Just weeks after switching from Passion Racing Husqvarna over to FUS AMS KTM machinery, Luke Burton delighted his new team by blasting his orange mount to a great debut win on Sunday during round two of the all-action AMCA British Motocross Championship, powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop.
On the rough, tough Branston circuit near Burton-on-Trent, Luke had to work hard for an opening race seventh spot before then taking comfortable victories in moto two and three.
Joining him on the MX2 podium was the very much in-form Matt Ridgway and series leader Josh Waterman. In MX1 it was Richard Cannings taking the win from Elliot Barrs and Joe Jones. That Branston success means Cannings jumps from fourth up to top slot in the MX1 Championship table after his main rivals encountered a painful conclusion to what had been a bruising day!
Following heavy rain, less than 24 hours before the event, early conditions were very heavy and sticky. That quagmire then quickly dried to form a total maze of deep, energy sapping, gnarly ruts which required total respect, concentration and precise control from the competing riders.
Indeed right from the off on Sunday and in the opening MX2 clash there was to be drama as championship leader Josh Waterman collided with Adam Cook just yards from the start gate!
As both Waterman and Cook started the long chase from the back, the hungry pack was already disappearing and on lap one there was further incident as Luke Burton, Lewis King and Paul Neale collided and became the first victims of those dreaded ruts, tasting the mud and now with it all to do.
After those frantic, bar-bashing early exchanges, it was Bradley Wheeler, watched by his dad Brian, the former GP competitor who led the pack with Zac Stealey, Robert Johnson, Daniel Brough, Alec Everitt and Matt Ridgway in tow.
Showing great style, young Wheeler then controlled proceedings up until lap six before being passed by both Stealey and the very hard charging Ridgway. Using all of his previous experience gained in Enduro competition, Ridgway revelled in the conditions and on lap seven blasted past Stealey before racing onto a great win.
As Stealey got home in second and Wheeler a super third, the story of this moto was all about the early fallers. Showing fantastic skill, speed and determination, King got right back to fourth. Waterman came in fifth, Burton seventh and Cook 11th. Also starting the event strongly were Jamie Smith, Dean Swift, Johnson and Jansen Day.
In the second MX2 clash, Wheeler again grabbed the holeshot but by the completion of lap one it was Burton in control from Ridgway, King, Waterman, Cook and Stealey. Four laps in and Ridgway picked up a rear wheel puncture as both Waterman and King then overhauled him.
Undeterred though and showing great determination, Matt hung in there and even briefly re-passed King before eventually being forced to settle for fourth, still a fantastic result.
At the front though, Burton was in terrific form and proving that he is well and truly dialled into his new KTM machine, blasting to an eventual massive win, 21 seconds clear of Waterman with King in third. Also inside the top ten was Cook in a solid fifth, Stealey sixth, Paul Neale seventh, early leader Wheeler eighth, Lewis Meadows ninth and Brough 10th.
Moto three and it was Burton all the way from gate to flag, enough to confirm his maiden overall win for team FUS AMS KTM. In the early exchanges of this last clash, Neale, having his best ride of the day held second before both Waterman and Ridgway pushed him back.
On lap one, Waterman had been down in ninth before smoothly gliding through to chase Burton home and in the process also maintain his series lead. Right up to lap five, Cook was also well on course for another strong performance until dropping back to 17th. Impressing again in this moto was King, Day, Stealey, Meadows, Wheeler and Mark Young.
Luke Dean was fastest rider away in the opening MX1 clash at Branston but by the completion of lap one it was Richard Cannings in control.
Ominously though, by lap four, a very fast Jack Cox had already moved up into second after initially gating in sixth. One circuit later and Cox had scorched to the front and there he remained, taking the win nearly seven seconds clear of Cannings with Dean in third. Starting their Branston adventures with a strong ride in moto one were Luke Mellows, Sean Wainwright, Joe Jones, Brandon Benjamin, Elliot Barrs, Scott Bates and Shaun Pearce.
Moto two and Luke Meredith grabbed the MX1 holeshot but yet again that man Cannings was soon in control leaving Elliot Barrs, Sam Smith, Jones, Luke Spence, Mellows and Ed Briscoe to give chase.
Surprisingly, in the early exchanges Cox was right down in 13th and with it all to do as at the front Cannings continued to dictate proceedings despite the pressure being inserted on him by a very determined Barrs. That battle at the front then became a three way tussle as the hard charging Cox eventually joined the party on lap six.
With just two laps remaining, Cox moved up to second, closing hard on Cannings and just failing in a last ditch effort to snatch a dramatic win. So at the flag, it was victory to Cannings from Cox, Barrs, Mellows and Jones.
Taking sixth with another great ride was Benjamin who had been right down in 15th on completion of lap one. Whilst Briscoe, Bates, Smith and Jack Gregory were also in the mix, leading contender Dean had to settle for 12th this time around, suffering from badly blistered hands.
The early exchanges of MX1 moto three was all about a frantic three way battle for supremacy featuring Cannings, Mellows and Cox until the whole mood of the day was changed by a truly sickening high speed crash. With Mellows and Cox colliding on a downhill section, the momentum carried them towards an innocent and totally unaware Cannings.
In the contact that then unfolded, miraculously Cannings saved a major off and maintained forward motion but for Mellows and Cox it was far worse.
As Mellows cartwheeled down the track, Cox and his machine were catapulted through the ropes and into a wooded section which lines the Branston circuit. Incredibly and despite being very dazed, battered and bruised, Mellows then somehow climbed back onto his bike and finish the race in 28th, but on completion he collapsed to his knees and required a trip to hospital.
Despite his early fright, a visibly shaken Cannings maintained his composure to race onto the win ahead of Barrs, Bates, Benjamin, Jones, Jason Kendrick, Gregory, Pearce, Jamie Dobson and Andrew Smart.
Afterwards on the podium, whilst all the prize winners were pleased with their day’s work, equally they all expressed their concerns for the injured riders, typical of the great respect and comradery which exists within the AMCA.
First news on the injured riders suggests that Cox has suffered a dislocated shoulder whilst Mellows has concussion.
In the Branston support action there were overall victories for Dan Jagielski, Matthew Hockenhall, Dylan Spencer, Joe Collier and Oliver James with Experts winner Hockenhall bagging maximum points on his way to success.
Support race results:
Championship Non-Qualifiers 1 Dan Jagielski 174 points 2 Adam Litchfield 149 3 Tom Weston 142.
Experts 1 Matthew Hockenhall 180 points 2 Robert Fox 154 3 Matt Lee 151.
Seniors 1 Dylan Spencer 174 points 2 George Balfour 164 3 Callum Evans 142.
Juniors 1 Joe Collier 174 points 2 Rhys James 150 3 Aaron Harper 136.
Inter Juniors 1 Oliver James 164 points 2 Lewis Thompson 161 3 Ricky Harrison 157.