The first round of the 2019 Arenacross Tour at The SSE Arena, Belfast witnessed plenty of drama Friday evening with a spine-tingling opening ceremony setting the scene.
Team Green Kawasaki’s new-signing Greg Aranda proved to be something of a cool customer as he set about blitzing the Pro 450 class, winning both class Main Events and the inaugural Arenacross Super Final, where 450s met 250s head on.
Fellow countryman Charles Lefrançois (SR75 Suzuki) led the Super Final for the majority of the race with the winner of both Pro Lites Main Events, Cedric Soubeyras (FRO Systems) close behind him.
Aranda made his move on Soubeyras and then, on the last lap, was past Lefrançois leaving Soubeyras and Lefrançois in his wake.
They then had a coming together which relegated Soubeyras to fourth and Lefrançois to 10th. The all-French podium saw Aranda victorious with Fabien Izoird (Shocktech Kawasaki) second and the 250-mounted Julien Lebeau (Wooldridge Demolition) in third.
Northern Ireland’s Martin Barr and Britain’s Joe Clayton had already earned their places in the final among the French, German and Portuguese, while Matt Bayliss, Adam Chatfield, Ashley Greedy and Jack Brunell found themselves in the feared Head-to-Head.
Brit Brunell emerged as the winner of that brutal eliminator, and Welshman Ashley Greedy won the Last Chance Qualifier to join him on the highly prized Super Final start line.
In the youth classes tumbles and frustrations were plentiful, but the leaders were consistent in each one.
In the Youth 65s young Zane Stephens took the win – he was unstoppable from start to finish. A Team Green Kawasaki regular, Raife Broadley took a flag-to-flag win in the single-make Team Green Kawasaki Cup, and Josh Greedy took his maiden Arenacross win in the Rookies.
The AX All-Ireland Cup was an initiative introduced exclusively for the two rounds at Belfast (Friday and Saturday) to allow all levels of Irish talent have a crack at experiencing the highs of racing in front of not just a partisan crowd, but probably the largest number of spectators they’d ever seen. 21-year-old James Mackrel from Dundonald, who only three weeks’ ago broke four ribs, strapped himself up and showed the field his rear wheel with consistent laps of pure brilliance.
Arenacross once again delivered on its promise of ring-fencing wholesome family entertainment, with high-octane action and world-class performances from the very youngest nine-year-olds, through to the super-experienced Pro racers and highly-skilled FMX athletes.
The Arenacross Tour returns to The SSE Arena, Belfast for round two on Saturday, January 19. Doors open at 6pm and the evening’s entertainment gets underway at 7.00pm. Tickets are available directly from the Arena Box Office on 028 9073 9074 or on the door.[table “580” not found /]