The British Grand Prix has an unusual early summer slot with the May bank holiday next weekend and while there could be a 50-50 chance over good weather there might be better rates when it comes to home success and with European EMX150, 250 and 300 classes on the support card.
Tommy Searle is struggling for fitness and race speed in MXGP which makes a repeat of his emphatic 2012 MX2 victory unlikely but British Championship rivals Shaun Simpson (just 34 points from sixth in the MXGP standings and the only other Brit in the paddock to have won a GP) and Jake Nicholls (fresh from his personal best result of 6th in Spain during his rookie MXGP campaign) should give good reason for cheer.
In MX2 there is a chance that Max Anstie could get up to the speed shown at Qatar, Thailand and Brazil for podium contention while Mel Pocock will also be looking for his pace on the national stage to transfer across.
It is on the European scene however where the Brits are fast emerging. EMX250 is the feeder series into Grand Prix and the ultra-competitive category is being lead by Spanish round winner Steven Clarke with Adam Sterry and Ben Watson both appearing on the podium and James Cottrell also pushing into the top five.
“From Bulgaria to Spain there have been two Brits on each podium so if we can get three at Matterley that would be really good,” said Hitachi Construction Machinery UK KTM’s Watson who first goes to Canada Heights this weekend for the ‘new’ third round of the Maxxis calendar. “I know there will be a lot of spectators [at Matterley] but I will try not to think about them and just try to see it as any other race. Canada Heights should be okay if it is not too wet!”
Clarke carries the red plate to the UK but opted not to talk to the media by skipping the Spanish Grand Prix press conference alongside Clement Desalle and Jeffrey Herlings last week.
For Sterry (on the rostrum at Talavera) and Cottrell, Matterley represents a possibility to mark a career highlight so far. “This year is all about finishes for me because I’ve had so many years with injuries,” says Cottrell. “Maybe I used to be too ambitious and I used to be thinking ‘yeah, I should be there’ and it was causing the crashes.”
“I’ve done two GPs at Matterley and I’ve never ridden the track comfortably and like I know I can,” he confides. “Sometimes you can rise to those occasions and other times it gets to you. Well, both of those races I let it get to me!
“I’m confident this time, home crowd and all that. It is a mega event and it is nice to see all the union jacks dotted around the track and it is a big boost. There is no reason why all the Brits cannot be up in the first five.”
Lastly Yamaha-mounted Lewis Gregory is heading the way in the stuttering EMX300 two-stroke competition. With just eleven entrants in Spain the two-stroke revival is yet to be seen at this level but former British Championship favourite Gregory is beating the slender opposition to head the pack. “We’ve been working a lot on the bike and now that the first overall is out of the way it lifts the pressure a little bit and given me some confidence for Matterley,” he said last week at Talavera. “I did the EMX250 round there last year but on a 125 and didn’t get a lot of track time because I didn’t make it through the qualification on Saturday but I’m still looking forward to it.”