Overall, it was a day to forget at Round 6 of the AMCA Championship at Norley. The track preparation was excellent, but the track was very tight and difficult to pass. I managed to scrap fourth position in qualifying.
I had a terrible start in race one coming round the first corner in about 20th. The first lap was carnage, but I managed to pass loads of riders and by the end of the second lap I was up to seventh and closing on the group of riders in front of me. As I started closing on sixth place, I slipped off in a slow corner, but I hit my hip on the rut in the ground knocking the wind out of me.
I picked up the bike still in seventh place, but I had lost all my rhythm and speed. As the race closed to an end I lost one more place to Rick De Feu and I finished the race in eighth.
I had a better start in race two and by the end of the first lap I was up to fourth. I stayed in fourth until about half distance where I started to tense up and arm pump kicked in. The track was extremely rough and my choice of lines was not good. Ben Saunders passed me and then Aaron Crowder just hit me hard to pass me! I was in an easy sixth place on the last lap and I made a stupid mistake and dropped the bike in a slow corner.
Unfortunately the bike stalled and it took me ages to the start the bike. I finished the race in a disappointing 11th.
I had another good start in the final race of the day. After the first few corners I was up to second behind Rick De Feu. I felt a lot smoother and faster and I managed to hold onto second until about three quarters of the race, when Dave Campbell and Brad O’Leary passed me. I held onto the riders in front and made no more stupid mistakes and settled for fourth at the finish.
I finished seventh overall on the day. I was extremely disappointed that I lost so many points on the three riders in front of me in the Championship, which makes it difficult for me to finish in the top three in the Championship with only one round remaining.
AMCA MX1 Championship Rd 5 - Culham
It had been a really busy week running up to round five of the AMCA Championship at Culham. A 750 mile trip back from the IMBA at Switzerland and then a flight straight out to Dublin to work for three days! Not good preparation but work pays the mortgage!!
Culham has not been a good hunting ground for me in the past and to my complete surprise I pulled an awesome qualifying time that stuck me on pole for the first time this year. I set the fastest time very early on in the qualifying session, so I could relax in the waiting zone until the session was over.
The first race was red flagged after eight minutes, so it was back to the start for a re-run. I had a good start coming round the first corner in third. The pace of the other riders was extremely fast and Ben Saunders and Brad O’leary passed me by mid race. I struggled to keep on the pace of the top four riders and at the end of the race I finished a lonely fifth and felt really frustrated.
I pulled the hole shot in race two which was another positive to my day at Culham. Saunders got past my by the second corner, but I knew I needed to improve on my pace compared to the first race and I held onto the back of Ben. I felt really comfortable, but half way through the race I started to make a few mistakes which allowed Clinton Barrs and O’leary to pass me. I got my thoughts together and started to pick up the pace towards the end of the race. I was coming under extreme pressure from DC, which I held off and if it was not for the back markers getting in my way on the last lap, I could have made a move on Brad to take third. I finished the race in fourth, but I was happy to be riding at the pace of the front runners.
I had another good start in race three coming round the second corner second behind Arron Crowder. The first two laps of the race was a nightmare. I made a huge mistake on the first lap dropping me back to fourth and then pulled all my tear offs in once half a lap later. By half distance I had moved past Crowder into fourth, but lost fourth to Barrs towards the end of the race.
I finished fifth overall on the day with three consistent rides. There were lots of positives coming out of the meeting and I was happy to come away from Culham with a hand full of points. The next round is on 14th September at Norley.
IMBA Round 4 – Switzerland – Weinland
The 750 mile trip to Switzerland for round 4 of the IMBA Championship was definitely worth it, because the track was excellent. We left on Friday morning, stopped over in Strasbourg on Friday night and arrived at the track on Saturday afternoon.
I had a good start in race one coming round the first corner in fourth. The track was full of stones so the first couple of laps were spent dodging the roost! My pace was good and I kept with the leading riders, except for Clinton Barrs, who had checked out in the lead. I battled hard with a local Swiss rider for the next 3-4 laps and he eventually passed me. I was not too worried about this because he was a wild card rider and was not involved in the Championship results. Half way through the race I was passed by last years Champion Deschamps (Belgium). I finished the race in a solid sixth place.
