After the AX carnage in Birmingham the city of Newcastle had a lot to live up to on Saturday evening as the Metro Arena hosted round eight of the Monster Energy Arenacross Tour, powered by Ford Ranger.
The soft spongey soil would force the racers to ride a little more conservative on Saturday night and with the absence of Fabien Izoird – after the broken leg he picked up last week – the fight for the series lead boiled down to a battle between Cedric Soubeyras on his Geartec Yamaha and SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki’s Thomas Ramette.
It was Soubeyras who drew first blood on Saturday night.
Youth and Pro Lites
In the Supermini class Harry Kimber again claimed victory and increased his points lead. After only managing second place in the first supermini race of the day behind closed doors Kimber looked determined to reclaim his spot at the top.
Kacey Hird – who won that earlier race – claimed the holeshot, but an aggressive move form Kimber in the second turn saw Hird drop down into second position.
These top two riders seemed to be on a different level on Saturday night, once again they were the only two Supermini pilots launching the finish line double but they both also seemed to be a lot smoother and faster around the rest of the track.
Despite his best efforts Hird was unable to mount a real challenge upon Kimber. The best racing on the track was between Lewis Hall and Preston Williams as they duelled for the final podium position. After what seemed like countless back and forth passes Preston Williams was able claim the final spot on the podium behind Hird and Kimber.
In the 65 class local boy Ollie Colmer was looking to make his hometown proud as he was on a mission to reclaim the points lead from Kiean Boughen.
But it was new rider to the tour, Bailey Johnston that was able to grab the holeshot and early race lead.
He was followed closely by Boughen and Colmer. Once again it looked like we would have another classic Boughen/Colmer battle on our hands. But it seems as though young Ollie Colmer hasn’t quite learned the virtue of patience that is sometimes required in racing just yet.
He went to make a pass on the inside of Boughen right away but this over exuberance bit him back. A stumble in the corner after trying to cut too tight to make the pass saw Colmer drop down the leader board.
Out front new boy Bailey Johnston didn’t bow to the pressure of the series leader Kiean Boughen like most expected. Johnston held his own against the experienced AX racer but a daring move from Boughen saw him jump past Johnston and into the lead.
Boughen took yet another race win – extending his points lead further- Johnston claimed a solid second position in his first attempt and Arai Elcock rounded out the podium in third.
Much like Harry Kimber in the Supermini class the Pro Lites point’s leader Joe Clayton was looking for redemption after his worst result of the season when the morning session didn’t go to plan.
On Saturday night Clayton bagged the holeshot, he was closely followed by his championship rival – and moto 1 winner – George Clark.
Clark looked hungry on Saturday, he was able to really bring the race to Clayton like he has never been able to do before. A few back and forth exchanges ensued but Clayton’s excellent race craft saw him stretch a slight gap over Clark as the race hit the half way point.
As the last lap drew closer Clayton had to deal with more and more lapped riders, this allowed Clark to really close up the gap.
As the pair entered the final lap of the race the gap really was minuscule, and there were still more lappers to deal with.
Ultimately Clayton was just able to claim the race win in the closest Pro Lites finish of the series. Edward Briscoe rounded out the podium in third place.
As previously mentioned the Newcastle circuit has been moulded from a soft, sandy soil. This meant that the track cut up deep and cut up quickly.
The huge ruts in the majority of the berms would make it more difficult to go for hard passes like we saw in Birmingham. But the Pro racers would try none the less.
Ramette started his night well with a big holeshot in Pro Heat 1. He was followed by a confident Angelo Pellegrini and an on form Jack Brunell.
Pellegrini seems to have developed an ability to jump rhythms that no one else is able to do – this skill was emphasised on Saturday night as the soft soil and multiple ruts upped the risk levels and stopped most riders from nailing the fastest lines, but not Pellegrini.
Despite this asset Pellegrini was unable to match Ramette’s speed around the rest of the track. Meaning that the SR75 rider was able to keep a steady lead over the Italian.
