Great racing, close finishes and dramatic incident all played out on a track in absolute prime condition. Ensuring that the opening round of the 2014 AMCA British Motocross Championships, powered by Datatag, had it all and so much more.
Yes what a memorable day it was as Brad O’Leary, Clinton Barrs and Richard Cannings all bagged a MX1 moto win apiece with Barrs, despite nursing a sore knee still taking a moral boosting overall victory from O’Leary, and Luke Mellows making his AMCA Championship debut.
In an equally thrilling and compelling MX2 contest, Carl Benjamin(2) and Paul Neale took the race victories with Benjamin earning the overall ahead of Neale and Saunders. As expected, both classes at Nympsfield proved to be highly competitive and whilst some of the potential title chasing regulars stuttered to get their campaigns off the ground, the new boys on the block making their Championship debuts in the series shone brightly.
As well as Mellows earning that great third in MX1, Joe Jones took fourth, Luke Blanchard seventh and Ashley Thomas eighth. Pick of the MX2 new boys on Sunday was without doubt Lewis King who piloted his 144cc two-stroke TM to a brilliant fourth overall.
So, on a Nympsfield track expertly prepared by Lawson Benjamin and the organising Dursley MXC, it was time after months of hard work, training and preparation for the riders to lay their cards on the table and discover, starting with timed qualification if they were truly on the pace required to be considered a serious title contender.
Well, whilst the very rapid Luke Blanchard set the fastest time and showed he was indeed ready for the challenge, Luke Meredith was encountering a very painful and potentially disastrous start, jarring his ankle in a rutted turn and suffering a suspected fracture.
Undeterred and still desperate to try and take his place on the start line for moto one, Luke though with the help of that vital supply of the good old versatile duct tape acting as a support for the injury was incredibly ready and willing to go racing.
When that gate did eventually drop to signal the start of a new AMCA Championship campaign, the race to the first turn of the opening MX1 contest was to prove to be brutal and bar-banging with expected title contender Richard Cannings biting the dirt along with Kristofer Ayres and Andrew Smart.
Meanwhile upfront new kid on the block, Blanchard led the charge with O’Leary, Arran Poolman, Elliot Barrs, Clinton Barrs, Shaun Pearce and Jack Cox in tow. Blanchard’s joy though at leading the pack was to last just one further lap as he stalled his Suzuki machine dropping right back to 16th.
Whilst from here onwards O’Leary galloped onto a smooth, controlled win, battle was raging behind him as the Barrs cousins locked horns. Eventually Clinton overhauled Elliot to earn second with Cox then pushing Elliot one place further back down the leaderboard to fourth and therefore finish just ahead of Poolman, Mellows, Joe Jones, early leader Blanchard and Daniel Smith.
Whilst early faller Cannings had to settle for 14th, Meredith despite being in immense pain started by bagging a very brave 10th.
If the opening MX1 clash of 2014 was good, it was then to certainly trumped by an absolute classic moto two which produced entertainment of the very highest quality. Once again the impressive Blanchard was quickest away but as the race unfolded it became an incredible eight rider scrap in the race for ultimate victory.
Lap by lap, Blanchard maintained the narrowest of advantages as Ashley Thomas, Cannings, Mellows, C Barrs, O’Leary, Jones and E Barrs continually snapped at the leaders heels, in the process regularly swapping positions.
Lap seven and Clinton Barrs broke through the hungry chasers to also swoop past Blanchard into the lead. In the final few circuits Clinton then had to work overtime and earn the win by the narrowest of margins, just yards ahead of O’Leary who had snatched second on the final lap from Blanchard, phew what a contest this was!
After starting strongly, Thomas was to drop back to eighth with rear-end problems on his Kawasaki whilst another major title favourite, Cox, could only muster 26th after crashing twice and bending the front end of his Yamaha machine.
After that thrilling moto, the final MX1 encounter was rather less frantic but still very entertaining. In the early exchanges, Cannings and Mellows hotly disputed the lead before determined Yorkshireman Cannings broke free and thus blast his DK Offroad Husqvarna to its maiden AMCA MX1 Championship win.
With Championship newcomers Mellows, Jones, Thomas and Smith all mixing it again at the top end of the leaderboard, O’Leary was surprisingly down in 14th with Cox enduring a Nympsfield nightmare in 16th and fast Blanchard on this occasion holding 20th.
As the moto progressed, all three riders climbed the leaderboard with O’Leary just repelling the very close attention of Cox to eventually get home fifth whilst Blanchard was 10th. At the front end Mellows maintained a very impressive second with Jones also flying high to earn third as crucially Clinton Barrs crossed the line in fourth.
That fourth place for Clinton was to earn him the overall win just two points better off than O’Leary. Afterwards the delighted Bristol based rider said: “Today my main goal was to come away in the top three places so I was really happy with the win especially as this class is now so strong with the new riders coming in.
