Following a five-week break in the schedule, the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean moves into the second half of the series on Sunday at Duns in the Scottish Borders.
Operated by former top-flight racer Bryan MacKenzie, the hard-pack track will be prepped to perfection and after the last two rounds in sand offers a welcome alternative to the soft stuff.
MX1 championship pace-setter Jake Nicholls (Buildbase Honda) didn’t have the best of days last time out at Desertmartin following a four-race win-streak but he’s still very much the man to beat. Crashes in both races kept him off the podium in Northern Ireland but he maintained his series lead at 19 points after tying with second-placed Evgeny Bobryshev (Lombard Express Suzuki with PAR Homes).
The big Russian – who’s currently 12th in the MXGP world championship – took the title back in 2010 and remains Jake’s biggest threat but defending champion Graeme Irwin (Hitachi ASA KTM UK) is only another 10 points further back.
Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna) is another podium threat. A DNF at Desertmartin has dropped him to 53 points behind Nicholls but he has the pace to win and the two-time MX2 champion hasn’t been on top of the MX1 box since 2014 so it’s long overdue.
So who else can we expect to see pushing for a podium position? Italian Ivo Monticelli (iFly JK Racing Yamaha) has impressed this season and Ryan Houghton (RHR Yamaha) is super-consistent but if he wild cards – and it looks likely he will – then Tommy Searle (Bike It DRT Kawasaki) is going to be a tough man to beat.
The 2016 champion is finally fit after an early-season collarbone break and won both races at Desertmartin. Another double at Duns is by no means a given but the form book is on his side.
Runaway MX2 leader Conrad Mewse (Hitachi ASA KTM UK) sat out the last GP at Loket after a practice crash left him with heavy bruising but even not fully fit he has to start favourite on Sunday.
The 19-year-old has dominated this season, winning three out of four overalls and seven out of eight motos and leads Josh Gilbert (Buildbase Honda) by 31 points.
Currently a further 15 points adrift in third, Mel Pocock (REVO Husqvarna UK) is another rider overdue an overall. Just five points behind Mel, Liam Knight (Pope Racing KTM) has shown race-winning speed this season but hasn’t strung two strong motos together.
The only rider other than Conrad to stand on top of the MX2 podium so far in 2018, veteran Irish racer Martin Barr (REVO Husqvarna UK) has been on the receiving end of some bad luck this year and currently lies fifth but he’s capable of winning at Duns.
In a class that’s stacked with talent, other podium contenders include Josh Spinks (M Smith KTM) and Micky Eccles (Manchester MC Husqvarna).
Duns will also include round two of the MXY2 series where Callum Green (Buildbase Honda) holds a two-point lead over Rossi Beard (Putoline Planet Suspension Husqvarna) with George Sim-Mutch just one point further behind.
Duns is situated off the A6015. Postcode is TD11 3NS.
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 with the first race of the day at 10.45am.