The SJP Moto Husqvarna squad travelled down to Culham near Oxford for the opening round of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship, supported by Pro Clean. After the cancellation of the MX Nationals the previous weekend the team were keen to get the season started at the hillside circuit next to the River Thames.
After rain storms during the early hours of the Sunday morning the track conditions became much more challenging with deep ruts in sections and heavy conditions. With the light rain continuing during the qualifying sessions the riders headed out on track for their sessions. In the MX2 class Tom Neal was able to produce a solid lap early on to finish 10th fastest, while Dexter Douglas who was making his Pro debut finished 28th and around the riders he was previously battling with in the youth ranks. In the MX1 class Rob Davidson produced a strong lap time to finish ninth fastest on his first outing on the 450 machine.
With the rain stopping during the lunch break it was time for the gate to drop on the new season. In the MX2 class both Tom and Dexter started in the mid pack and had to work hard during the opening laps with Tom climbing as high as 14th before a small mistake late on would see him have to settle for 18th place at the flag.
Unfortunately, Dexter suffered a crash midway into the race and was forced to retire to prepare for the second moto. The second race saw both Tom and Dexter around 20th at the end of the opening lap when Tom was forced to retire due to a technical problem with the bike, while Dexter pushed hard and worked his way into 19th place at the finish and claimed his first Maxxis British Championship points.
“Today has been good for my first Maxxis in the MX2 class,” Douglas said. “I qualified okay in 28th and then in the first race I was inside the points when I had big crash and pulled out of the race. Then in the second race I got a better start and suffered with arm pump early on but got better towards the end and finished 19th to score my first points in the Maxxis, so I’m happy with that.”
“Qualifying went really well for me and I finished 10th fastest, which was a real bonus as it’s not normally my strong point,” offered Neal. “Then in the first race I didn’t get the best of starts and struggled in the opening laps but pulled through and got to 14th at one point before slipping to 18th at the finish.
“The second race I was inside the points on the first lap but I had a problem with the front forks and clamp so had to pull in for safety, which is a shame, but now we focus on the next round.”
In the MX1 class Rob Davidson was looking to make a strong start on his premier class debut and when the gate dropped he did just that as he fired the SJP Moto machine into the first corner at the head of the field alongside Jamie Law. With a strong start in the bag Davidson pushed hard to remain in the top four during the first half of the race before finishing in sixth place. In the second moto Davidson once again fired out of the gate and into the first turn at the front of the pack and after struggling to settle into the race early on Davidson was able to recover in the second half of the race and finish in seventh place for fifth overall on the day and the top Husqvarna in the MX1 class.
“This is the first race on a 450 so everything from this morning’s qualifying to the races were a learning curve for me,” said Davidson. “I was happy with my speed all day and the extra power of the 450 proved that I can run at the front with two great starts which made the races so much easier.
“I’ve still got more work to do with my fitness and training plan and I’m not at 100 per cent yet but we cannot argue with the results from today or change the dates for the start of the season so hopefully I can build from this as the season progresses.”
Team manager, Leighton Haigh, commented: “As a whole it’s been a good day for the team, Dexter qualified around the position that we were expecting him to when you look at the riders he was competing with last year, and scored points in the second race after crashing out of the first race.
“Tom started the day well with 10th in qualifying but suffered with two average starts and then had a technical issue with the bikes in the second race. Then Rob in MX1 rode mega all day with two holeshots and two solid rides to finish sixth and seventh for fifth overall and top Husqvarna in MX1, which is great for our team.”
The team’s Youth riders continue their preparation for the opening round of the British Youth Nationals at Culham next weekend, with the Pro’s next event being at Preston Docks for the MX Nationals the weekend after.