As most enthusiasts know, sand is a test of physical and mental strength as it always chops up mega rough and has a tendency to change from lap to lap. This weekend the fifth round of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship took place in the sand of Leuchars in Scotland, where Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle, Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Adam Sterry and Apico Husqvarna’s Alexander Brown topped the boxes in their respective classes.
When the gates slammed down, there was no catching Hitachi Revo Husqvarna’s Jake Nicholls who took the holeshot by a country mile over Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle and Geartec Yamaha UK’s Elliott Banks-Browne.
Before the end of lap one, Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Shaun Simpson had added himself to the battle for the lead after scrubbing past a couple of guys, and EBB, for third, but lost his chance at challenging for a race win when he hit a soft spot, lost balance and laid it down.
Simpson lost a ton of ground but held third place, while Searle started to hook his gears and caught up to the back of Nicholls. He got close enough to show Nicholls a wheel here and there but didn’t have an easy task in taking the lead off of the Husky star.
It was awesome to see Nicholls respond to the challenge of Searle, who ended up making a mistake with three laps to go when he lost the front. After a fast remount, the Kawasaki ace threw it all on the table in effort to catch Nicholls, and did so with two blistering fast laps.
With one lap to go, it was obvious the race was going to go down to the wire with only 1 second separating Nicholls and Searle, and it did! It was a nail-biter, but Nicholls managed to get the job done by the narrowest of margins. Searle had to settle for second while the defending champ, Simpson, came home in third ahead of Buildbase Honda’s Graeme Irwin and Phoenix Tools Honda’s Gert Krestinov.
In race two it looked as though Searle had learned something from Nicholls in race one and took the outside gate to hold it pinned around the berm for an epic holeshot ahead of the defending champ, Simpson. Simpson didn’t waste any time in taking a stab at Searle, they came out of the wave section side by side but he couldn’t get the job done. The race one winner, Nicholls, on the other hand was also like a bull at a gate on the opening lap and put in a series of gnarly passes to be third by the end of lap one.
Searle was on fire in race two and had a 6 second gap on Simpson by the end of lap three who was a couple of seconds clear of Nicholls. Irwin was running a comfortable fourth before a panic rev signaled trouble after he got cross-rutted on a jump, he didn’t lose a spot but Dyer & Butler KTM’s Steven Lenoir was able to close right up.
While all sorts of carnage was going on around fifth place, Searle threw away the lead through the wave section and handed it to Simpson on a silver platter. A couple of laps later Nicholls added to the chaos with a crash of his own but fortunately didn’t lose third.
With two laps to go and everyone was on the edge of their seats as Simpson and Searle went bar-to-bar for the race win AND the overall, while dicing through lapped riders. It’s always difficult to tell where the slower riders will go, and Simpson got unlucky in that situation when he clipped one and went off the track. Searle inherited the lead and had to lay it all on the line to keep the champ at bay.
Simpson pulled the pin and looked as though he would get Searle back but had it slip through his fingers with yet another mistake late on the final lap. Searle managed to compose himself for an emphatic race win which landed him on the top step of the box for the second time this season. Simpson was disappointed with second place ahead of Nicholls, Irwin and Leok.
It was a crazy day in MX1 with some of the best racing we’ve seen all season. Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle went 2 – 1 for the overall while Hitachi Revo Husqvarna’s Jake Nicholls went 1 – 3 for second ahead of Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Shaun Simpson who was third with a 3 – 2 result.
Dyer & Butler KTM’s Liam Knight pulled his first holeshot of the season but was knocked back to second before the end of lap one with the local lad Bryan MacKenzie launching his Apico Husqvarna over a table top three quarters of lap in to take the lead. Knight wasn’t too phased by the pass and tucked in behind him before being passed by Buildbase Honda’s Martin Barr.
At first it was thought that the fan favourite, MacKenzie, would check out right away, but it didn’t quite happen that way as Barr was looking extremely comfortable out in the soft sand, which was particularly surprising as his shoulder is still giving him grief.
As Barr went to work on Bry-Mac, Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Adam Sterry started to come into his own and caught both to battle for the lead. With the added pressure of Sterry, Barr stepped it up and set MacKenzie up over the finish line, squared up the next corner and kept the bike low over the following tabletop to snatch the lead.
The Honda rider started to inch away as MacKenzie remained on the defense with Sterry all over him for second. As the duo came into traffic Sterry was able to capitalize and took the spot with only a handful of laps to go. Meanwhile, the championship leader Apico Husqvarna’s Steven Clarke ate the field up like a hungry hippo after stalling off the gate and starting from dead last. It wasn’t easy for the Red Plate holder, but he’s fit and strong and made it known with his mega impressive performance for fifth behind Liam Knight, who put in his best finish of the season.
Race two was insane right off the bat. Clarke was up front around turn two but got pitched and looped out off the track and into a swamp. Miraculously he kept it on two wheels and re-joined the race in fourth. Adam Sterry took over the lead and ran away with it while MacKenzie tried to hold off the wrath of Barr.
MacKenzie, with the fans on his side, had his work cut out for him and eventually fell victim to the Honda rider, Barr. Clarke remained a lonely fourth ahead of Planet Advanced Racing Suspension’s Brad Todd.
With only a handful of laps to go, things began to tighten up between Barr, MacKenzie and Clarke. All three riders bunched up with Barr having a few ugly moments on the penultimate lap. Fortunately the race 1 winner kept it together and took home second place, while MacKenzie held off his hard charging teammate, Clarke, for third. Todd rounded out the top five in that race.
Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Adam Sterry put in an epic ride in race 2 for the win in the final race and his second consecutive overall victory of the season. Buildbase Honda’s Martin Barr was also impressive considering he is carrying an injury and went 1 – 2 for second overall while the home soil hero Apico Husqvarna’s Bryan MacKenzie was a picture of consistency with two thirds for third overall.
It’s hard to believe Apico Husqvarna’s Alexander Brown is on the come-back from injury as he led the MXY2 from start to finish with an unchallenged win, his fourth of the season. Meanwhile RFX KTM’s Henry Williams did his best to keep the championship leader, Holeshot Motocross’ James Carpenter, at bay.
Carpenter hounded Williams while P & H Motorcycle’s Michael Ellis remained in striking distance of both in fourth. As Carpenter started turning up the heat, Williams responded well before hitting a massive kicked on the tabletop before pitlane and went down spectacularly.
At the checkers it was Brown who flew the flag high for the Scottish with a MASSIVE race win ahead of Carpenter, Ellis, Husqvarna UK’s Dexter Douglas and Team Green Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Dylan Woodcock.
In race two Carpenter was the quickest off the line and led for the first two turns before being dropped back to second by the race one winner, Brown, through the rugged wave section. Ellis was in third with his sights firmly set on Carpenter.
Meanwhile Douglas was taking grief from Williams, but didn’t let it phase him. Back to the battle for second, Ellis was chipping away at Carpenter for the first half of the race before giving up on the challenge and settling for third.
With two laps to go the battle for fourth started to smoke and where there is smoke there is fire. It was Woodcock who was on fire as he went from well outside of the top five to take fourth on the last lap ahead of Douglas and Williams.
It was an impressive return to racing for Apico Husqvarna’s Alexander Brown who was in a league of his own all day for a double moto victory and his third overall win. The championship leader RFX KTM’s James Carpenter maintains a healthy lead in the championship with two second place finishes for second overall while P & H Motorcycle’s Michael Ellis went 3 – 3 for third.
Words by MXGB