Canada Heights – 08 March 2009 – British Championships
Red Bull KTM UK riders Stephen Sword, Jake Nicholls, Graeme Irwin and Alex Snow – who are being joined in the KTM UK team awning at British Championship rounds by factory Red Bull KTM’s Shaun Simpson – kicked off their campaign for domestic titles at round one of the Maxxis British motocross championships at Canada Heights. The Canada Heights circuit was in great condition for the first half of the season opener although a heavy mid-afternoon shower left the circuit much muddier for the second block of races.
It was reigning British MX2 champion Shaun Simpson who dominated proceedings in MX2 although he struggled to get the trademark holeshots he’s so well known for. Gating inside the top three in both motos Shaun was soon able to push to the front on his factory 250 SX-F and dictate the pace from there taking a pair of relatively easy wins considering the difficult nature of the Canada Heights circuit. After winning both races Shaun takes a handy 10 point lead into round two at Langrish in Hampshire on March 22.
By comparison Stephen Sword had a tough day at the races and had to battle from quite far behind in both points-paying motos. Swordy’s 3-4 scorecard on the day for third overall isn’t a true reflection of how well the Scotsman rode in both races and despite not yielding the results Stephen perhaps deserved still gives him a solid base to challenge for the championship win from.
After scoring an awesome career best second place in the opening moto Jake Nicholls was riding a smooth and consistent second moto when he was struck down by cruel luck in the form of two lapped riders who tangled in a turn and crashed on to him. After struggling to break free from the carnage the determined youngster tried his hardest to restart the stalled motor of his KTM UK machine but was unable to give the mud-coated kick start lever a good kick in the slippery conditions. Finally able to coax the motor to life the Reverend restarted the race a lap down and bravely fought on to 13th place in the moto for a very creditable 5th overall.
For his rookie British Championship race with the Red Bull KTM UK team Graeme Irwin acquitted himself well with an outstanding seventh overall on his 250 SX-F. Backing up an amazing sixth in qualification with an impressive 8-7 scorecard in the races it’s obvious there are great things to come from this young and very stylish Irishman.
Alex Snow also made a KTM UK debut of sorts – racing a 450 SX-F in British Championship competition for the first time in his career. The reigning under-21 champ had a tough time of it in the big bore class but battled hard to end the day 14th overall and only a handful of points outside the top 10 which is where he’s looking to be this season.
Red Bull KTM UK will next be in action at round two of the Maxxis British motocross championship on March 22 at the infamous Langrish venue – home of the Ken Hall Trophy.
Roger Magee – Team Manager
“It was a good start to the season with all three team MX2 riders inside the top eight. For a while there it looked like we were going to have both Jake and Stephen on the podium but it wasn’t to be. Swordy rode really well to come through the pack and Jake was unfortunate to tangle with a pair of back markers with four laps to go. Graeme had a great start to his career in MX2 with a seventh and an eighth and I couldn’t be happier with his performance. Alex had a tough day but he showed some real promise on the 450 and he’s sure to improve from here.”
Shaun Simpson – MX2 1-1
“It’s been a good day. I got a couple of decent starts – not as good as I’d have liked to have but I was near the front in both motos – and from there I was able to get to the lead within a couple of laps and ride my own race from there. I always enjoy riding here at Canada Heights and today was fun too – you just had to be very precise as the track was very technical. Overall I’m very happy, I did what I came here to do and I’ve got a nice little lead in the championship heading into round two!”
Stephen Sword – MX2 3-4
“It was a hard day really with the track the way it was – quite wet and with loads of ruts. Qualifying went well and I wasn’t too worried that Shaun was a little bit faster than me because I was hoping I’d be able to get away either with or in front of him in the races but as it turned out I didn’t get great start in either moto.
“In the first moto I pushed hard and just kept charging until the end – I was unlucky not to finish second. In the second one I was way back after getting caught in a pile-up on the opening lap. I just kept pushing and pushing and battled on to get as many points as I could. It was good to be on the podium but I’d prefer to be on the top at these meetings.
“I’m looking forward to Langrish now – things haven’t been great for me for the past couple of weeks with being a little ill and I haven’t been able to prepare as I’d like. This was pretty much the first race for me this year and it was a tough one.”
Jake Nicholls – MX2 2-13
“The first race was good – I knew I could do well today after I finished fifth in qualifying which is good for me. I got a good start and I just went with it. I was trying to ride sensibly knowing that it was the first race of the year because this time last season I was on the ground with a punctured lung. I kept it on two wheels for the whole moto and I was riding pretty good – I was mega happy to finish second, it was awesome really.
“In the second moto I got another good start because the bike pulled so well up the start straight. The track was really wet and slippery so I was just concentrating on staying on two wheels. I was riding around safely in fourth place, doing my own thing when two lapped riders hit each other on the outside of a corner and fell on to me. There was nothing I could do to avoid it and I ended up stuck under both bikes. It took me a long time to start the bike because I couldn’t get a good grip with my boot on the kick starter because of all the mud. I got going again and finished 13th but I was so disappointed because I could have quite easily finished second overall which would have been my best ever. It’s heartbreaking but it’s back to the drawing board – I’ll come back strong at the next round.”
Graeme Irwin – MX2 8-7
“My day started off well with qualifying in sixth which isn’t too bad for the first round. I made a couple of small mistakes in both motos but was able to come in eighth in race one and seventh in the second. I know I made a couple of wee mistakes in both motos but it’s a long championship and today was a good starting point, I know what I’ve got to work on so I’ll just take it from here.”
Alex Snow – MX1 16-10
“I had a reasonably good start in the first moto and I was running strong. A few laps in I got tangled up with a couple of riders who crashed in front of me but I got going again with no problems until a rock hit me on the end of the nose – it started bleeding heavily and my vision was blurred! I struggled from there and could only manage 16th which I wasn’t too pleased with.
“In the second moto I spun up a bit on the concrete start but I was coming through the pack well and got up to eighth. I lost a couple of places to Noble and Osborne as the race progressed which was frustrating because I couldn’t run with their pace but that’s something I can work on. I was reasonably pleased with the second moto – it was gnarly out there with people crashing everywhere.”
1 Shaun Simpson (Red Bull KTM) 50 points, 2 Neville Bradshaw (Honda) 40, 3 Stephen Sword (RED BULL KTM UK) 38, 4 Mattis Karro (Suzuki) 35, 5 Jake Nicholls (RED BULL KTM UK) 30, 6 Pascal Leuret (Honda) 29, 7 Graeme Irwin (RED BULL KTM UK) 27, 8 Scott Elderfield (Honda) 27, 9 Wayne Smith (Yamaha) 25, 10 Shane Carless (Moto-One KTM) 19
MX1 1 Brad Anderson (Honda) 45, 2 Carl Nunn (Suzuki) 40, 3 Tom Church (CCM) 38, 4 James Noble (Suzuki) 34, 5 Billy MacKenzie (Honda) 33, 6 Jordan Rose (Honda) 31, 7 Cedric Melotte (Honda) 29, 8 Kristian Whatley (Kawasaki) 22, 9 Scott Columb 19, 10 Jamie Lewis (NA/Robinsons KTM) 19… 14 Alex Snow (RED BULL KTM UK) 16
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