The Grand Prix of France at Ernee for the eighth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship was not one for the memory books when a reflection on HM Plant KTM UK’s 2013 racing campaign comes to pass. British Champion Elliott Banks Browne suffered a spate of crashes across the weekend as he partially struggled with the rocky and slippery terrain. He would only grasp three points by the end of the two 35 minute and 2 lap motos for 22nd position overall in the MX2 class.
A 39,000 attendance (weekend figure) created a buzzing atmosphere at Ernee in northwest France and even if the temperatures plunged on Sunday compared to balmy conditions for practice and qualification, the crowd’s enthusiasm still created one of the most exciting events of the season so far.
Back in action after missing the Brazilian round two weeks previously the team hoped for a good run in the MX2 division but EBB was overlooked by lady luck. A good start in the first race was ruined when he almost clattered Dean Ferris on the second corner. Two crashes in a turbulent outing dispelled any chance of scaling higher than eighteenth by the chequered flag.
A mediocre start for race-two limited any potential on a course that was narrow and complicated for overtaking. Another spill would lead to an injured ankle but Elliott was at least able to make the finish although it was outside the top twenty and the points zone.
Steven Clarke classified eighth in the second round of the European EMX250 category – the stepping stone competition to MX2 Grand Prix racing – but the team’s theme of ill-fortune even stretched all the way to Slovenia where Natalie Kane finished fourth in the second outing in the FIM Women’s World Championship but tied on points for second place on the podium. The Irishwoman was denied a spray of champagne purely on the second moto ranking.
Kane will join EBB in the Grand Prix paddock next week as round nine takes place at Maggiora for the second visit to Italy this year. She holds 3rd in the standings, 20 points behind reigning champion Kiara Fontanesi.
Elliott Banks Browne: “I had another bad weekend. In the first race I got a really good start, I think I was around fifth but Ferris nearly crashed in front of me and I lost a few places. I was riding good in the first laps but I could not see a big rock while I was very close to Tonkov and I crashed. I got back to twentieth position and somebody crashed and took me out of the track. I was miles behind last place and I came back through to eighteenth and was doing pretty good by the end of the race. In the second moto I did not have such a good start, but I was doing alright when I lost the front end after one of the jumps. I fought back but caught my ankle in a rut going down one of the hills and I twisted it, so I rode with a lot of pain until the end.”