The 2016 Monster Energy Arenacross Tour, powered by Ford Ranger, completed its Birmingham double header on Sunday afternoon at the Genting Arena.
And round seven of the 11 round series may just be the craziest day of racing to ever go down inside any arena on UK soil.
Once again there was epic racing across the board but it’s Arenacross so there was plenty of thrills, spills, crashes and clashes.
A completely changed track from the night before welcomed a streaker and not one, but two red flags in the Pro main event.
Two of the three championship contenders crashed out of the main in big ways – which will see at least one of them sit out the remainder of the series.
This gave the reigning champion, SR75 Molson Suzuki Racing’s Thomas Ramette a perfect opportunity to follow up on his Saturday win.
Youth and Pro Lites
Series leader Harry Kimber took the Supermini holeshot on Sunday afternoon, and we thought that would be game over for the rest of the field.
But Kacey Hird had other ideas. The Team Green rider followed Kimber closely on lap 1, both riders launched the huge finish line double giving them a comfortable cushion over the rest of the field and allowed them to go toe to toe and battle it out for the race lead.
Hird looked fast, smooth and in control as he tried to make moves around Kimber. Hird thought he had found an opening and jumped – literally – at the chance.
While jumping the finish line double, Hird saw an opening on the inside of Kimber as they took off and looked to sneak around the inside as they landed and entered the next corner.
Unaware of this strategy Kimber continued as he was. Hird’s front wheel connected with Kimber’s rear resulting in the Kawasaki rider hitting the deck. This knocked Hird out of podium contention. Lewis Hall and Preston Williams capitalised on Hird’s misfortune – claiming the final two podium positions.
As the 65 youth riders rocketed out of the gates we thought we had another Kiean Boughen / Ollie Colmer classic duel on our hands. But it wasn’t to be as Colmer went down hard in the whoop section, which clearly knocked the wind out of him.
Out front Boughen wasn’t having it all his own way as he was followed closely by Jak Taylor and Arai Elcock. As the second and third place riders raced each other Boughen was able to stretch a small gap and eventually take the race win.
Jak Taylor came in second and Elcock third. A combination of his race win and Colmer’s misfortune allowed Kiean Boughen to take over the championship lead on Sunday afternoon.
In the Pro Lites class the game was over before it ever really started. Championship leader Joe Clayton claimed the holeshot, his only real rival, George Clark found himself on the deck in turn one.
As Clayton stretched out a huge lead over Jordan Moxey, who sat in second, George Clark let it all hang loose as he desperately tried to fight through the field. A valiant effort from the ever stylish Clark saw him make his way up to a podium position behind eventual race winner Joe Clayton and second place man Jordan Moxey.
James Dunn came out swinging on Sunday afternoon. The Hitachi Revo Husqvarna rider claimed the early lead in Pro Heat 1, he was followed closely by Cyrille Coulon and Jack Brunell.
Before long both Coulon and Brunell were able to find their way around Dunn, James was also swallowed up by Ramette and Cedric Soubeyras. This didn’t discourage the Brit too much and he continued to push on and fight.
As Ramette and Soubeyras duelled they both made passes on Brunell to make it a French 1-2-3 (again). SR75 Molson Suzuki Racing’s Coulon held on to his lead to take the heat win, Ramette came in second but a last lap mistake from Soubeyras allowed a hard charging Dunn to take the final podium spot – with one of the best rides we’ve seen from Dunn this year.
Another British rider took the heat 2 holeshot, this time it was Ashley Greedy. While Greedy led the field early the series leader Fabien Izoird found himself on the floor in turn one.
Back up front, both Florent Richier and Angelo Pellegrini moved around Greedy, pushing the Brit down into third.
By this time Izoird had already made his way well into the pack. He sat in fourth just behind Greedy. The pressure from Izoird was too much for Greedy, as he washed out his front end in the final corner before the finish, handing his podium spot to Izoird.
But Izoird wasn’t finished just yet, he set his sights on Pellegrini who sat in second. Despite Pellegrini’s creative line through the main rhythm lane Izoird was able to find a way past the Italian Stallion to claim second in the race. LPE Kawasaki’s Florent Richier took the heat two victory.
Dunn looked to repeat his heat 1 performance as he lined up once more for the third pro heat. Izoird took a commanding holeshot and never looked back.
The real battle was for second position. Harri Kullas held the spot early before an on-form Dunn quickly found a way around the Finish rider. Kullas was bumped twice more as Collin Jurin and Coulon also passed the MVRD Husqvarna pilot. Coulon also got around Jurin to take hold of third place, the Frenchmen then set his sights on Dunn. We had a great race on our hands until an unlucky mistake from Dunn saw him slip down the leaderboard – and with it into the LCQ.
Izoird took an easy win and looked formidable, Coulon was second and Jurin third.
Pro heat 4 saw Ramette lead from start to finish. After a typical Soubeyras-esque start the #120 Geartec Yamaha had to make moves through the field. Soubeyras’ incredible speed through the whoops saw him pass Brunell to take over second position. That’s how they finished; Ramette first, Soubeyras second and Brunell third.
The LCQ race would see a trio of Brits battle it out for the final two spots in the main event. Buildbase Honda’s Adam Chatfield claimed the holeshot and led the proceedings from there on out leaving Dunn, who sat in second early on, and Matt Bayliss to battle over the final spot.
Bayliss was able to make a move on Dunn and the Hitachi Husqvarna rider was unable to retaliate. This meant that Chatfield and Bayliss would head straight to the main event.
Fortunately for Dunn his determined performance on Sunday afternoon had caught the eye of the promoters and he was selected as the promoter’s choice and he headed to the main.