I pulled an awesome hole shot in race two and lead the race for two laps before Clinton Barrs passed me. For the next two laps I was pushed around all over the place. I had a coming together down the straight with a German rider, which meant he and the Swiss rider passed me and then half a lap later I tangled with Deschamps, which resulted in me nearly falling off. I was now down in fifth, but I was riding strong.
I kept my distance between myself and Ben Saunders in sixth and pushed to the end and finished the race in fifth.
My start in race three was not so good and came round the first few corners in sixth. The track was now really rough and I was extremely happy with my fitness because I pushed really hard for the whole race. I held onto the back of Teitze (German) and I was able to pull a small gap over the riders behind. I finished the race in sixth.
I finished fifth overall and because of the misfortune of a few riders I have progressed from seventh to fifth in the IMBA Championship standings. It was a solid performance. The next round is in Germany at the end of September.
IMBA Rd 3 - Branston
Get Well Soon
After the high of representing my country at Branston on Sunday, I was soon brought straight back down to earth on Monday morning! My best friend Kyde Hartwell was in Belgium last week practising for the first time in ages and had a serious crash hitting his head hard. Kyde was in intensive care and he has fortunately come out of, but is currently still very ill in hospital in Belgium. His family hope to get him back in to the UK today (Tuesday), so he can be assessed probably by UK doctors.
My thoughts are with Kyde and his family and we all hope our buddy gets better soon.
I had a nightmare of a start in race 1, by hitting the start gate. I hit the start gate that hard I struggled to get my front wheel out of the gate! I knew it was going to be an upward struggle from then on.
I pushed really hard in the first couple of laps making some clever passes on the riders in front.
On lap four my pit board was telling me I was in 13th position and I had three more riders to pass in front. It took me a further four laps to pass the three riders in front moving me into tenth position.
By the time I got into tenth the rest of the riders were too far in front and I had to settle for tenth at the end of the race. Overall I was happy with my performance, but frustrated with my start.
It was another frustrating start in race two. Rick de Feu got pushed by the rider next to him, which resulted in Rick hitting me down the start straight. I came round the first lap in 14th position. Another upward struggle as I saw the leaders already a good 20 seconds in front just after the first lap. Again I pushed hard in the first few laps, picking my lines and waiting to make the pass on the rider in front.
By the end of the race I had moved up to ninth position and again I was extremely frustrated with my start.
I changed my start position for race three and came round the first corner in seventh.
At last, a decent start!!!!! By the end of lap one I was up to fifth with Teitze (German) and last years IMBA Champion, Deschamps (Belgium) hot on my heals.
The first half of the race was concentrating on protecting my lines to stop them passing me, which allowed the top four riders to get away from me.
My fitness came into play during the second half of the race. The track was at its roughest and I managed to pull away from Deschamps and Teitze and started to catch Brad O’Leary in fourth. Towards the end of the race O’Leary fell with a back marker moving me up to fourth.
With a 10th, 9th and a 4th place finishes I finished 7th overall on the day. Overall I was happy with my performance, but I just wished I could have put some better starts together in the first two races. I have a weekend off this week with my next event being the following weekend. This will be the fourth round of the IMBA Championship in Switzerland.
AMCA Championships Rd 4, Walterstone Pic courtesy of Mike Wood
The Walterstone track was identical to last year, but as I walked the track on Saturday night it was clear that even though the track had been watered it was still very dry and would need more watering during the night and in the early hours of the morning! Walterstone is a very fast and none technical track which does not suit my style of riding, so I knew it was going to be a tough day.
In qualifying the dust was beginning to cause a problem with visibility and I was extremely happy to qualify in fourth place.
I pulled a massive wheelie at the start of the first race, which meant I had to back off the throttle and put me right at the back. It was very fortunate that I had a bad start because there was a massive crash going into the first corner with several riders falling off. The dust was extremely dangerous and it was impossible to see anything! The race was red flagged.
Race 1 eventually took place at 14.00. Before this we had another stint on the start line for 30 minutes in the sub tropical conditions, and then ended up being taken off the start line so the MX2 IMBA race could take place.
