The 2023 British Arenacross Championship opened up its second weekend of action last night, with Aberdeen’s P&J Live Arena holding round three on Saturday 28th of January after the opening two rounds in Belfast the previous week.
Words: Ben Rumbold | Lead Image: Arenacross UK
Coming into Aberdeen, British MX1 Motocross Champion Tommy Searle led the series for his new GTCI Revo Kawasaki team by a single point after blitzing night 1 in Belfast. The threat for 2023 from MX2 Champ and new Crendon Fastrack Honda pilot Conrad Mewse was evident after the 450 rookie looked ominously good in winning the second round. With the backup from Josh Gilbert, third in round one after a hectic night, the team championship was being led by the boys in red. Troy Lee Designs GASGAS rider Jack Brunell had shown his indoor pedigree with a fine third in round two after checking out of hospital from a massive crash in the opening heat of the series. The word on the Aberdeen layout was that it would favour those with more Arenacross experience. Time would tell!
Mewse and the Mark McCann 64 YouTube Channel teamster Elliott Banks-Browne were the fastest in qualification, and Conrad used the inside gate to good effect to take the holeshot in the opening AX Pro Sprint Heat. He was initially hallenged by Tommy’s teammate Mel Pocock, although Brunell tripled into the first rhythm section to quickly take 2nd. Banks-Browne then block-passed Pocock for 3rd as Brunell blasted past Mewse to take the lead through the whoops! Maybe this was gonna be the night for the seasoned AX boys!
Jack nearly lost the lead by sliding sideways in the loose dirt, but held on for the win by 2.5 seconds from Mewse. Apico Husqvarna’s Martin Barr challenged for 3rd but EBB hung on. Pocock did slip round onto the deck and ended up in 9th!
The 6-10 year-old AX E5 Electric Bike Riders took to the track next and put on a rousing show. There is a different line-up at each weekend for these kids, with the best qualifying for the Wembley finale to decide the championship. Roy Townley Jr from Bradford got the holeshot but slipped off in a corner, gifting Seth Golding the early lead. He got block-passed for the win by Towcester’s Seb Chartell, and he leads the overall standings from Golding and Mason Staddon going into the second night!
Searle back on form
Scotland’s best Motocross rider in recent times, Shaun Simpson, had gone through a peculiar route to the starting gate. Having been given special access to the track at 6am to get some track time in prior to attending a family wedding in Fife (90 miles away!), Shaun then returned for Pro Heat 2 on his Gabriel SS24 KTM. Searle took the holeshot from his more favourable gate position with the Mark McCann Husky of Joe Clayton giving chase. Gilbert held a solid 3rd until the Darjen 250 Kawasaki of Matt Bayliss eased past through the whoops. Simpson held 5th.despite lining up on the far outside of the gate.
Clayton began closing in on Searle towards the end, tripling a couple of sections and showing real speed through the whoops! Joe’s front wheel hit Tommy’s back one in the penultimate corner, but the Kawasaki man held on to win by four tenths! Bayliss took 3rd with his brother Chris back in 6th behind Gilbert and Simpson.
The AX Supermini Class lined up next for their second race of the day, and despite only gating in 4th, it was the dominant series leader Isaac Ash, from Exeter, that picked his way through for another fine win. Finley Pickering holeshot but crashed to the back at the end of lap one. Northern Irish kid Lewis Spratt was just a second and a quarter back in 2nd at the flag, ahead of Harry Lee from Hurstpierpoint near Brighton. They finished in that order overall as well.
In the same race but scored separately, the #199 of Olivia Reynolds battled with Archie Edwards for the Small-Wheel class win. The 12-year-old Archie took the race win with a great manoeuvre in the closing laps, although Olivia made a fine speech post-race to encourage girls to get on some bikes as “we beat the boys!”.
More junior warriors followed with the AX65 class. As in Belfast, proceedings were dominated by 10-year-old Casey Lister from Telford. Jamie Currie took the initial holeshot after missing Belfast, whilst Lister and John Slade battled over 2nd. After 4 laps, Currie ran wide and Lister blasted up the inside to run away with a 3.5 second win at the flag!
Nailing the rhythms
After the interval, the Pros were back on track, and by this time Mewse was starting to put the track together after pulling another holeshot from Brunell and Barr. The Honda man was nailing the triples in the rhythm sections and pulled away to a 4-second win over Brunell. FUS Husqvarna’s Adam Chatfield gave chase after passing Banks-Browne, then pulled a smart move on Barr to take 3rd. Sadly Martin fell and lost a qualifying spot amongst the hectic scrapping in the mid-pack!
In the Pro-Am final, Sion Talbot led a Welsh 1-2 charge into the first corner with Josh Greedy behind. As in Belfast, Kyle Lane started poorly but moved forward, although this time he went down at the end of the rhythm lane! 42-year-old Steve Bixby was well up the order, but went down big-time and was briefly unconscious, so the red flag brought an end to proceedings. Bixby did walk away after a slightly groggy interview with stadium announcer Matt Crowhurst, and Talbot took the win from Greedy and 19-year-old Tobias Summat.
