Come rain or shine the British fans know how to get behind their motorsport heroes and the showers that battered Matterley Basin for the British Grand Prix and the second ever MXGP Festival did not dampen the enthusiasm of the public that pitched umbrellas to take in the 11 classes and hundreds of racers hitting the English dirt.
The saying of something about sun shining on the righteous could be true as the 25,000 crowd were then later rewarded for their patience with summery conditions in the afternoon.
This climate reversal helped the sweeping and epic Matterley layout transform into a rough and rutty test, technically challenging and suitably spectacular with some jaw-dropping jumps.
Kudos to Monster Energy Yamaha duo Dean Ferris and Christophe Charlier for going through the full gamete of racing emotions; Ferris, vanquisher of Belgium in the MX2 class the previous weekend, was away like a shot in the first moto and stretched to the chequered flag by some ease over UK hope Jake Nicholls.
Three in a row for the feisty Aussie but any chance of a second overall triumph was ditched midway through Moto Two when a crash pushing Jose Butron for second place chucked #111 out of the running with a busted fuel tank. It was Charlier instead who took up the mantle and disappeared at the front. The stylish Corsican had earlier crashed twice and nursed a painful hand on the way to 18th in Moto One. His 18-1 combo was good enough for fifth overall on the day.
“I got my first holeshot and just controlled the race and rode smart,” offered up a crestfallen Ferris in the paddock afterwards. “The track really suited me because it was so technical and rutty. In moto two Butron was just a roadblock. I was trying everything to pass. I crashed because I had my head-down from getting filled-in and the next thing I knew I was cartwheeling. I broke the tank, the bike wouldn’t fire and there was fuel everywhere. That was that and at the moment I am very disappointed.”
Props to another member of Monster Energy Yamaha, Mel Pocock, as the 2012 European Champion put aside discomfort from a medial ligament injury in his right knee to score a personal best finish of 6th overall.
Over in MX1 and the load that CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit’s Tommy Searle carried through the glare of attention and expectation at his home event was a heavy one to bear. The 2012 British GP winner’s podium ambitions were undone by a bad start, and then a tumbling David Philippaerts tripping him up on the first lap of the second moto. The British star was 5th overall, just in front of Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin.
The MXGP Festival saw a mass of racers hitting the UK soil over the four days. Among the bevy of categories was the fastest female dirtbike rider on the planet, FIM Champion Kiara Fontanesi, but the Italian had to accept second place overall for the fourth round of six in her series. With seven moto wins from eight #8 is still firmly on track for a successful title defence. Pro Circuit ace Thomas Covington chose the MXGP Festival to make his first race appearance outside the U.S. The 17 year old strode to an impressive pole position in what was the penultimate outing of the European EMX250 contest and was shadowing Swiss Jeremy Seewer for the lead deep into the crucial main event until a crash knocked away his momentum. The highly-rated teenager ground out a fourth place finish with which to head back to California this week and some new fans on this side of the Atlantic.
“I’m pretty bummed,” he admitted. “I kinda threw it away there. I was right behind Seewer and just watching his lines and trying to be patient with it. I came into a corner a little hot and there was a big braking bump and it threw me right over the bars. I got up and was a little sore and tired! I tried to stay in there for the rest of the moto.”
“I had no idea what to expect coming into this race and that is one of the reasons that I wanted to come over, just to see what it is like and see how the riders are,” he added. “I thought it would be a really good experience for me and I really enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll get back over here one day. All the guys at CLS made the transition very easy for me and I felt comfortable on the bike right away.”
The final date on the FIM GP calendar will chime into life on the weekend of September 7-8 when the daunting sand of Lierop in Holland closes the book on the Grand Prix story for 2013.