Just three days before round two of the 2016 AMCA Superclass at Bromsberrow, the participation of championship frontrunner Luke Burton appeared very unlikely.
The Rikki Priest Fraser Husqvarna rider had sustained an injury the previous week at the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship opener in Lyng, Norfolk. X-rays revealed he had a broken shoulder.
Receiving the devastating news that bones were broken, Burton frantically sought further medical advice before making the big decision, should he ride or rest.
Well, with a very heavily strapped shoulder he made a late, late call to give it a go and what a performance he produced.
In three tough motos, Luke won all three clashes to extend his lead at the top of the Superclass standings. Showing great early season form, Richard Cannings (M & S Brettle/TeeBee Honda) got home in second while the podium was completed by James Dodd (FUS Moto4 FRO Husqvarna), getting stronger each week after missing just about the entire 2015 campaign due to injury.
Over in the Youth 85cc/150cc class the brilliant James Hanscombe continues to dominate after producing another cool, classy maximum points score. Just like round one, Lloyd Duggan-Thomas chased him home in all three Bromsberrow clashes while Lewis Glynn took the final podium step.
Despite some unwanted wet weather before the event, the circuit was in absolute prime condition thanks to some extensive track grading and hard work by the organising Kinver Auto Club.
The smooth lines were certainly appreciated by the battered Luke Burton who quickly shrugged aside the pain of his injured shoulder to get into the rhythm and post the fastest qualification time, nearly three seconds faster than Jack Cox with James Dodd third and Adam Harris on his 250cc two-smoker a great fourth.
When the gate dropped though to signal the start of proceedings it was the red Honda of Richard Cannings that led the charge from Dodd, Clinton Barrs, Burton, Ryan Crowder and Lewis King with Cox surprisingly down in 11th.
Three laps in and Burton was up into second spot and hunting Cannings down as Cox on a charge moved through the leaderboard to sit in a menacing sixth. After finishing as runner-up in the opening round at Long Lane, Cox was desperate to keep Burton in his sights but unfortunately for Jack the series was soon to be over.
In a very big crash on a fast downhill section, the Yamaha rider face-planted the ground suffering a very sore lower back injury and bruised forehead. With Cox out, Burton then moved forward to take control of the moto on lap six before racing onto victory ahead of Cannings, Crowder, Dodd, suffering from a puncture, Andrew Smart, King and Zac Stealey the first 250F pilot home in a great eighth after initially gating in 17th.
For fellow 250F rider Luke Mellows, this opening clash proved rather forgettable after crashing then being covered in petrol when his fuel filler cap came undone!
Superclass moto two and the FUS Moto4 FRO Husqvarna team were cheering loudly as Dodd claimed the holeshot before that man, the immaculate Burton quickly took control before racing onto a comfortable win.
With Dodd having to settle for a rather lonely runner-up spot, the main battle in this clash proved to be for third spot. Earlier in the moto, Cannings had looked the most likely earner before falling. In his urgency to restart, he knocked his bike into neutral and dropped down to 10th place in the process.
Quickly the Honda rider started to make progress back up the leaderbaord before being caught in a fierce tussle with King, Smart and Bradley Tranter. Two laps from home and Cannings eventually got back to that third spot as Smart took fourth, King fifth and Tranter sixth.
Proving that the Superclass is not just totally dominated by the 450F boys, the next seven finishers were Harris on the 250cc two-stroke and then Mellows, Stealey, James Wainwright, Chris Povey, Craig Robinson and Shaun Pearce – all 250F mounted.
In determined fashion, Cannings grabbed the final Superclass holeshot of the day to lead Dodd, Crowder, Burton, Tranter and Jack Gardiner. For several laps battle raged as Cannings, Dodd and Burton then broke away at the front.
Lap four and Burton eventually hit the front in a race which was to eventually be shortened by a red flag incident after Dean Swift had crashed. So with the result standing it was again a win for the remarkable Burton from Cannings, Dodd, Crowder and King.
Producing another outstanding effort Harris took sixth just ahead of the hard charging 250F duo of Mellows and Gardner. So with just one round to come at Condover this weekend, Burton starts as favourite for the crown with Cannings, Dodd and Smart also still right in the mix for medal honours.
After setting a qualifying time over seven seconds faster than his closest rivals, James Hanscombe then proceeded to scorch to a massive win in the opening Youth 85cc/150cc Championship moto.
Quickly this clash settled into a rhythm as Lloyd Duggan-Thomas held second spot throughout with Matt Lloyd in third. The main battle proved to be for the right to get home in fourth, a position held by Harry Syson, Finlay James and finally Lewis Glynn. With Syson eventually disappearing from the leaderboard, Finn Corbijn, Ben Evans, Max Lewis, Lewis Thompson and Ffion Jones filled the remaining top 10 places.