I had a brilliant start and came round the first corner on second. I do not want to go into too much detail, but for the rest of the race I rode like a d**khead and ended the race in seventh. No excuses but I tensed up and could hardly hold onto the handle bars with arm pump. It was time to make a few changes to the bike!
My mechanic (SK) worked his heart out yesterday changing all sorts of things and in race two we found the solution. I gated third behind DC and Clinton Barrs and I got my head down and stayed with them for as long as I could. With over half the race completed I looked back and I had a massive lead over the fourth place rider. I had a good rhythm and rode smart to finish the race in third.
How things change so quickly. I was suicidal after the first race and then in the second race I probably rode my best race of the season so far! What is that all about…..???
Race three took place at 18.00, so it had been a long day on the hot conditions. I did not have such a good start and came round the first few corners in eighth position. I moved up to sixth on the first lap and half way through the race I passed Elliot Barrs for fifth. I pushed Rick De Feu really hard for fourth, but he was riding really well and our speed was very similar, making it difficult to pass. I knew fifth in the last race would give me third overall on the day, so I backed it off towards the end of the race to settle for the overall.
I was over the moon to finish third overall because it was an extremely long and hot day. This is my second top three finish of the year which is one more than last year. This time last year I was 60 points behind the championship leader and this year I am only 30 points. Even though I currently sit in 5th in the Championship, it is wide open!
Next week is round three of the IMBA Championship in the UK at Branston. Come and support us British lads and give the ‘cheating Czech’s’ a hard time!!!!!
IMBA Rd 2 - Czech Republic, As Pic courtesy of Mike Wood
We are five months into the motocross season and it was only round two of the IMBA Championship last weekend! With only three rounds of the AMCA Championship gone, it is going to be a hectic end to the season.
Due to work commitments I went ‘full factory’ and travelled like a GP rider by flying out to the Czech Republic. I would like to say a big thank you to Mark, Mick and Ray who drove the van out with the bikes. I was not the only GP rider because Clinton Barrs was on the same flight with Steve Harvey (AMCA), Mike Wood, Adam and Fletch. The two and a half hour drive to the track was interesting with six adults in 1.4 Golf!
When we arrived at the track all of the other riders were already there. In my report for the first round of the IMBA Championship I think I said the French track was like a BMX track. The track in Czech Republic was actually smaller and tighter than a BMX track!!!!!!! The scary thing is that there were no ropes or tape marking the track and spectators were stood all around the track in touching distance of the riders. I was never around in the 1960’s, but from the pictures I have seen it was very similar!
The start was the most important part of the race around the ‘Mickey Mouse’ track. I had a good jump out of the start and to the first corner. However the riders up the inside of me, pushed me wide and I came round the first few corners in 13th position. The first two laps were pure survival trying to stay out of trouble with everyone banging handle bars. Very early on in the race I could feel my clutch slipping. I pushed my way into 9th position by about the fifth lap, but the riders in front were too far in front for me to catch. I finished the race in 9th.
A new clutch was in for race two and I was ready for a good start. What actually happened at the start of race two was unbelievable! I came round the first couple of corners in second place with Ben Saunders in front, Brad O’Leary third and Clinton Barrs fourth. A dream start for the Brits. The local Czech hero who finished second in the first race crashed at the start. Half way round the first lap the race was red flagged, but no riders were on the floor. The Czech’s had cheated and stopped the race because their best rider was last!!!
After a few arguments the race was re-run. I had a crap start and came round the first lap in tenth. I pushed really hard in the first few laps and moved up to fifth. Saunders passed me half way through the race. I was under a lot of pressure towards the end of the race by a Dutch rider, but I felt comfortable that I would beat him. Unfortunately Saunders had fallen off on the last lap and as I came round a corner I had to move round the fallen Saunders and it allowed the Dutch rider to pass me. I finished the race in sixth.
The entertainment continued after the race, because during the re-run of race two, Brad O’Leary had given the local Czech rider a love tap on the first lap, knocking him off and putting him back in last place. The cheating Czech’s were obviously not happy and wanted to ban Brad from the meeting!!
