It is a return home for HM Plant KTM UK as the Maxxis British Motocross Championship makes its stop at Desertmartin in Northern Ireland for round six. Much to everyone’s chagrin though, the weather is not playing along for what turns out to be another very wet round of racing.
MX2 qualifying sees some upsets early on as Nathan Watson puts in the quickest time of the team’s riders with a fourth, while Elliott Banks-Browne qualifies in seventh and Steven Clarke in 12th. While Elliott and Steven improve their positions in the Superpole, Nathan crashes during his fast lap and ends 12th. Ben Watson and James Dunn round out the team with a fourteenth and a twenty-sixth respectively.
Overall it’s a mixed bag for the team. Elliott’s first race just doesn’t work for him at all. He manages to scrape into the top 10 with bent bars and broken clutch lever after a massive crash in the first lap, but he makes up for it in the other two races by scrapping with Martin Barr and Bryan MacKenzie for the lead, ending the day fifth overall with a 10-4-2.
For Steven, it’s a consistent run in the top 10 too. After a great start in the first race, he takes home seventh. In the second race he improves on that result with a third, but then finds himself in the bottom end of the top 10 in the third race with an eighth place at the chequered flag. He ends the day overall in sixth.
Severely annoyed with himself for throwing away his Superpole position, Nathan vows not to let that happen again and, after a great start, takes fifth place in the first race. Race two however does not go to plan at all; a start in the back of the pack becomes a steady climb to the front, ending just outside the top 10 in 12th. In the final race he finds himself surrounded by team mates virtually all race long, eventually emerging in fifth and taking home eighth overall.
Ben’s first race is a disaster. After a start in the back of the pack, Ben finds himself stuck in a mud hole for the better part of three laps, finally freeing himself to limp home in a disappointing 29th. Things improve for the youngster in the second race though; here he finds himself in the thick of it and he races across the finish line where he started – 15th. The final race is his best. Here he battles with brother Nathan and with James, finishing 11th for a 16th overall.
For James, this round signals perhaps a new beginning. Although his first race is less than stellar with a finish outside the points, the old James is back for race two and three. A killer start in the second race sees him put in a solid run in ninth before moving into eighth with the two-lap board out, while an even better start in the last race ends in 10th after a good race against Nathan and Steven. James ends the day in 11th, a massive improvement on his season.
The team now travels to Uddevalla in Sweden for the next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship this coming weekend.
Banks-Browne said: “It’s been a really bad day. First race had a bad start, crashed in the first lap after Jordan Booker went down in front of me. My bars were bent, my clutch lever was snapped off, and I had to come back through the pack. In the second race I got the holeshot, was riding alright, but then I suddenly had some severe stomach pain and the last four laps I could barely ride and finished fourth. In the last race I was riding well behind Mackenzie, got a good rhythm and when he crashed I got into the lead. Then in the back I mis-timed a jump and gave myself whiplash on the landing, went really dizzy and was a nodding donkey for the rest of the race. So yeah, that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Steven Clarke commented: “Qualifying was a bit up and down, I didn’t quite get the best lap in with quite a few people getting in the way. Moto one I got a good start, rode alright for the first couple of laps, then I lost my front brake and my goggles clogged up, and I dropped back to seventh. Moto two I had another decent start, was in fifth or sixth, made a few passes and passed Elliott with two laps to go and ended up third. The final race was a bit of a disappointment really; I think I was trying too hard trying to make passes and every time I got off the line into the slop I lost time. I ended up eighth, so it was a bit of an up-and-down weekend, but I made it through safe and sound and healthy, and ready to go to the next one.”
“First session of qualifying I was fourth,” said Nathan Watson. “I had a poor lap and was expecting worse, to be honest. In the super-pole I had a perfect lap, thought I was going to get in the top three and then in the last straight, I had a big crash in the slop and ended twelfth, which I was really annoyed about. In the first race I had a fifth, that was alright, the track conditions were horrendous and it was like an enduro. In the second I had a front wheel puncture in the second lap and just had to go steady which was ok considering. In the last one I got a bit of a bad start and managed to get through to sixth, so it’s been a steady day. I’ve had better.”
Ben Watson said: “It’s been a good day, really. Qualifying I went out there knowing that it was really wet and it would be really hard, and ended up fourteenth which was good. In the first race I got quite a good start, but it was just that wet that my goggles ended up totally wrecked, had to pull in and get some more. In the second race I had a good start, my goggles were all good because the track was starting to dry out, and I ended in fifteenth which was a lot better. In the final race I had a much better start than any other all day, just kept going along, goggles were good, felt good, and ended up eleventh.”
“Came over to Desertmartin, looking forward to it because it’s always such a good track,” said James Dunn. “Unfortunately it rained again as it has done many years in a row, which was a bit annoying. The track was nonetheless very technical, so it ended up being a good weekend’s riding. In the first race I was twenty-first, which was not great; I had a few problems and struggled a bit in that race to get a rhythm going. The second race was a lot better, got up to eighth, so it worked out well in that race. In the last race had a good start again, had a third but then I dropped back to tenth. I had a lot better speed this week, so hopefully I can carry on building off that.”
Roger Magee, HM Plant KTM UK Team Manager summed up the day: “It’s disappointing for the Cookstown club; the weather forecast was right unfortunately and despite having three or four weeks of good weather, the weather came back to bite us today. From the team’s point of view, the riders all had a bit of a mixed day but I don’t think we’ve lost too much ground in the championship with Elliott. He lost a few points today but these are the sort of days where you win championships, where you make a good job of a somewhat bad day. All four riders rode really well in the really difficult conditions. When we had all five in the top eleven in the last race it shows that all our young riders are doing well consistently and that’s what championships are all about.”