British Motocross Championship - 10 March 2017

Countdown to Culham Maxxis British Championship round one



RHL Activities is ready for action-packed round one of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship this weekend at Culham MX Park on Sunday March 12, and we’ve caught up with a few of the riders to see what they are saying ahead of the weekend.

With the final preparations now going into place ahead of the start of the battle for the prestigious British Championship crowns in the MX1, MX2 and MXY2 classes, riders up and down the country are packing their bags, preparing their goggles and getting ready to kick things off for their 2017 season.

The Culham circuit is no stranger to national and international events, and with its natural undulations comprised with ground that can become quite technical for the riders, it is expected to provide some fantastic racing throughout the day.

In the MX1 class it’s predicted that Jake Nicholls, Graeme Irwin, Elliott Banks-Browne and local-ace Kristian Whatley will all be in the mix of those in the hunt for the podium, especially in the absence of the injured Tommy Searle, but as the saying goes, round one is where championships cannot be won, but certainly can be lost. It’s also notable that MVR-D Husqvarna’s Harri Kullas will be hopping from flag to gate while taking on the ironman effort of racing in both the MX1 and MX2 classes.

In the smaller capacity MX2 class the championship is wide open this year. Ben Watson is likely to be up there aboard his KTM now he’s healthy after over 10 months away from racing, as is Mel Pocock, while Martin Barr is looking to clinch that elusive title aboard his Honda machine. There are other notable challengers with Liam Knight, Brad Todd all within the possibilities of podium results while those that have stepped up from the MXY2 class will be aiming to make an impression and shake things up with the old-hands.

Those that are contesting the MXY2 class will make the most of racing the lines of their more experienced peers, and with some of last year’s championship competitors moving up, there’s definitely a lot of hungry juniors with the eye on the prize.

Here’s a round up of pre-race quotes and what the riders are saying!

Mel Pocock – Revo Husqvarna – MX1
"It's been a long off-season with no racing. We have gotten our heads down as a team to bring both ourselves and the race bikes to new levels for the 2017 season. I have raced at Culham for many years in the schoolboys and it's a mega track for the first round to kick off the championship.”

Jamie Carpenter – Revo Husqvarna
"I am really looking forward to getting the season started at Culham after a good winters training and testing with the team. I'm really happy with the bike that Revo have produced. I'm excited to see where I'm at and then building on that during the season. Culham is always a test and I'm up for the challenge."

Martin Barr – Buildbase Honda – MX2
“I’m looking forward to it. We’ve had a really good off-season. My race results in Italy weren’t really what I wanted – a few crashes prevented that – but as far as preparation goes it was 100 per cent and everything went to plan. I’m looking forward to getting racing again after a long winter of putting the laps in. I’m busting to get behind the gate and get going again. I’m looking forward to my second year with Buildbase Honda and trying to win the MX2 championship – that’s our main goal this season."

Graeme Irwin – Buildbase Honda – MX1
“I feel really strong on the bike and everything’s good. I’ve had a good couple of months and I’m ready to rock and roll. We spent three weeks in Sardinia, which was really good for me. I didn’t race the Italian championship just because I didn’t feel there was any point – I was only just back on the bike after my shoulder surgery. When you’re racing GP riders I want to think I can try to win or at least be my best. I came back to the UK for a couple of weeks and then back out to Italy for 10 days. I’m gelling well with the new bike and have no complaints."

Elliot Banks-Browne – Geartec Husqvarna – MX1
"I'm really looking forward to getting the season underway now, as it has been a long time off! I’ve put in the work and I have a great bike and team around me ready for a good year. Culham is always a track that I've enjoyed and I’ve had great success at in the past, so I will look at starting my season off to strongly and come away from there in a position to fight for the 2017 championship."

