It is at this point in the season that the Maxxis British Championship turns a corner; all of the riders and teams will enter the second-half of the series on Sunday, as the fifth round will be held at the historic track of Foxhill this weekend. Hopefully round five will be basked in some sunshine; at this rate 2013 will be remembered as the year of the rain!
Fortunately for us fans, there is plenty for us to look forward to on Sunday. Undoubtedly the hard-pack track of Foxhill will serve up some superb on-track action. It will definitely be a bit of a challenge for even the best riders; the steep landscape is quite unique in comparison, as no other track is like it on the schedule. It is old-school [the track], which is quite different to what the riders usually tackle. In the dry (it does look like it is going to be dry; if the weather forecast is to be believed, that is) the circuit is really fast, which has been a complaint of the riders in the past.
Undoubtedly, Elliott Banks Browne has been on another level in the MX2 class so far; he has not really faltered at all this year, hence why he has such a commanding lead after just three rounds. Currently, forty-points separate him from second place – Steven Lenoir – at the head of the field; this is impressive at this point in the series. Honestly, I am surprised that his lead is this large; EBB has not set the world alight overseas so far this year. Following Milton Park, the HM Plant KTM UK rider was disappointed that he did not win all three motos (instead he won two of three).
I believe that we will see Elliott Banks Browne quite determined to prove just how dominant he is this weekend; it seems he wants to runaway with every moto on his way to the overall. EBB was very strong when the series last visited Foxhill, so bear that in mind as well. So what do all these factors indicate? In my opinion, the reigning champion is going to be quite tough to beat this weekend. However, he will face stiff competition from a few wildcards.
It was only a matter of time before Dean Ferris contested a round of the Maxxis British Championship; he will do just that on Sunday, interestingly. The MX2 class will really have an international feel this weekend, with many nationalities represented. In my opinion, Ferris has to be the favourite for the victory. Why? Well, in the FIM Motocross World Championship he has proven to be much stronger than EBB; you would think that this sort of pattern will continue this weekend. However, Elliott always seems to elevate his intensity level when he returns to the UK. So, Ferris may have a tough challenge if he wants to garner three moto wins.
Harri Kullas (Gariboldi Honda) will be making a rare appearance in the UK on Sunday; he has not had the greatest start to his World Championship campaign, he will be attempting to get his season on-track and gain some momentum at Foxhill. Of course the hard-pack circuit will be great practice for the GP at Ernee (that will take place one week later), which is surely the main reason why he has decided to take part this weekend. Can he win? I do actually believe that Kullas has a lot of potential. But he is coming off of a rough couple of weeks and reports do suggest that his bike is not the greatest. The Finn has nothing to lose; it will be interesting to see if he is willing to lay it all on the line in an effort to go after a win.
I actually think that Steven Clarke has a better shot at beating Banks Browne this weekend; I was really impressed with his performance at Milton Park. Now he has had more time to get accustomed to the bike and team, he will surely be stronger. Steven will enter the track with a bit of momentum, as he claimed his first overall podium of his career at Milton Park. Intriguingly when he left Milton Park, he wanted more. I think that he proved to himself that he has the speed to contend, which could make him dangerous in the coming rounds.
Of course the regular contenders will be battling it out at the head of the field also; I believe that Steven Lenoir will be very strong this weekend. The Frenchman does seem to be picking up momentum every time he is out on-track. Steven is coming off of his first moto win in the series also, which will give him a lot more confidence this weekend. Neville Bradshaw, Bryan Mackenzie and Graeme Irwin will all be strong. However, they seem to just be lacking a little bit in comparison to the winners.
In the MX1 class, Tanel Leok (the series leader) is surely going into the round as the favourite for the victory. Although Tanel has three race wins to his name, and three runner-up finishes also, he has not claimed an overall victory as of yet. So, the Estonian will surely be looking to get that monkey off of his back this weekend. For all of the riders that will be heading to the French GP one week later (such as Tanel) this race will provide great insight into bike setup.
Intriguingly, there will be a wildcard rider in this class also; Adam Chatfield will be over here on a one-race deal with the Buildbase Honda squad. Obviously this is to fill the spot vacated by Steve Ramon. Although it is a big loss to the series that Steve will no longer be on-track, I definitely saw this kind of decision coming. Evidently the year has not gone to plan. Anyway, I digress; Chatfield should be good this weekend. In my opinion, he will be filling the spots in between fifth and tenth; I don’t think that he has a shot at getting on the podium, honestly.
In my opinion Kristian Whatley could be one to watch this weekend. The MBO Sport Yamaha rider is constantly picking up momentum at the moment, which will culminate in a victory in the Maxxis British Championship (eventually) I do believe. Whatley is currently second in the series, and has been on the podium most times. So would it really be surprising if he were to steal a moto victory this weekend? Whatever happens I do believe that he will definitely end up on the overall podium somewhere; he is that good this year.
I believe that this could be the weekend that Brad Anderson has an impact on the race at the head of the field. It is no secret that Ando has struggled massively this year; he is still fighting his bike set-up, which is really surprising at this point in the series. However he seemed to be a little more comfortable at the Red Bull Pro Nationals at Weston Super-Mare; this indicates to me that he will be slightly stronger on Sunday. I don’t think that he will be in a position to fight for a win, but he should feature up front a little more.
Obviously the usual suspects will be in a position to fight for podiums also; Nicolas Aubin will be strong at Foxhill, I think. I do believe that all of the French riders will be strong on Sunday, as the circuit is very similar to what they ride on at home. Jonathan Barragan will be good as well; he should have some momentum on his side after winning the overall at Milton Park. I am intrigued to see how Shane Carless performs as well, as the last few weeks have been successful for him. It will be interesting to see if he can keep that momentum rolling.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Kev Reid