Sheffield Motorpoint Arena marked the home round for the Apico LPE Kawasaki team as the Garmin Arenacross UK Tour made its sixth stop of the tour. The Steel City is famous for its motorcycling history, having played host to all-time legend Jeremy McGrath.
During the daytime practice and qualifying sessions, series leader Fabien Izoird and Loic Rombaut quickly settled into one of the best track layouts of the tour so far. After the qualifying sessions Fabien had posted a third fastest time with Loic just behind in sixth place overall.
After strong qualifying times both riders were feeling comfortable going into their opening heats. The first heat of the night saw Fabien start inside the top five and quickly move into the third place on the opening laps. As the race went on Fabien worked his way into the lead and looked comfortable, soaking up the pressure from Cyrille Coulon in second.
The second heat of the night saw Loic start in fifth place and quickly make moves forward to get into third place behind Whatley and McCoy until Whatley made a mistake and went off the track. Loic took full advantage and moved into the lead for the win.
The second set of heats saw Fabien start the race in second place behind Luke Arbon, after two laps Izoird lined up a pass on Arbon at the end of the whoops to take the lead. Once in the lead Fabien rode a smart race to take the race win and pole position for the Main Event.
The second heat saw Loic make a bad start and have to work his way up the field into the top five. At the front, Whatley crashed again and Loic took full advantage to move into third place before Coulon crashed out of the lead handing Loic second with a lap to go and Bradshaw just ahead.
On the final lap Loic made a move on Bradshaw and took the lead, but was unfortunately judged to have made the pass under waved yellow flags and relegated to the bottom of the results.
Next up was the Head-to-Head races with Loic and Fabien lining up against each other in the first round, it was Fabien who took the win and advanced forward. Izoird then went on to take victory against Kristian Whatley and championship rival Daniel McCoy in the final to secure the four championship points and extend his points lead by another point.
In the Main Event Fabien used his pole position to full advantage taking the holeshot and breaking clear of the chasing field. Team-mate Loic Rombaut started the final well and quickly move into fourth place on the opening lap.
With the championship up for grabs Izoird rode a solid and sensible race to take the flag for yet another maximum point’s haul. Rombaut also rode a strong race to finish in third place and take his first podium of the tour and make it a 1-3 finish for the team at their home round.
To round off a fantastic night for the Apico LPE Kawasaki, Fabien Izoird was able to secure the Garmin Arenacross UK Tour championship for 2014, with Loic Rombaut moving up to fourth place, just ten points off second place.
“Tonight has been perfect, I won the ideal Main Event and had Loic on the podium with me in third place, which is great for the team at their home event,” said Fabien Izoird. “I won every race that I started tonight including the Head to Head and the Final. To secure the title a round early is great and now I can enjoy the last round at Wembley”
“I’m really happy with tonight and getting on the podium for the first time,” said team-mate Loic Rombaut. “I’ve had the speed all series but lacked the starts. Now I have to do this again in London to get a good finish in the championship standings overall. I’m really happy for Fabien and Steve at winning the title”
Team Manager, Steve James commented: “Tonight couldn’t have gone any better for us as a team at our home round of the tour Fabien won every race tonight, both his heat races, the Head-to-Heads and the Main Event Final and he was pure class, smooth and faultless all night.”
Steve added: “Loic also rode fantastic tonight and dug deep to take his first podium of the series and the team’s first double podium. It was unfortunate for Loic to be penalised in the second heat race and I think it was very harsh to demote him from first to last place behind a rider that unfortunately didn’t even finish the race and to say the pass was on the yellow flag was definitely debateable?
“Fortunately we more than made up for it in Main Event and Loic took his first podium of the tour to make it 1-3 at our home event. At the end of the night when I totted the points up Fabien Fabien extended his lead to 24 points which is the maximum points available on the night – four if you win the Head-to-Head and 20 if you win the Main Event so even though it wasn’t announced on the podium tonight we have a race in hand and Fabien can’t be beaten so he is the 2014 Garmin Arenacross Tour Champion, which is absolutely unbelievable.
“I am so happy, I have been chasing my dream to win a major championship for over five years and to finally do it is amazing and to do it at the team’s home round at Sheffield in front of possibly the biggest and loudest crowd which included lots of my friends and family is the icing on the cake for sure.
“The reality hasn’t quite sunk in yet and probably won’t until after the last round where we can hopefully finish the tour off in style and celebrate winning the title properly with the whole team.
“We also still have the team championship to win which we now have a 38 point lead and need just 8 points to clinch that title which is also very important to both riders and the team.
“I would just like to thank Fabien for winning the title for the team, Fabien is an ultimate professional and an absolute pleasure to work with and to hold the Red Plate from the second round to the last round speaks volumes.
“It has been great to have him and Loic on the team this year, they have been a breath of fresh air, we’ve had fun and it has restored my faith within the sport and reassured me that I made the right choice to carry on with the team.
“I also want to thank my wife for her support and putting up with me, along with the whole team that have worked so hard every week. A special thanks to Minty [Fabien’s Mechanic] for working very hard in the workshop with Chris during the week prepping the bikes and looking after Fabien at the events and keeping his bike looking tip top.
“To each and every one of the teams many loyal sponsors who without them we couldn’t have done it: Apico Factory Racing, L.P.E Ltd, Kawasaki Motors UK. Maxxis International, DID, Motorex, Vesrah, Truck Links Ltd, Henderson Insurance, Spiral Graphics , Pro Circuit, CGH Imports, Rip n Roll Goggles, Technical Touch, Twin Air, Pro Carbon, Talon, Raptor Titanium, Muck Junkie, C M Engineering, Venhill, Race Bike Bits, Samco Hoses, Factory A.R.M.E, Answer, Suomy, Boyesen, Vertex, Polisport, Pro Taper, Uden Transport, Fat Cat Moto Park, DMP, Thoresway Moto Park, Salters Lane, Stalker Mx, Kieradan Park and Chequered Flag MX – all these companies’ products, people’s help and support have played a big part in this too, which I am truly grateful and appreciate it very much.
“I am so pleased that finally I have been able to repay all my loyal sponsors with a worthy Championship Title.
“The Garmin Arenacross Tour has stepped up several levels and is one of the major championships in the UK with very tough technical tracks and very stiff competition.
“The whole show on the night is just an awesome experience so to win it means the world to me. I want to dedicate this championship to someone very special to me and my family, last year we lost my Brother-in-law to Pancreatic Cancer. Steve Bright, owner of Truck Links and long-time sponsor of the team from the outset was not only my brother-in-law for over 25 years, he was like a big brother to me.
“He was my mentor in business and one of my best friends, without Steve’s help and support over the years this wouldn’t have been possible so I am forever in his debt, Thank you Steve this is for you mate.”