The Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean sets sail across the Irish Sea this weekend for its now traditional date at Desertmartin in Northern Ireland on Sunday and it’s super-tight at the top in both the MX1 and MX2 title fights.
The huge first-race, first-turn pile-up in MX1 last time out at Blaxhall that’s sidelined Ryan Houghton (RHR Yamaha) also left red plate holder Shaun Simpson (RFX KTM powered by PAR Homes) with a broken hand that’s forced him out of the last three GPs.
The Scot bravely ground out 7-4 finishes in an exercise in damage limitation but it’s Tommy Searle (BOS Kawasaki) – who also went down hard in the crash – who now leads by five points.
Simpson will be back this Sunday and shouldn’t be too race rusty after his enforced absence so, as long as his hand is sufficiently healed, expect him and Searle to recommence their fight at the front.
This will be the fourth consecutive year that the Maxxis series has visited the spectacular sweeping sandy circuit and there’s no shortage of podium contenders who relish the soft stuff queuing up behind Searle and Simpson.
Gert Krestinov (Phoenix Tools Apico Kawasaki) sits a distant third in the points table and is coming under increasing pressure from Jake Millward (Chambers Racing Husqvarna) whose form on a 450 this season after making the switch from MX2 has been a revelation.
Other possible podium contenders include Brad Anderson (Verde Substance KTM) – although he’ll have his work cut out on the 250cc two-stroke – along with Jake Shipton (Crescent Yamaha), Mel Pocock (ASA United KTM) and Lewis Tombs (Buildbase Honda) if he’s sufficiently recovered from the broken hand he sustained at Blaxhall.
Sadly, Harri Kullas (Cab Screens Deos Group Racing Honda) is out after injuring his shoulder training on a mountain bike but Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna) will be in action at a Maxxis round for the first time this year.
While it’s tight at the top of MX1 it’s even tighter in MX2 with just seven points covering the leading three riders. Dylan Walsh (REVO Husqvarna UK) did enough to take the red plate from his team-mate Alvin Ostlund at Blaxhall as a career-first overall win moved Josh Gilbert (Buildbase Honda) into second, one point behind the Kiwi.
It’s a fascinating contest between the two GP regulars and EMX250 competitor Gilbert and it’s too close to call. Walsh and Ostlund will be making their first visits to Desertmartin which in theory should give Gilbert an advantage although the REVO riders haven’t had too many problems learning new tracks this season.
With defending champion Conrad Mewse (Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee) still sidelined, his team-mate Bas Vaessen is definitely a rider to watch.
The Dutchman has been flying in the world championship and heads into his team’s home round full of confidence and you also can’t count out local hero Martin Barr (Crescent Yamaha).
Desertmartin is situated off Rectory Road south of Tobermore near Magherafelt.
Postcode is BT45 5QW. Admission prices are £20 for adults and £5 for children aged five to 15 with a family ticket available at £45. Practice starts at 9am.