Brad was in for race three and with the Czech’s giving us Brits the aggressive staring treatment in the pit box we were all ready for action. Saunders was out of the race with an injury to his hand and shoulder. I had a terrible start and came round the first lap in 12th position. The dust was kicking up now and it was difficult to see in the first couple of laps. By mid race I had pushed my way up to 7th position and that is where I stayed until the end of the race.
Three consistent rides gave me 6th overall on the day and moved me up to 7th in the IMBA Championship. Round 3 takes place on the 3rd August in the UK at Branston. It will be interesting to see how the Czech’s react when they come into our home!!!!!
AMCA MX1 Championship Rd 3 at Ollerton
If any AMCA club want to or are about to run an AMCA Championship round then they should have come to Round 3 of the AMCA Championship at Ollerton to see how a AMCA championship round should be run! The track was awesome and the atmosphere was brilliant.
The Ollerton track was extremely fast and long. I put in a couple of quick laps very early on, which put me in third place. I new I could go faster because I had been held up during those laps. I tried to go faster towards the end of the session, but I had a scary moment over one of the jumps with my hand coming off the handle bars and then another rider deliberately holding me up in a slow section of the track. Both of those laps had to be aborted.
I had a brilliant start in race one coming round the first couple of corners in fourth position. I quickly moved up to third place behind Brad O’Leary and David Campbell. Ben Saunders and Gary Davies were right behind me and the five of us pushed each other along and pulled away from the rest of the field. After about fifteen minutes I started to struggle with arm pump. Saunders passed me to relegate me back to fourth. Gary Davies pushed me at the end of the race, but I finished the race in fourth.
My bike was awesome off the start all weekend and I had another good start in race two coming round the first corner in fourth. By the end of lap one I passed Tom Fish and Aaron Crowder to move into second. Brad O’Leary was leading and pulled a good gap within the first two laps. I pushed really hard and held onto second until half way through the race, when I got held up by a back marker and Campbell and Saunders passed me. Clinton Barrs did make a pass on me, but fell off in the very next corner. I finished the race fourth.
I really struggled in race three to get into a rhythm, but I still managed to finish the race in sixth. I came round the first corner in sixth and the track was really dusty and difficult to see. With the track being really rough I made some really bad mistakes in the first couple of laps because I could not see the bumps and ruts. I rode steady and came home in a lonely sixth place.
I finished fourth overall and it was another consistent ride to keep me in the mix in the Championship points. The next round is on 27th July at Walterstone. This weekend I am off to the Czech Republic for the second round of the IMBA.
AMCA MX1 Championship Rd 2 at Condover
The Condover track was in perfect condition and it was clear that the Shrewsbury club had put a massive amount of effort in preparing for the second round of the AMCA Championship. The strong wind dried the track up quickly, which caused dust problems during the day. I qualified in seventh position, which I was disappointed with. However, there was only half a second between second and seventh, so I knew my pace would be good during the day.
I had a goodish start and came round the first few corners in eighth position. The track was very hard pack and the dust was really bad, so I found it difficult to get into a fast rhythm.
By lap three I moved into sixth position closely behind Brad O’Leary. O’Leary fell off on lap 6 moving me up to fourth, but a lap later Clinton Barrs passed me moving me back to fifth again.
This is how it stayed until the end of the race.
I came round the first corner in twelfth position and within half a lap I had moved up to eighth. The dust was still a major problem, because it was difficult to see where you were going.
By mid race I had moved up to sixth position behind O’Leary again. I tried to tag onto the back of O’Leary, but his pace was good and he pulled away from me as the race progressed. I ended the race in a steady sixth spot.
I had a great start in the last race, coming round the first corner in fifth. I quickly passed Arron Crowder and moved up to fourth. I held onto the back of Gary Davies, Ben Saunders and Clinton Barrs.
This enabled me to pull a gap over the rest of the field. I kept the same distance over Davies and settled for third at the finish flag.
I finished with third overall on the day. I was really pleased with the end result and my consistency paid off.
I have also moved up to fourth in the Championship, which is a step in the right direction.
The next round is on 13th July at Ollerton.
