Buildbase Honda’s Tommy Searle secured the MX Nationals MX1 title with a pair of rock-solid rides at the final round of the series at a super-tough FatCat Motoparc on Sunday and in doing so becomes the only Pro British MX1 champion of 2020.
Competing in the MX2 class for the team, Steven Clarke lost out on a tie-break for third overall on the day but his scores were easily good enough to cement his second-placed position in the final championship standings.
Tommy started the day with fourth in qualification before recording a hard-fought third in the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto on his CRF450R after taking advantage of a last-corner stall by Jake Millward.
With the deep-sand circuit cutting up rough, Tommy took no chances in race two safe in the knowledge that a second-placed finish would give him the coveted crown by a commanding 38 points.
“It’s good for Honda after all the effort they’ve put in this year – it’s not been easy for anyone,” said Tommy. “It’s the only thing to win this year and I’ve won it so that’s all I could do.
“Obviously, I’d have liked to have won [the overall] today but Brent Van Doninck rode well and I didn’t ride too good in the first race. I had good pace in the second race but I didn’t get a very good start.
“It’s equivalent to the British title because every rider was in it apart from Shaun Simpson and he’s injured anyway. We had a strong championship this year and I’ve been consistent and haven’t finished out of the top-three in any of the races so I’m happy and I’m happy for the team and for my mechanic Willie.
“The MX Nationals have put on a brilliant series and everyone knows it’s the only championship in Britain this year and I’ve won it!”
Tommy’s MX1 team-mate Jake Nicholls was still suffering from a thumb injury sustained last time out at Cusses Gorse which has kept him off the bike but he pushed hard all day. Qualifying ninth, he followed Tommy across the line in the opening moto but struggled to sixth in race two as his lack of saddle time began to show.
“It’s been so gnarly today and I can’t really say that I’ve enjoyed it all that much to be honest,” said Jake. “The first race was rough and the second race was much, much rougher – there was no difference to the second race at Lierop. It was a bombsite!
“The thumb injury only really held me back when I started to tire 10 minutes into the second race. I had no rhythm and no flow because I’d only ridden the bike once in three weeks because of my thumb.
“In the first race I found my flow and felt all right but lost my rhythm towards the end and felt a little bit tired with three laps to go. In race two I was pretty quick at the start and was thinking ‘I can go here’ but that lasted three laps before my thumb started hurting – I had no flow and that was enough to cook me.”
Heading into Fat Cat holding down second in MX2 on his CRF250R, it was always going to be a huge ask for Steven to overtake series leader Josh Gilbert and although he reduced the deficit by eight points with his 4-6 finishes it wasn’t enough to take the title.
“I’m in one piece so I can’t complain but it was a difficult day,” said Steven. “I was one of the first 250s around the opening turn in the first race but I struggled with arm-pump almost immediately. It was okay – I managed to keep it on two wheels and pushed through the arm-pump to finish fourth.
“We made some suspension changes between races which worked well and in the second moto I got a good start and was right next to Josh Gilbert but I got taken out in the second or third turn so I had to come from dead last.
“The track was brutal but I managed to get up to sixth 250 which I was pretty happy with for fourth overall on the day and second in the championship. I’m happy with that – obviously, I’d have liked to have won it but Josh rode a solid season.”
Buildbase Honda boss Dave Thorpe praised the performance of everyone involved with the team after a very challenging season that was seriously disrupted by COVID-19.
“If you’d told me we’d get first in MX1 and second in MX2 at the start of the season I’d have been happy with that,” said Dave. “Tommy deserves to be champion and the team has been amazing. Willie, Rob and Ryan can’t be faulted – the bikes have been brilliant, they’ve never let us down – and Mark Eastwood has done a fantastic job with the suspension.
“We’ve worked hard and done our best and I’d just like to thank everyone who’s been involved with the team. It’s been a testing time but everybody has been magnificent.
“The conditions today were great considering the rain we’ve had. The MX Nationals and Fat Cat Motoparc teams have done a fantastic job with the track which was first class but tough for the riders. It was probably a track they didn’t want to see when they haven’t had regular racing so it was a hard day all round.
“Tommy and Jake dug deep in the first race. My own opinion is that they didn’t ride as well as they normally do and they both got a little bit lucky when Jake Millward stalled his bike on the last corner but we’ll take that.
“In the second race Tommy rode exceptionally well and Jake was right up there at the beginning but, as expected, his thumb started to play up in the second half of the race. You couldn’t fault their effort – today and all year.
“Steven was a little bit out of sorts in the first race but got lucky with Josh Gilbert breaking down. He had a chance in the second race but he got tapped in turn two and came around dead last but he rode his heart out and used every bit of energy he had left.
“The MX Nationals have proved it was possible to run a series, even without spectators. They’ve dug in, they’ve followed the rules and have done an amazing job.”
