The second round of the 2018 Michelin MX Nationals British Championship, held over the weekend of the 19th and 20th of May at Preston Docks in Lancashire, provided a weekend of excellent, hard-fought racing under glorious sunshine, with packed-out classes and a seamless, uber-smooth running programme.
The Pro Fastest 40 MX1 and MX2 riders put the newly reworked Preston Docks track to the test for the first time on Sunday, with two 25-minute-plus-two-lap motos. Both Honda-mounted; Jake Nicholls (Buildbase Honda) and Josh Gilbert (Honda Adventure Centre) claimed the wins in their respective classes, with Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna), Micky Eccles (Manchester M/Cs Husqvarna), Ryan Houghton (Rob Hooper Yamaha) and Lewis Tombs (Putoline Planet Racing) in the top three mix.
It was nothing short of a Nicholls masterclass in the first Pro race. He rocketed away from the gate in first, and never looked back. Lap after lap, he extended his margin over second-placed Banks-Browne and, after a faultless 16 laps took the win with a gap of just over 35-seconds. Behind him Banks-Browne had an eager MX2 runner in the form of Josh Gilbert to contend with. In the closing stages of the race, the younger rider was all over the back of EBB’s Husqvarna, but experience won through and Banks-Browne held him at bay. Next across the finish line was the MX2 Verdesports Substance KTM of Brad Anderson, who rode a lonely race in fourth, whilst behind him the battle was on between Eccles and Phoenix Tools Honda’s Gert Krestinov. Krestinov was on Eccles’ case until a crash halted his progress, leaving MX2’s Tombs and Dan Thornhill (MX1 Cab Screen Honda) to keep Eccles company all the way to the chequered flag. Elsewhere, RFX Crescent Yamaha’s MX1 runner Nathan Dixon and Rob Hooper Racing’s Robbie Dowson (MX2) had a coming together on lap four, which put them both out of the race; unfortunately for Dixon, his injury ruled out of race two too.
Race two, and it was again the immaculate Nicholls who claimed the holeshot, the fastest lap, the win and the overall. His winning margin was a smidge over 30-seconds, but this time over the MX2 ranked Gilbert. His margin over the next placed MX1 contender – Ryan Houghton who was fourth in the race itself was a whopping 52-seconds. Team-mates Krestinov and Carlton Husband followed Nicholls out of the gate and kept him in sight for a couple of laps. Gilbert picked his way through to third by lap three and, whilst a way back from Krestinov, was ready and willing to take second when the Estonian suffered mechanical issues at around the halfway point. Now in third, Bradshaw kept Houghton in check until, flagging a little after his first race exertion, he was passed by the 450 Yamaha. Never one to give up though, Bradshaw reclaimed his place to take third, with Houghton fourth and Banks-Browne, a casualty of a first corner pile up, fifth. Tombs, who had steadily worked his way through the pack finished sixth.
Jake Nicholls; “Had a good day, two good starts and enjoyed the track, even though it was challenging, really tough, dry and sketchy. I rode really strong in first few laps and pushed on. The track was quite bumpy, but it gave me a good work out. I liked the new layout and fair play to the MX Nationals crew for changing it round and giving us a new track. Looking forward to Hawkstone next weekend.”
Elliott Banks-Browne; “I had a big crash in practice and set myself back. A good start in the first race thought but in the second one got caught up in a six-rider pile up off the start and struggled to get back onto the pace. I was struggling as I’ve aggravated a wrist problem, which I’ll need to get checked out, and I need to practice my starts if I’m to reel in Jake. Pleased to be going to Hawkstone as I’ve done well in the past there.”
Micky Eccles; “Qualifying wasn’t a true reflection of my race pace as it was so good, and I got pole. After that my starts were bad, which is unusual for me, but I managed to pull through and stay with the front pack. I was going to pull in at one point in the second race as I was struggling with breathing; think it could be a bit of hay fever. Still two poles and two podiums aren’t bad. I’m really looking forward to going to Hawkstone as I like it there. I think the racing will be far closer.”
