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British Championships decided at Preston

Graeme Irwin (Buildbase Honda) and Ben Watson (Hitachi KTM UK) sewed up the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship MX1 and MX2 titles at round seven of the series at Preston Docks on Sunday.

Irwin won both MX1 races – extending his Maxxis win-streak to eight motos – and clinched the title with victory in the second 25-minute plus two lap race after resisting early pressure from EWC contender Nathan Watson who’d taken up a wildcard ride.

“It’s awesome, fantastic, amazing,” said the 24-year-old Irishman. “I can’t believe it. This year everything’s just clicked. The team, the bike, everything. I’ve been given the tools to do the job and I can’t thank everybody enough. My wife, my whole family, the team, all my sponsors – it’s amazing.

“We’ve won eight races in a row now which is some serious momentum. In that last race today I was like ‘should I think of the championship and let Nathan Watson by’ but I just couldn’t have anybody talking about an enduro rider coming to the British championship and winning so I put my head down.”

Irwin was joined on the podium by Brad Anderson (Verde Sports Racing KTM) who went 2-4 and Nathan Watson who ran 6-2.

Ben Watson, who missed almost the entire 2016 season through injury, won the opening MX2 moto and led race two before American wildcard Darien Sanayei (Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki) passed him just after half-distance.

With his main title rival Martin Barr (Buildbase Honda) struggling with starts all day Watson knew he could afford to ease his pace and still take the title with one round to go.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” he said. “I came here with a 42-point lead and knew I had to leave here over 50 ahead if I wanted to win the championship so I pushed on in both races. I won the first race and was second in race two – I’d have loved to have pushed harder in the last one and tried to fight for the win but I thought of the bigger picture.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to the whole team and everyone who’s backed me after being out almost all of last year. It feels great to come back and win the championship.”

Sanayei’s 2-1 card gave him the overall win from Watson and Barr who took a pair of fourth-placed finishes to snatch third on a tie-break from Josiah Natzke (Hitachi KTM UK).

“I’ve been here a couple of times before and I love the track and the weather held off so it was actually a great day,” said Sanayei. “I was third in race two behind Natzke and Ben so I followed their lines a little bit and then just started pushing about halfway through and came away with the win.”

In the MXY2 class Keenan Hird (Craigs Kawasaki Team Green) took the overall and the series lead after opening race winner Lewis Hall (Team Green Kawasaki) crashed out of race two while leading.

“I’m very happy,” said Hird. “There was a bit of luck in race two because Lewis went down but sometimes that’s how it goes. I felt good out there and just relaxed and rode my own race.”

Hird’s 3-1 card gives him a 24-point lead in the championship ahead of Tom Grimshaw (HCR Putoline Apico Factory DBC Yamaha) who was third overall on Sunday behind Jack Bintcliffe (Hitachi KTM UK).

The championship concludes on August 27 at Foxhill.

Picture © Nuno Laranjeira

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