The 2018 Power Maxed Arenacross tour landed in Northern Ireland last weekend for two nights of racing inside Belfast’s SSE Arena. The city hold’s fond memories for Evgeny Bobryshev, who last visited in 2010 for his first and only Arenacross race- a race in which he claimed victory- prior to the 2018 series.
The name of the game so far this season has been unpredictability. With lap times being so close- often only a second separates the entire field- qualifying for the main event itself has proven to be an ordeal for tour rookies and veterans alike. This point was proven further in Belfast as fortunes for many riders differed greatly over the course of the two-day race weekend.
The long start straight inside the SSE Arena benefitted Bobryshev greatly. His experience in MXGP competition has left him with lightning fast reflexes and a fearless approach to first turn tactics. The longer straight meant that grid positions were far more even this weekend. Bobryshev gated well in his first heat to come home with a solid fourth place finish behind Dan Reardon, Adrien Escoffier, and Hugo Basaula to start off his weekend well.
Heat two was a little harder fought. Bobby battled with the likes of Charles Le Francois, Julien Lebeau and Adrien Escoffier to finish in fifth place. This left Evgeny in the bubble of direct main event qualification. However, he narrowly missed out by just one place. This meant that he was once again, for the second weekend in a row, facing the head to head last chance qualifier. Bobryshev performed excellently in the tournament, tackling only his second ever head to head gauntlet like a veteran to advance to the final versus Jack Brunell and book himself a spot in the main event. Brunell took the final head to head victory of the night, but the most important thing was that they were both lining up for the points paying main event.
Once again, the Power Maxed Arenacross tour produced another wild main event. A thrill ride for all in attendance. Reigning champion Thomas Ramette shot off to a solid start, taking the holeshot and the early race lead. Bobryshev was also able to grab a good start to begin the race in a top five position. Another week of seat time on his RMZ 450 meant that Evgeny looked noticeably more comfortable on the Belfast circuit, he continues to improve and learn week after week. As the main event pressed on there was plenty of shuffling around and bar banging within the top five. Ramette made a small mistake which allowed Australia’s Dan Reardon to try and make a move, a move that saw both men hit the floor. With this turn of events Adrien Escoffier found himself in the race lead, closely followed by Evgeny Bobryshev. Bobryshev withstood constant pressure from tour veteran Cyrille Coulon for the remainder of the race to claim an emphatic second place finish on board his RFX Lombard Express Suzuki in only the fifth Arenacross event of his career.
The second day of racing in Belfast proved to be more challenging for the Russian. Despite a solid qualifying effort and a much more comfortable, confident looking Evgeny Bobryshev the night show did not go as planned.
Evgeny scored two solid fifth place finishes in his heat races, riding with new aggression and finesse that he has quickly learned as the 2018 tour has progressed. However, two fifth place finishes once again left Evgeny in the qualification bubble. Unfortunately, the results didn’t swing his way which meant Bobby would yet again have to face the head to head LCQ. Bobryshev lined up next to Pro Lites ace Joe Clayton for race once of the tournament (the same man he knocked out in the first round of competition on Friday night). Half way through the two lap race a mistake from Bobryshev saw his front-end wash away in the shale-based surface of the circuit. This left Bobby on the floor and out of the race. The only way in which Bobryshev could make the final now was through the online fan vote. Evgeny narrowly missed out here to long-time fan favourite Ashley Greedy. The head to head competition on Saturday night also knocked out Cyrille Coulon, meaning that two of the three podium finishers from the previous night would not be lining up for the second main event of the weekend. A prime example of just how wild and unpredictable the Power Maxed Arenacross tour can be.
Bobryshev had mixed emotions about his weekend in Belfast, ‘‘The first night of racing on Friday ended well for me, even though I was struggling a bit through the day. I had a few crashes in the day and was making lots of mistakes but in the main event everything went well. I was feeling more confident in the evening; the track was prepared better, and I managed to get good starts.
There were a few crashes in front of me, a few guys made mistakes and I was able to finish in second place and get on the podium. That was my first podium and I was happy to have gotten this result.
The second night was a bit more difficult. It was strange really, everything was upside down. Friday I wasn’t feeling so comfortable but managed a podium place, whereas Saturday I was feeling way more comfortable. I was looking forward to the race, the track had changed, and I was putting in some good lap times. Everything was going well. But unfortunately, I fell in the Head to Head race and I didn’t make the main event. But that’s how Arenacross is. For sure I was really frustrated as the first day went so good and the second not so much. I just have to keep going ahead, do more training and riding and build my confidence.’’
Neil Prince (Team Manager) – ‘‘I was really happy with Bobby on both days this weekend. It was nice to get second on the first night of racing. He’s been riding really good and his timing is getting a lot better. Usually the longer the race, the better he does and the less mistakes he makes. We were just unlucky on the second night and lost out in the first head to head race. That’s just Arenacross for you!’’
Report and Images: Toofast Media Group