So, the British GP is over for another year. Matterley Basin was the site of the second ‘MXGP Festival’ this past weekend; eleven classes took to the circuit during the four-day event. You could argue that the atmosphere lacked something this year, for whatever reason – I believe that there were a number of factors contributing to this. But we still had a lot to cheer about, as the on-track action served up a couple of surprises.
Interestingly, a few major changes were made to the track this year, as the section following the finish line was brand new. I was a fan of it, as it certainly influenced the racing. I thought that it was interesting to see which guys were tripling down the step down after the start, as the jump was really big. During the weekend we saw a few riders crash on the jump, or have a heavy landing. I think that part of the reason for this was that there really was not much of a landing. In fact, the landing was considerably lower than the take off of the downhill triple, and a choppy uphill roller section followed. So, put simply, it was a very tricky section.
In an effort to give fans a better view of the start straight, the pit lane was moved behind the start, as it meant that most spectators could see the first turn. However you could not watch right alongside the start straight as a result, which was disappointing. I heard a few fans have a bit of a moan about this, as the start is the most exciting part of the race for most. I felt like we [the spectators] were slightly more limited with where we could watch this year; a few of the popular spectator points from 2012 were blocked off, unfortunately.
Matterley Basin has a number of big jumps with multiple options, such as the downhill triple, and the uphill quad. It seemed as though a few more of the riders were clearing that triple in the middle of the circuit last year – the most popular line this year was to hog the inside, and double, which in turn made it more difficult for the 250f riders to clear the uphill quad. Quite a few of the MX2 guys struggled to clear that jump, consistently. Perhaps that was a result of the deep ruts? Following a fierce rain shower on the Sunday morning, the track was slick and deep for much of the day – it was one-lined in some corners as a result, also.
Undoubtedly the MX2 class provided us with the greatest racing over the weekend, as it was very unpredictable. It is no secret that we long for some unpredictable on-track action; it is a lot better when we don’t have any idea who could win. Usually it is likely that either Herlings or Cairoli will win their respective classes. So we should make the most of what is going on in MX2 at the moment, we do not see it too often!
Obviously when Glenn Coldenhoff crossed the line at the conclusion of the second MX2 race, it was clear that he was going to be the overall victor [that was sarcasm]. I’m sure that Glenn would have liked to take a moto win, instead of winning the GP with a third and a fourth. But he will take it any way that he can get it! In the press conference, he stated that he could not see his pit board, as the straight was so rough that it was tough to focus on what was written by his team. In fact, Glenn stated that he did not think that he was on the overall podium, let alone on top of it!
I have often stated that Glenn Coldenhoff is the most underrated guy in the MX2 class, and I still believe that. But, after this past weekend, I am sure that the Dutchman has now opened the eyes of most. Following his victory I was thinking about how strange it is that Coldenhoff has won a GP! I mean, at the beginning of the year, who would have predicted this? It has to be a surprise for him to be in this position now. It was great for the Standing Construct team as well, as they look to be embarking on a new route as they will be running the factory Suzuki effort in MX2 next year, it seems.
Jake Nicholls has had a turbulent year, so far. In fact, turbulent could be an understatement! If you are unsure of what things Jake has had to overcome, have a read of the interview that we did with Jake on the Saturday night at Matterley Basin. I am sure that he would have forgot about all of the pain that he has had to overcome whilst standing up on the box in second overall at his home GP. It was the best finish of Nicholls’ career – so, it really was a special moment for him, and the fans. Jake was our greatest hope of a British victor in either MX1 or MX2, as he lost out by just a single point following a second and a sixth.
In the first moto Jake Nicholls came very close to taking the first moto victory, as he followed Dean Ferris for much of the race. Honestly, he has never really come close to winning a moto at this level – so it was surprising to see him push Dean Ferris to the finish. I am sure that the crowd was urging him on, as we have seen many times in the past. Hopefully his ride is going to help him get a 450f ride for next year, as he doesn’t have a deal right now, unfortunately.
Jose Butron stated continuously in the post-race press conference that he is only focusing on finishing third in the series standings – he also stated that he isn’t really that bothered about trying to win one of the final GP’s. It was peculiar to hear this, as you would presume that he would want to win the first of his career to raise his profile. I felt like his ride yesterday was a bit lacklustre, as he seemingly did not have the pace required. In moto one, he dropped back in a hurry, until he was forty-one seconds back in fifth! Maybe the jumps did not suit him? In 2012, he wasn’t so strong at the venue either.
Astonishingly fourth overall [Romain Febvre] was just four points from winning the GP – that is how close the MX2 class was this past weekend! In recent weeks, Febvre has stepped it up and regained some form, which has been quite good to see. I predicted that Matterley Basin would be a good circuit for Romain, as he is strong on a supercross-style circuit. Hopefully, it won’t disturb his program too much when he switches to a Husqvarna in the winter; Romain could be a contender next year if he can avoid further injury.
