We all knew that the inaugural Arenacross UK series would be an improvement on the now defunct British SX series. But, I was still pleasantly surprised by how good the Arenacross UK series was. I have not yet heard anything negative about the programme that the Events 22 crew put together, which can only be a good thing.
I do think that Adam Chatfield was overlooked by most prior to the opening round at the 02 Arena. However, it is quite obvious why he was so dominant over the course of the series; it should not really have been that surprising. In recent years, Adam has had a lot of experience racing supercross all over the world, namely in the USA. Undoubtedly, Chatfield learnt a lot in that time, and that knowledge could be transferred to the Arenacross UK series. With two wins from four rounds, there is no doubt that he was the class of the field aboard the Buildbase Honda.
It was an interesting idea to mix the SX1, and SX2 classes together; ultimately it was an idea that made the show better, I do believe. It [the decision] generated some interesting racing, as neither champ from the previous year (Tom Church, and Neville Bradshaw) were capable of staying consistent through all four rounds. It is no secret that the depth of the field in the UK is not as deep as other places (Germany, the USA etc.); therefore the decision does limit the amount of runaway victories we see throughout the year, evidently. Despite having the choice of riding a 450f, or a 250f most of the riders did select the latter, interestingly. It does seem that the popular option for most was the 250f, as it is easier to negotiate the tight turns on the smaller bike.
Although he is somewhat of a supercross specialist, I was surprised at just how competitive Jack Brunell was aboard his Maxxis Kawasaki by LPE. It seemed to take him a round or two, to get comfortable on the bike; a ninth at round one serves as evidence of this. Brunell did seem to find his stride at round two, with a second; he then took that momentum forward to the LG Arena, where he ended the win streak of Chatfield at two. If he could of posted a podium finish at round one (something that he was seemingly capable of), maybe the fight for the title would have turned out differently? In a four-round series, every lap counts.
The same applies to Neville Bradshaw, and his season. Neville came in as the defending SX2 champion on his Putoline Honda; evidently he had the skill level to match eventual champ, Adam Chatfield. However, a torrid time at the third round (the LG Arena) meant that it was difficult for him to challenge for the title at the final round. But still, he managed to collect his sole victory throughout the four rounds in Liverpool. Bradshaw was able to clinch second in the title fight, as he just edged out Brunell at the final round (Jack struggled to sixth) to take the position by four measly points.
If the series schedule had panned out differently, perhaps we would be talking about some other riders making a push for the title? The first round (at the O2 Arena) clashed with the final round of the German Supercross series. Therefore, a lot of the top French riders (who are contractually obligated to compete over in Germany) had to skip round one. The riders in question, Mickael Musquin, Cyrille Coulon and Charles LeFrancois are capable of posting great results on the tight arena floors. But, despite this even when they did compete, they were not running the same pace of the leaders, to the surprise of most. Cyrille did jump up onto the podium at the LG Arena, and again at the Echo Arena but still I had expected him to fight for victories. Coulon was the top Frenchman, as he finished fifth in the series standings.
The lure of the Arenacross UK series is not just to see the top professional riders battle it out; you also get to witness the stars of the future in action. James Harrison (the Rookies), Mitchell Lewis (85cc BW), Dylan Woodcock (85cc SW) and Rossi Beards (65cc) clinched the respective youth titles. All four were quite dominant, also; it has to be said.
Overall, the Events 22 crew did a very good job. Perhaps indoor racing has a future in the UK, after all? Undoubtedly most fans left the four rounds happy, which is great for the future of the series. Roll on next year; the Arenacross UK series will only get better!
Words by Lewis Phillips
Picture by Kev Reid