Brad Anderson; “It was tough out there and I had to ride so much harder. I pushed myself too much in the first race to keep up with the MX1 guys and tired myself out for the second. It is tougher on the two-stroke through the ruts and I need to work on getting better starts. Fair play to Josh; he was riding really well.”
Josh Gilbert; “I don’t normally like this track, but I seemed to get a good rhythm today and my speed was good. It was amazing to be beating the 450s, as usually they roost me.”
The rest of the packed-out classes had already put in two races apiece on the previous day and the Experts were first away in both blocks of racing. In the MX2 class, 15-year-old Rossi Beard, who had just moved up from the MXY2 class, put in a great performance to take pole, race one win and third overall. Jason Meara, who was leading the class prior to round two didn’t fare so well; holding a strong third in the first race, he clashed with Jamie Wainwright immediately before the finish line, he held it to the line though to take fourth. In the second moto, he came off the worse from a six-rider pile up off the start line and, with his throttle hanging off, his race was sadly over. The MX1 group was all about Richard Bird and Ryan Crowder, who were out front in both races. Bird was on the pace, setting the fastest lap in each race, and winning the first one by over 13-seconds.
The crammed Clubman groups saw just over 40 riders behind the start gate for both MX2 and MX1 categories. Wildcard MX2 rider Lewis Parkinson took both race wins, but he was kept honest by full-series-rider Fabio Rizzi. Race one third-placed rider Jamie Hall set the fastest lap in both motos. Aiden Christie, Jamie McCarthy, Guy Prince, and Harry Fletcher featured highly in MX1 with Christie and McCarthy taking a win apiece.
The Experts and Clubmen completed their third and fourth sets on Sunday and Bird again put in a strong performance in the Expert MX1 class to take two moto wins ahead of Brad Cavill and Zac Stealey in the first, and Crowder and Steve Bixby in the second. The MX2’s proved to be a mixed bag with Meara the only rider to feature on both race podiums but didn’t make it to the overall top three. In the third Expert MX2 race of the weekend Meara pulled an eight-second advantage over Josh Coleman, with Tom Grimshaw in third, meanwhile race one winner Beard was on something of a learning curve, having recovered from a bad start and then charging through the field, was caught out on a line with no-where to go. He finished an uncustomary 16th. In the final MX2 race, Ben Franklin held the lead from the first lap, with Beard on his rear wheel. He was on target to take the win, but back-markers came into play in the final lap, which worked to the advantage of the young Beard who took the chequered flag with an advantage of 3.753 seconds over Franklin. Meara followed them home in third, some 16-seconds later.
Christie and McCarthy dominated the Clubman MX1, with Fletcher third in race three and Prince doing the same in race four. Local wildcard Lewis Parkinson was on top form in the MX2 group with Foster and Kristopher Rea second and third in the early moto, then switching places for their final race.
