British MX: Foxhill Returns To Championship Glory
In the past the track has acquired a somewhat tarnished reputation due to its poor condition, and it is this reputation and condition that prompted the landowner, Genevieve Mather, to take personal control over the lease on the track. Together with the track builder Paul O'Gorman, who under the auspices of the BSMA had tirelessly worked over years to restore the track to a modicum of its former glory, and tens of thousands of pounds of personal investment into the track, Mrs Mather was proud to announce early in 2008 that the track was ready again for a Maxxis British Motocross Championship round.
Arriving on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon in July, I immediately spot some distinct changes. A tall and strong fence runs from the one side of the wide expanse of field that makes up the paddock, to the other. Multiple gates make it easier to pass and, in one respect, easier to police. The track itself, once through the gates and past the hedge, looks better than ever before. I must say that the once rickety and clapped-out track looks somewhat more... how shall we say, cared for than the last time I was there.
In a flash of wisdom, the ACU has decided to run the last two rounds of the MXY2 youth championship back-to-back, making for many already stretched youth parents a trip to Desertmartin a non-issue. Instead, the youth will race Foxhill. Fantastic.
And so, on Sunday morning, the MXY2 class go out first on a very well-watered track. PAR Honda's Edward Allingham is the fastest around the track, followed by Danger UK's Joe Gregory and Marsh MX's David Games. In the MX2 class, it is Team KTM UK's Shaun Simpson who is two hundredths of a second faster than Molson Kawasaki's Stephen Sword, while Suso MVR-D's Jason Dougan is over a second slower than the two in the lead. In the MX1 class it is Monster CAS Honda's Billy MacKenzie who goes nearly three seconds faster than everyone else in the class, followed by Swift Suzuki's Brad Anderson and Team KTM UK's James Noble.
A brief twenty minute autograph session interrupts the preparations for the MXY2 class. The sun is still shining, the track has been watered again to keep the dust down. The first race goes off well. After the first lap it is Games who leads the pack, shadowed by Swift Suzuki's Scott Elderfield and KRM Racing's Tom Watts. Elderfield soon takes the lead though, and the lead lasts for two laps before Elderfield goes down and much of the pack tears past him before he gets re-mounted. Instead it is FTMX Racing's Lewis Abbott who takes the lead, having come from sixth and worked his way forward.
A lap later he is joined by Edward Allingham. Allingham has had a bad start in the middle of the pack, but he has moved up half the pack ahead of him in one lap, and made good progress by mid-race. MotoXtreme Kawasaki's Sam Davis battles with Nathan Rooks, who races across the finish line in third.
The MX2 race is an old-fashioned duel between Simpson and Sword. Sword has the lead after the first lap, but Simpson takes the lead. The cat and mouse game begins and lasts for the better part of the race before Sword is able to retake the lead. Half a minute behind this whirlwind is Britain's new arrival from the United States, Utag Yamaha's Zach Osborne. Starting in fourth, Osborne passes Dougan in third and attempts to keep up with the two front runners. Swift Suzuki's Pascal Leuret is in fourth, his team-mate Jake Nicholls in fifth. Leuret's team-mate Elliott Banks-Browne also makes good progress to sixth, before being pipped to the post by Dougan's team-mate Carl Nunn. There is not much movement in the top ten, but in the back of the pack two riders are moving up quickly. NA Robinson KTM's Michael Phillips and DB Racing's Neville Bradshaw come back from terrible starts and make progress every lap. While Bradshaw ends in fifteenth, Phillips ends a few spots lower in nineteenth.
The MX1 race is not all that much different from the race before it. MacKenzie makes a flying start as is his style. Over the duration of the race he builds up a commanding lead of nearly forty seconds over his nearest competition, first Molson Kawasaki's Tom Church and then Pioneer Yamaha's Wayne Smith. Church once again has bad luck, having to drop out with only a few more laps remaining, and handing Smith the second place on a silver platter. ARB Tuning Kawasaki's Mark Jones also remains in the mix after a start in sixth, working his way to third by the end of the race. Anderson makes an almost miraculous recovery, starting in the back of the pack and making his way back to fourth in two thirds of the race.
The support race is an all-out win for MX1 rider Kevin Wells, while CCM's Richie Worrall, second throughout, is pipped to the post by the Twisted 7 Kawasaki's Jack Hawes.
Immediately after this, the MXY2 class goes back to the line. Edward Allingham improves his second race luck by getting out of the gate first and into the first corner without incident. He leads from start to finish. He is followed by Abbott and Watts. ARB Tuning Kawasaki's Vytautas Bucas tries for third, but he loses out to Bikesport Yamaha's James Hutchinson. The day sees Allingham, Abbott and Hutchinson take the podium, and Allingham take the lead from Team Green Kawasaki's Josh Waterman in the class.