AMCA MX1 Championship at Cleobury
It has been along wait for the first round of the AMCA Championship and unfortunately the event was ruined by the good old English weather.
The Wolverhampton club, especially Mickey Penn, put in a lot of effort to make this a special event that was sadly hampered by the weather.
The rain started at 06.00 on Sunday morning and it never stopped all day.
During qualification I found it difficult to put in a quick lap because I kept getting blocked by other riders on a track that had only one dry line.
I ended qualification in fifth place, and I was happy with this because I knew I could go faster.
I came over the hill into the first corner in about twelfth position. To be honest I could not know where I exactly was because I had used two tear offs and pulled loads of roll offs going down the first hill. The goggles were off half way round the first lap because it was impossible to see.
Because the track was very one lined and with no goggles I had to play a waiting game and pick my way through the riders. I made my way up to sixth half way through the race, but then I dropped the bike in a corner.
Danny Blakeley got past and then I took three more laps to pass him back. I finished the race in sixth.
I had a brilliant start in the second race and came up the first hill in third place. The track was in a terrible condition and the race was all about survival. I did not feel comfortable with the way I was riding, because I think I was spending more time trying to stop on the bike rather than concentrating on racing. I just kept riding steady, which by the end of the race I had been relegated back into fifth place.
After the second race the meeting was cancelled and rightly so! The conditions were just survival and I was happy to come away with fifth overall. In these kind of conditions you can easily have a DNF and score no points. The second round will hopefully be in better conditions on 22nd June at Condover.
IMBA Round 2 - Longechaud, France
We travelled 700 miles for the first round of the IMBA in France to a BMX track!!!! Mickey Penn would go nuts at the distances between the track with no ropes or tape!! One part of the track is only 10 yards from someone’s back garden.
Whilst the track was disappointing the weather definitely was not. The weather was 29 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately SK could not come this weekend because his girlfriend is expecting their first baby shortly, so he is currently on red alert. My good friend Si Butler came with me and was excellent on the spanners and the pit board (when he was not getting too excited……long story but during race 2 the racing was that good he kept forgetting to put the pit board out!).
For those people who are a regular on the website you know I have been struggling with my starts. I have worked really hard over the past few weeks on my starts and I knew it was so important because the track was so tight. I had an awesome jump out of the gate and came round the first corner in third behind Brad O’Leary and Deschamps. A Swiss guy passed me on the second corner. At the next corner the Swiss rider took out Deschamps and they both fell down and I saw a small gap to pass the fallen riders hoping to move into second. As I went to pass the fallen riders, the Swiss rider jumped straight in front of me and knocked me off. The rest was carnage. Saunders fell onto me and my bike was trapped. I struggled to start the bike and then started the race dead last and half a lap behind the leaders. This just summed up my luck and it was an upward battle in the extreme heat and very dusty conditions.
I pushed really hard for the whole race, but the dust and especially the heat made the conditions difficult. By the end of the race I finished 17th behind Rick De Feu. Well done to Brad and Clinton Barrs for going 1 and 2.
I had another great jump out of the gate and thought I had the holeshot in the bag, until this little KTM lad (O’leary) just got in front of me in the first corner with Saunders in third. The three of us were racing extremely closely but safely. Saunders managed to pass us both and take the lead and I pushed past Brad into second and held onto the back of Saunders. Half way through the race I conceded second to Deschamps who was riding really well. I held onto the back of Deschamps and Saunders but towards the end of the race I settled for a comfortable third. The heat was physically and mentally draining.
If we were riding in England the third race would not have taken place on the grounds of Health & Safety. The dust was horrendous and I gated in sixth place. It must have been terrible for the riders in the middle of the pack.
Half way through the race I started to catch Brad for fifth, but I made a huge mistake which some how I stayed on, but scared me a little. The heat had taken its toll and I was physically drained. During my huge mistake I lost a position and fell back to seventh. This is where I finished at the end of the race.
I took 9th overall which was a good start to the IMBA Championship. The next round is not till mid July in the Czech Republic.
