MX1 British Championship: Title Contenders!
If Tommy Searle wasn’t set to miss the first round due to injury then the defending champion would be the clear favourite to clinch the title for a second year in a row. However, the fact he will miss the first round makes it very difficult for him. He will probably have to win every moto when he makes his return at round two. He will also have to hope he doesn’t have any DNF’s, something that nearly cost him the title last year as he had his fair share of bike problems in the sand.
With Searle’s absence at round one it leaves Jake Nicholls as the favourite for the title. Last year Jake had a good season and ended up third in the championship – he was able to run with Simpson and Searle on occasions. Nicholls won two moto’s throughout the year but will be hoping to win plenty more during 2017.
Jake didn’t have the best of GP’s in Qatar but he secured a great eleventh place finish in Indonesia, that will give him confidence going into round one of the British Championship. Will Nicholls be able to deal with the pressure heading into the season as championship favourite? That remains to be seen.
Buildbase Honda rider, Graeme Irwin is somewhat of a dark horse for the championship heading into round one and that could end up helping him as he doesn’t have all the pressure. Irwin had a great campaign in 2016 finishing fourth in the championship. He was the best non GP rider which is encouraging.
Without Simpson competing this year it should open the door for more riders to grab overall victories and Irwin will be hoping to benefit but not only that he could make himself into a serious title contender when the gate drops at Culham.
There is no doubting Kristian Whatley’s talent on a motocross bike, he is possibly the most talented rider behind the gate. He knows exactly what it feels like to win a British Championship too as he won the title back in 2013 on a Yamaha. Since then we have only seen glimpses of what he can really do.
Whatley had personal issues that held him back at the end of last year but hopefully that is all behind now and he can progress with his career. He originally signed for the MVR-D outfit for the 2017 season but he parted company, not the best start to the year! However, Apico Husqvarna stepped up to give him a bike. The deal happened quite late so he might come into the season a bit unprepared but when he feels fully comfortable on the Husqvarna he will be a front runner.
Another rider that knows exactly what it feels like to win a British Championship is French rider, Steven Lenoir. He won the British MX2 title back in 2015 before moving up to the MX1 class as a rookie last year. Unfortunately he picked up an injury which meant he had to miss two rounds but he showed good speed.
Lenoir also got a call from 24MX Honda to race some MXGP races as a replacement rider and he learnt a lot riding with the world’s best riders. Lenoir often gets over looked but he could be the one to watch if everything clicks. He has switched to a Kawasaki for the season ahead but hopefully he has no problems gelling with the bike.
There are plenty of riders that could spring a surprise with the likes of Elliot Banks-Browne, Ashely Wilde, Gert Krestinov and Jake Shipton all having good speed. It should make for some good racing and we can’t wait for the gate to drop at round one at Culham this weekend!