While Lloyd found himself involved in a first turn collision and with it all to do as the pack disappeared over the horizon, Hanscombe again led the moto two charge until something rather unusual occurred. Making a very uncharacteristic mistake, Hanscombe lost his lead to Duggan-Thomas on lap three before just one circuit later regaining his advantage. So on completion it was another victory to Hanscombe with the gallant Duggan-Thomas in second. Taking third this time around was Glynn who had produced a strong ride to move up from an early seventh place. After his earlier fall, Lloyd was also very impressive, storming back up the leaderbaord to earn a superb sixth just behind Evans and Max Lewis.
In the final Youth Championship clash it was again Hanscombe from Duggan-Thomas as Glynn overhauled Lewis for third with Lewis, Corbijn, Ryan Lancelotte and Jones also in the mix.
Another outstanding display by the Youth class riders on duty, the stars of tomorrow who coped in style with the rough, tough and undulating Bromsberrow circuit.
Backing up the championship classes was some entertaining support action particularly in the Experts group as young Welsh teenager Curtis Blamey scorched to a maximum points win defeating the likes of Simon and James Lane, Jack Waterman, Dale Halls, Ben Saunders the 2014 AMCA MX2 Champion and Jamie Powell, the latter two riders mounted on 144cc two-stroke KTM machines.
In the Seniors, Lewis Syson bagged top slot while Neil Parry took home the Juniors honours.
Well done to the Kinver Auto Club for their presentation and slick organisation.
AMCA Superclass Championship – Round Two results
Moto one(top 10): 1 Luke Burton(450F Rikki Priest Fraser Husqvarna UK) 2 Richard Cannings(450F M&S Brettle/TeeBee Honda) 3 Ryan Crowder(350F Rocket Centre KTM) 4 James Dodd(450F FUS Moto4 FRO Husqvarna) 5 Andrew Smart(450F Answer Racing Honda) 6 Lewis King(450F Wulfsport/Rock Oil Suzuki) 7 Bradley Tranter(450F Tim Loveday Bike Prep Yamaha) 8 Zac Stealey(250F Dulson Training Yamaha) 9 Adam Harris(250cc Gibson Tyres Yamaha) 10 Dean Swift(450F Underdog Racing KTM)
Moto two: 1 Burton 2 Dodd 3 Cannings 4 Smart 5 King 6 Tranter 7 Harris 8 Luke Mellows(250F FUS Moto4 FRO Husqvarna) 9 Stealey 10 James Wainwright(250F Honda)
Moto three: 1 Burton 2 Cannings 3 Dodd 4 Crowder 5 King 6 Harris 7 Mellows 8 Jack Gardner(250F FUS Moto4 FRO Husqvarna) 9 Smart 10 Tranter
Overall: 1 Burton 180 points 2 Cannings 158 3 Dodd 151 4 King 133 5 Smart 129 6 Crowder 122
Leading Championship positions(after 2 of 3 rounds): 1 Burton 360 points 2 Cannings 299 3 Dodd 284 4 Smart 264 5 Crowder 239 6 King 211 7 Tranter 206 8 Harris 205 9 Mellows 204 10 Stealey 187
AMCA Youth 85cc/150cc Championship- Round Two results
Moto one(top 10): 1 James Hanscombe(85cc Yamaha) 2 Lloyd Duggan-Thomas(85cc ATI/Finch Factory Racing KTM) 3 Matt Lloyd(150cc Honda) 4 Lewis Glynn(85cc KTM) 5 Finlay James(85cc KTM) 6 Finn Corbijn(85cc Kawasaki) 7 Ben Evans(150cc Honda) 8 Max Lewis(85cc Husqvarna) 9 Lewis Thompson(85cc KTM) 10 Ffion Jones(85cc Ardens Quad Trekking/Enviroclear/Hazport KTM)
Moto two: 1 Hanscombe 2 Duggan-Thomas 3 Glynn 4 Evans 5 Lewis 6 Lloyd 7 Ryan Lancelotte(85cc KTM) 8 Jones 9 Thompson 10 Ben Dutton(85cc KTM)
Moto three: 1 Hanscombe 2 Duggan-Thomas 3 Glynn 4 Lewis 5 Corbijn 6 Lancelotte 7 Jones 8 Tommy Golden(85cc KTM) 9 Thompson 10 Dutton
Overall: 1 Hanscombe 180 points 2 Duggan-Thomas 162 3 Glynn 147 4 Lewis 131 5 Corbijn 121 6 Lancelotte 115
Leading Championship positions after(2 of 4 rounds): 1 Hanscombe 360 points 2 Duggan-Thomas 324 3 Glynn 266 4 Corbijn 254 5 Lewis 250 6 Lancelotte 226 7 James 223 8 Evans 217 9 Thompson 210 10 Jones 208
Experts Overall: 1 Curtis Blamey 180 points 2 James Lane 162 3 Dale Halls 144
Seniors Overall: 1 Lewis Syson 174 points 2 Scott Davidson 168 3 Nicky Jones 145
Juniors Overall: 1 Neil Parry 174 points 2 Bill Petty 146 3 Layton Billson 145