“The track was prepared perfectly giving lots of line choices, making for some very fast, close racing but one mistake and you could easily lose four or five places! All in all a great day so I just need to take this confidence to the next round and do the same again.”
Not to be outdone, the MX2 class also produced plenty of great action at Nympsfield, starting with a moto one thriller.
With Paul Neale producing a trademark lightning start, one of the big expected title contenders was already in trouble as Ben Saunders was forced to take evasive action and avoid a big collision as the pack raced towards the opening turn. As Ben just about regained forward momentum to chase the disappearing pack, Mr Neale was on-fire at the front – ripping up the track and setting a truly tremendous pace.
In the early stages, Scott Mathia, Ryan Morris, Jack Gardner, Matt Ridgway, Lewis King and Carl Benjamin provided the main chasing pack as they locked horns in a titanic struggle for the right to challenge leader Neale. As Ridgway and Morris then both picked up rear wheel punctures – dropping down the leaderboard – the main focus was on the progress of Benjamin and Saunders.
By lap five, Benjamin was up to second and looking to reel in the flying Neale whilst incredibly Saunders had soared right back to seventh. Benjamin continued to reduce Neale’s advantage before setting up a stunning conclusion.
On a frantic final circuit, Carl remarkably caught his rival before producing a hard but fair inside pass and snatch a truly superb win. Taking third in this opener was the very much in-form Mathia with Lewis King on the tiny 144cc TM getting home in a brilliant fourth from the hard-charging Saunders, Gardner, Cory McShane and Christopher Hill.
After starring in the recent AMCA Superclass series, this opening MX2 clash did not go quite to plan for Adam Wells with the youngster right down in 21st before recovering back to 11th.
After that late defeat in the opening MX2 moto of the new title campaign, Neale was focussed and very determined to make amends in moto two. And, with a copybook performance, the Apico LPE Kawasaki pilot made no mistakes this time around, leading the charge in style from gate to flag.
Chasing Paul home though was that man Benjamin who had moved from eighth up to second and finish ahead of Saunders. The main battle in this race was the right to earn fourth as Morris, Ryan Crowder and Jamie Smith slugged it out, the verdict going to Morris whilst Mathia, King, Ridgway and Wells rounded off the top 10.
So with one moto win each, it was a head-to-head battle between the immaculate duo of Benjamin and Neale for the right to earn the first overall victory of the season.
Right from the off it was Benjamin who held the crucial race leadership, just ahead of Neale as King held a great third. Setting a terrific pace at the front, Benjamin was then to dictate proceedings, standing strong and repelling Neale’s initial close attention before racing onto glory as King maintained third throughout the contest from Gardner, Saunders, Mathia, Smith, Morris, Crowder and Christopher Hill.
Completing a miserable day, Wells was to miss the start of this final moto after being forced to make a very late switch to his spare bike. Starting last, Adam got back to 21st and will certainly be hoping for better fortune during round two of this great series.
Whilst Wells was disappointed, Benjamin in contrast was totally elated saying: “The track was awesome today and it produced some great racing. Coming away with three solid rides and the overall win is a great way to start the 2014 campaign. Thanks to all the Park Lane IDS Transport KTM team and bring on round two!”
In the battle of the AMCA Championship Non-Qualifiers at Nympsfield, Sean Wainwright gained some consolation for missing the cut into the main races by taking overall victory whilst James Lane, Jack Jackett, Tom Guilding and Owen Coates topped the respective Experts, Seniors, Juniors and Inter Juniors Support classes.
AMCA BRITISH MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS POWERED BY DATATAG RESULTS MX1 MOTO ONE(SPONSORED BY REDELEVEN CREATIVE) 1 Brad O’Leary(450F AMS.FUS KTM) 2 Clinton Barrs(450F DK Offroad Kawasaki) 3 Jack Cox(450F Cox Crane Hire Yamaha) 4 Elliot Barrs(450F Fowlers Honda) 5 Arran Poolman(450F Fowlers KTM) 6 Luke Mellows(450F Oakleaf Kawasaki) 7 Joe Jones(450F KTM) 8 Luke Blanchard(450F Suzuki) 9 Daniel Smith(450F Jarrett&Smith Engineers Kawasaki) 10 Luke Meredith(450F Eurotek KTM) 11 Ashley Thomas(450F IDS/Passion Racing Kawasaki) 12 Sean Frayne(450F Honda) 13 Shaun Pearce(450F Suzuki) 14 Richard Cannings(450F DK Offroad Husqvarna) 15 Edward Briscoe(450F Suzuki) 16 Tye Barrs(450F DK Offroad Kawasaki) 17 Paul Burn(250cc Drilltec KTM) 18 Scott Bates(450F Park Lane IDS KTM) 19 Shaun Scrivens(450F Suzuki) 20 Ryan Jones(???).
