Buildbase Honda riders occupied both top steps of the Pro class podiums at last weekend’s opening round of the Michelin MX Nationals at Preston Docks as Graeme Irwin won a close-fought MX1 class and Martin Barr trounced the opposition in MX2.

But the heroes of the event must be the organisers for rolling the dice and running the meeting when many would have put their hands up and called it off.

The weather in the days before wasn’t too bad but on Thursday night the skies opened up and down came the rain which turned to snow in the early hours of Friday morning, leaving the ground covered in two to three inches of the white stuff.

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After consulting the Met Office and watching the snow melt it was decided to go for it as the track would be ridable with the only problem coming from boggy conditions in the paddock. At the very last minute the use of the nearby council-owned cart track for parking got the okay which although not ideal was the only viable option.

Irwin was on the pace from the very start of qualifying as he set fastest time but it was less then a second faster than Brad Anderson (Verde KTM) with Jake Nicholls (Hitachi Revo Husqvarna) a second-and-a-quarter down on the leading pair.

Nicholls holeshot the first combined MX1 and MX2 race with Irwin snapping at his heals chased by Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Yamaha), Dan Thornhill (Cab Screens Husqvarna) and Anderson. Banks-Browne’s team-mate Ashley Wilde was sixth with Barr, the first of the MX2 riders, in seventh. Neville Bradshaw (Heads & All Threads Suzuki) was the second-placed MX2 rider in 10th.

On lap three Irwin found a way past Nicholls for the lead which he managed until the end of the 30-minute plus two lap race.

Nicholls settled for a comfortable second while behind him it was all change as Banks-Browne fell on lap four with Anderson taking his place to close in on but not catch Nicholls.

Barr came home in fourth and first MX2 from Wilde and Banks-Browne while Kristian Whatley (Buildbase Honda), after a terrible start, finished seventh in the race and sixth in the MX1 class.

Liam Knight (Dyer & Butler KTM), Lewis Tombs (Geartec Yamaha), Carlton Husband (Phoenix Tools Honda) and Bradshaw finished 10th to 13th in the race but second to fifth in the MX2 class standings.

Whatley got the race two holeshot as the sun was getting low in the sky making spotting those all-important lines a problem and the start even more important than usual. Irwin and Anderson were in his wheel tracks and ready to pounce on any mistake the champion made.

Tombs was off to a great start and was up among the more powerful MX1 machines but he had Barr shadowing his every move.

By the end of lap two Irwin was in the lead and a lap later Anderson was through into second and closing on the leader as Barr moved into sixth with Tombs slipping down to eighth place but still second MX2 rider.

With the race only four laps old Anderson was in front with Irwin doing everything he could think of to get the lead back. At the end of the race the pair crossed the finish line separated by under a second-and-a-half with Whatley 44 seconds behind the leading pair.

Barr was seventh on the track but first MX2 rider with Nathan Dixon (RFX KTM) second and Lewis Trickett (Buildbase Honda) third.

Overall in MX1 it was Irwin from Anderson, Wilde, Whatley and Nicholls while in MX2 it was Barr from Tombs, Knight, Dixon and Trickett.

“Its been a very good weekend for me, almost perfect,” said Irwin. “I was quickest in qualifying and in the first race I was really strong and after passing Jake [Nicholls] went on for my first win of the championship.

“In the second Brad [Anderson] managed to pass me and I followed him hoping he was going to make a mistake that would let me through and back into the lead. But he rode a strong mistake-free race and I have to put up with second but have the overall.

“This is a good position to start the year from and we’ll now have to get stronger and better as the year goes on.”

Anderson always sets his sights at the very top and was a bit unhappy with his second overall. “It’s not too bad a start to the year,” said Brad. “In the first race I was a bit tense and got some arm-pump but in the second race, after a not so good start, I managed to pull through. I knew what I had to do as the sun was so low you couldn’t see the ruts but when I got into the lead I just tried to control it from there.

“I made a bit of a mistake on the last lap and I was worried that Graeme [Irwin] was going to get me as he was riding well. I managed to hang on and got second overall which is okay but I wanted first.”

Wilde was delighted with his fighting third overall. “I was hoping for top five overall today so top three is even better,” said the Manchester man. “The Yamaha is a bit different to ride than the Honda I rode last year but every time out we are getting better and better and the team are working very hard and making good progress.”

Last year Barr was plagued by mechanical problems but is now firmly back on the pace after dropping down to MX2.

“It’s been a perfect start to the season and my Buildbase Honda has been working fantastic all day,” he said. “In race one I got a really good start and was seventh after the first lap but then managed to work my way to fourth place among all the MX1 machines and first MX2 home.

“The sun was very low for race two and I knew getting a good start was very important which I did and then managed the gap to the second MX2 rider without taking too many risks as it was a bit sketchy. Having said that I did manage to have a crash three laps from the end but held onto the lead and of course the overall which made it a good weekend.”