Yet again the head-to-head match-ups failed to disappoint the Brummie crowd on Sunday afternoon. Notable matches included Ramette vs. Pellegrini, Coulon vs. Brunell and Richier vs. Soubeyras.
But the best H2H of the night had to be Izoird vs. Soubeyras in the semi final. Izoird was able to defeat Soubeyras and claim his spot in the final. He was joined by Pellegrini, who had found his way there after an intense race with Coulon. But Pellegrini didn’t have an answer for Izoird as the Frenchmen’s smooth style and out right speed saw him take a comfortable win in the head-to-head final. Izoird looked unbeatable on Sunday, but that was all about to change.
As the gates dropped for the main, Richier and Ramette led the field. Izoird followed them into the second corner, the Buildbase Honda of Pellegrini looked to make an early block pass on Izoird in the second turn.
There was contact. Izoird went down, and didn’t get back up.
The red flags soon came out as Fabien was in a precarious position an unable to move. Initial reports suggest that the very likable Frenchman has broken his left leg. After such an impressive performance all day long from the point’s leader this was certainly something we weren’t expecting. A real shame for the Frenchman, his team, the championship and ultimately the fans. Let’s hope the LPE rider can make a quick recovery.
After the restart it was once again Ramette who was able to claim the race lead. He was followed by Richier and Pellegrini.
Soubeyras sat in fourth early on and looked eager to move up as quickly as possible. Soubeyras was able to make quick work of both Pellegrini and Richier to claim second position.
The Geartec rider then set the missile locks on Ramette. However, Soubeyras’ all out style bit him back once again – the Frenchman came up short attempting to triple into one of the technical rhythm lanes.
He crashed in a dramatic way and looked to be hurt. The race had to be stopped, once more. Soubeyras was eventually able to get up and walk away, but he looked like he had definitely rung his bell.
Cedric already had a compression fracture on his vertebrae coming into Birmingham after a crash last weekend. Thankfully, we hear unofficially he’ll be racing again in Newcastle next weekend for round eight.
It was third time lucky for the main as the riders lined up at the AX gate and yet again Ramette was able to claim another holeshot. The champ never looked back.
Richier also had a quiet ride in second position, but the race for third was intense.
Early on Bayliss had his Wooldridge Demolition Honda in the final podium spot, a few laps later Pellegrini was able to take over third.
But it was the SJR Kawasaki of Brunell and the SR75 Suzuki of Coulon that were the real danger men.
Brunell was able to pass both Bayliss and Pellegrini to take over the final podium place. Coulon was also able to pass Bayliss and Pellegrini.
Pellegrini retaliated and looked to make a pass back on the final lap. The two riders tangled after Coulon caught a tuff block at the end of a technical rhythm lane resulting in the pair both eating dirt – handing fourth position to Bayliss.
Ultimately Ramette was able to take an easy win and really close the gap in the points chase after the misfortunes of his championship rivals.
Richier took second position and Brunell was finally able to give the British crowd something to cheer about as he claimed the final podium spot.
Yet again another explosive Arenacross experience. This series just keeps getting better and better, with so much drama it’s hard to keep up! Let’s hope our downed riders can come back fighting fit. It’s never good to see a red flag situation and two in AX is unprecedented, so let’s hope we don’t see any in Newcastle.
Hopefully you can make it to Newcastle on Saturday or Sunday (Jan 30/31) but if not make sure you follow @dbrmagazine on Twitter for exclusive live race updates from the Metro Radio Arena.
Arenacross Tour round seven
Pro Main Event
1. Thomas Ramette #1 SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki
2. Florent Richier #2 LPE Kawasaki
3. Jack Brunell #155 SJR Kawasaki
4. Matt Bayliss #4 Wooldridge Demolition
5. Adam Chatfield #407 Buildbase Honda
6. James Dunn #200 Hiitachi Revo Husqvarna
7. Cyrille Coulon SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki
8. Angelo Pellegrini #941 Buildbase Honda
1. Fabien Iziord #871 LPE Kawasaki, 128 points
2. Cedric Soubeyras #120 Geartec Yamaha, 124 points
3. Thomas Ramette #1 SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki, 121 points
4. Cyrille Coulon SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki, 112 points
5. Adam Chatfield #407 Buildbase Honda, 87 points
6. Matt Bayliss #4 Wooldridge Demolition, 84 points
7. Jack Brunell #155 SJR Kawasaki, 84 points
8. Angelo Pellegrini #941 Buildbase Honda, 82 points
9. Josh Hansen #100 LPE Kawasaki, 79 points
10. Florent Richier #2 LPE Kawasaki, 74 points
1. SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki, 233 points
2. LPE Kawasaki, 202 points
3. Buildbase Honda, 169 points
4. SJR Kawasaki, 163 points
5. Geartec Yamaha, 126 points
6. Wooldridge Demolition Honda, 97 points
7. Xbladez Husqvarna, 61 points
8. Hitachi Revo Husqvarna, 44 points
9. MVRD Fuel Husqvarna, 33 points
10. Shocktech Honda, 5 points
Pro Lites Main Event
1. Joe Clayton #14
2. George Clarke #161
3. Jordan Moxey #981
Pro Lites Championship
1. Joe Clayton #14
2. George Clarke #161
3. Jordan Moxey #981
Supermini Main Event
1. Harry Kimber #78
2. Lewis Hall #419
3. Preston Williams #377
1. Harry Kimber #78
2. Lewis Hall #419
3. Kacey Hird #28
65’s Main Event
1. Kiean Boughen #5
2. Jak Taylor #22
3. Arai Elcock #11
1. Kiean Boughen #5
2. Ollie Colmer #6
3. Jak Taylor #22