BRITISH MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP, MILTON PARK - HM PLANT KTM UK REPORT
Elliott Banks-Browne continues MX2 success at Milton Park
After several weeks on the road, the team returns to the United Kingdom for the fourth round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship at Milton MX Park, just a stone's throw off the M1 at Northampton. Sunday morning dawns with a chill in the air, but the weather varies, with some rain in the last set of races that makes the clay surface of the track slippery and treacherous.
The team welcomes Steven Clarke to the fold. Having enjoyed successes in the US and Australia, the West Midlands native hopes to make a good impression here too. The MX2 qualifying session sees him and fellow team riders Elliott Banks-Browne and Nathan Watson take the top three positions, with Nathan and Elliott retaining second and third in the super-pole. Nathan's brother Ben ends super-pole in twelfth, while James Dunn has some difficulties getting a good lap in with a twenty-first place.
For Elliott, this is a very good day. In the lead from start to finish in the first race, he then has a good battle on his hands with fellow KTM rider Steven Lenoir in the second, before taking charge again and finishing with a comfortable seven-second lead. In the final race, he plays it smart, opting to keep second place for an overall win on the day.
Steven surprises the crowd with a strong run in the first race, battling with some of the big names in the class before slotting into second behind Elliott. The second race goes sour in the first corner as he goes down and has to restart dead last. But he proves that his time overseas has taught him well and with blistering lap times he leap-frogs his way through the pack to end the race in sixth! With a fourth in the final race, Steven earns a third place overall on the day, his first Maxxis podium ever.
Nathan tries to capitalise on his qualifying position, but the hairpin left-hander first corner ruins his start twice, forcing him to work his way from mid-pack to sixth and eighth in the first and second race respectively. In the last race, he finally succeeds in slipping through in the front, but his progress is brought to an abrupt halt by a crash that ends his race with a DNF. He ends the day in tenth overall.
Little brother Ben faces a similar fate. His second race is the best of the bunch with a consistent run in tenth and eleventh, ending the race in the top ten. The other two races see him start in the middle of the pack, although the last race ends with a better result, a twelfth. Everything added together gives him a thirteenth place on the day.
James Dunn is arguably having a really bad hair day. After a tough qualifying session, he struggles to get into a good rhythm and instead finds himself in a steady twenty-third place. The second race puts a damper on proceedings as several crashes ruin his day completely and he makes the hard call to regroup and seek some parental advice, ending the day with nil points and dented confidence.
Elliott Banks-Browne MX2 #1
“It's been not such a bad weekend, I went one-one-two, was disappointed in the last one but it was pretty sketchy out there. In the first one I pulled a good lead with Steven in second so that's good for the team. In the second started in third, came through and won that quite comfortably and then in the last one didn't get a good start at all which I needed to. It was super sketchy and I was just trying to be smart Last year I made some stupid mistakes and lost a lot of points, the main thing this year is the championship. I'd like to win all races but I'll do it next time.”
Steven Clarke MX2 #511
“Today was good! I made a bit of a slip-up in the super-pole, but I feel like I rode well all day. I went two-six-four for third overall and I just wonder what I could've done if I'd had better starts and not gone down in the first corner. Onwards and upwards, that's my first podium in the Maxxis ever and I'm pretty pumped on that and now just to put in some solid weeks away now and see what we come away with at Foxhill.”
Nathan Watson MX2 #991
“Qualified good, was second in super-pole. In the first race I had a bad start, came through to sixth, and in the second I was caught up in the first-turn pile-up and got back to eighth, not great. Then in the last race I got the best start of the day and I'd just passed into fourth, I could see the first three and had a really big crash. I DNFed that one so a bad day in the end.”
Ben Watson MX2 #919
“Qualifying was good, I got a twelfth and went into super-pole where I improved my time but not the position. I got an average start in the first race but then ended up in a bit of a pileup and finished in eighteenth. In the second one I got a better start and was just pulling through slowly throughout the race and got tenth. In the final race I had a mid-pack start, but I like it when it's slippy and pulled through throughout the race and managed to get a twelfth. It's been good, I've had three consistent races.”
James Dunn MX2 #20
“I had a really good week training with Scott Probert, I felt good coming into the weekend. I went out for qualifying and struggled to get into it straight-away and ended up twenty-first. I thought that might be OK for the rest of the day. In the first race I had a bad start, nearly crashed in the first turn and then just seemed to be getting worse and worse, just couldn't get a good rhythm and seemed to ride really tight. I've been struggling quite a bit recently with my racing and just feeling comfortable on the bike, and in the second race I just felt really bad, pulled off, spoke to my dad about it and tried it again but it just didn't work. So we made the decision to just leave the third race out; it's hard to learn stuff on the day, you learn little things but I have to change things dramatically. We've got a two week break now and I'll go away and keep working hard and hopefully pull something together.”
Roger Magee: HM Plant KTM UK Team Manager
“It's good to get another two HM Plant KTM riders on the second podium after Lyng. Hats off to Steven Clarke who jumped on basically what's Shaun Sisterson's practice bike, we put some suspension in and he stuck it on the podium, so there are no excuses that the bike's not going quick enough. Good ride by Elliott in all three races, he rode with the head in the last one and brought it home in difficult conditions. He extends his lead in the MX2 championship. Unfortunately Nathan Watson had a crash in the last race and he's now lost second place, but he had two good strong results in the first two races. Young Ben is still only fifteen and he's knocking on the door of those top ten positions with a tenth and a twelfth in the second and last races. He's looking to progress and we look forward to Foxhill. James is in a difficult place at the moment, he's lacking a bit of confidence and we'll put a few things in place over the next few weeks to get him back on course; sometimes you just get a few difficult times. He's had a few blood tests this week because we're not sure what's going on, perhaps he's just deficient in some B12, but we'll see if we can turn it around before the next British Championship race.”
MX2 Overall result
1. Elliott Banks-Browne (HM Plant KTM UK) 72, 2. Steven Lenoir (Evotech Stevens KTM) 65, 3. Steven Clarke (HM Plant KTM UK) 55, 4. Neville Bradshaw (Putoline Honda) 54, 5. Bryan Mackenzie (Pendrich Kawasaki) 48, 6. Graeme Irwin (Heads + All Threads Suzuki) 48, 7. Lewis Tombs (JAR Honda by IFS) 32, 8. Adam Sterry (Team STR KTM) 30, 9. Jake Millward (Oakleaf Kawasaki) 28, 10. Nathan Watson (HM Plant KTM UK) 28, 13. Ben Watson (HM Plant KTM UK) 23.
MX2 Championship Standings
1. Elliott Banks-Browne (HM Plant KTM UK) 206, 2. Steven Lenoir (Evotech Stevens KTM) 166, 3. Neville Bradshaw (Putoline Honda) 148, 4. Graeme Irwin (Heads + All Threads Suzuki) 138, 5. Nathan Watson (HM Plant KTM UK) 131, 6. Bryan Mackenzie (Pendrich Kawasaki) 113, 7. Adam Sterry (Team STR KTM) 61, 8. Lewis Tombs (JAR Honda by IFS) 82, 9. Jake Nicholls (Wilvo Nestaan JM Racing KTM) 75, 10. James Cottrell (Putoline Honda) 67. 13. Steven Clarke (HM Plant KTM UK) 55, 14. Ben Watson (HM Plant KTM UK) 48, 23. James Dunn (HM Plant KTM UK) 30.