MX1 MOTO TWO 1 C Barrs 2 O’Leary 3 Blanchard 4 Mellows 5 Cannings 6 Jones 7 E Barrs 8 Thomas 9 Briscoe 10 T Barrs 11 Pearce 12 Meredith 13 Bates 14 Kristofer Ayres(450F KTM) 15 Peter Wainwright(450F Honda) 16 Poolman 17 Aran Agius(450F Farm Meats KTM) 18 Smith 19 Scrivens 20 Richard Meakin(450F Honda).
MX1 MOTO THREE 1 Cannings 2 Mellows 3 Jones 4 C Barrs 5 O’Leary 6 Cox 7 Thomas 8 Meredith 9 E Barrs 10 Blanchard 11 Briscoe 12 Agius 13 Pearce 14 Frayne 15 Ayres 16 R Jones 17 Mark Bayliss(450F Yamaha) 18 Joe Russell(450F MXS Racing Kawasaki) 19 Jamie McCarthy(450F Kawasaki) 20 Benjamin Milward(350F KTM).
OVERALL 1 C Barrs 161 points 2 O’Leary 159 3 Mellows 144 4 J Jones 134 5 Cannings 132 6 E Barrs 125 7 Blanchard 124 8 Thomas 113 9 Cox 108 10 Meredith 105 11 Briscoe 96 12 Pearce 91 13 Poolman 89 14 T Barrs 80 15 Agius 74 16 Frayne 70 17 R Jones 66 18 Ayres 64 19 Bayliss 63 20 Smith 60.
MX2 MOTO ONE(SPONSORED BY CUSTOM COLOUR) 1 Carl Benjamin(250F Park Lane IDS KTM) 2 Paul Neale(250F Apico LPE Kawasaki) 3 Scott Mathia(250F Wulfsport KTM) 4 Lewis King(144cc Wulfsport Rock Oil TM) 5 Ben Saunders(250F AJP KTM) 6 Jack Gardner(250F AMS FUS KTM) 7 Cory McShane(250F Kestrel Kawasaki) 8 Christopher Hill(250F Honda) 9 Daniel Hill(250F KTM) 10 Ryan Crowder(250F Rocket Centre Honda) 11 Adam Wells(250F JW Racing Honda) 12 Dean Swift(250F KTM) 13 Matt Ridgway(250F Midwest Racing Husqvarna) 14 Lee Truman(250F Suzuki) 15 Jack Bas(???) 16 Danny Stayte(250F KTM) 17 Alec Everitt(250F CF Racing Husqvarna) 18 Jordan Payne(250 SSB & SMX Suzuki) 19 Ryan Woodward(250F Honda) 20 Robert Johnson(250F Honda).
MOTO TWO 1 Neale 2 Benjamin 3 Saunders 4 Ryan Morris(250F Cradley Kawasaki) 5 Crowder 6 Jamie Smith(250F MX Zone Suzuki) 7 Mathia 8 King 9 Ridgway 10 Wells 11 C Hill 12 Swift 13 McShane 14 Truman 15 Everitt 16 D Hill 17 Bradley Tranter(250F Suzuki) 18 Payne 19 Chad Yarranton(250F IDS Passion Racing Kawasaki) 20 Gardner.
MOTO THREE 1 Benjamin 2 Neale 3 King 4 Gardner 5 Saunders 6 Mathia 7 J Smith 8 Morris 9 Crowder 10 C Hill 11 McShane 12 Tranter 13 Swift 14 Truman 15 Everitt 16 Jordan Barrs(250F Honda) 17 Payne 18 Yarranton 19 D Hill 20 Johnson.
OVERALL 1 Benjamin 174 points 2 Neale 168 3 Saunders 140 4 King 136 5 Mathia 134 6 Crowder 117 7 Gardner 111 8 C Hill 107 9 McShane 103 10 Morris 97 11 Swift 91 12 Wells 88 13 Ridgway 85 14 J Smith 84 15 D Hill 84 16 Truman 81 17 Everitt 76 18 Payne 70 19 Tranter 65 20 Yarranton 64.
AMCA CHAMPIONSHIP NON-QUALIFIERS 1 Sean Wainwright 168 points 2 Ash Cotterell 159 3 Lee Clarkson 142.
EXPERTS UNLIMITED(SPONSORED BY THORNBURY MX PRACTICE TRACKS) 1 James Lane 174 points 2 Adam Harris 168 3 James Price 142.
SENIORS UNLIMITED(SPONSORED BY BERKELEY HEATH MOTORS) 1 Jack Jackett 167 points 2 Wayne Meacham 164 3 George McConnell 151.
JUNIORS UNLIMITED(SPONSORED BY DOBSON AMUSEMENTS AND CATERERS) 1 Tom Guilding 174 points 2 Adam Senior 164 3 Ross Jones 149.
INTER JUNIORS(SPONSORED BY MARTINS TAXIS) 1 Owen Coates 174 points 2 Jamie Comley 161 3 Billy Wieczorek 151.