How the MX Nationals beat COVID-19
Professional British motocross would have been non-existent this season without the team behind the Michelin MX Nationals who rolled up their sleeves, bit the bullet and against the COVID-19 odds staged a credible four-round championship.
With the ACU series over before it started – the opening round at Little Silver was a wash-out back in mid-March even before the pandemic took hold and the rest of the championship was cancelled – the MX Nationals took centre stage to produce Britain’s only Pro champions of 2020.
The titles were taken by Tommy Searle (Buildbase Honda) in MX1 and Josh Gilbert (PAR Homes RFX Husqvarna) in MX2 but – as cheesy as it sounds – the biggest winner was British motocross as a whole. Not only was it shown to be possible to run a major championship under the cloud of COVID, the lessons hastily learned have provided Paul Irwin and his team with a blueprint for next season.
“It went well,” said Paul. “It had its challenges but I’m pretty happy with what we achieved. There’s every sign that next year is going to start off exactly where we are now so if we hadn’t run this year we’d be no further forward. It’s not going to go away anytime soon so we have to deal with the challenges, get on with it and find a way to make it work.”
Apart from maintaining social distancing and riders’ bubbles, possibly the biggest challenge was to survive without income from spectators but thanks to revenue from multiple classes and large entries across the board the MX Nationals managed to keep its head above water.
“There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t run six rounds successfully next year. Spectators obviously help to fund the series and there’s every possibility that we won’t have spectators next year but there are ways to work around that.
“Not having spectators certainly made it tougher but we were lucky to have full line-ups and had our best-ever entries at pretty much every round. We definitely had the support of the riders.”
Since its inception in 2014, the MX Nationals has been widely regarded as playing second fiddle to the ACU national series in terms of prestige but that all changed this year with a slew of top Pros lining up at every round.
“It was great to watch those guys come and race our series. The racing in the Pro classes was totally open – you just couldn’t pick a winner and it made for great racing. The tracks were definitely challenging. It was rough, it was tough and it was awesome to watch and I hope next year is just as good.
“We were the only championship to win this year so for us that’s been awesome. I think the ACU championship will run next year and I hope it’s better than it’s been before. Gareth Hockey is running it so it’s got every chance but we’re just going to keep on doing our own thing and try to make our championship as good as we can.”
MX Nationals 2021
Tracks for 2021 haven’t been confirmed yet but Hawkstone Park, Desertmartin, Cusses Gorse, Landrake and Canada Heights are all potential venues. Dates could change but here’s how it’s looking at the moment…