A world-class entry, electric racing, a huge crowd and – compared to previous years – great weather. The Be Wiser Hawkstone International Motocross had all the ingredients in place for a classic day’s action.
There may not have been any championship points on the line but bragging rights were up for grabs as riders sought to get a psychological edge in the penultimate pre-season shakedown international before the serious business gets under way in just a few weeks’ time.
The HIMX format is tried and tested – two races each for MX1 and MX2 before a mixed-capacity Super Final. This year also featured MXY2 125cc and Open class supports and these, along with qualifying sessions across the board, meant that what some riders reckoned was a sanitised circuit at the start of the day eventually roughed up.
The opening MX2 moto was red-flagged after fan-favourite Brad Anderson (Verde Substance KTM) crashed hard on his two-stroke about six minutes in, causing a lengthy delay while he was treated on the track. The knock-on effect of this was all the races were shortened as the organising Salop MC did a great job of getting the programme pretty much back on schedule.
Home hero Adam Sterry (F&H Kawasaki) had ripped to the holeshot and was pulling clear from a four-man freight train featuring Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team-mates Mikkel Haarup and Thomas Kjer Olsen, Dylan Walsh (REVO Husqvarna UK) and Ben Watson (Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha) when the red flags came out.
Undeterred, Sterry went out and holeshot the restart for good measure, leading every lap on his way to a dominant six-second win – but the chasing pack from the original start didn’t fare so well.
Tom Neal (Craigs Motoshack Husqvarna) enjoyed a moment of glory before Watson went past into second but the world #4 was out on lap two when he got a stone caught in his rear sprocket.
After a good start Haarup plummeted down the order on lap two, Olsen gated outside the top 10 and Walsh was knocked off in the first turn. Instead it was teenage talent Jago Geerts (Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha) who advanced quickly from sixth to second and held his position to the end, crossing the line just over six seconds adrift of Sterry.
Henry Jacobi (F&H Kawasaki) took third, closely followed by Alvin Ostlund (REVO Husqvarna UK) and Olsen who had made a series of early passes before plateauing out mid-moto.
Sterry, who’d started the day by taking pole in qualification, claimed his third holeshot in the second MX2 moto with Walsh, Haarup and Bas Vaessen (Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee) in tow.
Looking in complete control, Sterry began to pull clear of Walsh who was really hanging it out as he tried to stay with the leader. In the closing stages, with the race win and overall seemingly in the bag, in his haste to pass a lapped rider Sterry misjudged the bombhole jump, came up short and crashed. Walsh took the win from Haarup and Vaessen with Geerts’ fourth-placed finish following a string of late passes giving him the overall on a tie-break from Sterry who recovered for sixth.
“I had two solid motos but to win the overall, I didn’t expect that but Adam made a mistake in the final heat,” said Geerts. “It was a good day, my riding was good and in the Super Final I finally had a good start for the first time this year so I hope to build on that.”
Haarup was third overall ahead of Vaessen, Olsen and Conrad Mewse (Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee) who recorded solid if unspectacular 6-9 moto scores. Watson, after his no-score in the opening moto, struggled with a clutch problem and came home in 10th for 16th overall.
The MX1 class featured the UK’s three biggest-hitters on a 450 with Shaun Simpson (RFX KTM powered by PAR Homes), Max Anstie (Standing Construct KTM) and Tommy Searle (BOS Kawasaki) all making their home debuts for their new teams.
With the Dutch pairing of Jeffrey Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff both missing through injury, the main international opposition for the three Brits came courtesy of Max Nagl (Sarholz KTM), Arminas Jasikonis (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), Ivo Monticelli (Standing Construct KTM) and Harri Kullas (Cab Screens Honda).
Simpson makes no secret of his love of Hawkstone and the Scot, after qualifying second behind Jasikonis, nailed the holeshot in the opening MX1 moto. He also makes no secret of his love of sand and was clearly in his element at the front of the field and his chances of a race win increased when Searle and Jasikonis, who were scrapping it out for second, both went down and handed second to Nagl and third to Anstie who had their own personal battle going on.
With the clock ticking down a mistake by Simpson put him on the ground and dropped him back to third. Anstie then passed Nagl but couldn’t shake him heading into the final lap when Nagl briefly got in front only for Anstie, roared on by the fans, to pass him back. Kullas, the former Maxxis title contender who’s back racing in Britain this season, was fourth ahead of Monticelli and reigning British MX1 champion Evgeny Bobryshev (BOS Kawasaki). Simpson was leading again at the start of race two until he crashed and sustained a dislocated shoulder.
This left Monticelli to take up the running at the front and he led until the halfway stage when Anstie went through and checked out for a 10-second win to make sure of the overall. Nagl followed Anstie past Kullas in the early stages to take third and claim second overall ahead of Monticelli with Kullas securing a great fourth overall thanks to his 4-6 card. Petar Petrov (North Europe KTM) ended the day in fifth with two seventh-placed finishes.
