The Garmin Arenacross UK Tour continued this past weekend with round four at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. In what I think was the most action packed indoor racing the tour has produced so far this year – an outdoor champion celebrated his birthday in style with a peerless performance.
Liverpool’s Echo Arena was the final round for the 2013 series but this time around it sat in the middle of the schedule and was no worse off for it. Getting four rounds in has given the pro outdoor riders a chance to get to grips with the fast and furious pace of Arenacross and the racing was better for it.
Pro heat one lined-up with some of the hot favourites including Fabien Izoird and Kristian Whatley with some experienced outdoor pilots; Jason Dougan, Brad Anderson, Bryan Mackenzie and celebrating his birthday on race day, Elliott Banks-Browne.
Whatley had been fastest in the quali on a moist, stone-loaded track and it was no surprise when he took the holey, only to go down in the first corner – it was sign of things to come for the out-of-luck MX1 champion. Izoird didn’t waste any time taking over the lead and bagging the first chequers with Buildbase’s Banks-Browne in second and Putoline Apico Honda’s James Harrison third.
In the second Pro heat Steven Clarke, Daniel McCoy, Cyrille Coulon, Luke Arbon, Jamie Law, Carl Nunn and Tyler Villopoto were among a very competitive field. But it was last year’s runner-up Neville Bradshaw that grabbed the holey while Clarke hit the dirt early. Bradshaw kept McCoy (MBO Sport ASA Scaffolding Yamaha) at bay and showed the kids like Villopoto how to get the job done. Dave Thorpe Off Road Centre’s Luke Arbon came in third, Aussie McCoy second and Putoline Apico Honda’s Bradshaw – who had finally slung his leg over a 450 – took the flag.
It was a one-two for Apico LPE Kawasaki team-mates Loic Rombaut and Izoird in heat three with McCoy tucked-in behind. And in the last heat of the afternoon Whatley had another mare of a race, going down hard, bending his bars and retiring from the heat. MVR-D Honda’s Jason Dougan finished third with Bradshaw and EBB continuing their good form with a second and first respectively.
Last Chance Quali was packed with talent – Brad Anderson, Bryan Mackenzie, Steven Clarke, Kristian Whatley and Tyler Villopoto were all in there but with only two spots available for transfer to the Main it was going to be tough. And tough it proved to be with many of the big names missing out. Rombaut and Jamie Law – who pulled a blinder of a last second move on Ando – kept their nerve and nailed the last two spots.
The Main Event had some big names missing so it was an ideal opportunity for point’s leader Izoird to stretch out his margin at the top of the Arenacross standings. After winning the Head-to-Head final against SR75 Molson’s Coulon, Banks-Browne must have lined-up with some confidence and he pinned his Honda out of the gate and into the lead with Izoird alongside him. EBB and the Frenchman battle the whole race with EBB keeping his head and Izoird at bay. Jamie Law held-up EBB and Izoird passed Banks-Browne but Banks-Browne quickly took back the lead. Izoird made a mistake in a small double and went down head-over, real hard. Banks-Browne celebrates his birthday with a win, McCoy grabbed an important second and Dougan completed the Echo Arena podium.
EBB moves up to sixth in the series and it gets a lot closer at the top with just six points between Izoird and McCoy. Next up is round five, Newcastle on February 9.