The Maxxis Kawasaki by LPE team has had a turbulent season thus far, as they haven’t come close to exceeding the expectations that they outlined pre-season. Presumably, this played a role in their decision to pull the plug at the end of this year. It was revealed earlier this week that this season would be the last for the LPE squad, as Steve James (the team manager) has decided to walk away after five years in the sport.
Steve James has desperately been attempting to garner a British Championship title with the team for a few years now, as a handful of top riders have been a part of the squad. However when it was announced that Brad Anderson would be jumping aboard a Kawasaki this year, I thought that the dream might finally become a reality for them. But the pairing has not gone well so far, as Brad hasn’t finished on the moto podium once in the Maxxis British Championship, which is extremely surprising.
Why is this? Well it is no secret that the team have really struggled with setup on their bikes, which seems slightly strange from my viewpoint. The 2013 Kawasaki 450f has received quite a lot of positive press, because it is widely considered to be a great machine – just look at all of the success it has achieved worldwide. The Maxxis Kawasaki by LPE squad obviously is not a factory effort, which may hinder them. But, they have a lot of support from Pro Circuit USA and Kawasaki UK. Despite this, both Brad Anderson and Dorren Coutts have struggled so far.
Obviously, the fact that the Maxxis Kawasaki by LPE squad is leaving the sport is a big loss to British Motocross. LPE Kawasaki is one of the teams in the pits that has a professional setup, as most of the others work out of a smaller van – whereas LPE has a big rig, which resembles the teams in the MXGP series. It is vital to have the pits full of squads like this, at the Maxxis British Championship, as it makes the sport (and the series) seem a lot more professional to outsiders and mainstream sponsors. It will be interesting to see what team gets the support from Kawasaki UK that LPE possess at the moment, as another team will receive a big boost.
So, why are they leaving? Usually things like this boil down to money, and support. However, the situation that Steve James is in is quite unique, as he simply does not want to run a team on this level anymore. Sure there is the possibility that he could support a rider with a bike in the future, but aside from that, he doesn’t want to pay riders out of his own pocket. It is very tough on a team manager also, in regard to travel and time – it is understandable that Steve wants a break from it all, and to return to a ‘normal life’.
Obviously this means that there will be less rides in the Maxxis British Championship for next year, which will make things tough on the riders. I am sure that both Dorren Coutts and Brad Anderson will be out scouring through the pits looking for a ride; although neither of the two should have an issue, as they are well-established names that can garner good results. But of course the rides that they take will knock someone else out into the streets; I cannot see any teams expanding the number of riders that they are going to take racing.
So with another team set to depart from the Maxxis British Championship pits, should we be worried? I do think so, as Steve James was an enthusiast with a well-supported team. But he clearly couldn’t see a reason to continue taking LPE Kawasaki racing, so why would others? It is clear that a lot has to be done to make it beneficial for teams to enter the series, but there are a number of solutions. I think that a better TV deal is one crucial factor, as that makes for a more enticing offer for potential sponsors, who ultimately keep us racing. However, that is another topic for another time.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Dave Rich