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Mewse and Irwin on Duns

Mewse and Irwin on Duns
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After a five-week domestic series break, the full Hitachi ASA KTM UK squad returned to action this past weekend for Round 5 of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship. The team headed north of the Scottish border for the hard-packed challenge of the Duns circuit, including the now recuperated Conrad Mewse who had sat out the last GP round at Loket with a dented femur.
The 19-year-old was looking to maintain his 31-point lead of the MX2 championship whilst team mate, Graeme Irwin, intended to close down the 29-point deficit to the MX1 championship leader, Jake Nicholls.
Both Mewse and Irwin got off to a perfect start by securing respective pole position places in the morning qualifying session. Conrad held a modest 0.2 second advantage over Joshua Gilbert whereas Graeme stunned spectators with a 2.276 second lead from Evgeny Bobryshev.
Race 1
The weather quickly turned before racing began, as did the team’s luck. Rain and increasingly stronger winds greeted the #426 of Mewse and #10 of Michael Ellis at the starting gates. Both riders launched their KTM 250 SX-Fs brilliantly, Mewse charged to the first left hand corner from the inside while Ellis rubbed elbows with the middle of the pack; both making it through the first few turns in the top 10.
Quickly into the race there were clearly problems for Mewse, who was forced to make a pit stop. The Shepton Mallet rider’s mechanics swiftly had rider back out on track, but now he had to chase down the entire field. Working his way through the pack and with conditions and visibility worsening, Mewse had a small crash costing him a further ten places. He then valiantly pushed on to collect seven points, finishing in 14th.
Ellis capitalised on his strong start and took the fight to the top ten pack. Riding consistently, he managed to make his way up to 6th position before being pushed back to 7th by the overall MX2 winner Mel Pocock later in the race. Ellis held this position to secure his season best finish so far.
Race 2
The weather worsened for race two: the rain had intensified, visibility lowered and standing water built up around the circuit. The slippery conditions proved tricky, causing a number of riders to go down early in the second lap, collecting Mewse in the process. Conrad pulled his bike from under the pile up and cut his way back through the field to start lap 3 in 11th position. Mewse continued to recover positions, bridging the gap to the leading top five riders by the middle of race, but with goggles off and heavy spray it made passing difficult. On the penultimate lap, the #426 managed to pass Martin Barr’s Husqvarna to take second position. However, there was not quite enough time to catch the race leader, Jay Hague, who had led the majority of the race with clear track ahead of him.
Conrad Mewse #426:
“It was a struggle, I haven’t ridden the bike properly in 2 or 3 weeks because of the leg injury so we knew it would be a tough weekend. The first race I had some bike problems that forced me to make a pit stop, so I had to work my way back through the group from last. I had a small crash which cost me some more time, but I pushed on to recover some points.
“The second race, I got off to a good start, but I was caught up in an incident and had to pull my bike out from the bottom of a pile up. I pushed hard from then on to reach second, nearly had the win in the end but just didn’t quite get it. It wasn’t an awful weekend, but it was far from my best. I’m not happy with my riding but it was a bit of a lottery out there with the conditions today. On to the next one!”
Race 1
Following a heroic performance in qualifying, a confident Graeme Irwin positioned himself in the second starting gate and lined himself up for the first turn. The #1 bike fired out the gates before coming together with the top five riders again and again as the race made its way through the first three tight corners. During this battle another rider made contact with the back of the defending champions bike, bending the rear chain guide and sprocket, causing the drive chain to come off. As Irwin exited the corner and went for the throttle for the first jump, it was clear what had happened. The Carrickfergus-born rider jumped of his KTM 450 SX-F at the side of the track and repeatedly to reinstall the chain, but the damage was too extensive and forced his retirement from the race.
Race 2
With weather conditions continuing to deteriorate, Race Direction and the Circuit of Duns had to prioritise rider safety and were forced to prematurely finish the meeting after MX2 Race 2, meaning the Hitachi ASA KTM UK team would not get a chance to recover any points in the MX1 Championship.
Graeme Irwin #1:
“I am very disappointed with today. Duns started the second half of the season, so we knew from this round on we needed to start closing the gap. I started the day in qualifying 2.3 seconds faster than anyone else. I know my fitness is good, I know my speed is good, the bike is working well. It’s so disappointing because what happened was out of my hands and we were just unlucky. Somebody must have clipped the back of the bike and I tried everything I could to fix it, but it wasn’t meant to be. 
“This was the kind of day where I needed the second race to make amends and – with the conditions – hope that some of the top riders had a bit of bad luck too. But it was called off and that was that. 
“From this point now, the attitude has to totally change for the remainder of the season. We now need to go to win. Nothing else is worthwhile because if we want to win this championship, that’s what it will take.”
Hitachi ASA KTM UK Team Manager, Lee Tolan:
“It’s been very up and down! Conrad had a terrible start, combined with the conditions he just couldn’t make good of it which resulted in a poor finish to the first race. His second race he redeemed himself with a second, we were happy with that as the weather was atrocious. But let’s not talk about rain, let’s talk about Michael Ellis – best race result of the year! Up there fighting amongst the top ten, peaked in 6th before finishing 7th. We are all really pumped for him, he looked fast and confident out there, so we are over the moon. 
In MX1, Graeme got off to a great start today, qualified pole with a considerable margin so the team were excited as we needed to start recovering points today. He launched well, 4th into the first corner and well he just got bumped. It derailed the chain and with the damage it was not going to stay on, so unfortunately it was a hero to zero in just a few turns. Due to the weather the racing was ceased for the safety of the riders, it meant we didn’t have the chance to redeem ourselves. Its Motocross and that’s the way it goes sometimes, but we will be back fighting at the next one.”
Words: KTM
Pic: Billy Giltrow

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