The second MX2 race is once again fantastic. Simpson this time makes no mistakes, fending Sword off time and again, all the way to the last lap. But in that last lap, Simpson makes one mistake that allows Sword to get past. As much as Simpson attempts to make up for it, there are four seconds between the two across the finish line. With a handshake and a back slap the two congratulate each other behind the podium. Third across the finish line is once again Osborne, who quietly makes his way to the podium to accept some water and a towel to clean himself up. Again throughout the top ten there is not much movement, only as Nunn drops out, do riders move up. Fast and furious Foxhill is back for sure.
The day overall is predictably Stephen Sword, Shaun Simpson and Zach Osborne, with Sword reducing the gap between himself and class leader Simpson to a mere three points. It looks like the MX2 championship will once again go down to the wire.
The second MX1 race is again MacKenzie's, although this time the racing is somewhat closer. MotoXtreme Kawasaki's Mark Hucklebridge offers the first challenge, while Anderson makes his own advance. He displaces Hucklebridge three laps in, and keeps up with MacKenzie for the remainder of the race. Several seconds behind are Twisted 7 Kawasaki's Bryan MacKenzie and James Noble, but it is Noble who remains ahead. Wayne Smith and Tom Church attempt their own challenges, and this time it is Smith who has to pull out, while Church continues in fourth with the other MacKenzie in fifth.
One of the few two-stroke bikes in the championship, piloted by Mark Eastwood, works its way to sixth, before dropping to seventh. The day's podium is also, predictably, MacKenzie, Anderson and Noble, MacKenzie cementing his lead over championship number two, James Noble. Anderson is not far behind in third.
The final race sees Worrall lead from start to finish, pursued by Wells in second, and Jim Davies in third. Again it is Jack Hawes who works his way from a bad start to third. The day ends beautifully with everyone satisfied, and clearly impressed with the changes at the track. Genevieve Mather declares her satisfaction with the event as well, pleased to see that the venue is shaping up to its past glory, and could well be returning to be just that, a glorious venue that Britain can be proud of again.
|Moto One MX1||Moto Two MX1||MX1 Overall|
|1. Billy MacKenzie||1. Billy MacKenzie||1. Billy MacKenzie 50|
|2. Wayne Smith||2. Brad Anderson||2. Brad Anderson 40|
|3. Mark Jones||3. James Noble||3. James Noble 34|
|4. Brad Anderson||4. Tom Church||4. Mark Jones 33|
|5. Jordan Rose||5. Bryan MacKenzie||5. Bryan MacKenzie 31|
|Moto One MX2||Moto Two MX2||MX2 Overall|
|1. Stephen Sword||1. Stephen Sword||1. Stephen Sword 50|
|2. Shaun Simpson||2. Shaun Simpson||2. Shaun Simpson 44|
|3. Zach Osborne||3. Zach Osborne||3. Zach Osborne 40|
|4. Pascal Leuret||4. Pascal Leuret||4. Pascal Leuret 36|
|5. Jake Nicholls||5. Jason Dougan||5. Jake Nicholls 31|
|Moto One MXY2||Moto Two MXY2||MXY2 Overall|
|1. Lewis Abbott||1. Edward Allingham||1. Edward Allingham|
|2. Edward Allingham||2. Lewis Abbott||2. Lewis Abbott|
|3. Sam Davis||3. James Hutchinson||3. James Hutchinson|
|4. James Hutchinson||4. Vytautas Bucas||4. Sam Davis|
|5. Nathan Rooks||5. Josh Waterman||5. Vytautas Bucas|
|1. Billy MacKenzie 250||1. Stephen Sword 129||1. Edward Allingham 110|
|2. James Noble 211||2. Shaun Simpson 113||2. Josh Waterman 97|
|3. Brad Anderson 206||3. Martin Barr 111||3. Sam Davis 84|
|4. Mark Jones 193||4. Elliott Banks-Browne 87||4. Joe Gregory 80|
|5. Wayne Smith 179||5. Neville Bradshaw 72||5. Tom Watts 76|
|6. Tom Church 175||6. Jason Dougan 70||6. Scott Elderfield 74|
|7. Mark Eastwood 132||7. Pascal Leuret 67||7. Lloyd Morgan 73|
|8. Bryan MacKenzie 119||8. Marcus Norlen 60||8. James Hutchinson 60|
|9. Mark Hucklebridge 110||9. Carl Nunn 60||9. Josh Spinks 55|
|10. Jim Murrro 94||10. Carlos Campano 55||10. Lewis Abbott 53|