Steven Clarke’s had a tough time of late. With injuries during the UK Arenacross series and then having his race bikes stolen at the Valkenswaard GP it’s not been much fun for EMX250 champion of late.
Not one to be deterred, Clarkey decided to head over to the third round of the Maxxis British Championship powered by Skye Energy Drink on his standard 350 practice bike, which meant a switch to MX1 class.
After qualifying a seriously impressive seventh – just .028 off Anderson in sixth – Steven fought on to finish the day 13th overall with an 11th, ninth and DNF scorecard.
If you’re wondering why there isn’t any helmet cam footage from this weekend’s Maxxis, a rogue stone smashed his GoPro from Steven’s helmet during race one! It seems that bad luck comes in a dump load at a time for Steven…
DBR: I’m sorry to hear about the theft of your bikes at Valkenswaard. That must have made it especially hard to prepare for Canada heights this weekend. Have you any news?
Steven: “No, we’ve heard nothing. I’ve even offered a reward for their return, but we’ve no news at the moment. I’m so appreciative to everyone who has helped to try and find the bikes and get the word out.
“Luckily I have a bog standard 350 which I use as a practice bike. During the week I bought an ignition, some new graphics and a new exhaust before heading over to Canada Heights. Not ideal!”
DBR: Presumably you had to concentrate on the 350’s set-up with such a short period of time to prepare?
Steven: “Yeah, the 350 is heavier and needs to be ridden differently to what I’m used to, so my main priority was bike time during last week. I have an older set of race suspension which wasn’t stolen so I’ve been able to transfer that onto the 350. At least the handling was along similar lines to what I’m used to!”
DBR: I’ve heard good things about the track design at Canada Heights. How did you find it?
Steven: “The track was in the best condition I’ve ever ridden it. I think the new layout worked really well!”
DBR: Qualifying was intense! You finished seventh with barely a second separating sixth and 11th. Can you talk us through that?
Steven: “Come race day, I actually felt good on the bike. Thanks to the bike time during the week I could feel I was starting to gel with it too. Realistically I was expecting to qualify top 10 if I was lucky. I had been sitting around eighth and ninth but managed to place seventh on my last qualifying lap. I started off the day right at least!”
DBR: Can you briefly talk us through the races?
Race one – “I was around 10th off the start of race one. I really struggled during the first few laps as things weren’t familiar! I ended up dropping back a few places before finding my groove and picking the pace up. Considering that was my first MX1 race I don’t think it went too bad.”
Race two – “I gated about sixth-seventh in race two. Again I struggled during the first few laps and didn’t jump straight into it like I normally do. I found some really good lines and pushed back into eighth which I held until the last lap until Kai Yamamoto managed slip past with a few corners to go, which was a blow!”
Race three – “The third race was a nightmare! The gate twitched and I messed my start – I was dead last!
“I charged as hard as I could and actually rode the best I’d felt all day until I had a small tip over in a corner. I caught a hay bale which caused the front brake to stick on and I lost the front end! I also aggravated problems with my wrist, so I decided to call it a day.”
DBR: Realistically, did you expect different results?
Steven: “I wanted to approach the weekend with an open mind. Considering everything that has gone on over the last week, I certainly didn’t feel like I was in a position to have expectations of myself. Overall I feel it was a solid weekend for me and I’m happy that I’m in one piece. It’s been a big learning curve, that’s for sure!”
DBR: The next round is at Hawkstone Park on June 7. What’s your plan of action between now and then?
Steven: “As things stand I’ll be riding MX1 for the rest of the season. That’s a real shame, but MX2 is too much of a struggle as I’ll be starting from scratch. As we speak I’m in the process of building a 250 so I can continue to race the EMX250 championship. I must say a huge thanks to Husqvarna UK as they have been brilliant and have provided me with some really useful support.”
DBR: Many thanks for that. I hope luck begins to swing your way soon! Look forward to catching up at Hawkstone Park. The past eight days may have been a complete rollercoaster, but we can be sure you will be back fighting in fine style!
If you have any information which may help the return of Steven’s bikes, please contact +447855757224