The race season kicked off yesterday at Culham down in Oxfordshire. This picturesque setting, on the edge of the river Thames was an ideal venue for the first round of the ACU Maxxis British Championship. Track looked good and had been prepared well but nobody can predict the ever changeable British weather. It stayed fine on the approach to the event but in the early hours of Sunday morning it started to rain and continued to do so until late morning. The track became wet and very slippery and made it a tough start to the day. By early afternoon the rain stopped and the track dried out, leaving ruts so deep that you could stand up in them!
Rough suits the Verde riders and in particular Brad Anderson. The results were good for the team. Both Jake and Brad scored some excellent points and both missed out on podiums by less than 4 points.
Four hours of drizzly rain not only made the paddock wet and muddy but it created a very sloppy track for the opening qualifiers. By the time the riders went out the rain had eased up and it just drizzled intermittently.
Jake was first out in the MX2 timed qualifications. The slippery track made it hard to get traction and riders were sliding sidewards and falling all over the place. It was, therefore, hard to get a good clear run without coming across riders on the ground. Jake got his best time in the 2nd lap, giving him 9th gate pick for the day.
The track had dried out a little by the time Brad went out but not much. Some riders were finding it difficult and one rider got his bike stuck on to the back of Brads, leaving Brad to drag him round the track until it got loose. Elliot Banks-Browne and Graeme Irwin got a good first lap in while the track was clear. Brad Anderson and Jake Nicolls both got their fastest time in lap 3. Brad got a clear run at the end of the session and gave it his all, but the track had got so rough that he couldn’t beat his previous time. All four were 2 seconds faster than anyone else out there but it was Brad who ended up with 4th gate pick for the day.
Jake got a good start and was up there with the top few. He had an off at the bottom of a downhill early on which set him back a bit but he still managed to hold off Mel Pocock for a good few laps. Once Mel had got past it left 3 riders battling just behind him, Jake Millward, Brad Todd and Micky Eccles. All three riders have a similar ability and were battling for 5th, 6th and 7th position. Brad managed to secure 5th which left Jake leading the way ahead of Micky. Then on the last bend Micky found a way through leaving Jake to finish up 7th in Moto 1.
Brad got a terrible start, way back in 12th. The track was still slippery and Brad just couldn’t settle. He made a mistake and came off in the same place that Jake did. It then took him a few laps to get into a rhythm and back on the Ando pace. There was a lot of ground to make up so it was tough going. Brad picked them off one by one; Shipton, Harrison, Law and Wilde and then closed down on Davidson and Whatley who had been battling ahead. Unfortunately time was against him and he couldn’t quite catch the pair, so Brad Anderson finished Moto 1 in 7th place.
Another good start for Jake starting out in 4th place. It was Micky Eccles and Brad Todd that got the better of Jake first. The three battled hard for a few laps before they got past leaving Jake to battle with Martin Barr. Then it all changed. Micky came off and was out of the running, Martin got past them all and settled into 2nd behind Ben Watson and Jake sat in 6th chasing hard behind Brad Todd. Then in the last lap Josh Gilbert found some speed and managed to catch Jake just before the end and pushing Jake down to 7th place in Moto 2.
Now this was a race to watch. Brad got a good start coming round the first bend in 4th. It didn’t take him long to get past the MX1 newcomer, Rob Davidson, followed by a quick battle with Graeme Irwin and Brad was sitting in 2nd place behind Jake Nichols. Irwin tried to catch Brad on more than one occasion but Brad was having none of it and was away after Nichols. The old Brad was back. The track had now dried up and was very rough and rutted, just the way Brad likes it. He made it look easy. He started to close the gap on Nicholls who had got away early on, but despite their speeds being within a split second of each other he couldn’t get close enough to make a difference. So Brad finished Moto 2 in a very deserving 2nd place.
Jake ended up with a 7-7 to give a 6th overall, with 28 points at the end of round one. 4th and 5th place riders, Martin Barr and Mel Pocock, finished just one point before Jake with 29 points. So the race to the podium is most definitely on.
Brad finished the day with a 7-2 to give him a 4th overall, with 36 points at the end of round one. 2nd and 3rd place riders, Graeme Irwin and Steven Lenoir, finished just two points ahead with 38 points. So both championships are very close. It will be interesting to see the battle at the next round down in Lyng to see who takes the podium there.
Quote from Jake Millward:
The ruts were so deep and my legs are so short. It was a tough one today. If I hadn’t let Josh Gilbert get past me on the last lap I would be sitting in joint 4th place with Martin Barr and Mel Pocock.
Quote from Brad Anderson:
1st round of the British championship. Qualified 4th. I was boxed in at the start of the first race and was starting to come through good when I came off so ended up back in 7th. I was so disappointed as I was strong and my times were good. I got a better start in the second race and started to pass a few up to 2nd. Had some good lap times and felt loads better. This 2nd race shows where I should be. Just missed out on the box by 2 points. I am really looking forward to the next round. Massive thanks to all team Verde, Chris Muir my mechanic and to Adrian Kirk.
Quote from the Team:
A good start to the championship with some excellent points scored. Jake was solid and strong as usual but with a little extra push, he could have been sitting in 4th place. It will be interesting to see who makes the podium at Lyng in MX2. Brad was on form in race 2 and rode like the British Bulldog is known for. A great start and a much-needed confidence boost for Brad for the season ahead. If the boys can get on the box at the next round it will give the whole team something to smile about.