Hawkstone preview

Want to talk about separating the men from the boys? This weekend the third round of the 2016 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean will take place at Hawkstone Park.

Hawkstone is a superb sand circuit that carves into the hills of Shropshire. It is renowned for its brutal roughness and epic hills that challenge the riders physically and mentally.

As they did for the previous round, chances are that this round will fall in favor of the defending champion and current championship leader Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Shaun Simpson, who is something of a sand specialist. Simmo currently leads the premier class by 4 points over Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle.

Speaking of Tommy Searle, he has had a darned good start to the season with a 75% win rate. The Kawasaki star was flawless at round one, at Lyng, when he slammed everyone with a double moto victory, which gave him the red plate heading into round two. At round two, at Canada Heights, Tom Cat went down hard while leading the pack into turn one. The crash was so gnarly he had tyre marks across his face. Amazingly, he was uninjured and re-entered the race more than 30 seconds down but still managed to finish ninth. In the final race, he managed to keep it rubber side down through the first two turns and checked out for yet another convincing race win.

Honda Buildbase’s Graeme Irwin showed a glimpse of what he is capable of at the last round where he finished third and moved into third place overall in the championship standings. The Estonian Express Tanel Leok trails the Irishman by six points and is chased by the Irishman’s Honda Buildbase teammate Kristian Whatley. While so far this season has seen Simpson and Searle hog the top two spots at the first two rounds, there is still every chance that one of these three could shake things up.

Another rider capable of being the ‘cat amongst the pigeons’ is Hitachi Revo Husqvarna’s Jake Nicholls. There’s something about the final race of the day that gets Jake fired up. The East Anglian has finished third in the final races at Lyng and at Canada Heights, after hunting down and challenging Simpson for second. Both instances proved he has the confidence and speed to battle for the win.

Meanwhile, the MX2 class has so far been drama central with one point separating the top three making it tighter than ever. Apico Husqvarna’s Steven Clarke will go into this weekend with the red plate after dominating at round two with a double Moto victory. Astonishingly, Clarkey didn’t finish the first race of the season in Lyng due to a mechanical problem yet he still leads the championship. While only one rider can have the red plate, Hitachi Revo Husqvarna’s James Dunn is actually tied with Clarke on points, but sits second because of Clarkey’s dominance at round two. Dunn has been racing the motocross world championship over the last few weeks, so that is sure to have done him some good in terms race intensity and confidence.

Only one point back on those two is Honda Buildbase’s Martin Barr. Barr was running a hot pace at the last round where he landed on the box for the first time this season. All it will take is a good start for the Honda rider and he could have an overall win in his sights.

Sitting fourth at the moment is Apico Husqvarna’s Bryan MacKenzie. “I’ve never ridden so bad in my entire life,” the Scot said after the first round, but he managed to shake it off, regroup and come out swinging at the most recent round with two good starts and two solid rides for second overall. Bry-Mac is said to be quick when the track gets gnarly and Hawkstone does have a decent reputation of chopping up, so we could see him top the box this weekend.

Wilvo Virus Performance KTMs Adam Sterry will be back for his second round of the season after re-emerging from injury at Canada Heights where he was thrown in at the deep end after having had little time on the bike prior to the second round. When he lines up this weekend he will have been on the bike solidly for five weeks, so he should be up to full speed and fitness and ready to be a real thorn in the side of current points leaders.

As for the young up and comers racing the MXY2 class, it’s all about Apico Husqvarna’s Alexander Brown. ‘Consistency wins championships’ is how the saying goes, and it looks even more promising when you’re consistently winning. The Husky rider has won three from the first four races this year, which has seen him top the box twice. He is already nineteen points clear of James Carpenter who is currently sitting second on his Phoenix Tools Honda ahead of RFX KTMs Henry Williams.

While Brown has been more or less the dominator so far, P & H Motorcycles KTM’s Michael Ellis managed to beat him in the final moto at Canada Heights, which could indicate the start of something. Ellis is currently sitting fifth in the championship behind George Grigg-Pettit.

There’s a lot to look forward to this weekend as the best riders in Great Britain get set to bash bars in Hawkstone Park. MX2 Practice will commence at 09:00 with MX2 Race 1 starting at 11:55. The postcode for the Hawkstone Park circuit is SY4 4NA.