Race 1: 1. Jake Nicholls, 2. Elliott Banks-Browne, 3. Micky Eccles, 4. Dan Thornhill, 5. Liam Knight, 6. Ryan Houghton
Race 2: 1. Jake Nicholls, 2. Ryan Houghton, 3. Elliott Banks-Browne, 4. Jake Millward, 5. Brad Todd, 6. Ashton Dickinson
Overall: 1. Jake Nicholls 50, 2. Elliott Banks-Browne 42, 3. Micky Eccles 38, 4. Ryan Houghton 37, 5. Carlton Husband 30, 6. Liam Knight 30
Championship: 1. #45 Jake Nicholls, Buildbase Honda 100, 2. #44 Elliott Banks-Browne, Geartec Husqvarna 82 , 3. #148 Micky Eccles 82, Manchester M/Cs Husqvarna, 4. #119 Ryan Houghton 65, 5. #134 Liam Knight 57, 6. #162 Stuart Edmonds 53, 7. #25 Jamie Law 52, 8. #227 Kristian Whatley 47, 9. #37 Gert Krestinov 42, 10. #57 Tony Craig 37
Race 1: 1. Josh Gilbert, 2. Brad Anderson, 3. Lewis Tombs
Race 2: 1. Josh Gilbert, 2. Brad Anderson, 3. Lewis Tombs
Overall: 1. Josh Gilbert 50, 2. Brad Anderson 44, 3. Lewis Tombs 40, 4. Brad Todd 32, 5. Jake Millward 32, 6. Alexander Brown 29
Championship: 1. #1 Brad Anderson, Verdesports Substance KTM 94, 2. #3 Josh Gilbert, Honda Adventure Centre 76, 3. #66 Lewis Tombs, Planet Husqvarna 60, 4. #303 Jake Millward 52, 5. #41 Alexander Brown 49, 6. #38 Gavin Stevenson 49, 7. #10 Michael Ellis 47, 8. #337 Glenn McCormick 47, 9. #119 Mel Pocock 44, 10. #575 Taylor Hammal 40
Race 1: 1. Finley Rossi Beard, 2. Tom Grimshaw, 3. Jamie Wainwright
Race 2: 1. Jamie Wainwright, 2. Tom Grimshaw, 3. Ben Putnam
Race 3: 1. Jason Meara, 2. Josh Coleman, 3. Tom Grimshaw
Race 4: 1. Finley Rossi Beard, 2. Ben Franklin, 3. Jason Meara
Overall: 1. Jamie Wainwright 79, 2. Tom Grimshaw 79, 3 Ben Franklin 72
Championship: 1. #61 Tom Grimshaw 146, 2. #10 Jason Meara 133, 3. #661 Josh Coleman 115, 4. #300 Ben Franklin 111, 5. #40 Jamie Wainwright 110, 6. #101 Ben Clark 101
Race 1: 1. Richard Bird, 2. Ryan Crowder, 3. Zac Stealey
Race 2: 1. Richard Bird, 2. Ryan Crowder, 3. Brad Cavill
Race 3: 1. Richard Bird, 2. Brad Cavill, 3. Zac Stealey
Race 4: 1. Richard Bird, 2. Ryan Crowder, 3. Steve Bixby
Overall: 1. Richard Bird 100, 2. Ryan Crowder 82, 3. Steve Bixby 68
Championship: 1. #157 Richard Bird 157, 2. #146 Ryan Crowder 144, 3. Zac Stealey 122, 4. #14 Brad Cavill 102, 5. #2 James Lassu 96, 6. #560 Edward Briscoe 90
Race 1: 1. Lewis Parkinson, 2. Fabio Rizzi, 3. Jamie Hall
Race 2: 1. Lewis Parkinson, 2. Fabio Rizzi, 3. Kristopher Rea
Race 3: 1. Lewis Parkinson, 2. Harry Foster, 3. Kristopher Rea
Race 4: 1. Lewis Parkinson, 2. Kristopher Rea, 3. Harry Foster
Overall: 1. Lewis Parinson 100, 2. Harry Foster 76, 3. Kristopher Rea 73
Championship: 1. #52 Harry Foster 142, 2. #290 Fabio Rizzi 118, 3. #323 Adam Pierce 115, 4. #115 Lewis Parkinson 100 , 5. #195 Kristopher Rea 99, 6. #95 Brad Thornhill 93
Race 1: 1. Aiden Christie, 2. Guy Prince, 3. Jamie McCarthy
Race 2: 1. Jamie McCarthy, 2. Aiden Christie, 3. Harry Fletcher
Race 3: 1. Aiden Christie, 2. Jamie McCarthy, 3. Harry Fletcher
Race 4: 1. Aiden Christie, 2. Jamie McCarthy, 3. Guy Prince
Overall: 1. Aiden Christie 97, 2. Jamie McCarthy 89, 3. Guy Prince 71
Championship: 1. #15 Aiden Christie 158, 2. #41 Guy Prince 135, 3. #37 Harry Fletcher 125, 4. #79 Jamie McCarthy 124, 5. #48 Justin Robinson 97, 6. #240 Alex Christopher 81