The Heads & All Threads Suzuki team returned to Culham Park in Oxfordshire for the final round of the 2013 Red Bull Pro Nationals where, despite some showers throughout the week, the weather held and the venue had bouts of sunshine, albeit a little muggy.
The weekend started with the teams newly re-signed MX1 rider, Graeme Irwin, posting 3rd fastest in qualifying, but with only .02 seconds separating the top 3, the weekend proved it was going to be tight at the front.
Luke Burton, now on the RM-Z250 MX2 machine, put in a lap to qualify in 31st of the mixed grouping.
As the first race got under way on Saturday, Irwin found him self tucked in behind Scott Elderfield and the series champion, Kristian Whatley. Irwin started closing on Elderfield but was under constant pressure from Brad Anderson. The pair passed Elderfield but Anderson also found a way past Irwin during the battle for second. As the front runners encountered back markers and Irwin suffering some bad luck amongst them, Gert Krestinov took the advantage and closed in taking 3rd spot away from the Northern Irishman, and Irwin crossed the line in 4th.
Burton had made a good start and was just inside the top 10 for MX2. As the race progressed and the track became gnarly, a few mistakes cost him his positions and he crossed the line in 11th MX2
The second race of the weekend started with Irwin taking an early lead ahead of Elderfield and Whatley. As the racing order settled Whatley moved into 2nd and started to put the pressure on Irwin. The pair battled for a few laps, but Whatley finally found his way past on lap 6. They both had a good lead over 3rd place and despite his best efforts to stay with the super smooth Whatley, the gap steadily increased and Irwin settled into his own rhythm to cross the line in a comfortable 2nd.
Burton had made a good start in race two but around the midway mark he had collided with another rider and his foot peg had snared Burtons boot taking him down and damaging his ankle resulting in Buton pulling off for a DNF.
The third and final race of the weekend and Irwin took the early lead again and put a good gap on the rest of field early on. As the race progressed Whatley had slowly reeled him in at the half way point and started making moves to take the lead. Irwin battled hard and kept closing the door, but Whatley sneaked past and began pulling away. Irwin made some challenges to retake the lead, but riding intelligently, he settled for 2nd to claim 2nd overall.
Despite switching to the RMZ-450 and MX1 for the final two rounds, Irwin still managed to claim 6th in the MX2 championship and 12th in MX1.
This was Burtons best race of the weekend and possibly the season. He made a good start and was mixing it up with the MX1 and MX2 field in the mid pack. He gave 100% all race and battled hard to cross the line in 7th of the MX2 class. Obviously his DNF affected his overall position and he came away with 12th.
“Jumping from the 250 to the 450 is a totally different game. I’ve trained and prepared for a 250 all season then jumped on a bike with a lot more power, and there’s a different way of riding it.
I’m riding smoother and if I could ride the whole race at my full pace I think I could win, it’s just my arms get a little weak. So the plan for next year is to just build on my strength for the 450 and get ready to challenge for the title.”
The British Championship final round is on the 6th of October, at Farleigh Castle, Wiltshire.
Kev Reid Images