Sometimes, change is needed. Thankfully, the Events 22 crew grabbed a hold of the (now defunct) British supercross series, at a time when I believe a change was desperately needed. The all-new “Arenacross UK” series will fire into life this weekend at the 02 Arena, London. To be honest, I do believe that there is a lot more excitement and hype surrounding the series, because Events 22 are now at the helm.
In 2012, I posted an article on whether or not supercross could survive outside of the USA; evidently, it just did not work out in the UK. Perhaps the all-new Arenacross series will work out a little better? Personally, I have never been so excited about the series. If you take one look at the Red Bull Pro Nationals, it is evident that the guys at Events 22 are capable of taking a series to the top of the sport. I think that this is what gives the ‘Arenacross UK’ series some credibility; if it were a new promoter that was coming in maybe we wouldn’t believe in it so much?
Before I get to the Arenacross UK series (which launches this weekend), I think that the main reason the British supercross series struggled was that it was always being compared to the Monster Energy AMA supercross series. Obviously, this was an unfair comparison. The AMA Supercross series is a lot bigger than any other series in the world. Previously, I have heard a lot of fans state that “it is not real supercross” when referring to the now defunct British SX series. In all honesty, it wasn’t. The term ‘Arenacross’ is much more accurate when referring to the series; the tracks are much smaller, and tighter. The label ‘Arenacross UK’ will benefit the series I believe, because that is exactly what it is. Now, fans will not compare it against the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series; that isn’t what the series is trying to be.
The track maps for all four of the Arenacross UK rounds were posted on MX Vice last week; I think that they are all quite impressive. The Dirt Wurx USA crew does not have a lot of room to work with in the tight arenas. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room for them to build a huge triple, or a long rhythm section. But, these types of sections are not what Arenacross is known for. Rich Winkler (of Dirt Wurx USA) has come up with a few different ways to extend the lap times, which includes the track going outside (briefly) at both the 0dyssey Arena, and the O2 Arena.
From the four tracks, the LG Arena (in Birmingham) is the most intriguing to me. The reason that this track interests me is the features like an off-camber corner and a flat sweeper. Although it might not have a massive impact on the racing, it is just something that will make the track different from the others. The 02 Arena does look like it will have a great track to kick off the series, also. The 02 track will have the longest rhythm section of the series, and a reasonably long whoops section as well. The riders will be chucked in at the deep end, with a technical track this weekend.
What about the riders? The interesting thing about the Arenacross UK series is that it is not the riders’ main goal. It is not like the American riders, where they grow up on a supercross style track from the age of ten. Who will be victorious on Saturday night? There is not a way of telling. You cannot really predict the Arenacross UK results by looking at the results from the various British Motocross series. Of course the same riders are going to be fast; but there is always a surprise rider that can elevate their game inside of an arena. In my mind, I believe that one of the French riders has the best shot at success this weekend.
It is always interesting to see riders debut on new machinery, and new teams. Graeme Irwin and Martin Barr will be lining up behind the gate for the first time on their brand new bikes; Irwin on the Heads and All Threads Suzuki, whilst Martin will be on a VMX KTM. What about the younger riders? Ben Watson, Nathan Watson and James Harrison will be lining up in the pro class, also. Steven Clarke and Adam Chatfield are both down on the rider list. Both riders have previous experience in the USA; so they should be a step above the rest of their rivals, already. The series is stacked with talent!
I haven’t been this excited about indoor racing in the UK for quite some time, which I have stated previously. I honestly believe the ‘Arenacross UK’ series will be a great improvement on the now defunct British supercross series. There will be an FMX demo at all four rounds, which will include guys like Andre Torres, Edgar Torronteras and Chris Birch. From what I have heard, it looks like the 02 Arena will be packed this weekend. I do believe that this is a result of how well publicised the series has been.
Roll on Saturday night.
Words by Lewis Phillips