Teutschenthal in Germany hosted round eight of the FIM Motocross World Championship on Sunday with support from the WMX and EMX125 riders.
The hard-packed circuit has been on the GP calendar since 1971 so certainly counts as one of the old school tracks as it swoops around the valley, similar to Foxhill in layout.
Despite the club adding some soil in places, the track got rutted by the end of the first practice sessions although it was completely harrowed and watered again on Saturday evening. Overcast on Saturday and bright sunshine for race day, it was a perfect weekend weather wise.
Max Anstie told me on Friday that he’s fully recovered from the concussion sustained in Redsand but is a little behind after missing a few weeks of training and bike time.
Tommy Searle returned with more or less the same things to say, recovered from his collar bone injury but behind his competitors with track time.
Unfortunately, Graeme Irwin was still recovering from the burns sustained at Blaxhall but should be fit for the British GP and Shaun Simpson also posted on his Instagram page to say that his hip needed a little more time to heal. There was however a British wildcard as Steven Clarke stepped up from the EMX250 class. The Carglass Honda man announced on Instagram: “It’s a good chance to test myself against the best riders in the world on a track that I believe suites me perfectly.” I spoke to him on Friday and he was excited and optimistic in equal measure, aiming for some points but without any pressure.
Anstie and Searle would end free practice in 10th and 15th respectively, and timed practice 15th and 17th. That looked to be about right for them as they finished the qualifying race in 17th and 20th. Consistent at least.
In fairness to Searle, a first lap incident on the horseshoe corner with Nagl (I think) cost him time and places so he came back to 20th from around 27th on a track that was hard to make-up time.
Clarke meanwhile had a mid-pack start around 15th but would slowly slide back to 24th. “I made some suspension changes after timed practice and we went the wrong way. I had a good start but by the second corner I knew the suspension was wrong, the back end was dancing around. We’ve gone back to where I was now, and we’ll try it again in warm-up.” Ever confident, he also said the speed was what he was expecting but the intensity of the first couple of laps surprised him, something Graeme Irwin has struggled with in his MXGP races.
Race one was a procession, only two passes in the top 10 all race. Further back there was more to watch as Anstie overcame a poor start and moved forward from 24th to 15th. Searle started better, 14th on lap two but lost places at half distance to Nagl, Lupino and Anstie to finish 17th, while Clarke inherited a couple of places due to retirements, he would finish 22nd.
By race two the track had developed some very loose soil over hard-packed bumps making it quite sketchy. Clarke chose not to go out, not wanting to risk an injury that could jeopardise his EMX250 challenge. Anstie had a better start and was again one of the only riders moving forward, up to 12th. Searle also gained a few places, finishing 18th.
Afterwards I grabbed Max Anstie as he was clearing up his gear. “It was a tough weekend, bad starts and so I didn’t put myself in a good place. It’s not the results we want but at least I’m here, it’s just not clicking but I’ll keep going and get back.” It might not have been the best results (15th and 12th for 12th overall) but Anstie probably passed more people than anyone else all weekend on a track that didn’t lend itself to making up ground. I didn’t get a chance to find Tommy Searle before he left.
Ben Watson has been solid so far, holding fourth in the championship, while Conrad Mewse has been less consistent and sits in 10th place.
I spoke to both riders on Friday, Watson said his wrist was a lot better since Latvia but still had it strapped up for the weekend, and Mewse said he’d had a good week at home, riding his private track. Adam Sterry was still absent but posted on Instagram to say that his ankle was a lot better and he was hoping for a return at Matterley. Third and fifth respectively in free practice was a good start to the weekend.
In the qualifying race both were in the top eight from the start, but a second corner crash put Mewse way back in 25th. Moving forward he crashed again, only losing one place but could then only move up three places as the pack had already strung out. Watson had a less eventful race, in fifth for most of it until Olsen passes him mid race. “I just got stuck in their pace, it was a freight train,” he lamented later. He would be fastest in Sunday’s warm up on a more technical track after overnight watering. Mewse was eighth.
Race one was over almost before it started for Mewse. He wheelied out of the gate and hooked bars with the rider to his right, sending him to the ground. He had to pit immediately to straighten his levers and despite putting on a charge he finished in 23rd place. Watson had much better fortune, starting in third place Vlaanderen got past and German hot-shot Henry Jacobi was pressuring him, the commentator getting excited. Jacobi was briefly by, but Watson got him back and the threat was gone as the first four pulled away, 30 seconds ahead of fifth at the end. During the race Watson did close on Vlaanderen a couple of times but there was nowhere he could get alongside.
Race two was a repeat at Watson again started near the front, the ‘second’ group of four had Watson at the back in seventh as they tripped each other up. Things settled a few laps in and Watson re-took Beaton then put a sweet pass on Olsen, passing him on the inside but moving over and riding him out, obviously learning his lesson from Portugal when he was too kind to TKO.