Jasikonis and Searle renewed their rivalry from race one with the pair fourth and fifth in the moto but both failed to make an impression on the overall following their earlier crashes. With a low sun making vision tough, the best on the day from both classes came together for the Super Final. Nagl holeshot before Monticelli passed him and cleared off to win by almost 11 seconds with Jasikonis a further four-and-a-half seconds further adrift. Olsen upheld the honour of the MX2 class with a fighting fourth from Anstie who’d had an eventful final moto.
“I think the first two motos were solid and we can see where we are,” said Anstie. “It’s been good. I was a little bit unlucky in the last race with the start and then I went off the track a couple of times – it was definitely a bit hairy out there and there were people going everywhere – but it’s always enjoyable to be back in England and riding in front of a home crowd.”
The youth motos produced some great racing with Dominic Lancett (Verde Substance KTM) topping MXY2 Open qualifying and going on to win both motos comfortably from Ike Carter (GL12/DEP Husqvarna) with Max Ingham (Yamaha) claiming a narrow third overall ahead of Patrick Jackson (APJ Commercials) and Marshall Smith (FFR/ETC Yamaha).
In the MXY2 125cc class hotly-tipped Kay de Wolf (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) was the star of the show but he was forced to work hard for his two race wins by Joel Rizzi (RFX KTM powered by PAR Homes) who refused to give the Dutch rider a moment’s rest. Two third-places earned Bobby Bruce (Yamaha) the final step of the podium.
Super Final: 1 Ivo Monticelli (Standing Construct KTM), 2 Max Nagl (Sarholz Racing KTM), 3 Arminas Jasikonis (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), 4 Thomas-Kjer Olsen (KTM), 5 Max Anstie (Standing Construct KTM), 6 Jago Geerts (Monster Kemea Yamaha), 7 Harri Kullas (Cab Screens Deos Honda), 8 Evgeny Bobryshev (BOS GP Kawasaki), 9 Mikkel Haarup (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), 10 Roan Van-de-Moosdijk (F&H Team Kawasaki).
MX1 Class Overall: 1 Max Anstie (Standing Construct KTM) 25+25=50, 2 Max Nagl (Sarholz Racing KTM) 22+20=42, 3 Ivo Monticelli (Standing Construct KTM) 16+22=38, 4 Harri Kullas (Cab Screens Deos Honda) 18+15=33, 5 Petar Petrov (North Europe Racing KTM) 14+14=28, 6 Ryan Houghton (RHR Yamaha) 12+13=25, 7 Evgeny Bobryshev (BOS GP Kawasaki) 15+10=25, 8 Arminas Jasikonis (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 4+18=22, 9 Todd Kellett (Yamaha) 10+11=21, 10 Shaun Simpson (RFX Par Homes KTM Racing) 20+0=20.
MX2 Class Overall: 1 Jago Geerts (Monster Kemea Yamaha) 22+18=40, 2 Adam Sterry (F&H Team Kawasaki) 25+15=40, 3 Mikkel Haarup (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 14+22=36, 4 Bas Vaessen (Hitachi Milwaukee KTM)12+20=32, 5 Thomas-Kjer Olsen (KTM) 16+14=30, 6 Conrad Mewse (Hitachi Milwaukee KTM) 15+12=27, 7 Alvin Ostlund (Revo Husqvarna) 18+9=27, 8 Roan Van-de-Moosdijk (F&H Team Kawasaki) 10+16=26, 9 Davy Pootjes (Diga Procross Husqvarna) 13+13=26, 10 Dylan Walsh (Revo Husqvarna) 0+25=25.
MXY2 125cc Overall: 1 Kay de Wolf (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 25+25=50, 2 Joel Rizzi (RFX Par Homes KTM) 22+22=44, 3 Bobby Bruce (Yamaha) 20+20=40, 4 Jens Walvoort (Moto 2000 KTM) 14+18=32, 5 Sam Nunn (HCR Yamaha) 18+13=31, 6 Ryan De Beer (GPR MX Husqvarna) 12+15=27, 7 James Hanscomb (Apex Bridgestone KTM) 8+14=22, 8 Ty Westcott (South West Lead KTM) 9+12=21, 9 Rob van-de-Veerdonk (GPR MX Husqvarna) 15+5=20,10 Buster Hart 10+8=18.
MXY2 Open: 1 Dominic Lancett (Verde Substance KTM) 25+25=50, 2 Ike Carter (GL12 Dep Pipes) 22+22=44, 3 Max Ingham (Yamaha) 20+13=33, 4 Patrick Jackson (APJ Commercials KTM) 13+18=31, 5 Marshall Smith (FFR Grass Machinery Yamaha) 14+16=30, 6 Conor Mullan (Hitachi Milwaukee KTM UK) 15+14=29, 7 Tom Murphy (TG Academy Kawasaki) 16+12=28, 8 Ryan Thompson (Central Forestry Husqvarna) 7+20=27, 9 Aaron Patstone (Brenron L&D Kestrel KTM) 18+9=27,10 Jack Abbott (KTM) 11+11=22.