Nuno & Motohead
Bridgestone’s position as a market-leading motocross tyre manufacturer has been strengthened after being selected by Britain’s most decorated rider of all time, who labelled the range as ‘amazing.’
In a huge breakthrough for the company, the world’s number one tyre and rubber company will be fitted to all bikes at Dave Thorpe’s Honda Off-Road Centre, not to mention each bike at his Honda Adventure Centre, too.
In addition, every rider at three-time world champion Thorpe’s elite Buildbase Honda Motocross Team will be competing on Bridgestone’s range of Battlecross products, with Tommy Searle, Jake Nicholls (MX1) and Steven Clarke (MX2) all inflating the brand’s presence at the highest level of the sport.
This Honda Buildbase association alone represents Bridgestone’s biggest ever association in the sport, as Tommy is Britain's most decorated current-day GP rider with 14 career GP wins in the MX2 class, ranking third in total victories across all classes to multiple world champions Jeff Smith and Dave Thorpe himself.
Teammate Jake Nicholls has also raced World Championship motocross since 2007 and the 29 year-old is firmly established as one of the most talented riders in the sport.
Dave Thorpe’s decision to embark on a holistic partnership with Bridgestone was confirmed after Buildbase Honda recorded a series of impressive results in the MX2 class last season on the Battlecross X10, X20 and X30.
All of Dave Thorpe Honda Off-Road Centre bikes will be shod on the new Battlecross E50, which feature a soft compound specially developed for superior grip and high traction power. The tread pattern incorporates advanced block positioning and works with the E50’s Castle Block technology to maximise edge effect and deliver extra traction.
Meanwhile, all bikes at the Honda Adventure Centre will be fitted with Bridgestone’s other recent addition, the Battlax Adventurecross AX41. This updated trail off-road tyre has been designed to respond to adventure riders’ requirements. Off-road traction has been upgraded and the grip increased through state-of-the-art block design and positioning, while the use of a high-strength compound ensures durability and a long lifespan.
Dave Thorpe said: “Bridgestone impressed us most because their tyres assist riders of all abilities – from beginners at the off-road centre right up to Tommy (Searle) and Jake (Nicholls) at the elite level of the sport.
“We invest a lot of time and money in our Honda Buildbase bikes to be as competitive as possible and all of that means nothing if you can’t put the power to the ground – and that is why tyres are so important and why we are working with Bridgestone.
“We just think that Bridgestone has gone about things in the right way for some time. They have got some great new products and a great team around them. When they feel that they have developed something special is when we decide to get involved, because we don’t use anything that is sub-standard.
“We want to bring any technology that is advantageous to the team and Bridgestone’s tyres fit into that category. It is exciting times for Buildbase Honda and it is exciting times for Bridgestone too.
“Whether it is the AX41 for the adventure school, the E50 for the off-road centre or the Battlecross range for the team, the tyres will assist us in getting the results we want.
“The X10, for example, has been amazing on the sand and testing for the next year has also underlined the qualities of the X20 and X30 products, which are similarly notable.”
Just five years ago, Bridgestone barely had a presence in the motocross tyre sector but has grown exponentially to assume a significant share – which is expected to rise further in the years ahead.
Bridgestone is already boasting more winners on its Battlecross range than ever before, thanks to some astute individual rider partnerships, while its title sponsorship of the Bridgestone British Masters was the best attended to date - averaging 350 riders across every race weekend.
Bridgestone’s marketing team leader Mark Fereday said: “To be working with a legend of the sport in Dave Thorpe is hugely significant for everyone at Bridgestone. To then receive so much positive feedback about our products cannot be underestimated and is something we don’t take for granted. It is the ultimate endorsement and reinforces our claim to be a leading player in the motocross world with some of the best premium products available.
“The future looks bright and we are so excited to be working with Dave at his Honda Off-Road Centre, his Honda Adventure Centre and the Buildbase Honda Motocross Team. To see our name on the sidewalls of so many incredible bikes will be a red letter day for everyone associated with the business.”
Having come all the way through the AMCA ranks from Inter-Juniors to Experts, 2019 MX2 Champion Jamie Wainwright (Apex KTM UK) proved to be a very popular victor.
Holding a very nice 121 points advantage going into Sunday’s finale, the fast, stylish young Wainwright got the job done early with a moto one win. Gating in 3rd, Jamie led home his main season long contender for the crown, Kristian Whatley, as Ryan Crowder, Bradley Tranter and Matt Ridgway who had grabbed the initial holeshot were the next best.
By his recent high standards, Corie Southwood had a very quiet opening MX2 moto down in 8th before firing back with a superb gate to flag win in the second clash. Proudly displaying the number one plate, the new AMCA MX2 Champion Wainwright chased Southwood home ahead of Luke Dean, Whatley, Tranter, Josh Coleman and Ridgway. The ride of the moto though was produced by Crowder who despite a big crash on turn one and a ripped race-shirt somehow came from last right up to 8th!
