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British Youth and Amateur

RACE REPORT: Acerbis Nationals Round 4 – Haverigg

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The Acerbis Amateur Nationals hit the halfway mark in the 2023 series over the weekend at the sandy Haverigg racetrack in the south of Cumbria, which provided some exciting racing and produced a lot of mixed-up results.

Words: Arran Murphy | Images: Matthew Rudd

It was the Roberts Plant Engineers Vets Over 50 category that were first to tackle the rough circuit and Simon Bonsor carried on his winning ways taking home all five moto wins after having some tough battles all weekend. Fast starting local lad Richard Miller put up a solid fight aboard his Honda but unfortunately couldn’t quite match the speed of the series leader and had to settle for second once again while Ady Bradley took his 250 Suzuki to 5-3-4-3-3 results to give him third overall. Wildcard Geoff Wharton finished fourth and Ewan Johnston took a couple of holeshots on his way to fifth over the weekend.

It was business as usual in the LS2 Helmets Vets Over 40 class as ex GP rider Ryan Voase dominated the weekend and even after a moto 3 crash, the Kawasaki man claimed a full house of race victories. Voase’s weekend was made slightly easier when Paul Johnston went out of the weekend with mechanical issues, gifting the runner up overall to defending series champion Lee Martin. Martin managed to fend off the attentions of Danny Tollett who pushed all the way to the flag but in the end came up just a couple of points short and had to settle for the third step of the rostrum. David Evans and Rick Darlington were a couple of fresh faces in the winners circle claiming fourth and fifth places respectively.

A solid class of Motoverde Ladies pilots made the trip to Haverigg and just like Hawkstone the fight was on between the flying Scot Elaine MacEachern and defending champion Grace Richards. The pair shared the wins and second places on day one but MacEachern got out of the gate better in the third and fourth motos taking both wins leaving her to finish runner up in the final race and take the overall by a mere two points. Richards extended her points lead however due to the solid results and she goes into Farleigh with a solid 76 point advantage. Grace Packman had a consistent weekend and managed to claim third overall while Rebecca Newham and former champion Nadiya Jones finished fourth and fifth over the weekend.

In the Manchester Xtreme Junior Open category Dan Nevitt recovered from a first moto eighth to take two wins and two runner ups which was enough to give him the overall victory. Riley Voase had to stand on the second step of the podium for the first time in 2023 but still managed to claim two race wins on day two which boosted his tally upto second overall. If it wasn’t for a moto 4 eighth for Lewis Griffin he could well have been stood on the top step but unfortunately had to settle for the lower step of the rostrum while Stefan Robson and Ryan Lowes both had great weekends and both ended up in the top five.

In the Moto Connection 125 2 stroke class Dampn Strydom is proving to be the man of the class in 2023 as he took his Husqvarna to four moto wins split with a race four 12th which made the overall a tight affair. Ash Harland claimed the remaining race victory which helped him take the runner up spot overall just a couple of points ahead of fast starting local Cumbrian Ryan Waggott. The Team Hutch rider had three runner up spots but the fourth and sixth places in motos 2 and 3 potentially cost him an overall on home soil. Chris Povey finished the weekend fourth and Harry Barker made his first trip to the winners circle finishing fifth.

Josh Spinks carried on his 100% overall win record as he stood on the top step of the podium of the California MX Dreams Open 2 stroke class but it wasn’t without its issues as a slow dropping gate at the start of moto 3 meant a race of fighting through the pack for an eventual fourth. The super aggressive all action style of Lewis Hall was ultra consistent and took home a bag full of runner up spots for the runner up spot overall while Rory Jones managed to fend off race three winner Jake Preston by just a couple of points for the lower step on the box.

The most wide open class of the year is the Craigs Motorcycles sponsored MX2 class which had the top 3 covered by 7 points coming into the weekend. It was series leader Jake Winnard that came out on top after the five motos with a 3-1-2-2-1 scorecard and extending his points lead in the process. Alfie Calvert is having a sterling year and is always mega consistent and took home another second spot. Round 1 winner Mitchell Meadows took another two race victories at Haverigg boosting him upto third overall just a point behind Calvert and a point ahead of race three winner Lee Sealey.

In the super fast Acerbis MX1 class Will Hughes claimed his first race and overall win of the year after a titanic battle in the final moto where he managed to overhaul former champ James Hutchinson. Hughes tied on points however with the reigning champion Jack Beniston who showed great speed all weekend and dominated when holeshots went his way and claimed a pair of race victories en route to runner up overall. After a couple of crashes in race one James Hutchinson recovered by taking a pair of race wins himself on his way to third overall ahead of a pair of former series winners Andy Wilson and Ed Briscoe.

