The opening round of the Maxxis British Championship is finally in the rear-view mirror, three weeks later than originally planned, and it was certainly worth the wait. Countless intriguing stories emerged from the classes that were run in sloppy conditions, so pundits have plenty to consider. There are seemingly a lot of layers to the series.
Before moving onto that exquisite on-track action, the elephant in the room must be addressed. A majority of insiders felt that the event should have been cancelled, because of the bleak weather forecast that was presented in the days prior, but those involved in the opening round pulled it off. One could argue that conditions were even worse twelve months ago. There were some drawbacks, such as the tedious process of being towed into the facility, but that is what happens when high-profile races are held in a random field in the United Kingdom. All participants are aware of what they signed up for with this sport.
There were many layers to the MX1 and MX2 classes, despite the fact that they were both very different. The way that the latter should be analysed depends on whether Darian Sanayei will return to contest another round in Britain. More will be known about that knee injury later on, as he is going to have some further examinations, but will he return to the domestic series, even if everything is okay? The Bike It DRT Kawasaki squad were signed up for Lyng and Culham as wildcards, but Steve Dixon admitted to MX Vice that they would probably contest every round. This blow may change that though.
If Darian Sanayei does not contest another round of the Maxxis British Championship, are discussions about Conrad Mewse completing a perfect season warranted? Perhaps. Mewse was simply dominant at Culham and won by around thirty seconds each time, so that should not be dismissed. The same could have been said about Ben Watson at this point last year though. It is likely that Mel Pocock and Josiah Natzke will step up and bridge that gap as the rounds progress, along with Martin Barr, but does that mean that they will be able to edge ahead of Mewse? A bench-racing discussion like that is a great way to drive interest to the series.
Conrad Mewse was sat on some impressive gaps at the end of each moto, but those are not the greatest indication of how dominant he was. The quickest lap times that were recorded in each moto offer those who were sat on the couch a great look at that. The times below are taken from the first encounter.
There is always a breakthrough star at the opening round of the Maxxis British Championship. Brad Todd landed on the podium last year, which was his first trip up onto the box, and then James Dunn was a surprise twelve months before that. Josh Gilbert shocked onlookers this past weekend and looked extremely comfortable at the head of the field. How surprising was the fact that he registered a brace of seconds? Gilbert had finished in the top five in just a single moto before this past weekend. This was quite the step up and, based on the fact that he did not luck into those finishes, it will probably continue.
Liam Knight was just as impressive and actually won the Expert Cup in the MX2 class. There is a chance that left some fans in a confused state though. Although the new concept is worth exploring and a positive addition to the series, it did not exactly translate trackside. The top-three finishers from the Expert Cup classes were dragged up onto the podium separately, for instance, and treated like the legitimate winners. Does it really make sense to mention that Tony Craig just won, despite the fact that he crossed the line in tenth? There are many different ways to tackle that particular topic.
If the sponsors of these riders are happy to see their logos on the podium for a small amount of time, does that not mean the class has served its purpose? There is no doubt that it needs to be promoted in order to work, but perhaps it would be best to pull the Expert Cup winners to one side when there is some dead air and interview them separately, with a better explanation of what is going on, so that they have an opportunity to grab the spotlight and promote their sponsors. Small tweaks would make this format much better than it was at the opening round.
Onto MX1 then, where the results may not truly represent the way that things unravelled. Graeme Irwin won, thanks to a mix of speed and consistency, but Evgeny Bobryshev and Jake Nicholls could have stolen that position, had it not been for some small mistakes. This class really is wide open at the moment and, for that reason, the victory that Irwin claimed may have been the best of his career. It is not exactly a secret that the premier division was not too strong last year, but no one can question the level this time around. Repeating that over the course of a season may be a little harder though.
Evgeny Bobryshev was the quickest MX1 rider at Culham, most would agree, but it took some time for him to unearth that. A poor start restricted him in the first moto, but it was quite clear just how strong he was. The way that he charged through the pack left some in awe. Should it have though? It was extremely impressive, yes, but Bobryshev is a former Grand Prix winner and has finished on the podium countless times. No one else at Culham can boast achievements like that, hence why this should have been expected. It was certainly not too shocking to see him cut through the field of domestic stars in the fashion that he did.
The worrying thing for the rest of the MX1 division is that Evgeny Bobryshev should keep getting better from this point on. Not only will he get more comfortable aboard his new steed, but that RM-Z450 should just keep getting stronger. “Hopefully we will get soon help from Suzuki Japan,” he told us in an exclusive post-race interview. “We need to find more power in the bike. In Spain I was riding just a stock bike, standard engine, which was really hard for me to battle and make good starts. The main thing is that every weekend I am doing my best, but the team also tries to get it. I need more power and more torque.”
It is also worth noting that Jake Nicholls may have not shown all of his cards yet. Although it seemed as though that ride in the first moto, where he hunted down Graeme Irwin, was everything that he had, he was actually fighting a bike issue that could have cost him a significant amount of points. “We had a stone get jammed in the clutch, which caused some problems and burnt it out after ten minutes,” he told us exclusively. “Honestly the first race was just survival with the bike and somehow I managed to pick them off. I did not think I was going to finish, because of the stone.”
So, for reasons such as that right there, there are a lot of questions to be answered when the Maxxis British Championship resumes at Canada Heights in a couple of weeks. Who knows, maybe Tommy Searle will show up and add yet another element to an already intriguing title fight? If things continue in this fashion, which seems likely, the domestic scene could receive a much-needed boost.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: MPS Images