It seems with the ever expanding Grand Prix calender it is becoming increasingly hard for Grand Prix riders to race the British Championship.
Added to that the three race 20 minute plus 2 lap motos in comparison to the 35 min plus 2 laps motos ( soon to be 30 minute plus 2 in 2014) doesn’t seem to be ideal preparation for the riders that actually do want to do both.
Jake Nicholls has previously stated that part of the reason he doesn’t ride the British Championship is because he doesn’t feel it prepares him adequately for GP racing. And sadly that is a similar theme amongst other top British riders; Tommy Searle, Shaun Simpson, Max Anstie and most recently Mel Pocock have all decided to concentrate their efforts just on the World Championship.
At the beginning of the season both Graeme Irwin and Steven Lenoir were on the podium at a sandy Facat moto parc, round one of the British championship. The pair then both contested the first sand GP of the year in Valkenswaard but both riders failed to score points.
Now obviously the MX2 World championship is a big step up but both riders for me have the talent to be in the top twenty. It seems to be such a big jump now from the British format to the world championship format that both riders just could not adapt that weekend and show their best form. When you are used to racing 25 minute races, doing 40 minute races at a higher standard in addition to all of Saturdays extra riding, it really takes it’s toll.
Back in the early 90s the British championship was full of our top GP racers, Dave Thorpe, Paul Malin, Rob Herring, Jeremy Whatley, Alan Morrison, Kurt Nicoll, Jamie Dobb all had to compete against each other in a GP winning level field. In the early 2000s Gordon Crockard, Paul Cooper, Mike Brown, Stephen Sword and Carl Nunn and more were all top GP riders but were all also racing the British championship.
It not only made the racing a very high standard but it showed the young riders the standard and professionalism needed to get to the top and also narrowed the gap between racing the British championship and the World Championship.
Slowly but surely, inspired by Kurt Nicoll and then by Jamie Dobb, the British contingent have decided that the British championship is harming their GP aspirations. However there were still top riders competing in the series and showing the young riders the speed they needed.
But in recent times the decline of top GP talent has been alarming. Only EBB is a current GP rider in MX2 and he is currently 18th in the championship while his last season’s British Championship rival Mel Pocock lies 10th. Both these riders have similar speed but is riding the 20 minute British races really helping Elliott in the GPs? Additionally the three MX1 GP riders based in Britain are not in the top fifteen in MX1 world championship and Tanel Leok appears to have jumped ship to GPs only with TM.
It seems that British motocross needs to decide on where it wants to go. Does the ACU want the British motocross championship there to help prepare our riders for GP motocross or is it getting so far removed from GPs that it should become a stand alone series like it’s road racing cousin BSB?
As a fan getting to see the MX2 and MX1 class race three times each is great value and a really enjoyable day’s action. But if the goal of championship is to prepare riders for GPs then surely it would be better to go back to two 30min plus 2 lap motos for each class?
It seems increasingly possible that the British series could become a successful stand alone championship without working around the GP schedule and maybe even attract more non GP riding riders from Europe – but the caveat is would the series, riders and spectators suffer if we didn’t have some GP riders competing?
Personally I think it is good for our guys who are not racing GPs to line up with current GP riders and test themselves against them at home before taking the step abroad. It gives them a focus and a goal to reach, it also lessens the jump between British championship and GP racing as long as the length of the races are the same length as the GP motos.
Right now it seems the British championship is getting squeezed out. And the three twenty minute races don’t seem to be helping encourage our British Grand Prix riders who may be deliberating as to whether to compete at home as well.
It might just be time to decide what the British motocross championship is going to be in the future. Should they revert back to two 30 minute motos in line with the 2014 GP format to encourage more top riders and prepare the young riders for GPs? Or do they want to be a stand alone series and continue with the same format and build their own identity. Perhaps even a compromise and follow the Belgium series three progressively longer motos is an option?
There is no easy answer especially with the motocross landscape ever changing, but the ACU need to do something because right now the British motocross championship seems to be caught between two stools.
Article by Jonathan McCready