Luke Norris - Geartec Husqvarna – MX2
"The off-season has been really great for me. I've put in a lot of work and feel I am riding better than ever, which is a really positive thing going into the first round. Now, with the support of a team such as Geartec Husqvarna behind me, it’s time to take that step to the next level. Culham is my home race so it will be great to have the support of my family and friends there, and it’s a track I love riding. I just can’t wait to get to get behind the gate now. "

Ben Watson – Hitachi Contract Furniture KTM
“We’ve had two GP events already and it hasn’t been easy with having 10 months off the bike. Qatar wasn’t particularly amazing, as it was just about getting used to all the intensity of the racing again, which felt fairly new for me. It was good to get back into the groove of racing, but Indonesia was a bit of a washout. Qualifying was cancelled so they took the times from the practice session, which wasn’t great, but the racing was better, despite the mud, and I came away with a ninth and seventh in what was a survival race. I’m really looking forward to Culham, and excited to get back racing in the UK, as it’s been a year since I competed in a British Championship round. Culham is a track I like, it gets really rough and technical, and while there are a few different people on the gate, I feel good now that I’ve gotten some races under my belt. The goal is obviously for the championship, but it should be good to do the one-day schedule, and I feel ready for it now.”

Kristian Whatley – Apico Husqvarna – MX1
“I love Culham. It’s a proper mans track! I think everyone has had their fair share of get-offs and getting hurt there, especially on a four and half! (450). I’ve only done about 25 hours on the Husqvarna so it’s not that much, and I had a bit of an injury when I was out in Dubai around a month ago – I ended up hitting a cameraman when he ran across the track. I thought I’d killed him! I was just about to take the lead, he ran across the track, and I only got the brakes about two feet from him, so I hit him hard. I went down and hurt a ligament in my shoulder. Preparation has been slow and hard really. Changing teams has not been easy, and we’re not really completely there in terms of set-up, as I’ve not done much testing at all. We’ve got one base setting, but despite that I’m feeling happy. I guess you don’t know until the gate drops. I like the ground at Culham, it’s rutty, it’s technical and it’s hard going. You really have to find your lines, be creative, and you can get away with things, but if it goes wrong you’re going home. It suits my style, and if the ground is right it will be good,”

Todd Kellett – St Blazey MX SJ Hodder Husqvarna – MX2
“I’ve raced at Culham quite a few times over the years. I like the track, it’s going to be really rough and really gnarly – it’s certainly going to be a track that separates the men from the boys. I don’t mind it like that, but the approach is got to be for solid results and to keep it rubber side down. This weekend we will find out a lot more about the bike, especially with how it compares to the other bikes, and we can go from there. There’s new people coming in, and other people that have gone, so it’s difficult to judge what’s possible until we get going.”

James Harrison – Cab Screens Husqvarna – MX1
"I can't wait to get started on my second year in MX1. I had a good learning year last year with the Cab Screens Husqvarna team and I'm excited to see how far we can go. I love Culham too and it's great to see the rack back on the Maxxis British Championship calendar"

Josh Peters - Cab Screens Husqvarna - MXY2/125cc
“Really looking forward for Round one of the Maxxis. I’m feeling really confident, strong and up to 100% on the bike, and looking forward to a new challenge of moving up to the MXY2. I’m happy to be working with the team and seeing how things play out at Culham"

Dan Thornhill - Cab Screens Husqvarna - MX1
"I'm really excited for the British Championship to kick off! The off seasons been positive, I've spent a lot of time with Team getting everything set up on the bikes and with 44Developments off the bike. It feels great going into another year with such a great group of people within Cab Screens Husqvarna. We’re all GO for round one at Culham"

Josh Coleman – Cab Screens Husqvarna – MX2
"Really looking forward to Round 1 of the Maxxis at Culham. I've had some great racing there coming up through my youth and I'm positive we can carry that forward and have a fun day. I couldn't think of anything better than being under the Cab Screens Husqvarna team awning to kick off the series"

Kevin Woutts – Lombard Express Suzuki – MX2
"I'm looking forward to racing again after 6 months. I had a long rehab after my knee surgery in September, but I could really work good on my fitness. My plan for Culham is to not take any risk and be consistent. It's a long series, and I've learned that the championship isn't done after the first round. I’m really happy with the Suzuki bikes, the team and look forward to racing in England"

Image credit: Martin Pickard / MPS Images

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