Update on Matterley Basin – 2020 pre-season International possible
The disappearance of Matterley Basin from the 2020 MXGP provisional calendar provoked dismay within the sport. According to promoters Youthstream the removal of the British Grand Prix was due to unsustainable costs of running the event. Overseer of the part-time circuit and site, Steve Dixon – owner of the Bike it Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team – believes that the track could still entertain elite level motocross.
Matterley Basin could even make a surprise return to the Grand Prix schedule with an amended agenda expected to be published next month. However if the British round remains unfeasible then Dixon is seriously contemplating a pre-season International with the possibility for world championship teams to also test around the popular Winchester-based course.
“I’ve looked at doing an International in March,” Dixon said exclusively. “The weather can be good at that time. If we look recently in the UK – in the heart of summer – it has been atrocious in some places.”
“2019 was the first year that the grand prix was viable,” he revealed as Matterley hosted round two of the current campaign for what was a risky slot for the British climate on March 23-24. “The costs have come down a lot and different suppliers have come in. It is a lot more economical and running the event in March. We saved 30-40% with some suppliers. Winchester Council are now a lot more confident with us and have cut down their request for police and traffic control. They know we want a good show and not cut any corners for organisation.”
“The formula is there for an International and there would be less requirements than a GP regarding security and other factors,” he added. “It could be run on a lot lower budget and provide good prize money and that’s what attracts riders. As well as providing some time for set-up, where teams could ride and test afterwards on a GP-spec track.”
Whether Matterley stages a Grand Prix or a non-championship meet (and Dixon typically only has a two week window per year for fixtures on account of planning permission) a decision will need to be made in the coming weeks.
“Winchester contacted me last week in terms of event scheduling,” he said. “If we want a large scale meeting and they don’t have the resources available to monitor or advise then we wouldn’t be able to do it, so we’ll know within the next four weeks if there will be a GP offered or we go the international route.”
With Matterley Basin potentially entering the British motocross landscape in an alternate capacity there could be ramifications for the Hawkstone Park International: a well established date on the Grand Prix pre-season agenda. Dixon believes the meetings could co-exist. “It would make sense for teams to do Hawkstone and Matterley and I don’t want to take away from Hawkstone but going back a few years we used to move from one French International to the next,” he says. “If the teams can benefit from a bit of time on the track as well as the race – either before or after – then it might be of extra value before flying away to somewhere like Argentina. That’s what I’d like to see.”
Words: Adam Wheeler