Walsall at Hobs Hole 20.04.08
Yet again the rain came down on Saturday evening making the Hobs Hole track wet on the Sunday morning. The track was well prepared and Walsall, as always, put on an excellent meeting.
The first few corners at the Hobs Hole track are quite tight, so it is important to gain a good start so you do not get held up and lose ground on the leaders. I have been working really hard on my starts in the last few weeks and it was nice to gain three holeshots during the day.
In all three races I pulled the holeshot, picked my lines through the mud and pulled away from Tom Fish, Jonathan Slesser and Rich Meakin. Fish pushed me for the first two laps of each race, but I made sure that I stayed smooth because in the muddy conditions it was easy to make a mistake.
It was nice to get another win under my belt, and every week things are progressing in the right direction in preparation for the first Championship round on the 25th May.
It's time for a weekend off next week and then off to France the following week for the first round of the IMBA Championship. Let’s hope it does not get cancelled!
Burton at Stenson 13.04.08
It was my first time to the Stenson track and even though it was tight in places for the big 450 the conditions were perfect. The track was slightly wet in practice, but as the day progressed the track started to dry out and the track had lots of ruts and alternative racing lines.
I exited the first corner in second place behind Jonathan Slesser. It was quite clear from the start of the race that my clutch was worn out and was slipping loads as I went down the straights. I managed to pass Slesser on the second lap, but with the bike not pulling down the straights I struggled to pull away. With a lap and a half to go and with Slesser still right behind me, I went into corner behind a lapped rider and he stalled his bike right in front of me. Unfortunately this allowed Slesser to pass me and I had to settle for second place.
With a new clutch in the bike for race two, I was focussed on proving all the people that doubted my performance in race one wrong. I came round the first corner again in second place behind Slesser. The bike was back to its normal self and the performance was awesome. I passed Slesser in the third corner of the race and just checked out. Within the first two laps of the race I had pulled a ten second lead and this stretched as the race progressed.
Race 3 was identical to the second race. I passed Slesser in the first lap and checked out to win the race easy. It was nice to prove the doubters wrong and when I have a problem with my bike it is genuine!!
Next week I will be at Hobs Hole for the Walsall Club meeting.
Superclass Rd 2 Tirley Bank 06.04.08 Picture courtesy of Mike Wood
The last few weeks have been very frustrating because the first round of the IMBA was cancelled over the Easter weekend and then the meeting at Tunstall Farm was cancelled last week.
Even more frustrating was last week. There were other race meetings within a half hour drive of where I live, but I was not able to race because these clubs were not allowed to take late entries for riders out of area!!
Waking up on Sunday morning to 2 inches of snow, it was touch and go if the second and final round of the AMCA Superclass would take place. I made my way down the M6 and M5 with only one lane open because of the snow, passing accidents all over the place.
On arriving at the track the snow was not as deep as at home and the race meeting was on.
Poor starts have been the highlight of the start of my season and they continued today. I came round the first corner in 20th and with the track being very one lined I had to follow riders through the first lap of the race. The track was extremely fast and the short lap time made it difficult to make up time on the riders in front.
I finished the first lap in 16th position. I started to make a lot of passes in the first few laps and quickly moved up to 11th place. I made a mistake in one of the slippy corners which allowed Jamie Powell to come back passed me. The riders in front who had gained good starts were a long distance in front.
I pushed really hard for the whole race catching and passing riders moving my up to 8th by the end of the race. I was disappointed with the result because by the end of the race I had caught up to a group of riders in front which I knew I was quicker than, but my start let me down.
Race 2 did not take place until 16.00 and the snow showers made the track conditions difficult. Another poor start and a trip off the track to miss a crash in front of me, round the first corner, put me right at the back of the pack.
During the race, the snow was falling heavily and at one stage it was difficult to actual see the track. The conditions made the track even more one lined, so it made passing the other riders even more difficult. I managed to finish the race in 9th place.
Overall I was really disappointed with the day because my performance on the track, apart from the start, was good and it did not reflect in my results. At this level you are always playing catch up if you are coming round the first corner at the back of the pack!
On a positive note, I did secure 4th overall in the AMCA Superclass Championship.
