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Sun Shines On Maxxis British Motocross Championship Opener

By: Stefan Paetow | Published 10 March 2008, 23:18 | Views: 5,288 | tags: british mx, maxxis british motocross championship, donington park, mx1, mx2, mxy2, derbyshire, mx, tommy searle, billy mackenzie
Donington. The name evokes memories of MotoGP, not motocross. Yet it is at Donington Park in Derbyshire that the Maxxis British Motocross Championship starts its 2008 run. In 2007, Donington Park joined a long list of venues in the United Kingdom with a World Motocross Grand Prix pedigree, and although spectators panned it for its lack of atmosphere and lack of access, the annual Motocross of Nations will be held at the same location, and, to give the track a practice run, the season opener of the top British championship has moved here. It looks to be a good year; generally when the Hawkstone International starts off with sunshine and good weather, that run tends to continue all year long. And so it is with much relief to everyone that the sun and the wind chase the clouds away, for the most part at least.
Several changes to the championship in 2007 means that an additional youth class, the MXY2 class, has been added to the programme at selected rounds, and it is these youngsters, fresh from the youth championships, who have the pleasure of testing the full Grand Prix circuit for the first time. It is Scott Elderfield, returning to racing on a KTM after a life-threatening accident eighteen months ago, who takes pole with a time of 2:09.526, followed by Eurotech Honda's David Games and PAR Homes Honda's Edward Allingham. In the MX2 class, it is Redbull KTM's Tommy Searle who rips up the mile-long track at a blistering time of 1:59.174, followed by Swift Suzuki's French import, Pascal Leuret, and Team KTM UK's Shaun Simpson. And in the MX1 class, Monster CAS Honda's Billy MacKenzie shows that he is confident and ready for battle with a time of 1:58.757, followed two seconds later by U Tag Yamaha's Kenneth Gundersen and Team KTM UK's James Noble.

The first race of the season goes to the start at 12:15, somewhat delayed due to the incredible response for autographs and the resulting scrum of spectators. Although it is Elderfield who takes the hole shot, it is MotoXtreme Kawasaki's Sam Davis who goes into the lead immediately. It does not last long as Elderfield reels him back in and makes his pass. KRM Racing's Tom Watts is in third after the first lap and he also displaces Davis backwards soon after, slotting himself in neatly behind Elderfield. It is only three laps from the end that he drops back several places and gives Allingham and Davis a chance to return to the top three.

The MX2 class looks to be interesting. Leuret, a Grand Prix veteran, hole shots and leads the pack into the first few corners and across the rhythm section. Simpson soon makes short work of him, but he himself is also pushed back by Searle, who definitely wants to give his rivals a parting shot they will not forget. He leads all the way to the finish. Simpson keeps up until a split fuel line puts an end to his race. Molson Kawasaki's Stephen Sword is back on form too, hovering around the top five and making Leuret's life difficult. Just before the two lap board shows, Sword pushes Leuret aside to take his position in second. The South African signing for Molson Kawasaki, Gareth Swanepoel, comes back from a less than stellar start and hovers just outside the top three, ending in fourth with a second or four between him and Leuret. U Tag Yamaha's Martin Barr closes out to the top five.

MacKenzie absolutely dominates the first MX1 race. From hole shot to the chequered flag, MacKenzie is in complete control. He admits after the day's racing that he is just having a lot of fun, which definitely shows in his relaxed style. Second throughout the majority of the race is Molson Kawasaki's Tom Church, a newcomer to the class, and, judging by his racing, taking to it like a fish to water. Plagued in the past by injury after injury, TC as he is known in the paddock, looks smooth and has everyone cheering. The Norwegian veteran of the Grand Prix circuit, Kenneth Gundersen, comes back from a start in sixth to stalk Church all the way to the last few minutes of the race, when he makes his move on the man from Marshfield and takes second. With Church in third, Noble retains fourth over Swift Suzuki's Brad Anderson in fifth.

In the mixed support class, it is Pioneer Yamaha's Robert Hamilton who takes the win after playing musical chairs with Electraction Wulfsport TM's Lewis King and Spirit Eurotech KTM's Matthew Moffat. Moffat is second with King third.

