrapped as part of the amended schedule, the result also stood as the final overall.
For Jake, the day also went from bad to worse. Although he recovered brilliantly from a first-lap problem in the first race and finished in eighteenth, the second race, in driving snow and sleet, finished before it really started. After a tough start and several laps, Jake decided to pull in so as to not damage the bike any more than it was. With the first race result in the points, Jake ended the day in twenty-fourth overall.
Alex, suffering from an injury picked up the previous week, soldiered on. Well on his way towards the front in the first race after a mid-pack start, the track eventually took its toll and he found himself undoing the progress made in the first half. In the second race, he tried again, this time with a better start and much more steady progress. Again a small mistake undid his efforts, although this time he ended in fifteenth rather than twenty-third, moving up to eighteenth overall on the day.
Shane also suffered from less-than-stellar results. Off the gate in eighth in his first race, he slipped back to seventeenth before recovering from arm pump and regaining three places before the chequered flag. In the second race, goggle trouble in challenging conditions also left him in mid-pack for several laps before he recovered to tenth at the finish for a thirteenth on the day.
Commented team owner Shaun Anthony: “Today’s been consistent, considering the weather and how things have gone today. Everyone’s tried their best, we’ve come away with some half-decent results, but not really where we want to be. Obviously the lads will have to give a bit more in the rest of the season, hopefully things will change with the weather and we’ll be back on song.”
Alex Snow (#31): To be fair, it’s been fairly bad. I wasn’t sure what to expect after dislocating my shoulder last weekend. I qualified eighth, which I was reasonably happy with, my speed was alright, it was just a question of how the shoulder was holding up. It was a tough track in the first race, had a bad start, was sitting around in twelfth, made a couple of mistakes and went way back and that was history really. In the second race, got a good start, was running in seventh and had just a little tip-over in a corner. I couldn’t start the bike for ages, ended up fifteenth. This week I’m getting a scan on the shoulder, then I need to see where I need to go with it because it’s not ideal.
Shane Carless (#68): Overall, it’s not been a bad day. Winter training has been really hard for me because of the weather, and I just moved up to an MX1 bike. In qualifying I was seventeenth, which I wasn’t pleased about, but considering the conditions it wasn’t too bad. In the first race I had a good start, was running in eighth place, just got a bit of arm pump and in the second half came back really strong to fourteenth. In the second race, the track conditions were really bad and I couldn’t get my holeshot device on for the start. I managed to get through the first lap pretty clean, the goggles got jammed up in the second lap, and after switching them out I came back from third from last to tenth position.
Jake Millward (#303): Today didn’t go as planned really. The first race didn’t go too badly towards the end, but the start definitely didn’t go as planned, I came off the track a few times and got stuck. Towards the end I settled into a rhythm and it wasn’t too bad. In the second race, I could smell my clutch and saw my bike was steaming, so I thought that it was just not worth it, and try again next weekend.
Picture by Elliot Spencer