The Watson group then swallowed Jacobi who had taken a great start, but despite pressuring Vlaanderen for the last few laps Watson would take another fourth place and fourth overall.
For Mewse it was just grind.
A bad start left him battling with a group at the back in what looked like an LCQ, as they held each other up. He finally cleared the group, but there was clearly a bike/set up issue.
Wrestling with a mysterious bike/set up issue he could only manage 22nd, a disappointing weekend with no points.
When I spoke to him after he looked battered from the crash and roost. “I shot out of the gate and hooked up really well, too well and I was pulling right but I didn’t want to shut off and get swallowed up,” he said. “Then I just hooked someone’s bars and ended up with my bike on top of me.
“In the second race I had some set-up issues, the track was so sketchy. I’m p*ssed off but not much I can do.”
Only two British ladies this week, Natalie Kane and Stacey Fisher on her 125. With only 38 women entered there was no qualifying and in timed practice Kane would grab eighth spot with Fisher in 27th.
Their first race was rather uneventful as there wasn’t much passing. Kane started in seventh, made a pass on the first lap and that was it as she found herself in no man’s land, about six seconds behind fifth place and the same to seventh. She said afterwards: “I just lost the tow and couldn’t get back on the group. I need to find a second.”
Fisher did manage to pass a few and benefitted from some mistakes by others but could only get to 21st place. She loves riding the two-stroke but in my opinion, it’s a definite handicap in this group.
Race two on Sunday didn’t start well for Kane. “I went too early and hit the gate then got stuck behind a pile-up in the second corner. I got up to 11th then crashed on the horseshoe hill trying to make a pass, I got stuck and lost another five places. I ran out of time (she would finish eighth), it’s my own fault that I ended up there. I felt like I rode well and my lap times were good.”
Stacey Fisher was happy to score a point for 20th. “I had a good start, but people are passing me on the first few corners,” said Fisher. “It’s my third time here and this is the best I’ve felt here. Shame I missed out in the first race but I’m happy to score.” We joked about riding a 250f but she’s adamant that it’s a 125 two-stroke for her.
A bigger entry this week but with some of the Brits like Joel Rizzi prioritising the MX Nationals there were only four British riders entered.
In qualifying group one, Adam Collings went through easily in 14th while Dom Lancett narrowly missed out, and in group two Eddie Wade was fastest in free practice then finished second in timed practice despite improving his free practice time. He said afterwards: “We didn’t have a good system in Latvia but we did today, and the track is Spanish style, blue grooved and stony so I like it!” South African Cullen Scott is now living in England and riding on an ACU licence but unfortunately didn’t make the cut so joined Lancett in the LCQ.
Lancett made it through the LCQ…sort of. He was sixth which meant he was second reserve. He would get suited up for the races but would only ride if someone else withdrew or didn’t get to parc ferme in time, which unfortunately didn’t happen. He wasn’t happy. “I need to cut out the silly mistakes, I can’t get a perfect lap in.”
Scott wouldn’t qualify this time, crashing out of the LCQ when he cross-rutted and jumped into a fence. He showed me a rather sore looking arm afterwards.
Race one was all about Eddie Wade as he nearly grabbed the hole shot but was pushed wide by championship leader Rene Hofer. Looking strong in second he kept the leader in his sights but by half distance he was getting some arm pump and would eventually surrender a place.
Still third was a great result for the 85cc world champion in only his third EMX125 race. He later told me: “I was wearing a bigger body armour and I started getting arm pump. When 101 got me, I left a gap so I didn’t get stoned but when we hit the back markers on the last lap he got away.”
Adam Collings spent his race mired in a battle outside the points. Without a start he was never going to make enough progress as the tempo is just as fierce at the back.
Race two on Sunday morning was on a well-watered and partially graded track. On the first lap Wade was in 18th and Collings at the back. I’ll let them tell their own stories. Eddie Wade said: “I had a good jump off the start but got closed off, then in the second corner a rider fell in front of me so I went off track.” He was picking riders off every lap on the horseshoe switch back turns with some good outside/inside moves but, “near the end there was so much mud on my helmet it was pushing my goggles down. I’m very happy with the weekend though, sixth overall and now 11th in the championship.”
Adam Collings was also a happy chappy, after qualifying via the final transfer spot in the LCQ in Latvia he was “ecstatic to qualify straight away this week.” He continued: “Race one was just a bad start but today was much better. I got a good start but got filled in and as I took a tear-off I hit a rider who had fallen in front of me (the same rider that Wade hit) and crashed. The bike was covered in mud.”
Scrubbing the monster table top on the first lap he slid out and went off track, demolishing a sign on his way through but battled up to 25th. “I’m happy with my riding today, it’s just confidence and more training, I know I can be up there.”
Their next EMX race is in a few weeks at the fabled St Jean d’ Angely track in France, which should suit Wade as it’s hard packed and fast.