The second MXY2 race sees Redline KTM's Josh Spinks take the lead and keep it throughout. Elderfield has a bad start and has to battle with not only his rivals, but the track as well. A short downpour of frozen rain makes the track extremely slippery and Elderfield loses his place to restart in twelfth. Bikesport Yamaha's James Hutchinson takes ruthless advantage of this and moves up and takes Elderfield's place, Watts in second all the while. Davis, after dropping out of the top five for a brief period, gets his groove back and ends third. At the end of the day though it is Elderfield who takes the top spot on the podium with Davis second and Spinks in third. All three declare themselves very excited to race the same track as the older riders, especially considering that it is not simply any track, but a Grand Prix track to boot.

The second MX2 race sees Sword take the lead for a lap before he makes way for Simpson. Searle is out of the gate in sixth, so it takes him just a few laps to make his way back to the front. There he sets his sights first on Sword, then on Simpson, before he completely checks out to walk away with a fifteen second lead at the chequered flag. Sword ups his game and makes a pass on Simpson again; it sticks and he has a ten second lead on Simpson as the final lap ends. Leuret, in second in the first lap, drops his bike and loses but a few positions. He keeps contact with the leaders and finds himself in fourth, trailing Simpson. He himself is shadowed all the way by Barr, who rounds out the top five. The day overall is Searle, Sword and Leuret, a result that has Sword all smiles (Swordy's back!) and Leuret's team owner, John Banks, very satisfied.

The next to last race of the day, the second MX1 race, again belongs to MacKenzie. The Scotsman again checks out early and runs away with it, while the rest squabble over second behind him. Church again attempts to pull the same kind of performance out of the bag as in the first race, but Gundersen is too close and takes his spot after only a lap. Noble is also close behind and does the same as Gundersen, only to make his own move on the Norwegian soon after. The race order remains steady for a good ten minutes before Anderson, having started in fifth, enters the top three, and then takes the runner-up position. Noble has to give way to Gundersen again with only a few laps to go, ending in fourth, with Church in fifth. The day overall is, predictably, MacKenzie, Gundersen, Anderson. Another big smile for the Swift Suzuki team there, as for CAS Honda's Harry Ainsworth and U Tag Yamaha's Steve Dixon.

People stream to the exit as the final race, the second support race, goes to the line. This time it is two TM machines who go 1-2. King wrings everything he has out of his bike, closely followed by Ireland's Stuart Edmonds, also riding on an Electraction TM. Maunders Racing's Luke Hill is third.

With the season opener successfully behind them, many riders are due to show at Culham in Oxfordshire next for the season opener of the British Masters Motocross series, but some will only be at the start line again in two weeks time at the second round of the Maxxis at Canada Heights in Kent.


Moto One MX1 Moto Two MX1 MX1 Overall
1. Billy MacKenzie 1. Billy MacKenzie 1. Billy MacKenzie 50
2. Kenneth Gundersen 2. Brad Anderson 2. Kenneth Gundersen 42
3. Tom Church 3. Kenneth Gundersen 3. Brad Anderson 38
4. James Noble 4. James Noble 4. James Noble 36
5. Brad Anderson5. Tom Church5. Tom Church 36
 Moto One MX2 Moto Two MX2 MX2 Overall
 1. Tommy Searle 1. Tommy Searle 1. Tommy Searle 50
 2. Stephen Sword 2. Stephen Sword 2. Stephen Sword 44
 3. Pascal Leuret 3. Shaun Simpson 3. Pascal Leuret 38
 4. Gareth Swanepoel 4. Pascal Leuret 4. Martin Barr 32
 5. Martin Barr 5. Martin Barr 5. Carlos Campano 30
 Moto One MXY2 Moto Two MXY2 MXY2 Overall
 1. Scott Elderfield 1. Josh Spinks 1. Scott Elderfield 50
 2. Edward Allingham 2. James Hutchinson 2. Sam Davis 40
 3. Sam Davis  3. Sam Davis 3. Josh Spinks 37
 4. Josh Waterman 4. Josh Waterman 4. Josh Waterman 36
 5. Tom Watts 5. Scott Elderfield  5. Edward Allingham 35

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Jay | 12 March 2008, 12:56
Great write-up again Stefan, thanks! Top quality photos as well!
The last time I was at Donnington for a trackday, but it might as well have been on the MX circuit as it was so slippery.
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