With the series hotting up and heading into the second half of the series the paddock heads down south and to the legendary Farleigh Castle for the next round on July 15/16.



British MX Nationals

Thank you. It’s been a hell of a ride.

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Since buying back MX Vice in November 2019, it has been challenging. One of those crystal balls would have been handy for navigating some problematic situations. Who would have thought COVID-19 would be a thing?

Those who follow MX Vice know we started from nothing but an idea. A fan who loved the sport created a Facebook page, website, and social media presence that would become disruptive. It has made numerous talented media people who were allowed to run with it for over thirteen years. Being in the UK/Europe has always been difficult; I’ve always believed that if we were a US media company, we would have been embraced and appreciated for our work ethic and the content we produce. We always cast one eye over the US in Europe, and you can’t blame the top European riders for doing the same.

MX Vice has always tried to give people a voice, especially the riders who are not in the limelight and the teams that put so much into the sport. We love people’s passion and sacrifice to improve and challenge themselves. That, for me, was the natural pull, not the money but the passion and sacrifice. We all know we would not be in motocross if it were about the money. I always considered MX Vice the media version of Steve Dixon’s team in MXGP (which I have a huge amount of respect for), where we have always tried to challenge without the factory budgets.

We knew it would be tough this year with so many businesses and brands cutting marketing budgets and reducing costs; this was never going to be good for us. We have just had two incredible months of stats, with January and February bringing in over 1 million people to the website, which is quite bittersweet. As much as the funds are low, so is my energy and health. COVID impacted me more than I could ever envisaged. My health has deteriorated ever since I caught COVID; my immune system is not in a great place, and when I try and work to the standard I set myself, my body breaks on me, and it takes me days to recover. Ed Stratmann has been a revelation since he took the editorial reigns and has pushed MX Vice to new heights, which is incredible given the lack of resources he has had to work with and support from myself. I have been missing from the podcast show to reduce my time, as I am now self-employed and working for two companies to pay the bills.

Every journey ends, and that’s not what we want. Over the past 13 years, we have given it everything, leaving no stone unturned. We’re proud of how we have disrupted, challenged decisions, held organisations accountable, and illuminated incredible stories.

We will have an auction for signed shirts donated by riders, podcast equipment, and memorabilia to pay off the invoices of some contributors. If, however, you want to see MX Vice continue, you can donate here: https://ko-fi.com/mxvice or purchase a shirt or memorabilia. If we meet our target of £25,000, which is currently outstanding to run this year, then Ed and I will continue. However, we fully expect this won’t happen due to the large sum required.

It’s hard out there at the moment. Take care of your health and family, and never lose your passion for the most fantastic sport in the world.

Burf.

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British MX Nationals

All six rounds are to be contested in the UK, with the Netherlands on hold until 2025

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The team behind the NPC have been viewing multiple sites in the UK that will host the 2024 Championship. Much time has been spent analysing sites for the best combination of track layout, public parking, location, access and activation areas. We are excited to show you what we have been working on.

We have received much feedback from people worried about the rising costs in 2024 and how it will affect them and their racing. Living expenses and uncertainty in the motocross industry have increased and further caused caution. We don’t want to put extra pressure on motocross families; we’re trying to do the opposite. With this in mind, and after much deliberation, we will delay our European involvement until 2025 when inflation, living costs and, more importantly, our riders are excited rather than concerned about European expenses.

Although we are disappointed to put this on hold for twelve months after having two outstanding tracks in the Netherlands, it does mean we will double down on our commitment to bring you the best and most challenging tracks in the UK that you can only ride in the NPC. It is a fascinating time for British Motocross, with some absolute gems being found that will help challenge UK motocross riders to race tracks similar in style and toughness to those at a GP race.

Although a wheel has yet to turn in this Championship, we have shown we are willing to listen and change accordingly to ensure we do what is suitable for British motocross. The Championship was launched to help push and elevate British motocross, and since September, when we announced our decision to run, every other organisation and series has stepped up. We are committed to ensuring the foundations are there for the next British World Champion since Jamie Dobb in 2001.

Whether you are a rider at the front looking to gain valuable race craft to take into EMX races next year or looking to improve by riding the best and most challenging tracks in the UK, this series is for you. We’ll also provide a spotlight for you to shine in front of brands, teams and companies around the World.

Our calendar of tracks is starting to take shape, with Oakhanger and Oxford Moto Parc being two of the six already named. We are committed to ensuring every track offers excellent value for our riders and the NPC so we can keep registration and race fees at a minimum whilst providing nearly £100,000 in prize money. The tracks we choose will also offer some of the best racing for spectators at our events and live on the TV. We have tweaked the times and format of the event to provide the optimum environment for great action-packed racing. Forty riders in MX1 and MX2 classes will give everything to provide an exhilarating 20-minute performance.

