This Sunday – that’s March 26 – will see some of the best MX racers on the planet rock up in Shropshire for the annual Hawk International at Hawkstone Park.
Now firmly established as the #1 pre-season shakedown on the European calendar, the races will provide the first real indication on UK soil in 2012 of who’s put in the work over the long winter months as favourites for GP glory bang bars in the famous Salop sand.
Leading the MX1 field is Clement Desalle. The Belgian Rockstar Suzuki pilot was in line for a world title in 2011 before injury derailed his bid. Now fully fit again, the MX Panda showed blistering speed just one week ago in Valence in France and starts favourite on Sunday.
Desalle’s team-mate Tanel Leok is another big name looking to fire a warning shot at Hawkstone to the rest of the world championship field and other riders who should show well include Gautier Paulin, Xavier Boog, Marc de Reuver, Matiss Karro, Kevin Strijbos and Gert Krestinov. Among the home-grown MX1 talent out to impress are Stephen Sword, Jason Dougan, Shaun Simpson, Martin Barr and Nez Parker.
Down in MX2 the Rockstar Suzuki pairing of Harri Kullas and Petar Petrov are entered but the fancied riders are all either British or racing for British-based teams.
Last year’s Maxxis round was dominated by Monster Energy Bike It Yamaha’s Arnaud Tonus and he has to start favourite on Sunday. But with a stellar supporting cast including Jake Nicholls, Graeme Irwin, Elliott Banks-Browne, Neville Bradshaw, James Dunn and Stuey Edmonds there’s some great racing guaranteed although one disappointment is the news that fast Frenchman Nico Aubin has pulled out to give himself time to recover from a practice crash injury.
Gates are open from 7am on Sunday morning and there will be action on the track from 9am with racing all day. Tickets are priced at £20 with free entry to under 14s.