In Pro Heat 4, Searle holeshot again and looked pretty unstoppable now that he too was nailing the main sections. Joe Clayton was in hot pursuit but finished 3.5 seconds down in 2nd place, ahead of a great charge from Simpson who had pulled a fine block-pass on Matt Bayliss for 3rd! Gilbert was 4th but Chris Bayliss went down awkwardly and has confirmed that he dislocated his knee. After being a brilliant guest on our Great British Podcast, all at MX Vice wish him a speedy recovery.
Simpson took a chance to be interviewed on the podium in front of his home crowd after a fine 3rd place!
The AX Futures Final lined-up next, and 15-year-old Irishman Jake Farrelly holeshot from Belfast winner Joel Fisher, although Fisher took the lead through the first rhythm lane and built a decent lead. 20-year-old Charley Irwin started hunting down Fisher as the leader hit traffic. As they got right amongst the lapped riders Irwin pounced for the lead and took it with two laps to go! Farrelly stayed solid for a good 3rd overall.
Head to head
Somehow the larger circuit led to a less hectic batch of Head-to-Head races than what we saw in Belfast. Gabriel SS24 KTM’s Ben Clayton clearly got the start ahead of AJP Geartec Husqvarna’s Jayden Ashwell in the opener and held off any advances. Chatfield and Pocock started and went through the whoops absolutely together but Chatfield held the inside and had enough pace to see off Mel and progress.
In an all-Ulster clash, Barr holeshot against James Mackrel on the All Moto Yamaha powered by Start Solar. Mackrel challenged through the rhythm section, then Barr stalled on the tight 180 left-hander towards the end of the lap, leaving Mackrel with an easy win. His teammate Jason Meara had a tougher job with AJP Geartec’s Luke Burton, who holeshot and held on with some brilliant tactical riding.
In the H2H Semis, Chatfield was a clear winner over Ben Clayton with just too much pace for the youngest rider in the field. Then Burton carved across Mackrel into the first corner, and although the Belfast boy kept the pace he couldn’t make the move.
Burton had won the H2H Final in Belfast, and somehow Chatfield didn’t look ready to go off the start with his hands just taking the clutch in as the gate dropped! Burton got away in front but Chatfield worked the track well and got past on pure pace through the whoops to progress to the main!
In the Pro LCQ for all those remaining, Meara holeshot from Barr and Pocock. Barr banged wheels with Meara but couldn’t get through, and Pocock passed Barr through the whoops for 2nd on the last lap! Mel made a last ditch charge on Meara and just came up short, although he launched over the finish line double and landed on the tuff blocks, going down hard after the finish! He did get up but was definitely feeling second-hand.
Jayden Ashwell must have some sort of Zimbabwean online campaign going on, as for the second time this series he got the People’s Choice vote to also make the main, although he was decidedly on the second row as they lined up.
In the Pro Final, Mewse lined-up on the inside even though Searle had first pick, as Tommy went for the second gate out. It worked, as Tommy led from Brunell and Mewse through the first whoops section. Gilbert & Banks-Browne were banging bars again, with Elliott soon up into 4th. Joe Clayton also passed Gilbert, and Simpson also joined the charge past the #3 Honda.
After ten laps Mewse started to attack Brunell, who was still feeling the effects from his rough opening night in Belfast. Mewse delivered a sweet block pass before the whoop section to take 2nd, but Searle was untouchable out front and won by just under 3 seconds. Mewse’s 2nd keeps the title race close, with a relieved Brunell 3rd ahead of Joe Clayton and Banks-Browne. The GASGAS man is closing in on Gilbert who dropped to 7th in the race behind Simpson.
Can Mewse repeat his Belfast trick of gaining revenge on the second night? It all runs three hours earlier this afternoon, from 4:30pm UK time, all free to access on the YouTube Livestream if you can’t make it to Aberdeen in person!
Arenacross British Pro Championship after 3 rounds:
- Tommy Searle, GTCi Revo Kawasaki, 46 points.
- Conrad Mewse, Crendon Fastrack Honda Racing, 42 points.
- Josh Gilbert, Crendon Fastrack Honda Racing, 27 points.
- Jack Brunell, Troy Lee Designs GASGAS, 23 points.
- Adam Chatfield, FUS Geartec Husqvarna, 23 points.
- Elliott Banks-Browne, Mark McCann 64 YouTube Channel, 19 points.
- Matt Bayliss, Darjen Kawasaki, 18 points.
- Joe Clayton, Mark McCann 64 YouTube Channel 17 points.
- Jason Meara, All Moto Yamaha powered by Start Solar, 10 points.
- Martin Barr, Apico Factory Racing, 10 points.
Arenacross British Teams Championship after 3 rounds:
- Crendon Fastrack Honda Racing, 69 points.
- GTCi Revo Kawasaki, 55 points.
- Mark McCann 64 YouTube Channel, 36 points.
- Darjen Kawasaki, 23 points.
- FUS Geartec Husqvarna, 23 points.
- All Moto Yamaha powered by Start Solar, 16 points.
- AJP Geartec Racing Team, 12 points.
- Apico Factory Racing, 10 points.
- Tru7 Honda, 9 points.
- Gabriel KTM, 8 points.