In year two, we aim to bring a mainstream TV partner to televise the Championship alongside the live stream to increase the exposure to sponsors entering our series further.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and can’t wait to share more information in the new year.

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British MX Nationals

Has British Motocross turned a corner?

Read now.

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British Motocross is a subject I’m very passionate about. It’s the sole reason MX Vice was created back in 2011. At that time there were a few magazines out there, but not many websites. One defining moment for me was seeing Gordon Crockard sit exhausted in a small setup in Denver at the 2010 Motocross of Nations. Ireland had done their usual B final shenanigans, where Crockard finished second to Martin Davalos, Martin Barr third and Stuart Edmonds fifth in a very hot Denver. It took a colossal effort by them, but most notably by Crockard, who was a little older than the young guns of Barr and Edmonds on the team. Watching from afar I could see that Gordon didn’t leave anything on the track on Sunday September 26th, he was spent.


Words: James Burfield | Lead Image: Supplied


I’d never spoken to Gordon before but I felt I needed to go over and speak to him because the amount of respect I had for him that weekend and the Irish team was on another level. The MXDN has a way of bringing out the passion from the fans just as much as the riders and I was totally wrapped up in it as a fan. The best I could offer was ‘that was an amazing effort’ that probably didn’t mean much at the time (Crockard finished 15th overall in MX Open). He smiled, was super polite and talked to me for five minutes before getting changed.

The next day we were in a shopping mall in Denver, I just bought a coffee for myself, my wife and godson, and lo and behold Gordon was sitting down in the mall. He looked up and said “hey how are you?” So I sat down with Gordon, my godson and we spoke about the previous day, what it took for him to achieve what he did that weekend in the heat and altitude of Denver.

When I got back the next few weeks I scoured the internet and magazines and the little that was covered I felt didn’t give the team and Gordon justice. I had been going to the MXDN since 2006 and tried to get to as many GPs as possible from 2006 to 2010, and after buying a bike back in 2005, my bug was firmly back.

Although I have regressed about why I’m passionate about British Motocross I feel like I need to add some context to how I got there. I approached DBR back in 2010 about MX Vice being a possible motocross website to Sean Lawless, as DBR then didn’t do much online. As you would have figured I was turned down, for good reason. I was just a fan, although I had masses of digital knowledge, it didn’t mean anything to the motocross world back then. Whenever I picked up my monthly copies of MotoMag and DBR the stories were tailored around the stars of the sport. I wanted to hear about the journeymen, the riders that work in the week and the epic stories about making it to the line against the best in Britain.

At that time in the UK, Ashley Wilde, Jake Millward, Alan Keet, Adam Sterry, Luke Norris, Lewis Tombs, Josh Waterman, Ross Rutherford, Matthew Moffat, Ross Hill, Rob Davidson, Jordan Divall and Ross Keyworth were among some of the riders that wouldn’t get any coverage. No one was telling their stories or interviewing them. That’s when I knew MX Vice was needed.

For those that have been on this journey with MX Vice you will know the ins and outs of my love affair with British Motocross. So much has happened in those twelve years. I have seen two ACU chairmen come and go, helped form a championship called the MX Nationals, ran two race teams and spent hundreds of thousands on this sport I love. What I have realised in those twelve years is you have to have tough skin, because if you are going to have an opinion that is not shared by people who have a financial interest, then they will go to whatever level they need to go to to protect that interest. So when I started to ask questions that everyone wanted to know the answers to, you were tarnished with being disruptive and toxic.

The UK is a small community of the same people and if you fuck around in their playground you find out, as pressure is applied to business not to work with you. I have been on this constant journey with British motocross, going round in circles.

The opportunity to go to MXGP in 2015 was a breath of fresh air for MX Vice and myself. We felt welcomed and they appreciated the impact we made online and through our social channels, even when our opinion differed we didn’t get alienated, or advertising pulled from us due to pressure.

Weirdly they welcomed the challenge to be better, in fact they were open to hearing if we saw any opportunities to help them improve. This freaked us out for a while and part of us thought, “what’s the catch?” Going to MXGP felt like we moved from primary school to university and skipped secondary with the way people accepted and worked with us. That credit goes down to David Luongo who came in with new ideas and Samanta Gelli who understood our potential from day one.