While Brunell sat third he was being stalked by an AX newbie. Xavier Boog was drafted in this week to replace Fabien Izoird and logged a solid fourth place performance in his first Arenacross race. Brunell came in third, Pellegrini second and Ramette claimed the win.
Heat 2 saw Cedric Soubeyras take over the lead early on before he went on to take the win in an unusually quiet race for the Frenchmen.
Soubeyras seemed to be riding a little smoother and a lot smarter on Saturday night – don’t get me wrong he still made use of his loose fluid style and was as exciting as ever to watch but he just seemed to be a holding it back a little in an attempt to actually stay on two wheels this weekend.
Behind Soubeyras, Harri Kullas was putting together the beginnings of a great night as he came in second, Adam Chatfield rounded out the podium.
Ramette had his starts dialled on Saturday night. He took yet another huge holeshot in Pro Heat 3. While Ramette squirted away with the race lead looking super confident at the front of the field, the rest of the pack battled furiously behind him.
A great fight for second soon formed between Kullas, Brunell and Florent Richier. Eventually Kullas was able to stretch away from the two Kawasaki riders behind him and take a firm grasp of second position.
Despite looking confident in the race lead Ramette made a small mistake in one of the deep ruts. This allowed Kullas to close the gap considerably.
Now well within his reach Kullas was able to make a pass on the champ and take over the leading position. Jack Brunell could also smell this blood in the water and he too went on a Thomas Ramette hunt.
While on this hunt Brunell went down easing the pressure on the champ and handing third position to Richier. Kullas was able to take his first chequered flag of the season, Ramette was second and Richier inherited third place from Brunell who finished in fourth.
Heat 4 saw the two most stylish riders on the tour in Pellegrini and Soubeyras, rocket out of the gates and begin what would become an intense battle for the lead.
Meanwhile Boog sat in third and SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki’s Cyrille Coulon – after a bad start – had made his way to fourth.
Pellegrini once again made use of his clinical technique and was able to jump rhythms that Soubeyras was unable to do. But Soubeyras’ out right corner speed was just too much for Pellegrini to handle.
Soubeyras soon took over the race lead. Behind the front two riders Boog desperately tried to fend off attacks from Coulon to no avail.
The SR75 rider was eventually able to find a way around the new rider to the tour and claim the final spot on the Heat 4 podium.
So far it had been a perfect night for Soubeyras. Could he continue that form in the Head-to-Head races and eventually the Main Event?
The LCQ started with a bang. Coulon found himself in unfamiliar territory being in this race but that didn’t stop him taking the holeshot and the early race lead.
Behind him it was all carnage. Jordan Booker looked to make a pass on Ashley Greedy early on to move in to second position. In this attempt Booker bumped Greedy and sent the Welshman flying into the FMX landing ramp in spectacular fashion.
This knocked the AX ‘bad boy’ out of the race. After that early drama Booker was able to keep hold of the final transfer position and he joined Coulon as a Main Event qualifier. Collin Jurin was selected as the promoter’s choice on Saturday evening and he would join the rest of the qualifiers for the Main.
Once again we had another thrilling set of head-to-head matches. The peak thrills occurred during the semi-final matchup between Soubeyras and Ramette.
We all know the rocky history between the two after the shenanigans that occurred in Belfast…and that’s just why we were salivating at the thought of seeing these two racers go head to head once more.
And we were certainly not disappointed. After a relatively quiet first lap the race came to head in the final turn.
Soubeyras had the race lead, Ramette went for a block pass, the two tangled bars and headed towards the finish line almost locked into each other – putting both riders off balance.
Soubeyras came off his bike and Ramette went off the track. Soubeyras was able to get up and push his bike across the line in one of the most comedic yet dramatic finishes to a race we have ever seen.
Soubeyras went on to defeat Richier in the head-to-head final, continuing his perfect night.
Ramette really did have his starts dialled on Saturday night. He took the Main Event holey on board his SR75 Suzuki, and guess who followed him…yep it was Soubeyras. Race on.
