Some riders have been running through the rain in Northern Ireland, others have been lapping up the sun in SoCal but all are aiming for the same end result – glory!
Well it’s official – the 2011 motocross season will be well and truly started by the time you have your mitts on this latest Dirt Bike Rider extravaganza. Let’s hope all those weeks pumping iron in the gym, running through the freezing cold wind and rain, clocking up mile after mile for your endurance training – and all so you don’t get your butt kicked on a Saturday afternoon – pay off!
Just when you thought you were having it bad, take a moment to consider the misfortunes of the AJ Elite Bathroom Team having to tear themselves away from our adorable climate to tough it out training in California. Life’s hard! Apart from riding most days in motocross paradise, the enthusiastic Paddys pretty much got to meet every rider on the AMA SX tour and there’s even a rumour that a certain Jonny O’Brien blagged a ride on a factory rider’s bike at one of the practice tracks.
Alas, rubbing shoulders with the stars is a world away for me but I got a bit of satisfaction from what Davy Gorman told me a few days after his return. “What a shock to the system to be back riding at home in the s**t, then spending three hours washing your bike – we never needed to powerwash a bike in the entire two weeks in SoCal.” Welcome home boys!
Donemana plays host to the traditional March Hare Motocross which is just about the toughest circuit in the country. A win at the season opener can be good for your confidence but as we have seen so many times it counts for very little come the Ulster championship opener on March 26 at Downpatrick.
Many will remember the disaster that was witnessed at Downpatrick last season – it was a clutch massacre with most Grade C riders resigned to spectator mode as our top riders struggled with the horrendous conditions due to the rain. The word is that the track owners have invested a lot of time and money upgrading their venue, introducing rhythm sections in a bid to serve up a strong first event of the new season – weather permitting this could be a fantastic start to the year.
Forget about the Yanks and their AMA SX series – it’s all up for grabs on the Emerald Isle with new bikes, new teams and a whole lot of attitude about to be let loose on motocross tracks all over the island in 2011. I for one am busting to see McC re-enter the fray aboard an AJ Elite KTM 450. Big Phil has been pounding out the laps and is ready to take on all-comers although he keeps saying he is riding for fun. Yeah, right!
Defending champion Robert Hamilton on his G&G Ross Yamaha is going to have to work a lot harder this season if he’s to retain his MX1 and MX2 crowns. Not taking anything away from Hammy, he won last season’s titles by riding consistent and taking points while his main competition were sidelined with injury.
Multi Ulster and Irish champion Wayne Garrett has just returned from his Spanish training camp and is hot to trot aboard his TSR KTM. Wayne will ride under the Rock Star KTM awning in the British domestic series under the watchful eye of Darren Wilson. Wayne is determined to put his career back on track following an injury-plagued 2010 season, as is Watt/GOMX KTM runner Richard Bird who has moved his focus to the MX1 series aboard the 350 Katoom.
TM-mounted Stuart Edmonds will ride when his commitments in the UK allow but it will be down to the efforts of Team VMX KTM to uphold up the honour of the Southern Centre. Team Owner Graeme Vigors has recruited the talents of Ross Brown to partner ex-youth champion Michael McMahon.
GC has combined running his successful Spanish training schools with preparations for another season in British MX1 and he managed to fit in the final two rounds of the British Supercross series in London and Liverpool where sadly he lost his British Open title to Tom Church.
Martin Barr was in action at the Valence international in France in preparation for a season of Maxxis and Red Bull Pro National action plus several GPs that Proppa.com KTM have pencilled in. Not sure just yet how many GPs they’ll attend but fans can be sure to see Marty in action at the British GP at Matterley Basin in August.
The J&R motocross track is back in business and open every Saturday and Sunday weather permitting. All bikes will be checked for noise levels and Db Dawgs are required for all four-strokes.
As I write this we are five days away from round one of the Maxxis British MX series. I won’t be there in person although I will be glued to my computer watching the lap by lap results and on the phone to my new Risk Racing Europe wing man Neil McKeown. The talented cameraman is going to attend most British races, looking after Risk Racing-supported athletes and capturing enough on-track footage to produce some fine race reports.
I’m betting Mr Lawless a pint of whatever he is drinking nowadays that we will have at least two top five results from the Irish Armada at the first British round with the possibility of a podium by either Graeme or Marty. And GC might just throw in a surprise ride n’all…