The 2016 Monster Energy Arenacross, powered by Ford Ranger, heads to Yorkshire for the penultimate round of the hotly-contested series at the Sheffield Arena this weekend.
Having completed its run of gruelling double-headers, AX now sprints to the last two rounds, firstly at Sheffield, this Saturday, February 13 and then Wembley, London on Saturday, February 27. It’s a safe bet that there’ll be plenty of no-holds-barred racing action.
The story so far has read like a chapter of a French invasion novel, but you can never write off the Brits. Former Arenacross champ Adam Chatfield (Buildbase Honda) and Jack Brunell, SJR Kawasaki, are sitting in the top six, respectively 55 and 56 points off the leader Cedric Soubeyras (Geartec Yamaha), who is just eight points ahead of reigning AX Pro champ Thomas Ramette (SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki).
Both Chatfield and Brunell have now tasted podium success, with the SJR Kawasaki rider claiming three third places and the Buildbase Honda man taking to the podium for the first time at Newcastle.
The question is, can the Brits reel in the French? Well, mathematically, they can. Each round has a maximum of 24 Pro class points up for grabs – 20 for a win in the Main Event, and four for a win in the exhilarating head-to-head two-lap dash. The points are doubled at Wembley, so there are potentially 72 points to be bagged over the course of the last two rounds.
It’s Soubeyras’ first year in Arenacross and he’s steadily got better as the series has progressed, but he’s carrying an injury from the Belfast weekend. Has that slowed him down? Looking at the results from Newcastle where he was so dominant you have to say not. His confidence will likely be high and the week away from AX will have done him no harm.
Cedric Soubeyras endo crash at Belfast
Ramette took a ninth in Sheffield during the 2014 championship and followed that up with a win in London. In 2015 – Ramette’s breakout year – he pulled a very similar points haul for the last two rounds with a sixth in Sheffield and second in London.
The SR75 pilots were in action at a Euro Supercross event at the weekend and Ramette got a massive boost to his confidence with a superb performance, taking both main wins in Denmark.
Back to AX, and there are too many permutations to go through them all but it comes down to this…Ramette needs a win this weekend. We all know he’s more than capable of doing that, but even then he may have to bank on a bunch of riders finishing ahead of his countryman to give him a shot at holding on to his AX crown when they rock up in Wembley, an arena where the SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki rider has always been very strong.
On the home grown talent front, 13-year-old Kurt Griffiths from Worksop is hoping that the motivation of racing on his home patch will give him the edge he needs to get a wheel on the AX Pro Lites podium.
It’s been something of a mixed year for the 2015 Arenacross Small Wheel 85cc champ. He started the series racing an 85cc, but it soon became evident the small capacity machine just didn’t have enough oomph to carry his 5’9″ frame over the technically challenging Arenacross circuits. The larger bike obviously suits him though as, with just four rounds under his belt, he is already 10th in the championship.
Kacey Hird, 12 years-old from Bradford, is currently second in the SuperMini 85cc championship. He is 51 points behind the leader and, with 40 points up for grabs at each round, he still has a chance of winning it. He’s just started a new school, The Immanuel College in Bradford, and so he’ll be looking to make his new school pals, family and friends proud – the Sheffield round could prove to be pivotal for Kacey.
Contesting the youngest class in the series is 10-year-old Bailey Johnson from Swillington.
Bailey rocked up to rounds eight and nine last weekend at Newcastle, having never ridden at Arenacross before and took an amazing second and fourth overall in the 65cc class.
Dad Carl says that Bailey lives for motocross and is ultra-motivated. They had no expectations at all of him doing well at Newcastle and Bailey said he was really nervous on the start line but, once racing got underway he didn’t even know anyone was watching. The family has been pestering the organiser of Arenacross in the hope of Bailey getting a ride this weekend and the confirmation came through just this week. He is one very happy boy.