Squeezed into a string of world championship rounds, the seventh round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship is a brief stop-off at home for HM Plant KTM UK’s riders and staff alike; there is no rest for the wicked or the busy though, as Hawkstone Park is known to be a tough circuit for even the most skilled at the best of times.
With summer sun peeking through the clouds, MX2 qualifying gets under way on time. The session is red-flagged halfway through; much to the team’s consternation it is team rider James Dunn who has gone down hard during a fast lap. He is taken to hospital with a broken ankle and a suspected collarbone fracture. After the session is resumed, team rider Nathan Watson puts in the third fastest time, followed by team mate Elliott Banks-Browne in eighth. Little brother Ben and team-mate Steven Clarke miss out on the super-pole in thirteenth and fourteenth respectively. Elliott uses the super-pole to improve his position to fourth, while Nathan remains third.
In his first race, Nathan struggles to get off the chocks quickly, but he soon recovers to second, where he chases after race leader and fellow KTM rider Steven Lenoir. Time runs out though and he goes across the finish line but yards behind Lenoir. In the second race, everything goes just right and Nathan soon seizes the lead from race leader Bryan Mackenzie and thirteen minutes later takes his maiden MX2 win. He then repeats the performance in the third race and much to the team’s delight, takes the day MX2 overall win too.
Elliott puts in a good solid first race, starting in fifth and completing the KTM trio at the top, but in race two, things go wrong for the reigning champion. Downed on the start and with a humming head, Elliott fights his way back from the back of the pack to twelfth, scuppering his chances at a podium. His third race ends where it starts, in fourth, for a fourth overall on the day.
Steven’s first race soon sees him within reach of a top five position; two small mistakes drop him back to thirteenth at the finish line though. Race two is again much improved. Off the start like a flash, he soon joins the front of the pack and finishes in fourth as part of a KTM train that stretches from third to sixth. The final MX2 race looks to be another repeat of the second, but a puncture whilst in fifth first relegates him to seventeenth, then to twenty-first for a fifteenth place on the day.
Ben’s first race starts with a jammed gear lever. Dead last across the finish line in the first lap, he is back in sixteenth with five minutes and two laps remaining. Unable to make much progress beyond that, he settles into the position to the end. In the second race, confidence is restored with a great ride in tenth after a start three places down. Again, that’s as good as it’ll get for him with ninth just out of reach by a few seconds at the chequered flag. The final race sees Ben take a small detour through twelfth and thirteenth before returning to eleventh at the finish for a fourteenth overall on the day.
With an eight-week break to the final round at Farleigh Castle, the team now packs its bags for a trip to Bastogne in the heart of Wallonia for the next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship this coming weekend.
Elliott Banks-Browne MX2 #1
“Really really tough day today. I just haven’t felt good all day. In the first race I got a nice start, finished third, but was riding badly. Second race, crashed on the start with Neville and a few others. I hit my head really hard, started to come through really good in the beginning, but at the end I just couldn’t see straight, I was just so dizzy. In the third race I was really up for it, we’d changed the shock and it felt a lot better. I felt a lot more comfortable on the bike, but when I was out there, I just couldn’t see properly. My head felt like it’s in a vice, and I couldn’t concentrate properly. But I still have a good lead coming into the last round.”
Nathan Watson MX2 #991
“Today was amazing. I qualified third, in the first race had a bad start, came from about twelfth to second. I was right on Steven in the last lap so I knew I had the speed and it gave me some confidence. In the second race I got a good start, went through the pack and won it, my first ever win, so it’s amazing. Then I did the same in the third one and got the overall, so yeah, just amazing.”
Steven Clarke MX2 #511
“Qualifying was a bit rough, they red-flagged it halfway through for my team-mate and I didn’t get a good rhythm going again after that. In race one I had a pathetic start, came through quite strong but had some suspension difficulties, was fighting the bike too much and got arm pump. The second and third races were great. In the second I worked my way up to fourth, and in the last I was again up to fourth and crashed, got going again and caught up to Elliott. Then I got a flat tyre and that ended my day.”
Ben Watson MX2 #919
“Qualifying I did pretty well, I was in eleventh and then I had a mechanical problem and couldn’t go back out and slowly dropped to thirteenth, just out of super-pole. In the first race got a pretty bad start, hit my gear lever on a post and had to unjam it, but I pulled through to sixteenth. In the second race I had a much better start, slowly came through and ended up tenth, the best all day. In the last race I had a mid-pack start, plodded along and finished eleventh, so that was a good day.”
Roger Magee: HM Plant KTM UK Team Manager
“It’s another milestone for the team, bringing another young rider through, Nathan Watson, congratulations to him for two firsts and a second today. We go away from this round still with the red plate, a thirty-point lead and we look forward to the last round at Farleigh Castle. All the riders did well today; Steven Clarke had a good ride in the second race, Ben Watson, Nathan’s younger brother, is punching away in the top ten, so overall good day for the team. The only sore point today was the injury to James Dunn, which looks to be a broken ankle and collarbone. I wish him all the best for the future, but unfortunately for him, this season is over.”