The Hitachi ASA KTM UK team began its 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship season at the picturesque circuit of Patagonia-Argentina on Sunday March 4.
With a backdrop of mountain peaks and evergreen forests, the first battles of the year have seen a steady start for riders Graeme Irwin (MXGP) and Conrad Mewse (MX2) who both opened their campaigns with solid rides into the points in all four races.
Graeme had a baptism of fire at the start of his first full season in the world championship, with the challenge of the qualifying race yielding a twenty-first position. The reigning British MX1 champion and his KTM 450 SX-F recovered significantly after the start and had settled into sixteenth place mid-race, with one final push bringing the gap to the top fifteen down to seven tenths of a second.
With five points in the bag from the first race, Irwin faced a bit more of a challenge the second time around. A steady start saw the 26-year-old climb up as high as seventeenth position, but the rough conditions pushed back down to twentieth place. Holding on to the final point on offer, the British champion ended the day with six points overall and eighteenth place in the standings going to The Netherlands for round two.
With a positive showing in qualifying to finish tenth, Conrad Mewse set himself up to grab a generous offering of points in the first race of the day. Steadily progressing from tenth place, the 18-year-old dispatched of the likes of Jed Beaton and Thomas Covington and picked up the pace in the final third of the race to catch up with early race leader Darian Sanayei. Conrad finished his first official race of the season in an incredible sixth position, getting as close as half a second to a top five result.
The British rider started Race 2 the same way he finished Race 1, by chasing Henry Jacobi, only this time a tricky start complicated things and saw him down in nineteenth place. Conrad maintained the position to finish twelve seconds behind the factory Husqvarna of Thomas Covington and add two more points to his tally. This brought his total up to seventeen points and a solid thirteenth place in the overall classification.
In a stark contrast of locations, the team now heads to Lyng in Norfolk for Round 1 of the Maxxis British Motocross championship on March 11 where Irwin will start the defence of his MX1 championship and Mewse will ride his first full season in the British championship since his successful junior days.