Walsall at Hobs Hole 16th March
With the large amount of rain fall on Saturday, the track was very wet making the conditions tricky. The layout of the track had changed again from last season and the Walsall club had put a lot of effort once again in preparing the track.
In the first race I exited the first corner in second and quickly passed Richard Tudor for first in the following corner.
I knew the conditions were tricky so I just took my time and picked my lines to win the race comfortable.
Race two was very similar to the first race, but this time I gained the holeshot and by the end of the race I won comfortably.
Race three was a little different because the track had dried out making the track extremely one lined. I gained the holeshot and pulled a small gap over Jonathan Sleeser. The back markers played a huge problem half way through the race because I had to pick them off slowly which meant every time I was held up and Slesser was able to catch me. I managed to hold onto the win and came away unharmed ready for the first IMBA round in Belgium this weekend.
Superclass - Rd 1 - Polesworth 9th March
The Polesworth track was in perfect conditions, but very stoney. For me this was the first big test of the season because I was riding against all the people who I will be competing against in the AMCA Championship.
I had a terrible start and I struggled round the first corner in nearly last place. Somehow I missed about four crashes on the first lap and finished the first lap in 16th position. I knew my pace was quick, but I was held back by the stones constantly smashing against my body. By halfway through the race I had progressed to 9th position and I was catching the riders in front very quickly.
I pushed my way up to 7th with four laps to go and caught up with Clinton Barrs, Arran Crowder and Arran Poolman. I had put so much effort into the first part of the race I began to feel tired and only managed to move into 6th on the last lap by passing Poolman.
I was really disappointed with my start in race 1, but I was so pissed off when I had an even worse start in race 2. I picked my position on the gate and then some idiot decided to go next to me knowing there was not enough room for two bikes. We clashed off the gate and I nearly went down. After the first lap my pit board told me I was in 14th position.
The charge was on again and with stones flying all over the place I managed to push my way up to 5th position by half way through the race. I caught up with Barrs and Poolman again, but I was unable to make any passes and settled for 5th position at the end of the race.
I was so angry with myself having 2 dreadful starts, so I changed my gate position to right on the outside. I took a big gamble and let the clutch out just before the gate went down. I had an awesome start and took the holeshot.
I led the race for 3 laps, but I was not riding relaxed. Barrs passed me on lap 3 and I went straight back past him. On lap 4 both Barrs and Saunders went past and they quickly pulled a small gap over me. I really put my head down and began to put some consistent fast laps in. Barrs went down pushing me up to 2nd place. I really pushed hard towards the end of the race and gradually started to catch Saunders. I crossed the finish line in second place.
Overall I was really happy with my speed and once I had a good start, I proved that I could run in the top 3. I finished 3rd overall and it means I am still in the hunt for top 3 going into the second and final round of the Superclass series.
Hawkstone International 2nd March
I must be mad being a person who works long hours all week trying to pay the mortgage, to book into one of the biggest International races in the UK this year and get beaten up by the best factory riders in the world! Well I have done this for the last five years and I love it!
My main aim for the meeting was to qualify for the main Open class race and then just let it hang out in the 25 minutes + 2 lap races. I qualified in 36th position and I was really happy with this because I found it difficult to get a clear lap to obtain the ultimate fast lap.
It was exciting being on the start line with the best riders in the world. I had a very good start off the concrete start grid and came round the first lap in 16th position. The pace of the professional riders waa extremely fast and I found it difficult to get into a rhythm in the first few laps because you are getting pushed around all over the place. I managed to settle into a comfortable pace, but by this time I had moved back into 24th position.
My pace was really impressive until just past the 20 minute mark, where the lack of riding and races under my belt began to pay its toll. I tired massively and by the end of the race I fell back to 27th position.
Overall I was really happy with the position at the end of the race, but wished I could have kept my early race pace up until the end of the race.
Initially my gate did not go down at the start of the second race and the race was re-started.
I had another good start in the re-start of race two and came round the first corner in 20th position. The track had changed dramatically since race 1 and was rough and more challenging. On the second lap I got crossed rutted going up the face of a jump and I thought it would be best to increase the power to help me straighten up the bike. Not a good idea …….. because the next thing I remember is lying in the sand upside down. As I took off the bike turned left instead of right and sent me crashing to the ground. The bike was a little bent and twisted and I was shook up. The race ended in a DNF.