Mel Pocock was very strong at his home GP, as he had his best performance of the year, like a few of his countrymen. Intriguingly, Pocock had to tape up his knee, as it has been painful, recently. So he was far from one-hundred-percent, which is unfortunate. I wonder where he could have finished had he been comfortable? Despite the troublesome knee, his best finish came in moto one [a sixth], when the track was difficult following some rain. But his ninth in race two was another strong result, as was his sixth overall. Pocock is another guy that could be even stronger in 2014 with a solid off-season under his belt. The Yamaha pilot could be in a position to grab twelfth in the final series standings, if he can beat Febvre at Lierop.
Both Dean Ferris and Christophe Charlier had a testing time at the British GP, as their outing was full of highs and lows. Dean had a lot of momentum on his side following his GP win last week in Belgium. However all of that came to a screeching halt in race two, as he was forced to retire following a mechanical failure. The Australian fell on the uphill after the waves, and damaged his radiator – he couldn’t continue as his Yamaha had lost too much coolant. Dean would have more than likely won Matterley Basin, if he could have finished the second race.
What is up with Max Anstie and the British GP? Whilst other guys excel when racing at home – Anstie has seemingly struggled for whatever reason. Although bad luck has been a factor, I am now starting to wonder if there may be more to it. Truthfully, mechanical problems have hurt him the last two years, whereas his starts were the biggest problem on Sunday. Perhaps this was because of the pressure that he felt? In moto one, Anstie could only climb as high as seventeenth after an awful start; I expected him to make progress much quicker than he did, to be honest. But, he rebounded in race two with a seventh, which gave him tenth overall. In a post-race press conference it was announced that Max Anstie has signed with the Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha team for the next two years, which should be a good switch for him.
It was a foregone conclusion really, but Antonio Cairoli clinched his seventh world title at the British GP. In the first moto, Cairoli only needed an eleventh to take his fifth MX1 title, which obviously wasn’t exactly a hard goal for the Italian. Rather than back it down, Toni elected to clinch the title in the best way possible, as he hunted down his rival, Clement Desalle, before running away to an unchallenged win. Interestingly, Antonio hadn’t lost a moto at Matterley Basin before this year, so the circuit is obviously one that he gels with.
Antonio Cairoli celebrated his world title with his squad at the conclusion of race one, as you would expect. When Antonio was riding off of the track, he revved his KTM a couple of times in delight. Perhaps this is why his bike gave up on him in moto two? Antonio hinted to this in the post-race press conference. Interestingly the seven-time world champion has mentioned that he has a surprise in store for the fans at Lierop. Could we see a two stroke beneath him in less than two weeks time?
Wow, Clement Desalle has really shined in the latter part of the season, hasn’t he? It was not long ago that we were asking what was wrong with him. In my opinion, we haven’t seen him ride this well in quite some time. Honestly, I am not sure he would have won the GP if it had not been for Cairoli’s mechanical failure in race two, as Toni proved that he was much faster in the opening MX1 encounter. But not too many people will remember that when they look back on the record books in a few years time. I was actually surprised to see Clement on top of the box, as I did not think that Matterley Basin would suit him too well at all – he has not had too much success there in the past.
In 2012, everything went right for Tommy Searle at Matterley Basin. Really, it was a perfect weekend, and everything went his way. In fact, it was the complete opposite to how this year’s event went for Tommy, as nothing went right for him! Tommy isn’t the best starter in the world, for whatever reason. So, when he qualified in thirteenth (following a first turn fall), it wasn’t very likely that he would start up front, and he didn’t. But he did push through both times, despite the difficult conditions. In the second moto, he actually had a reasonably good start inside of the top ten. However, a first lap fall left him at the back, once again.
Tommy Searle put in a valiant effort each time out though, as he pushed through the pack in an effort to not disappoint the thousands of fans that were cheering them on. Honestly, I did think that Tommy would move through the field quicker than he did, as it took him a handful of laps to catch and get around guys like Tanel Leok. So, if he had of gotten a holeshot, I very much doubt that he would have been in a position to battle for the victory. However, with a better start a podium would have been in reach, I’m sure of that.
Recently, there has been quite a bit of debate about whether Shaun Simpson is deserving of a spot on our Motocross des Nations team. I do not really understand this, as the Scotsman has really upped his game in the latter part of the season. I mean, an eighth overall this past weekend was a solid result, and one that deems him worthy of a spot on our MXdN team. It hasn’t been an easy season for him, but a pair of sevenths at the British GP does indicate that he is improving. The JK Yamaha rider achieved an overall result of eighth following an eighth in each moto. Undoubtedly, the encouragement received from the crowd spurred him on to achieve those finishes, which matched a season best.
Well, there you have it. The British GP is in the rear view mirror. Sadly, we now have to wait another year before the world’s best arrive on our doorstep again. If you want a closer look at the EMX classes, make sure you keep an eye on the site in the coming days! So, one round remains, and there isn’t much on the table now that both titles have been locked up. However, there is a possibility that Herlings could return for the final round, and Cairoli has a surprise up his sleeve – so it is worth keeping an eye on the sands of Lierop in less than two weeks time.
Words by Lewis Phillips