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Point of Debate: The Graduates

When a rider prepares to make the crucial move up to the MX1 class, they are usually confident that great results are on the other side. It seems that every rider says, “the 450 suits me better” at some point. You never know whether that is true or not until the season unfolds, but we now have the results in order to determine whether the step up was positive for the riders that ended the Maxxis British Championship inside of the top ten.

Graeme Irwin: Graeme Irwin had competed in the MX1 class before this year, so there was not as much hype surrounding him as the season, which marked his full-time return to the class after two seasons in MX2, begun. Seeing as he has previous experience on the big bike, his prowess on it couldn’t be called into question, so it wasn’t too surprising to see him nab pole position at the first Maxxis British Championship round and establish himself as one of the strongest in the class.

Unfortunately various niggling injuries derailed his campaign somewhat as the season progressed, but he regularly displayed that raw speed and talent that will surely make him a title contender in the future. First he needs to harness it and turn it into regular victories and podiums though, which he has struggled to do at times this year. It is actually quite surprising that he only one won moto in both our premier domestic series and the MX Nationals, but he did tie (with Brad Anderson and Nathan Watson) for the fourth most moto podiums in the Maxxis British Championship, which indicates why he ended up in that position in that series.

Nathan Watson: Moving up to MX1 at this early stage of his career could have been looked at as a risk, but Nathan Watson thrived aboard his Dantec Husqvarna UK, especially in the MX Nationals. His tall stature is suited to the bigger bike and he rides it better, according to most, hence why he elected to step up. The Maxxis British Championship was a little rockier for him; although he did capture a moto win back at the second round. Unsurprisingly his best results came at the sandier tracks, but that is not to say he was incompetent on hard-pack – he was strong throughout. Starts were undoubtedly his kryptonite, but he overcame them in the MX Nationals.

The poise, speed and consistency he showed whilst challenging for the MX Nationals title was quite impressive. He really was dominant – just look at the stats! Unfortunately we won’t see him in Britain full-time next year, as he will be competing in a majority of the MXGP rounds with Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna. Clearly he is going from strength to strength on the 450F!

Elliott Banks-Browne: Elliot Banks-Browne undoubtedly would have hoped that his maiden MX1 season would have gone better than it did, but injuries are unavoidable at times (especially in this case, where his crash really wasn’t his fault at all). He was forced to bow out with a shoulder issue at round two of the MX Nationals and then spent the next couple of months trying to get back to where he was pre-season, which caused a few people to forget about him and what he is capable of.

Fortunately he returned to the top step at the Maxxis British Championship finale, which will ensure that he is at the forefront of our minds heading into the new season. No one can dispute whether he can contend on the 450F now! Most forget that EBB had a good string of results before his injury at the start of the year and actually looked set to win the moto that he crashed out of at FatCat. Fingers crossed the injury bug doesn’t strike again in ’15.

Jake Nicholls: Although Jake Nicholls missed the second half of this year with injury; the time that he spent on-track was undoubtedly a success, which isn’t surprising in the slightest. In the eleven Maxxis British Championship motos that he contested, he missed the podium just twice; he had three moto wins by that point too. Had he not got injured, the MX1 title fight wouldn’t have been as dull, as he would have been able to push Shaun Simpson to the very end – there was nothing separating them early on.

Of course Jake was also contesting the MXGP series this year, unlike the rest of the riders featured in this column, and he was starting to impress there too. Although a niggling back injury hindered him at the first couple of rounds, he started to post consistent top ten finishes by the time that the series reached Great Britain. So, don’t forget about Jake heading into next year; he may be even better.

Priit Rätsep: There are not many people that realise this was the first time that Priit Rätsep has tackled a full MX1 season, so perhaps the expectations that some had were unrealistic? At times Priit was strong, but at other points he really struggled and only acquired a handful of points. Obviously sand is his forte so he thrived at those races, taking fourth places at both FatCat and Lyng, but races like Foxhill and Landrake were not too good. It is extremely unlikely that he will return to Britain in ’15.

Words: Lewis Phillips

Image: Elliot Spencer

MX Vice Editor || 25

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