The MX2 class of 2013 is intriguing, as it boasts contenders young and old, experienced and inexperienced. Often, the MX2 class is a proving ground for rookies that are just moving out of the amateur ranks. Hence why it is peculiar to see a couple of established stars tackle the MX2 class again.
Who are the riders in question? Stephen Sword, and Martin Barr. But before we get to that, what about the rider that they will be chasing all year long, Elliott Banks Browne? There is no doubt in my mind that the reigning champion (EBB) is the favourite for this title heading into round one at FatCat Moto Parc this weekend. In fact, I do think that it will be even easier for him this year; his main rival from last year (Mel Pocock) will not be contesting the full series. It seems that everything is going Banks Browne’s way at the moment. However, he did have to deal with a shoulder injury during the off-season; because of this his preparation has not been perfect.
Interestingly, Elliott Banks Browne and his teammate (James Dunn) are the only two riders in the MX2 class that are contesting the full FIM Motocross World Championship, also. The pair has a grueling schedule to follow throughout the 2013 season. However, I think that EBB will be the fastest rider at most of the Maxxis British Championship rounds this year; this means that he will not really have anyone to drag his speed up. When he travels to a GP though, he will be battling with some of the fastest in the world; therefore when he returns to the UK his speed should be even faster than when he left.
There are a few riders that will be hoping to snatch the number one plate from the HM Plant KTM UK machine of Elliott. Stephen Sword is one of those riders; realistically, this may be his last shot at claiming another British Championship title. He was practically unbeatable in the class not to long ago. But, I do wonder whether Stephen has the raw speed, and intensity to fight with EBB for the duration of a season. At a handful of rounds, his experience will come into play undoubtedly. Therefore, I think that we will see the Dave Thorpe Off Road Centre Honda of Stephen Sword on top of the podium at a handful of rounds.
I do believe that switching back to the MX2 class on a VMX Moto KTM could be a great move for Martin Barr. For a moment there, it looked like Barr would be without a ride for the 2013 season. However, the Irish squad swooped in and secured his services, which could turn out to be a great move for both parties. In the past two seasons, Martin Barr has proven himself as a title contender; hence why I believe that he could be one of EBB’s toughest competitors this season. I definitely expect the Irishman to be making visits to the podium at most (if not all) of the rounds. I am slightly skeptical about how his KTM will compare to the bikes of his competition; however I am sure that it will be up to par.
Honestly, I am really looking forward to seeing what Graeme Irwin can do this year aboard a Heads & All Threads Suzuki. I was very impressed with his performance last year; at the first two rounds he had already proven that he has the raw speed to contend for race wins and maybe even the title. A good, solid off-season for the Irishman means that he may just be in the best position of his career thus far. I definitely think that he will surprise a few of people this year; I wouldn’t be shocked to see him up on top of the podium at some point.
In his return to the Putoline Honda (DB Racing) squad, Neville Bradshaw will be strong, as he always is. The South African is one of the more experienced riders in the series. But, despite this he is still chasing after that elusive British title. The return of Stephen Sword and Martin Barr may hurt his title chances; but I would not be surprised to see him finish the season out in the top three. It has been a while since Neville has won an overall, I do expect him to win a moto at least this season; he is more than capable of doing so in my opinion.
Bryan Mackenzie (Pendrich Kawasaki) falls under the same category as Neville Bradshaw, in my opinion. The Scotsman is a veteran of the class now, and should be in a position to battle for podiums every single week. Now, he probably can’t win the title. But, if something were to happen to the title contenders I can see him being in a position to capitalize. Towards the tail end of last year, he seemed to be picking up speed; he actually managed to break away from the second tier of riders at the last round. Of course, that was quite a while ago; if he has managed to transfer that speed into a good, solid off-season I can see him surprising a few people.
Steven Lenoir will lead the Evotech Stevens KTM team into the Maxxis British Championship this year; the Frenchman will undoubtedly be looking to improve on his 2012 performance, and possibly challenge for a title. It is funny how quickly things can change; one year ago he went into round one as an unknown quantity. Now, Steven will expect to have a consistent presence on the podium each week. I can definitely see him taking a moto win or two when the series arrives at places like Canada Heights, and Foxhills. However, he does seem to struggle more on the sand tracks; this could hurt his final championship position.
I am not going to lie, last year I was slightly underwhelmed by James Dunn’s performance in the Maxxis British Championship. After his heroic rides on a 125 at the British GP, I expected him to have more of an impact. So, this is exactly what he will have to do this year. Honestly, I don’t think that we will see him on the podium at all. However, Dunn should be battling on the cusp of the top five for most of the year, which would be a good result. I do expect to see some flashes of raw speed from him, also. This could be a pivotal year for James.
If you pay close attention to the MX2 Maxxis British Championship this year, you will catch a glimpse of what the future may look like. There are a handful of youngsters that will hope to have an impact on the series this year. Adam Sterry (STR KTM) really broke through last year, in my opinion. Now, he needs to back it up; I can see him battling in the top five by the end of the year. His equipment is good, undoubtedly and with the professional structure of the STR KTM team around him, I think this could be a great year for Sterry.
Evidently, the MX2 class in the 2013 Maxxis British Championship is full of talented riders; it seems that there are more question marks surrounding the riders in this field than there has ever been. I feel that the only guarantee is that Elliott Banks Browne will be the one to beat, hence why he is coming in with the number one plate.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Dave Rich