Graeme Irwin is this year’s ACU British MX1 Champion. He’s enjoyed an incredible season, which included a victory run of eight consecutive motos and he has certainly become the man to beat in the UK. A former HydroGarden Weston Beach Race winner in 2013, he can’t wait to get out there again in October and is looking forward to ripping it up and battling for glory aboard his Buildbase Honda.
Good to catch up with you Graeme, can you tell us about your amazing season?
“It’s been really good. The best year by far. To finally win the British championship was nice to do. It’s been a goal for a long time, ever since I started in the British series and since I won the Irish and Ulster championships. I won the MXY2 championship as a kid, I’ve kind of done everything in the UK you could win – I took the national championships last year, so it was the only thing left to do. This year was awesome, and to go eight races in a row was very special.”
“I was a bit bummed at Foxhill as I was sick the week before. I wasn’t 100% coming into that last round. It was a shame not to end on a high, as we had to stop halfway through the day, but I’m not going to dwell on it. The championship was done and dusted, and the focus now is on the Motocross of Nations.”
The Motocross of Nations is a very special event, do you think it’s going to be even more crazy with it being at Matterley Basin?
“We always get good support from Ireland for the Motocross of Nations, and everyone always makes the journey over, but with it being Matterley Basin, that little bit closer to home, I’m sure the Irish crowds will be even more awesome.”
“It’s going to be really good to be around the GP guys again. Our biggest problem is that it’s been so long since Foxhill; it’s five weeks since we were racing, so it’s just about keeping on top of things. If I can keep up the speed from the end of the championship until the nations then I think we’ve a good chance of some results.”
Is there anything particular you’ve done differently this year to step it up and clinch that championship?
“I know what it takes to be at the front. I get myself ready no matter what I’m racing, and the goal in the end was to win the British Championship. I still prepare like I’m racing GP’s, and although I wasn’t this year, you still have to put the same amount of effort in as those guys. I moved across to Belgium, as most of the British Championship this year was in sand, and I was going backwards and forward from races, staying in the camper. I was doing the time on the bike, putting the work in and I think I have a really good plan. My physical fitness is really good, and all the pieces of the puzzle came together to get the job done.”
So having had a lot of sand practice, what do you think your chances are at the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race?
“There of course is only one goal at the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race. I had planned to do it last year, but I got hurt at the nations, which put a stop to it and it was a bit of a shame. This year I’m really looking forward to it. Obviously after the nations it is the last race of the year and there’s no pressure, it’s a bit of fun, but when it comes to race day and you go off it gets a bit serious. I had a ball there when I last did it in ’13. We rocked up on a stock bike with no big tank or anything – just me and my mate in a van and we got the job done. This year we’re going to take a little bit of a different approach with the team and prepare properly for it. I think we can go there and get a good result because we know the bike we will be riding will be competitive. It’s a little bit different, but the basis is the same as my bike.”
Are you preparing or training in any different way before the event?
“I won’t be changing anything before the race, and I won’t be doing long motos. I’ll keep with what I’m doing, then have an easy week before Weston. It’s one of those races that takes a lot of energy and you run off the adrenaline. To prepare for a three-hour race coming off a motocross season is really not possible in two weeks. I think if we go into the day feeling 100%, we’ve put our bodies through a lot during the year so as long as we can stay fit, have a good nations and a good week after I think we’ll be in a good shape.”
What does it feel like to start at the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race?
“If you get a good start to get out of the blocks early and don’t get hit with the spray it’s good. If you get a bad start you get buried, you make mistakes. The spray comes up and you try to go to the side and the next thing you know you’re by the water. It’s awesome, I don’t think there’s anything else like it.”
The race can be known as an end of season party race – do you prefer it for the party or the racing?
“Definitely the Saturday night can be fun. Is there going to be a breathalyser for the race? (laughs). No, seriously, it’s definitely the race. Maybe a few years ago I would have said the party, but honestly I’ve got to say I’m looking forward to the racing. That getting down to the nitty gritty part, biting the bottom lip and saying hey hold on here there’s not long to go. After an hour you’re already feeling it, and the next two hours it’s like a motocross race where you’re hanging on.”
What do you think to the other competitors?
“I think honestly I’d like to race Knighter for the win. I really like him, and the two of us get on really well, so it would be cool. I’ve done a bit of riding with him in the Isle of Man and we had a lot of fun. If it was me and him going backwards and forwards it would be pretty awesome. Obviously Todd was there last year, and I wasn’t, but I’m sure he’ll be up there as well as all the other guys. It’s one of those races you can’t count anybody out – I expect last year not so many people expected Todd to win it, and when I won it nobody expected me to win it. You can’t focus on one rider and watch where he is, but if I could pick someone to battle to the flag with it would probably be Knighter.”
To see Graeme in action at the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race make sure you head to Weston-Super-Mare on October 13-15. Tickets, entries and more information can be found at: www.westonbeachrace.com