The highs and lows of top-flight motocross racing were never better illustrated than by the contrasting fortunes of REVO Husqvarna UK riders Mel Pocock and Martin Barr at round three of the EMX250 European championship.
Held at Orlyonok on the shores of the Black Sea as part of the programme for the MXGP of Russia, soaring temperatures and a fast, hard-pack track strewn with huge jumps made it a tough two days for Martin and Mel.
There was controversy in the opening EMX250 moto when championship leader Mel was cannoned into by another rider while fighting for fourth. The impact was so hard he was knocked off his bike and down a steep hill.
Scrambling back up the incline to find his rivals’ bike lying on top of his, he flipped it off and charged back into the points on a badly-damaged machine.
Unfortunately, he was judged to have been too aggressive when he moved the other machine and was disqualified from the race.
Martin suffered a poor start but in typical Barr style battled all the way up to fifth and only narrowly missed out on fourth.
There was more drama in race two when Mel dislocated his knee while contesting second place. Fortunately, it went straight back in and after regrouping he fought his way to sixth at the flag.
Martin had another bad start but had come through to seventh when a small crash cost him three places. Quickly recovering, he was back up to seventh by the finish – a result that earned him the series lead and the red plate with Mel now third just four points behind.
“I thought we would be strong in Russia but qualifying was so fast which made the times tight with only something like 1.5 seconds between fifth and 20th,” Team Principal, Mark Yates, explained.
“Neither Mel or Martin started well in the first moto but Mel quickly pushed through and was looking strong until Pierre Goupillon crashed into him while he was in fourth which left him near the back of the pack.
“Unfortunately, a small indiscretion on Mel’s part following the incident with Goupillon earned him a DQ but Martin rode strong and nearly took fourth at the flag.
“In the second moto Mel was fighting for second when he caught his knee and dislocated it. Fortunately, it popped straight back in again and after losing a few places while he recovered he was able to take sixth at the flag, one place ahead of Martin who rode another solid moto despite a small crash.
“The overall outcome was positive because although Mel lost the red plate it was claimed by Martin so we’ve kept it in the team and will take it to Latvia where we’ll keep pushing hard – it’s a long season and we can’t afford to shut off.
“A big shout out to the team for all their hard work as usual as it’s been a long and very hot trip!”
“It was a tough two days in Russia but it ended on a high,” exclaimed Barr. “In race one I made a very poor start – completing the opening lap in 27th – but I put my head down and battled through to fifth at the flag.
“I had another bad start in race two and was outside the top 20 but charged forward until I got up to seventh when I had a small crash – which cost me a place on the podium – but I fought my way back up to seventh again for fifth overall and enough points to give me the red plate!
“I’m leading the championship heading into Latvia but there are a lot of races left so I’ll be keeping my head down and working harder than ever to make sure I keep hold of it.”
“In the first race I was involved in a brutal take-out which knocked me off my bike and down a steep embankment,” said Pocock. “I managed to get going again to salvage a few points on a badly damaged bike only to later be DQ’d following a protest.
“I had a good start in race two and got my head down but unfortunately popped my knee out. Luckily it went straight back in and I was able to regroup and finish sixth.
“I need to say a huge thank you to everyone in the pits who mucked in to fix up my bike and also to REVO Husqvarna UK for this huge trip to Russia. I’m now third in the championship and just four points off the lead which after a DQ is not so bad.”