British MX1 championship preview: The battle to be in the battle!
It is widely expected that leading MXGP contenders Shaun Simpson and Tommy Searle will be the boys to beat in the MX1 division for the 2016 British Championship.
Both were top ten in the first MXGP rounds and are already similar in speed as Searle attempts to stop Simpson winning his third British title in a row. But alongside this sometimes bitter rivalry is the battle to see who else an run that pace.
A plethora of riders want to get on terms with Britain’s leading duo and leading the attack might just be Jake Nicholls. Nicholls has the calibre to do it but had a horrible 2015 that was ruined by injuries, this season he has switched to Husqvarna machinery under Roger Magee’s awaning and while Nicholl’s may not be on his optimum race pace at round one the outspoken Englishman will be racing all the European GPs alongside the British championship and this will no doubt help his speed. Nicholls has proven he has the pace in the past and has the determination to do it again.
Graeme Irwin might just be the most likely rider to give Searle and Simpson a run on current form. The Ulsterman has won for the past two weekends in the UK and might be in the form of his career. Irwin is keen to race with the Simpson and Searle saying: “I really want to battle with them guys. Somebody said to me if they weren’t in, I could do it (win) but I want to race them guys, I don’t want to race a British championship with no GP guys in it. The harder it is the better it is, and if you do win it, it is a better achievement.”
The one thing that might be difficult for Graeme is the fact Buildbase Honda, historically at least, don’t want to do any MXGP races. It means the only exposure Irwin will get to that speed is the eight days of British championship competition, while his rivals will be racing the best in the world on the rest of the weekends and that might just make things difficult keep pace as it increases during the season.
When it comes to talent Kristian Whatley is up there with Searle and Simpson. But like his teammate Irwin, a lack of exposure to GP racing will make Kristian’s quest to run consistently with Simpson and Searle more difficult. But make no mistake, on talent alone Whatley is capable of running that pace, if his fitness is on point, the former British champion could well get amongst it and win some motos.
Elliott Banks-Browne is another contender who could mix it at the front. EBB is now on the Geartec Yamaha and has had solid results so far, he is also entered to race the MXGP at Valkenswaard in a week’s time and again that should help his speed. Banks-Browne had a difficult year last year coming back from a badly broken leg but this season he has a strong team behind him and a full pre-season under his belt, EBB should be able to show his full potential on a 450 in 2016.
Like a fine win Brad Anderson seems to get better with age! Anderson has been impressive on the KTM so far this season and looks like he has a new lease of life. Ando won’t be scared to mix it at the front and rattle some cages and if he gets a start don’t take your eyes off him!
Steven Lenoir is a bit of an unknown quantity on the bigger bike but the Frenchman is always fast and consistent and his smooth style could suit the bigger machine, he is also entered for Valkenswaard and GP experience will only help his speed in the UK. Alex Snow should be good on the Yamaha while Estonian Gert Krestinov should feel at home on what is a mostly sandy schedule for 2016 and Ashley Wilde had the year of his career in 2015 and will look to step it up again this year on the Geartec Yamaha.
It is a stacked field in 2016 but everyone will need to show they can run with Simpson and Searle in 2016 to get the title – but can they do it?