Tombs was shocked with his second overall. “I can’t believe I’ve got second overall having come back from having 11 months off through injury,” he said. “It’s a positive start to the year as I made two really good starts and hung on in there for the first half of the race but struggled a bit towards the end.

“But I’m very pleased with my second overall and now have to keep building and getting faster and faster and perhaps close the gap on Martin although with the pace he’s riding at the moment it’s going to be hard.”

Knight was also grinning from the third step of the podium. “I was happy with my first race as I managed to pass Lewis for second but Martin was long gone by then. I messed up the start of race two, managed to pull through and caught Lewis again but I was a bit too keen going into one of the turns and we both went down as I fell on him. He was okay about it though.”

In the Bell Expert Cup MX1 class Shaun Southgate (Herts MX Honda) was the overall winner, taking three out of the four races after suffering from a bad start in the heavier going of race one when he finished in eighth place.

Luke Parker (Honda) notched up three runner-up spots and a fifth for second overall with Ryan Crowder, after four consistent rides, third.

Henry Williams (FRX KTM) was never out of the top two places in the Fly Expert Cup MX2 races and with three wins to his credit claimed the top step on the podium.

Race one winner Jensen Day, despite a bad start in race two, finished off his weekend with a second and a third to join Williams on the podium with Zak Stealey (Dulson Yamaha) third.

In the hotly-contested combined MXY2 and Open Youth two-strokes Michael Ellis (KTM) with two wins backed up by two high-placed finishes took the overall win as Taylor Hammal (Dyer & Butler KTM) was second overall and first two-stroke home.

Despite breaking down while leading race one with just three laps to go, Alexander Brown (Apico Husqvarna) rallied and notched up two wins and a second for the last place on the podium.

In the always-competitive Gaerne BW85s Joel Rizzi didn’t finish out of the top three and was the only rider to have two wins on his way to the overall victory.

Race four winner Lewis Hall (Team Green Kawasaki) also stayed in the top three all weekend but had to settle for the runner-up place with race two winner Sam Price (KTM) third overall.

Ike Carter (MBO Power Husqvarna) was the man to beat in the Gaerne SW85s, leading almost all the laps and was only beaten in one race by second-placed Bobby Bruce.

A closely-fought RFX Junior Clubman class produced four different winners with race three winner Josh Canton (Concept Yamaha) taking the overall from Harry Fletcher (Honda). Race one winner Ryan King (Regency Roofing KTM) took third overall.

MX1

Pos

No.

Name

Total

Diff

Gap

R1

R2

Total

1

5

Graeme Irwin

47

0

0

25

22

47

2

60

Brad Anderson

45

2

2

20

25

45

3

704

Ashley Wilde

36

11

9

18

18

36

4

45

Jake Nicholls

35

12

1

22

13

35

5

227

Kristian Whatley

35

12

0

15

20

35

6

44

Elliot Banks-Brown

32

15

3

16

16

32

7

37

Gert Krestinov

29

18

3

14

15

29

8

162

Stuart Edmunds

24

23

5

10

14

24

9

21

Ryan Houghton

23

24

1

12

11

23

10

95

Dan Thornhill

23

24

0

13

10

23

11

180

Josh Spinks

20

27

3

8

12

20

12

31

Tony Craig

17

30

3

9

8

17

13

177

Sonny Thompson

13

34

4

4

9

13

14

63a

Will Orritt

12

35

1

5

7

12

15

153

James Harrison

11

36

1

11

0

11

16

957

Jake Preston

7

40

4

7

0

7

17

24

Liam Garland

6

41

1

6

0

6

MX2

Pos

No.

Name

Total

Diff

Gap

R1

R2

Total

1

50

Martin Barr

50

0

0

25

25

50

2

66

Lewis Tombs

38

12

12

20

18

38

3

134

Liam Knight

36

14

2

22

14

36

4

360

Nathan Dixon

33

17

3

11

22

33

5

214

Lewis Trickett

33

17

0

13

20

33

6

27

Neville Bradshaw

31

19

2

16

15

31

7

6

Carlton Husband

25

25

6

18

7

25

8

714

Brad Todd

23

27

2

7

16

23

9

148

Michael Eccles

20

30

3

12

8

20

10

303

Jake Millward

20

30

0

15

5

20

11

274

Kieron Banks

19

31

1

9

10

19

12

48

Reece Desoer

18

32

1

6

12

18

13

98

Todd Kellett

16

34

2

10

6

16

14

14

Rob Davidson

16

34

0

14

2

16

15

3

Josh Gilbert

13

37

3

0

13

13

16

63

Jorden Divall

12

38

1

1

11

12

17

331

Jordan Eccles

12

38

0

3

9

12

18

111

Ben Putnam

12

38

0

8

4

12

19

17

Luke Smith

5

45

7

2

3

5

20

337

Glenn McCormick

5

45

0

4

1

5

21

33

Robbie Dowson

5

45

0

5

0

5

22

723

Ashley Smith

0

50

5

0

0

0

More MX Nationals results here

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