The Blaxhall circuit in Suffolk hosted Round 3 of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship this past Bank Holiday weekend (May 6) and the Hitachi ASA KTM UK team of riders Graeme Irwin, Conrad Mewse and Michael Ellis planned to turn up the heat at the scorching venue.
The immaculately conditioned, sandy, jump filled circuit was groomed to perfection, with the relatively long run to the first double right looking like it was ready to home a world championship meeting. Conrad Mewse, now recovered from illness last time out at Canada Heights, entered the round sporting the red plate in MX2 on his KTM 250 SX-F, whilst Graeme Irwin was determined to take back the MX1 Championship lead from Jake Nicholls after losing points following a crash at the previous round.
Things did not go to plan for the Hitachi ASA KTM UK team as disaster struck in the MX1 qualifying session. After putting in only one fast lap, Irwin had a small tumble, trapping him under the right side of his bike. This left the Carrickfergus rider with a number of severe burns.
The ACU Doctors responded immediately and the defending champion requested the wounds be dressed in a way that he could be ready for the first moto. Instead of heading to hospital, Graeme valiantly pushed through the pain barrier to complete both races and still only just missed out on the overall podium, finishing fourth on the day with 32 championship points in the bag.
Graeme Irwin #1: “Most of the day was ruined from that one thing. I’ve got four third degree burns on the top of my right arm and the right side of my back. It was a lot more painful that I thought it would be and because of that I just couldn’t relax. I had to stay in the zone to just be able to ride through the pain and it was hard to stay like that for two races, especially the first race. I had a really bad start, I lapped in fourteenth but managed to pull it back to fourth.
“The second one I didn’t have a bad start, I was in fifth. Monticelli went down and I got up to third. But from then on, I was just struggling; I ended up seventh in the race. It was tough, I gave it my all! I’m not saying it was the pain but that certainly didn’t help me ride faster, but my body was just saying ‘no’, it just wasn’t letting me push and that really sucked.
“Looking ahead I just want to turn this season around, I’ve fallen into a little bit of a rut and I’m not going in the direction I want to. I just need to keep working to turn it around, this championship is far from over. This has just been a bad day, but we will fix it!”
It looked to be another perfect weekend in MX2 for Mewse, taking first place in qualifying under the glorious bank holiday sunshine. But it was more drama for the team in the first moto of the day; Conrad’s rear brake master cylinder was damaged in a racing incident as the pack squeezed its way through the tight second corner. The 19-year-old managed to salvage a third place finish on track despite the impaired braking.
Despite hitting the gate and being last off the line in the second race, the #426 was back on form, charging his way through the entire field and taking the lead by half race distance and held off the overall winner of the day, Michael Barr, for following 8 laps. Michael Ellis battled with a close pack in both races, finishing the weekend with a respectable 14:13.
Conrad Mewse #426: “It’s been a rough weekend for me this weekend, the first moto I lost my back brake on the second turn, so I had to ride the whole race without it. Then there was the decision to dock me for jumping over the finish jump when I couldn’t physically brake without the rear brake, unless they wanted me to grab a handful of front brake on the take-off of a jump, there was nothing else I could do. The second race I hit the gate on the start, so I had to come from last.”
“I’m far from where I want to be with my riding, I’m in a bit of a ditch at the minute but I’m hoping I can come out of it and perform the way I want to perform. It’s nice to keep hold of the red plate and hopefully we can continue that for the rest of the season, Desertmartin is a fantastic track and I’m looking forward to returning there after quite a few years away.”
Team manager, Lee Tolan: “Poor Graeme! The third degree burns from qualifying clearly did not do him any favours today. It was a strong ride in the first moto to get back to 4th considering he gated 14th, battling his way through with Bobryshev. The second moto, we understand why he went backwards, a result of his qualifying injury.
“First race Conrad rode well, he had no rear brake cylinder which made his ride that much more impressive. We did not know until he came in but it was clear the one on the bike had expired. Conrad was docked five places for passing on a yellow flag and we tried to explain to the officials the reason why he could not stop, but it is what it is – we have to accept their decisions. The second race he came from the back and won the moto with great confidence, taking third overall on the day, so if this is going to be one of his bad days then we’ll take that.
“Also in MX2, Michael Ellis did fantastic. We were over the moon with the first race, he finished 14th, one of his best results of the season, but more importantly he rode strong and looked confident out there! In the second moto he started to make his way through the pack and was into the top 10 before falling back a little towards the end, but still bettered his Moto 1 result finishing in 13th. We were really happy with how he rode and we expect to see bigger and better things out from him.”