Or so I thought. Soubeyras quickly made a move around Ramette and the champ didn’t really have an answer for him.
Brunell sat in third early on defending his position from an attacking Pellegrini. But the Italian got a little too personal with Brunell’s rear wheel in the fast sweeping start straight corner.
This contact with Brunell’s rear wheel low sided Pellegrini. He slammed pretty hard, hurting his shoulder and knocking him out of the race.
Meanwhile Cedric Soubeyras looked super-fast out front and continued to stretch his lead over Ramette.
The top three stayed pretty stable from there on out. Brunell was able to take his second podium position in a row, Ramette claimed second in the race and Soubeyras was able to complete his perfect night and claim his first ever Monster Energy Arenacross Main Event win.
Soubeyras looked formidable on Saturday. He won every race he was in, a feat no one else in AX has been able to accomplish this year. “I feel really happy,” said a Jubilant Soubeyras. “I was scared of falling off again or making the same mistakes I’ve already made before.
“So far this has been my best result. I won everything, my heats, the head-to-heads and the main. It was a great night!”
Brunell claimed his second podium in just as many weeks. “I felt good tonight,” said the Brit. “The track was really, really soft. I didn’t have a great start, but somehow I managed to come out of the second corner in third place – that was a result really.
“I then just rode the whole race behind Thomas [Ramette], I felt good and felt like I had good speed.
“I wound it down a little and just tried to survive and make it to the end. I saw that a few guys were catching us but by then we had such a big gap it didn’t really matter.
“I felt like I just rode round like it was a practice, so I was really pleased with that. Obviously big thanks to Steve James and the team. Onwards and upwards!”
The Monster Energy Arenacross Tour continues today in Newcastle with round nine of the 11 round series, before it takes a one week break.
It’ll then head down to Sheffield on February 13 for round 10 before the final round at the SSE Arena in Wembley on February 27.
- Cedric Soubeyras #120 Geartec Yamaha 24.242
- Thomas Ramette #1 SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki 24.845
- Jack Brunell #155 SJR Kawasaki 25.142
- Florent Richier #2 LPE Kawasaki 25.887
- Xavier Boog #121 LPE Kawasaki 26.438
- Cyrille Coulon #5 SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki 25.929
- Adam Chatfield #407 Buildbase Honda 25.839
- Harri Kullas #151 MVRD Fuel Husqvarna 26.643
- Collin Jurin #3 Xbladez Husqvarna 26.077
- Jordan Booker #114 Hitachi Revo Husqvarna
- Cedric Soubeyras #120 Geartec Yamaha 148
- Thomas Ramette #1 SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki 141
- Fabien Izoird #871 LPE Kawasaki 128
- Cyrille Coulon #5 SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki 125
- Jack Brunell #155 SJR Kawasaki 100
- Adam Chatfield #407 Buildbase Honda 99
- Florent Richier #2 LPE Kawasaki 92
- Angelo Pellegrini #941 Buildbase Honda 90
- Matt Bayliss #4 Wooldridge Demolition 86
- Josh Hansen #100 SJR Kawasaki 79
- SR75 Molson Racing Suzuki 266
- LPE Kawasaki 234
- Buildbase Honda 189
- SJR Kawasaki 183
- Geartec Yamaha 151
- Wooldridge Honda 99
- Xbladez Husqvarna 71
- Hitatchi Revo Husqvarna 53
- MVRD Fuel Husqvarna 45
- Shocktech Honda 8
Pro Lites Main
- Joe Clayton #14
- George Clarke #161
- Edward Briscoe #56
Pro Lites Championship
- Joe Clayton #14
- George Clarke #161
- Jordan Moxey #981
- Harry Kimber #78
- Kacey Hird #28
- Preston Williams #377
- Harry Kimber #78
- Lewis Hall #419
- Kacey Hird #28
Junior 65 Main
- Kiean Boughen #5
- Bailey Johnston #19
- Arai Elcock #11
Junior 65 Championship
- Kiean Boughen #5
- Ollie Colmer #6
- Jak Taylor #22