With Southwood going out of the final moto in the early stages due to a puncture, Whatley finished his debut AMCA season in style with a gate to flag success aboard his Wulfsport/Meredith Suzuk. Wainwright and Crowder were next up in this one as Coleman won a super tussle for 4th after battling it out with Tranter, enjoying his best round of the series, and Clinton Barrs. Midwest Husqvarna 2T pilots Mark Young and Ridgway were also going for it and hotly disputing 7th. On the podium it was Wainwright from Whatley and Crowder, the same result as the eventual MX2 Championship top three.
The final round of the 2019 Bridgestone British Masters series took place at the weekend at the fast-flowing Cusses Gorse circuit near Salisbury and what a weekend it was. Two days of bar-to-bar action, 10 champions crowned and a huge End of Series Party on Saturday evening!
It was the 125cc class who kicked off the weekend’s affair with the battle on between Troy Willerton, Jordan Bachelor and Dylan Spencer for the title.
It was Troy Willerton who set the pace in the qualifying session with a time of 1:59:561. In race one the battle was immense with Troy storming out of the gate in first position. Dylan Spencer chased Troy down and took the lead on the 5th lap with Jordan Bachelor closely following behind to overtake Troy for second position.
In race two, Jordan stormed into the lead and left the rest of the pack with a huge 16 second lead. Dylan finished in second position with Troy in third.
In race three, Dylan Spencer set the pace and led the pack from start to finish with pressure constantly applied from rival Troy Willerton who was closely following behind. Jordan Bachelor was 17 seconds behind in third place. The battle all came down to the last race of the weekend with the win deciding the championship title. The race began with a very close battle between Jordan Bachelor and Dylan Spencer with Troy Willerton just behind however it was Jordan who finished the race with a 17 second lead and subsequently won the championship.
Jordan was met with a spraying bottle of champagne and his cheering family and there was not a dry eye in sight as his family gathered around him to celebrate the success.
With early-season injuries ending his chances of retaking the title, Elliott was racing for pride, and to make up for the previous weekend when the MX Nationals were at the same circuit, and he had speed in abundance but not the luck to go with it.
That speed showed itself early doors, with Elliott two seconds quicker than the competition in qualifying.
A fairly decent start in Moto 1 saw EBB up into the top three as they circulated on the opening lap, and a surge through to the lead followed on lap 5, from where he brought his Husqvarna home for the win.
Moto 2 was less straight forward, beginning with a first bend coming together. Two fall’s during the race meant he yo yo’d between second and third with Jake Shipton, before he took control of the race with two laps to go, passing race leader Jake Millward before opening up a 7-second gap at the head of the field.
By taking the overall, Elliott also moved into fourth place in the standings, a superb achievement considering the injuries and meetings missed at the start of the season.
Paul Mason – Team Manager
“We are really happy with how Elliott rode throughout the whole meeting. Even with his falls in the second race, he just had that determination to win, and he was going to win that race no matter what. It was a really good day, and a great way to end the series.”
“Cusses is a track I enjoy and look forward to. After last week pretty much throwing away an overall at the MX Nationals, I didn’t want to do that again. Qualifying went well going nearly 2 seconds faster than anyone. In Race 1, I got an ok start and worked my way through. The track was really hard to pass, but I found my way to the front and won.
In Race 2, I didn’t make it easy. I came together with someone in the first corner and crashed two times in the race but got my head down and closed the gap both times to take the lead with two laps to go. Taking the overall was a nice way to end off the championship.”
Heading into the penultimate round of the 2019 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship sitting in third place, 34 points down on the MX2 series leader, Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert knew he needed to urgently make up ground but the cards didn’t fall in his favour.
Topping qualification on his CRF250R was a great start to the day at the spectacular Foxhill circuit near Swindon and within a couple of corners of the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto he was up to third.
Just before half-distance Josh moved into second and three laps later he hit the front and at one stage looked to have the race under control until he was reeled in and then slipped back to second behind championship leader Dylan Walsh. On the final lap he made another bid for the lead at the bottom of a steep hill but there was contact, Josh lost all momentum for the following uphill section and he was demoted to third.
In moto two a crash on the opening lap left Josh dead last with a burnt arm after he got stuck under his bike but he staged a brave race-long charge that brought him all the way through to fourth at the flag and saw him only miss out on third overall on a tie-break.
“I’m disappointed,” said Josh. “I felt like I was the quickest all day but little things have cost me.
“I didn’t gate too well in the first race but by the second turn I’d got into third and then tried to bide my time a little bit. I managed to get into the lead but then lost it when Dylan passed me back.
