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British Youth and Amateur

Weston Beach Race: Report

Insight from Weston-super-Mare.

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After the weeks of excitement leading up to the HydroGarden Weston-super-Mare beach race, it is safe to say this weekend’s racing did not disappoint! With over 1000 riders lining up at Sunday’s gates ready to run to grab their bikes and make a dash down the straight that covered a little more than two kilometres, it was something special for the crowds to see!

Weston regular and two-time winner Todd Kellett took to the start line as well as Billy Bolt, Mel Pocock, Josh Gilbert, Ashley Greedy and David Knight MBE. Knight competed in both the solo race on Sunday and Saturday’s quad race. Kellett ended up doing the hat-trick, as took his third win in a row. Ashley Greedy and Billy Bolt followed him across the line.

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Amongst these riders were the British young guns who faced challenges of their own; Josh Waterman, Jamie Wainwright, Jake Edey, Oliver Benton and Weston debutant Luke Smith (who finished in a respectable seventeenth) were on the line. MX Vice caught up with Wainwright over the weekend. “What a great weekend finishing inside the top ten,” he said. I’ve done a lot of preparation for this race and it felt good to finish where I did considering the strong line-up. My start was good, getting to the gates first and getting over the first sand dune to head down the straight in sixth. I made that my first clean lap.

My second lap wasn’t so good, after making a few mistakes and having to get some new goggles which put me outside the top tenI soon got my head down and pushed all the way through with no more problems, to finish the race in ninth! The bike never missed a beat so a massive thank you to all the pit crew and the people who helped me,” Wainwright concluded.

We then caught up an AMCA rider, Max Lukes, who unfortunately had a rocky start to Sunday’s events! “I came into the beach race injured, but I knew I could still make a great result. I had a great start running in the top one hundred before getting knocked off and damaging my hand,” he said. “After that I was one loop away from finishing the first lap and my bike cut out! I had to run with it all the way back to the pits down at the other end. After asking everyone for some jump leads to start the bike, luckily Verde KTM had a spare battery that they leant me. It enabled me to finish six laps.

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Moving onto the kid’s races on the Sunday morning, we had a chat with Charlie Hucklebridge. Hucklebridge’s father, Mark, managed to win the Weston-super-Mare beach race in the past, so he was raring to get stuck in. “I was really excited to do well as my Dad won it twenty years ago and it was his fortieth birthday on the Monday, so I wanted to do great,” he said. Unfortunately I got stuck on one of the dunes for around twenty minutes, but once I got going again and put my head down I finished twenty-second. I want to thank Tim Chambers for my bike, Michael Woodsworth from TM UK for being my mechanic as well as the rest of my sponsors.”

Moving onto the next weekend of beach racing, we have Skegness Beach Race taking place on the November 10 and 11. See you there!

Words: Sophie Mcginn | Lead Image: MKS Images

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?

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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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