The Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean swings back into action on Sunday at the spectacular Canada Heights track in Kent.
Although officially billed as round three it’s actually just the second event on the eight-round calendar after the original opener at Lyng was cancelled following heavy rain and switched to the reserve date of October 14.
Culham had the honour of kicking off this year’s championship on April 1 on a super-challenging track displaying all the ill-effects of heavy rain. Since then we’ve had almost three weeks of racing so – in order of how they finished at round one and taking into account their recent form – let’s have a run through the top dogs in each class…
#1 Graeme Irwin (Hitachi ASA KTM UK)
The reigning champ, Irwin ran 1-3 at Culham and takes a two-point lead into Canada Heights this weekend. Since then the Irishman has struggled to make his presence felt at MXGP level with only two points added to his total after races in Italy and Portugal. A crash and a mechanical problem cost him a lot of points in Kent in 2017 but he used the event as a springboard to win the title and he’s the man everyone wants to beat this weekend.
#777 Evgeny Bobryshev (Lombard Express Suzuki with PAR Homes)
Apart from Irwin, the tall Russian is the only other MXGP regular in the domestic series this year. His 4-1 card from Culham demonstrated that the 2010 champion has the pace to regain the title and his world championship form has been better than Irwin’s so far.
#45 Jake Nicholls (Buildbase Honda)
The Suffolk Shuffler won the overall at the first two rounds last year before a dislocated hip while on GP duty in Italy put him out for the rest of the season. A solid third at Culham despite a mechanical issue in the opening moto and a crash in race two, Nicholls has the speed – and desire – to win on Sunday…
#60 Brad Anderson (Verde Substance KTM)
“Not bad for an old man,” was the two-time champion’s comment after his third place in the opening race at Culham. He may be a veteran but the Beast from the North East – fourth after round one – is a fierce competitor.
#227 Kristian Whatley (RHR Yamaha)
The 2012 champion, K-Dub broke his femur at Canada Heights almost 12 months ago and missed the rest of the year while he recovered. He was flying under the radar at Culham and shocked a lot of people by taking fifth overall – okay, his race fitness wasn’t quite there but he’s only going to get stronger as the season progresses.
#44 Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna)
A mechanical problem dropped him out of fourth in the first race at Culham but he bounced back with second in moto two. A double MX2 champion, EBB is a class act and a podium contender at Canada Heights.
#100 Tommy Searle (Bike It DRT Kawasaki)
Champion in 2016, Searle missed almost the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and then broke his collarbone at Valkenswaard in mid-March. He’s making his comeback with a wild card ride at Canada Heights…
#426 Conrad Mewse (Hitachi ASA KTM UK)
With two wins at Culham, the 18-year-old former factory Husqvarna rider was in unstoppable form and held fifth in the world following the first three GPs. He failed to score in Portugal last week and has slipped to seventh but he’s still the man to beat on Sunday.
#3 Josh Gilbert (Honda Adventure Centre)
Even Gilbert was shocked when he ran 2-2 at Culham but the young Cornishman has served his apprenticeship and now it’s his time to shine.
#119 Mel Pocock (REVO Husqvarna UK)
Back to his best after a horrific hand injury in 2015, Pocock’s 3-4 at Culham puts him third in the championship chase but the current EMX250 series leader wants – and is capable of – a lot more.
#134 Liam Knight (Pope Racing KTM)
The man from Hampshire had a shocker of a season in 2017 but he was back on the pace at Culham with 5-3 finishes good enough for fourth overall.
#115 Ashton Dickinson (Craigs Yamaha)
Ashton who? The surprise package in MX2 at Culham, Dickinson was 31st in the championship last season and his fifth place at Culham came out of the blue. A regular at the Millsaps Training Facility in the US of A, he’s obviously fast but can he maintain his form at Canada Heights?
#6 Alexander Brown (Apico Drysdale KTM)
The 17-year-old Scot is one of the UK’s brightest young talents and sixth overall at Culham will have done his confidence no harm whatsoever.
#50 Martin Barr (REVO Husqvarna UK)
At 30 years old the teak-tough rider from Northern Ireland is the elder statesman of the class but he has what it takes to win the title – if he can stay upright. He damaged ligaments in his right hand at Culham in a qualification crash but if fully fit for Canada Heights then he has to be one of the favourites for the overall.
#55 Mike Kras (GL12 Racing KTM)
The defending champion, Mike Kras won both races at Culham to mirror his performance at the second round of the EMX300 series in Spain a week earlier. He’s a clear favourite on Sunday…
#704 Ashley Wilde (RMJ Husqvarna UK)
Ash the Dash was injured for most of 2017 and has since reinvented himself as a two-stroke specialist. Fast and fit, if anyone’s going to catch Kras then it’s the man from the North West.
#272 Neville Bradshaw (272 Raceschool Yamaha)
Vastly experienced, the South African has done more laps around Canada Heights than he’s had hot biltong! Always a contender whenever he lines up behind a gate, if he’s going well you’ll spot the smile under his helmet from the M25.
#2 James Dunn (GL12 Racing KTM)
He’s got style for miles but if he gets out of bed the wrong side then he’s the most frustrating man on the track. When, however, he turns up ready to race he’s more fluid than hot two-stroke oil running down team boss Bob Buchanan’s silk boxer shorts…
Picture © Imagerich Media