“We were battling hard until the last lap when I went to the inside of him down one of the hills and got underneath him but then he kinda went off track and as he came back on he caught something, went sideways and I ended up hitting his back wheel. I lost all my momentum and Alvin [Ostlund] got me so I ended up third which was real disappointing because it should have been a moto win.
“I gated around eighth or ninth in race two, got up to about fifth or sixth and went to go underneath Ashton Dickinson. He had nowhere to go, lent on me and we both went down so I had to come from last to fourth.
“I’m looking forward to the final round at Landrake. The track’s always prepped really well so as long as the weather holds up it should be a really good day. I haven’t got a lot to lose now so I just want to go there and run 1-1.”
In the same MX2 class Martin Barr had a superb podium putting the red Bridgestone cap on the 3rd step going 4-3 on his Crescent Yamaha
After winning the Bridgestone British Masters in stunning style in 2018, the world’s number one tyre and rubber company is inflating Elliott Banks-Browne and Josh Gilbert’s presence in motocross to new levels - in more ways than one.
Fresh from their exploits in the MX1 and MX2 championships respectively, both Elliott and Josh can enjoy a year behind the wheel of a fully personalised and branded Toyota Hilux pick-up truck for the year
The four-wheel prizes are amongst the first of their kind to be awarded to triumphant riders in any motocross series and it is hoped that they will raise the profile of the Bridgestone British Masters to even greater heights, leading to more competitive classes and even more exposure. The winners of the 2019 series will receive the use of the pick-ups as per this year’s winners.
The unique investment is symbolic of a wide-ranging involvement in the sport and elevates the brand’s Battlecross tyres to even higher levels of significance.
Bridgestone’s premium range of motocross products is increasingly viewed as being amongst the very best in motocross, with different compounds and tread patterns specially designed for the varied surfaces that riders compete on. The Battlecross X10 (sand and mud) X20 (softer ground), X30 (medium) and X40 (hard) products help to boost confidence when entering and exiting corners at speed, whatever the racing line.
And in a second high-profile announcement, Bridgestone has also announced that it will be official tyre suppliers to the Geartec Husqvarna MX Team for the 2019 season. Their riders - double British Championship winner Elliott Banks-Browne, and multiple AMCA and IMBA Champion Luke Burton - will embark on a three-pronged tilt for silverware in the British Championship, MX Nationals and Bridgestone British Masters.
Geartec Husqvarna team manager Paul Mason said: “The tyres are absolutely brilliant. The back tyres are absolutely stunning and we’ve got to grips with the front to create the perfect set-up. It’s a damn good tyre range.
“We’ve done lots of testing, spending two months testing tyres back-to-back and the decision to move to Bridgestone was the right one. The aftercare support that Bridgestone provides and the Battlecross range is second to none.
Geartec Husqvarna rider Elliott Banks-Browne, one of the UK’s most talented riders, said: “Tyres are a big thing for me, so to get on the Bridgestone and feel that grip straight away was huge. We’ve done a lot of testing and the lap times have already improved. Having the right tyre for the right surface will be a huge advantage for us, which we’ve not had before.”
“As for the truck, I was blown away when I received it from Bridgestone. It is an amazing thing for the sport. Motocross can’t progress without the kind of backing that companies like Bridgestone provide. I’ve got to win the championship again this year as I don’t want to hand it back!”
Josh Gilbert, who finished second in the British Championship and won the MX Nationals along with the Bridgestone British Masters, and will again run Bridgestone rubber in 2019, said:
“I usually run an X10 for the sand for the rear and stick with the X20 for the front, which also excels on the hard-pack. I feel that this is the best combination for me and I’ve been thrilled with the performance of the tyres.
“Winning the truck has been a nice bonus too! It is something completely different to any other championship and it’s a bit surreal to see my name on it like that.”
Bridgestone’s marketing team leader Mark Fereday said:
“We’re really making a name for ourselves in motocross now. We’re gaining a lot of market share, sales are going well and we’re doing a lot in the sport. The profile of the championship we’re sponsoring (British Masters) is increasing every year, with more and more top riders in all classes and a lot of promising youngsters participating. It’s really exciting times. The pro-riders running on our products are riding on products that anyone can purchase. To have star names winning on Battlecross is something we’re all very proud of.”
Bridgestone’s motocross product manager Gary Hartshorne said:
“The pleasing thing for me is that we have product which is winning immediately. It is always nice to be competitive and we’re looking forward to what this year has in store.”
Bridgestone British Masters series director Colin Hambridge said:
“Bridgestone and I want exactly the same thing for the sport. Through the hard work of Mark Fereday and the Bridgestone team, the series has been elevated to a new level.”
On top of that Geartec Husqvarna riders, who are both on the comeback from bad injuries took 2nd and 5th respectively!
All 3 riders were running the Bridgestone X20 tyres from the Bridgestone Battlecross range…the exact same tyre you can buy for your bike!