With the AMCA British Motocross Championship now having passed its midway point, the pictures at the top of the respective title chases are becoming a little clearer.
As Luke Burton(MX1) and Josh Waterman(MX2) the leaders right from the off continue to gradually edge away from the chasing pack, Ben Saunders(2T) and Matt Gordon(Vets) have both now stretched their advantages following a dramatic round four at Hawkstone Park on Sunday. Due to the famous Shropshire venue having a strict 6pm finishing time, several red-flag incidents meant that the latest action of this series powered by Datatag and supported by Dunlop was unfortunately restricted to just two blocks of racing although there was still to be plenty of excitement and drama!
Whilst MX1 pretty much followed the current form book as Burton took the win from Gary Gibson and James Dodd, the MX2 podium had a rather unfamiliar look to it! For the first time this season, pace-setter Waterman did not make the box as wildcard Ray Rowson took top honours ahead of two very impressive performers in James Wainwright and Zac Stealey. There was also new names taking home the 2T trophies as Saunders was joined by Jake Edey and Jamie Powell. Over In the equally competitive Vets class, Terry House, Gordon and good old Yorkshireman Danny Blakeley filled the top three.
In the event promoted by the AMCA Northern Group, the MX2 class were first up and it was Rowson who led the charge from Charlie Hamlet, Wainwright and Stealey as Waterman had gated in 8th and already had plenty of work to do! Quickly moving up to 4th, Josh was on a charge but five laps in he suffered a big crash which dropped him back down to 9th. At the front, Rowson galloped to a big win as Wainwright again displayed his immense sand riding skills to get home in 2nd with Hamlet having easily his best ride of the campaign to bag a great 3rd. Earlier in the race, Elliot Barrs had also been right in the thick of the action before dropping back to 11th leaving Stealey, Luke Mellows, Lewis Meadows, Waterman, Cory McShane, Jansen Day and Lewis King to move forward and round off the top ten. After the moto, Waterman discovered that a sticking holeshot device button on his KTM’s front fork leg had meant he had just four inches of suspension travel so that 7th place finish was to be a great effort!
With rain falling, Chris Povey made a super start to the second MX2 clash and thus lead the charge before Rowson moved through and then control the moto all the way to the chequered flag. In the early stages Barrs had also got off to a flyer and was right in there, really mixing it, fighting hard and holding a strong 2nd spot before eventually dropping back to 15th. Repeating their super race one efforts, Wainwright(2nd) and Stealey(4th) were right on the gas doing more than enough to earn fully deserved eventual podium spots. Splitting the dynamic duo was series leader Waterman who produced another determined effort. Gating 12th and despite jarring his back in the early stages, Josh dug deep to scorch up to 3rd and earn another big, vital 50 Championship points. In the mix again were Day, King, Meadows and Hamlet whilst Adam Wells and Jack Gardner also broke into the top ten.
After winning 3 out of the last 4 AMCA MX1 moto’s, Gary Gibson arrived at Hawkstone in very buoyant mood and then proceeded to record the fastest qualification time. And when the gate dropped to signal the start of race one, Gibson took very little time to pass fast starting Brad Turner who had led the initial charge to the opening turn. Quickly series leader Luke Burton also passed Turner and from here onwards the race was well and truly on! Five rip-roaring laps later after the leading duo had passed and repassed, Burton finally hit the front before going onto take the win with Gibson still chasing hard in 2nd. Getting back to his best form, James Dodd took a smooth 3rd spot from sand Expert Edward Briscoe, Turner, Ryan Crowder, Luke Dean and Luke Meredith. Also starting in style and producing a super moto one ride, Richard Cannings stormed all the way up the leaderboard from an early 19th spot to earn 9th as Shane Carless making a welcome return from injury took 10th. Not enjoying this moto though was John May who had a very comfortable ride when his front fork leg collapsed, thus restricting him to a 13th place finish.
There was high drama at the start of the second MX1 clash as Gibson and Turner collided on the opening turn with both riders going down. Whilst the very unfortunate Turner was forced out with a broken wrist, Gibson restarted in last position and now had it all to do!. At the front, Meredith had made a brilliant start to lead the pack before disaster struck when he crashed in spectacular fashion, thus dropping back to 4th behind Burton, Dodd and Dean. Whilst Burton then glided to another win with Dodd looking very comfortable in 2nd, all the attention was on a crazy eight rider train battling for 3rd which started with Dean at the head and finished with Gibson at the tail and already up to 11th after just three laps! By lap five, Gibson was on the move again and incredibly moving into to 4th before passing Dean two laps from home and thus snatch 3rd, a great effort! Also having a super rider in the rain was Ryan Morris, bagging a strong 5th ahead of Crowder, Adam Harris, Briscoe, Cannings and early leader Meredith.
In a very entertaining opening 2T clash at Hawkstone, Jamie Powell, Jake Edey and finally Ben Saunders took turns to head the contest. Eventually though it was series leader Saunders who was able to see off the close attentions of Edey before racing onto the win. With Gavin Houson slipping into 3rd, James Lane took 4th from Powell, Aston Illsley, Jordan Wright, Jack Waterman and Rory Jones. The ride of the moto though surely belonged to Elliot Stones who took 10th after initially gating right down in 23rd!
Young Edey was fastest away in 2T moto two but his joy lasted just one lap as the immaculate Saunders took control to thus bag another big win. However In this second clash, Lane was to crash hard on the opening lap, painfully trapping a nerve in his back in the process and being restricted to a 32nd place finish. Also tasting the Shropshire sand was Waterman who after gating in 8th crashed very hard on lap two before bravely remounting and earn 21st. So with Lane and co in trouble, Edey and Powell took full advantage to thus confirm their respective podium places. Another lad enjoying the second Hawkstone moto was Rory Jones who despite being just about the youngest competitor in the AMCA series he brilliantly got home in 4th with Houson, Stones, Illsley and Wright again performing in style. Indeed this moto two result could prove to be pivotal in the battle for the title! Going into the event just 6 points separated Saunders and his closest rival Lane but the gap at the top of the table as now moved to 70 points with the pendulum swinging firmly in Saunders favour!
Just like his brother, Simon Lane was also to loose vital ground in the Championship race after a rear-wheel puncture restricted him to a 9th place finish in the Hawkstone Veterans contest. Flying high a looking very comfortable in the sand, series leader Matt Gordon took the win with Terry House moving through from a very early 10th spot to take 2nd. After having to replace a broken silencer during timed qualification, Danny Blakeley got his trusty 2T Yamaha back on song to earn 3rd from remarkably two riders with the same name of Gary Jones, Martin Atherton, Sean Smith and Gary J Williams.
Proudly flying the flag for 2T power, Blakeley grabbed the holeshot in the second Vets clash before being overhauled by Gordon shortly before the completion of the opening circuit. The man though with all the speed in this clash was House who after initially gating 6th took just three laps to move into pole position. From here onwards, Terry stormed ahead aboard his KTM machine and thus bag a massive victory from Gordon, Blakeley, Jones and Lane. That win for House also meant that he pinched the Hawkstone overall verdict from Gordon after they both finished the event locked together on a total of 114 points. In the Championship race though, Gordon has a nice 53 point advantage but there is still three rounds remaining!
Completing the Hawkstone action was the Championship Non-Qualifiers which saw Jason Kendrick top the MX1/MX2 class whilst Nigel Woodman took the honours in the 2T/Vets. Following a tough round four, riders now have just two weeks to recover before their next adventure at Boraston on July 10th.
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The results of the event are below.