The day went from good to bad, but I am still in one peace to live another day and fight for the Superclass title next week at Polesworth.
Kinver at Pattingham 24th February
It was the first time I have ever ridden at Pattingham and I was particularly impressed with the layout of the track. The conditions were unusual for this time of year, with the track being quite hard pack and dust kicking up in places.
It was the first time out on my bike that has been prepared for this coming season. I was really impressed with the power of the engine and the suspension. I grabbed the hole shot in race 1, spent a few laps getting used to the track and then by mid race I pushed really hard to pull a comfortable gab over the second place rider Craig Chamberlain.
The back markers held me up towards the end of the race, because it took a few tricky passes to move by them. In the end it was a comfortable win.
Race 2 was very similar to Race 1, but did not grab the hole shot. I passed Craig Chamberlain going down the first straight into the lead. The track was extremely slippy from the rain showers we had, but I took my time and gradually rode to a comfortable win.
I was very cautious going into the third race, because the daylight had dropped dramatically. It was difficult to see any of the bumps along the straights. Craig Chamberlain pulled the hole shot and I followed him very closely. I took my time and waited for an opportunity to pass him. On lap 4 that opportunity arose, so I grabbed it and moved into the lead.
The race was shortened because of the daylight and I was glad the race was over because it was very dangerous.
I was extremely happy to take my second overall win in as many weeks and I move onto next week at the Hawkstone International.
Warley Wasps Shifnal 17th February
After travelling to Polesworth to find the track poorly graded and with the freezing ground, I felt that the track was too dangerous, so I quickly headed over to the Warley Wasps meeting at Shifnal.
The track was in perfect condition, considering the freezing cold weather, but as always the Warley Wasps team really prepared the track well. The track was extremely fast and flat, but it was the same for everyone. The track was difficult to pass, so the start played a crucial part. In race one and three I had good starts and won both the races, but in race two I struggled with a bad start and only managed to come back to fourth.
The racing was good and it was nice to ease my way back into racing after a four month break with an overall win.
Dunkerque 9th & 10th February
Dan Tunnicliffe and I headed out to Dunkerque (France) for a weekend of practising. Some people might think it is a bloody long way to go to just practise on our bikes, but for those who have never been to Dunkerque it is awesome. It is a 4 minute lap, pure beach sand and is as rough as a bird from Tipton!
We left early doors Saturday morning (after Tunni slept in!) and arrived at the track at noon. We were amazed to find that it was like arriving at a motocross meeting in England with loads of English people there.
It took all afternoon to learn the track but we were able to put in 4 sessions and were glad to head back to the hotel for a shower. Ben Saunders and his friends from the Upton Club were stopping over, so we headed out to ‘Buffalo Grills’ for a meal. The Upton boys took us to the local village Karaoke bar which was like a scene out of the film ‘Hostel’. We were all scared for our welfare, but we managed to pull off a team sing song of ‘Hey Jude’!!
Day two of practising was as good as day one. The track was perfect and now that we knew the way round the track, we pushed really hard and put in a lot of time in on the bike. The fitness is improving every time I jump on the bike.
If you ever get the chance to go out to Dunkerque practising then do so. The 10 Euro practising fee (yes 10 Euro!!) makes you feel better after spending £150 getting there!!
Dan Tunnicliffe skipped breakfast and decided to 'eat' the sand
The 2008 motocross season is nearly upon us and all the hard work of getting physically fit for the beginning of the season started just before Christmas. During the off season I had an operation on my shoulder to remove a metal plate and 10 screws from an old injury.
To allow the shoulder bone to fully heal after the operation, I have had to rest and was unable to start practising on my new CRF450 until 19th January.
For 2008 I will be riding for Honda again on the CRF450 concentrating my efforts on the AMCA Championship, IMBA Championship and a number of local club races. I have restructured my sponsorship and my main sponsors for this coming season will be Mission Control, Foto-x and Hawk Plant. These three companies will be supported by the other sponsors shown on the website.