Race report: Watson and Nicholls dominate British championsship at Culham!
It was a spectacular day of racing on a track that defied the weather yesterday for round one of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship, which was organised by RHL Activities, where Jake Nicholls, Ben Watson and Lewis Hall took the honours in the MX1, MX2 and MXY2 classes at Culham MX Park in front of a bumper crowd.
The old-school, hillside track provided a great show from the get-go with Hitachi KTM’s Watson pulling two seconds clear of Buildbase Honda’s Martin Barr during the morning MX2 qualifying session in some tough conditions that required a good strategy to make the most of the circuit. Jordan Divall was third, Jordan Eccles fourth and local racer Luke Norris rounded out the top five.
MX1 qualifying was a much closer affair with Elliot Banks-Browne taking pole position, Jake Nicholls second, Graeme Irwin third, Brad Anderson fourth and Kristian Whatley in fifth place – all within just one second of each other, despite the slippery terrain, which held up well thanks to the hard work of the track team despite the threat of the typically British wet weather.
Upon reaching the first MX2 race large ruts had begun to appear around the drying circuit, and while Harri Kullas took the early lead, a masterful performance from Watson, who returns to the Maxxis British Motocross Championship after nearly a year out with injury, saw the KTM racer take to the front on lap five and stretch out an 11 second lead. MVR-D Husqvarna’s Kullas took second position, while Hitachi KTM’s Joasiah Natzke claimed third place with Revo Husqvarna’s Mel Pocock fourth and Putoline Husqvarna Planet Suspension’s Brad Todd rounding out the top five.
In the second MX2 moto local racer Norris took the early lead, but Watson calmly made his attack and by lap three was already in control of the race to conclude a perfect day for the KTM rider. Barr, who suffered a disastrous first race after losing his goggles early on, battled from outside the top six to second position, while Jordan Divall took third in the race. Top three overall on the day was Watson, who takes the red plate to round two, Kullas second, while Todd took his first Maxxis British Motocross Championship podium.
Jamie Law stole the holeshot in the first MX1 moto, but a hard-charging Nicholls had the lead by the end of lap one and, like his teammate, put on a masterclass of technical riding around the challenging Culham circuit to take the victory. Steven Lenoir was second, while Banks-Browne took third. Buildbase Honda’s Irwin battled hard through the field for fourth, with Apico Husqvarna rider Kristian Whatley taking fifth.
The second moto was a gate-to-flag performance from Nicholls, who picked his way through the ultra-deep ruts and carefully chose his lines, while the ultra-experienced Brad Anderson took second place and Irwin finished third. Kullas, who impressively rode in both classes today, took fourth with Lenoir rounding out the top five. Nicholls took the overall victory, with Irwin second and Lenoir a podium third.
It was a memorable day for MXY2 competitors Jake Edey and Lewis Hall, with Edey taking pole position in the morning session, Hall second, and Howard Wainwright rounding out the top three. In race one Gear4 Motorcycles M-Tech KTM racer Edey put on an outstanding gate-to-flag performance, stretching out an 11 second lead over second-placed Hall and with it taking his first Maxxis British Motocross Championship moto victory. Keenan Hird was third, Dylan Stynes fourth and Tom Grimshaw was fifth. In the second moto Edey once again got a strong start, but went down early on in the race allowing Hall to take advantage and the lead from lap one. The Team Green UK Monster Energy Kawasaki racer, who has moved up from the 85cc class this year, took an impressive win and the overall victory, Hird took a hard-fought second place, while Edey battled hard from outside the top 20 for sixth position and the final podium position.
Ben Watson #919 – MX2 overall winner
“It’s been a perfect day. I had a good lap in qualifying at the start of the session and that was enough – every time I came round plus two seconds was on the board, and that really gave me confidence for the day, as I haven’t done much racing since my injury. With having the pole I took the inside gate both races, but I’m not sure it was the best in the end, as it was easy to get a bit squeezed. It was all I needed though for second and fourth out the gate, as I knew where my speed was at, I took my time, and in the first one I worked out where I was faster, made the pass on Harri (Kullas) stick and put the hammer down to get a bit of a lead. In the second one the track had changed a lot, and I took a bit of time to get in a groove, but once I found my lines I took advantage of mistakes of others. Once I got into the lead I put in a few fast laps again to get a bit of a gap, then I controlled it from the front while focusing on making no mistakes. I’m going away feeling happy and confident – it’s been a really good day for me and the team.”
Jake Nicholls #45 – MX1 overall winner
“It was a good day, and a great way to start the championship. In the first race I got in the lead fairly early on, and just rode smart. The track was quite technical and it was easy to get caught out, so it was important to manage that a little bit. The bike was working really well, and we didn’t change anything between the races. I actually got a better start in the second one and got into the lead on the first lap. I just controlled it from there really, not pushing too hard because the track was tough. I really enjoyed it, and I have to say thanks to the mechanics for all of their work this week as they’ve been trying to get the bike ready after the flyaways. It’s great to get a Maxxis British Championship race under my belt, and nice to lead a race, which of course is good for the confidence to give me a little boost and I hope to take the momentum into the next GP in Argentina.”
Lewis Hall #19 – MXY2 overall winner
“I’ve been working hard all winter, and particularly working on my starts, which has really paid off today. It was good to come out and have two solid races including a race win and the overall. I saw Keenan was coming in the last few laps of the second moto, and I knew the overall was a possibility, so I felt a bit nervous as I just wanted to stay on, but it was good that I could get it done. I’ve never been to Lyng, so I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Words: RHL Activities