It was a very successful day for the British riders competing at their home round of the IMBA European MX Championship held at Norley in Cheshire on Sunday.
In MX1, Wildcard FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna pilot Shane Carless took overall victory with a 3-1-1 scorecard as James Dodd went 2-2-2 for the runner-up step on the podium.
That super second overall slot for the smiling JSR Thunderroad Honda ace importantly saw him increase his IMBA MX1 series lead to 55 points while Andy Smart and Luke Meredith also finished comfortably inside the top 10 on the day.
Over in MX2, there was further British joy as Ray Rowson took top spot with Ryan Crowder (Sandiford Hazport KTM) on the podium in third. In this class the Brits were simply on fire, stamping their dominance on proceedings and producing almost a total GB whitewash with Mark Young, Kristian Whatley, Clinton Barrs, Sean Eckersley, Lee Truman and Jaydon Murphy filling the next six overall MX2 places.
On a dry, slick track which quickly became very brutal and unforgiving, the MX1 class opened proceedings and it was Carless leading the charge up until lap five when he slipped back to third after jarring his back.
Hitting the front and taking the win was Belgian Stijn Verstrepen while IMBA MX1 Championship pace-setter Dodd swiftly moved up from fifth to chase Verstrepen all the way to the flag. With Carless still getting home in third despite the pain, Smart and Meredith were flying high and next up.
For Ashley Thomas though going into the event and holding second in the series it was to be a day to forget. After taking eighth in this moto one, he then retired due to sheer exhaustion in the second clash before failing to appear in the final race of the day. Bagging a total of 63 points, the JSR Thunderroad Honda rider as now dropped down to fifth in the standings.
Scoring a super Brit 1-2, Carless led the second MX1 clash just about all the way from Dodd. First race winner Verstrepen had to settle for third this time out after colliding with Danish rider Nicolaj Damsgaard on lap two, temporarily dropping down to fifth.
Andy Smart had another super strong ride in this one bagging a big 45 IMBA championship points while Chris Neesam in 10th and Rhys Walker 12th also impressed.
For another Brit, Luke Meredith, this moto was rather painful, after he suffered a big crash on lap eight when well inside the top 10 again.
Right from the off in the final IMBA MX1 moto the front five of Carless, Dodd, Smart, Damsgaard and Verstrepen broke away from the chasing pack.
At the front Dodd closed hard on leader Carless before lining up and making a pass on lap nine. That advantage though lasted just one circuit before Carless came storming back to bag another win.
Initially holding third, Smart eventually had to settle for fifth while a battered and bruised Meredith bravely got home in sixth.
Having his best ride of the day, Kieran McAvoy scored a fine 10th just ahead of Walker.
Rightfully delighted with his day’s work and increasing his series lead, GB star Dodd said, “The track was tough today. I had three second-places even with a small crash in moto two.
“I am very happy to come away from here with second overall and also extend my series lead.”
Also satisfied was Dodd’s JSR teammate Smart, moving up from fifth into third spot in the IMBA series standings.
With the 2019 IMBA MX2 series now reduced to just three rounds and finding himself already 38 points off top slot, Ray Rowson was hoping for a massive Norley result on Sunday. And in moto one that plan to reel in MX2 title chase leader Glenn Bielen of Belgium looked on.
As Wildcard rider Kristian Whatley took the win aboard his Wulfsport Meredith MX Suzuki, Rowson slotted into second with Bielen following a fall down in fifth and being denied progress by fast Brits Henry Williams and Ryan Crowder.
Unfortunately though, Bielen passed both of the AMCA aces in the final couple of circuits to earn a vital third place finish. So with Crowder having to settle for fourth, Josh Coleman, Sean Eckersley, Mark Young and Jaydon Murphy also started the day in style with strong top 10 finishes.
For the unlucky Williams though this was his one and only finish of the day. Injuring his knee in timed qualifying, Henry missed the rider presentation when seeking medical attention but returned to bravely compete and produce an impressive IMBA debut ride before unfortunately being forced to retire from the meeting due to immense pain.
IMBA MX2 moto two was to prove a rather dramatic affair for the Brits as both Eckersley and Coleman suffered heavy crashes. While Coleman was forced out following a big band to the head, Eckersely on a machine looking rather second-hand kept on the gas to still get home in 13th.
At the front, Whatley led from gate to finish but was gradually coming under pressure from a very determined Rowson.
Three laps from completion Ray then got close enough to line up a pass only to fall and drop back to third, crucially losing a place to his IMBA title rival Bielen.
After having a great debut ride earlier in the day, Young was having an absolute stormer this time around by bagging a great fourth spot. Clinton Barrs was also right on it, getting home in a super fifth. After damaging his KTM’s sub-frame in moto one, Murphy was impressing again to earn seventh with Crowder following a couple of falls in eighth and Lee Truman ninth.
With Whatley deciding to sit out the last IMBA MX2 moto, Crowder grabbed the holeshot and led the pack for two laps before both Rowson and Bielen got through. Bielen then reeled in and passed Rowson on lap nine only for the race to be red-flagged due to a fallen Italian rider.
That meant that under AMCA rules the result is decided by a countback to the previous lap before the stoppage. So it was recorded as victory to Rowson from Bielen, Crowder and the flying Young. Finishing the day off in style for Team GB, Truman got home in sixth, Barrs seventh and Eckersley eighth.
With now just the IMBA MX2 series finale to come at Alaire in France during July, Rowson trails Bielen by 32 points, his title hopes still alive but probably requiring some divine intervention!
Afterwards taking third overall at Norley in IMBA MX2 and still recovering from a recent ankle injury, Ryan Crowder said, “ I had a really up and down day but managed three consistent rides for third overall. I’ve Been struggling riding during the last month due to an ankle injury but am starting to feel like myself again now.
“I got good starts in all three races and enjoyed some battles with IMBA leader Bielen and Rowson. It’s a few weeks to go until the next AMCA Championship round at Hawkstone so should be back to 100% fitness by then!”
Also happy at Norley was IMBA MX2 debutant Mark Young who bagged a fantastic fourth overall, “I felt good this weekend making my IMBA debut but had problems in qualifying when my spark plug broke up on the first lap!
“Using a new plug in moto one but unsure where the broken part had gone and if the bike would complete the race I rode a little conservative to get home in ninth.
“I had good starts in the remaining two moto’s to earn fourth overall just missing out on a podium by five points, if only I had tried harder in moto one!
“Many thanks for everyone who made the weekend possible, Midwest Racing, Ace Suspension and John Boyce from Scaffolding by Design for the loan of a van.”
IMBA MX2: 1 Ray Rowson (GB) 164, 2 Glenn Bielen (Belgium) 158, 3 Ryan Crowder (GB) 136, 4 Mark Young (GB) 131, 5 Kristian Whatley (GB) 120, 6 Clinton Barrs (GB) 119, 7 Sean Eckersley (GB) 111, 8 Lee Truman (GB) 109, 9 Jaydon Murphy (GB) 105, 10 Randy Morand (Switzerland) 99…, 22 Josh Coleman 63…, 25 Henry Williams 41
IMBA MX1: 1 Shane Carless (GB) 170, 2 James Dodd (GB) 162, 3 Stijn Verstrepen (Belgium) 157, 4 Nicolaj Damsgaard (Denmark) 138, 5 Andy Smart (GB) 137, 6 Pascal Proenen (Germany) 125, 7 Mike Adrian Braun (Germany) 119, 8 Luke Meredith (GB) 114, 9 Demyan Van Loon (Holland) 107, 10 Tomas Aubé (France) 99