When you look back to 2008 to 2014 and see the amount of GP riders that were regulars in the British Championship, maybe we were spoiled? Maybe it skewed our vision, but it just wasn’t just us, GP riders and fans were interested in the British scene. What has happened since that time is that the Dutch, German, French, Italian and Spanish championships have evolved, their federations have invested and been very successful with their programs.

Again this has not helped with the perception when looking at British Motocross. Since 2014 I feel there has been glimpses of effort, but in comparison we have become complacent. When you are complacent then other people will see an opportunity, just like MX Vice did with MotoMag and DBR in 2011. Those two juggernauts at the time possibly looked and laughed at the thought of someone like MX Vice passing them.

I want those days back when you were excited to see riders like Arnaud Tonus, Zach Osborne and Christophe Pourcel in MX2 and Matiss Karro, Kevin Strijbos, Shaun Simpson, Stephen Sword, Marc de Reuver in MX1 and you would travel the length of the UK on a Sunday not to miss a round.

Yes we have had COVID, Brexit and now we are in a recession, it’s a difficult time for everyone. The British championship is doing its best given the resources they have along with the MX Nationals. Tracks are charging in the region of £15,000 – £20,000, and gone are the days of volunteer marshalls. The cost to run a national event is around £30,000 to £40,000 per round. Add in to this the industry is spending less on events and marketing to promote their products, services and business, and you can recognise the struggle.

Both championships are run under the ACU, who are the leading federation in the UK, and that won’t possibly change in our lifetime. So as much as people want to moan about what they are not doing, then remember they are not going anywhere either. As the federation for both championships, they are always going to be the target for those people who feel disenfranchised with how the sport is going and it doesn’t help when people perceive other countries are progressing and new organisations like Nora92 are investing back into the sport with an incredible youth program and reduced licence and riding fees.

I believe that the ACU have recognised that things need to change and have understood that the licence fee subscribers are the life force behind their business. The appointment of Tim Lightfoot as chair of the ACU has been a positive one, someone who seems to truly understand that a united British motocross is beneficial to the ACU.

There are some great people within UK motocross who all believe that they know what it needs and when they are not listened to they then decide to adopt the mantra of I’ll just go and do it myself. Tim Lightfoot has the biggest job in motocross right now, and everything to play for.

With the right foresight and understanding what is required from key stakeholders that are jaded he could unite the British motocross scene, skyrocket ACU licences and drive the industry forward. A lot of pressure for one person, but if he can unite the rest of the ACU behind him, then things will change. So a glimmer of hope has happened for the ACU and the national championship, but there will be many who would have heard this all before.

But the hook that got me engaged with British motocross once more was when I heard of the possibility of a new Championship being started for 2024, but with two rounds being run in Europe. As an outsider looking in I would one hundred percent be that guy to say, “Jesus yet another championship” – just what the UK needs. That would have been the general sentiment towards someone starting another championship in the UK. So I needed to know more to understand if this would be a success or not.

Clinton Putnam is the guy who is looking to challenge British motocross to be better, to set a new bar in the hope it will shake it up and take it forward. Clinton was behind the very successful GT Cup and came onboard the MX National series supporting with tracks, infrastructure and vehicles. The same guy who has been behind the explosion of quality new motocross tracks in the UK over the past two years, something that the UK is in dire need of. I spoke to Clinton initially to understand more about the series and what his approach to media would be and see if I could help in any way. His vision is to offer a championship that feels like a GP when you arrive, an emphasis on the pros, along with world class tracks for them to ride on.

A few months ago this was made even more impressive by the fact that Clinton would be running with or without support from the industry, luckily for Clinton there are people, businesses and brands that also share and welcome that vision.

For the past eighteen months I have stayed out of the UK scene thanks to having COVID for five months, which kicked my ass, and then focussing on MXGP to fulfil our contracts. With Arenacross offering £140,000, NPC £98,700, MX Nationals and the British Championship there is finally some good money for pros to earn in 2024 when the economy is struggling! So is this the wind of change that we needed?

Since the new Nora Pro Championship (NPC) was announced it seems to have lifted the industry, federations have upped their game, other championships have got a second wind and the purse strings are a little looser from brands and manufacturers. Who knows where British motocross will be by the end of 2024?

We could be looking back five years from now saying where we would be without Clinton Putnam starting the NPC, and it being a driving force for not only the UK and six rounds in the UK and six rounds in Europe.

One thing is for sure, British motocross is a lot like the political landscape. There is a lot of talk about requiring people to work together, but it will always be difficult when egos and money get in the way of progress. Hawkstone International and VMXDN Foxhills have shown that if the product is what people want then they will support it, the challenge is to offer that level six times a year, not just the once.

Strap in because we have a lot to look forward to over the next thirty six months.

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