After a five-week break the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean fires back into action on Sunday with round five at the highly-rated Desertmartin in Northern Ireland.
The event will be tinged with sadness after the tragic death of MX1 title contender Steven Lenoir who lost his life on June 5 after crashing in his native France. The organising Cookstown club will be observing a minute’s silence along with a parade lap in honour of the 25-year-old.
Home hero Graeme Irwin (Buildbase Honda) will start as a firm favourite to extend his MX1 series lead. Heading into Desertmartin on the back of a double win at round four at Hawkstone Park, Irwin’s confidence is running high and he’ll be a tough man to beat on his favourite track.
At the time of his death Lenoir was just four points behind Irwin with Gert Krestinov (Phoenix Tools Honda Racing) a further 25 points adrift. The sand-loving Estonian has won two motos so far this season as well as the overall at round three so is a real threat to Irwin and Brad Anderson (Verde Sports Racing KTM) and Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna) will also at the very least be fancying their chances of a podium finish.
With Jake Nicholls (Hitachi KTM UK), Kristian Whatley (Apico Husqvarna) and Tommy Searle (DRT Kawasaki) all injured, the only other rider with a realistic chance of challenging for a win is Harri Kullas (MVR-D Route 77 Husqvarna). The Estonian is also a contender for the MX2 title so may or may not opt to race both classes in Northern Ireland.
A DNF last time out has hit Kullas’ championship chances on the 250 and he now trails MX2 series leader Ben Watson (Hitachi KTM UK) by 30 points. Out of the eight races contested so far Watson has won four of them and finished second three times and deserves to carry the red plate.
Irishman Martin Barr (Buildbase Honda) holds third and will be looking for home support to help him raise his game as the championship moves into the second half.
Mel Pocock (REVO Husqvarna UK) tied Barr on points at the first three rounds before losing ground at Hawkstone but he’s in great form and will be aiming for a podium finish.
Other riders to watch out for include fifth-placed Todd Kellett (St Blazey SJ Hodder Husqvarna) who’s having a breakthrough season along with Kiwi Josiah Natzke (Hitachi KTM UK) who won the second race at Hawkstone and Josh Gilbert (DTHORC Honda) who’s still looking for his first Maxxis podium.
After sitting out the last two rounds the up-and-coming talents in the Maxxis ACU MXY2 Championship get their chance to shine again with Keenan Hird (Craigs Kawasaki) leading Jake Edey (Gear4 KTM) by 13 points. Tom Grimshaw (HCR Apico Yamaha) is a further five points behind.
The action gets under way at 9am with the first race at 11.55am. Admission is £20 for adults and £5 for children with family tickets priced at £45.
The Desertmartin track is situated off Rectory Road around 10 minutes from Magherafelt. Postcode is BT45 5QW.
Preview by Sean Lawless
Photos by Image Rich Media