Stephen Sword Vital Motocross

Click the following link for a 27-photo gallery of Supercross race action from Round Four of the 2008 Maxxis British National Championships.

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Summer is here and so is the halfway point of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship. The eight-round championship makes its traditional stop-off in the east of the country not in the cold and wet of March, but what has turned out to be a very nice summer weekend. Temperatures ranging into the seventies and sunshine are a pleasant change from the weather conditions in the championship so far. This round of the championship does not include the MXY2 class, yet there are plenty of riders from this class to supplement the regulars in the MX2 and MX1 classes.

The Early May Bank Holiday Sunday dawns brightly, and it is MX2 class leader Stephen Sword for Molson Kawasaki who takes the first pole of the day, followed by Team KTM UK's Shaun Simpson and Suso MVR-D Suzuki's Jason Dougan. Monster CAS Honda's Billy MacKenzie takes the top qualifying spot in the MX1 class, also followed by a Team KTM UK rider, James Noble. Swift Suzuki's MX1 rider Brad Anderson, freshly healed from his big bang-up at the previous round, is third.

As it usually goes with full classes, there have to be those who do not qualify. The championship lumps them all together into the support class, which this time consists of many of the youth riders, but also a varied complement of the MX1 and MX2 classes. It is the youth riders though who give it their all here, they have something to prove. PAR Honda's Edward Allingham leads from start to finish, hotly pursued by Swift Suzuki's Scott Elderfield and, forty seconds behind, Peter Mitchell.

Next out after the first support race is the first MX2 race. Is it a surprise to see Sword, decked out in bubbalicious Fox gear, out in front? Not at all. Sword takes ruthless advantage of the clear deck in front of him and checks out. The seconds slowly add up, and by the end of the race it's twenty seconds over Simpson, the runner up. Simpson himself has had a good run too; in the first lap behind Dougan, he makes his move a lap later and goes after Sword. Dougan, third, fades into the distance, fifty seconds behind, along with Relentless Suzuki's Lewis Gregory and Swift Suzuki's Jake Nicholls.

The first MX1 race is easy to predict. MacKenzie simply is the king of the hill. He is into the first corner first, he continues in first and wrings everything he can out of the CRF450 to end in first. The race looks to be between him and Anderson, although Anderson doesn't seem to be his usual aggressive self. Perhaps it is the fact that only three weeks ago he took a hard hit at the previous round, and admitted that he might be coming back a little too early. Anderson keeps his second place, albeit forty or so seconds behind. The race ends just in time for him too; he is stalked by ARB Kawasaki's Mark Jones, and there are but five seconds between the two in the end. Fifteen seconds behind this pair is Molson Kawasaki's Tom Church with Noble in fifth, having gotten to the party a little late.

The second half of the day's racing starts with support race two, in which Elderfield finally comes into his own. The youngster takes the lead immediately and continues with the lead, under threat by Electraction TM's Stuart Edmonds and in the last two laps, Sandiford Pro Action Honda's Ashley Wilde. At the end of the race the podium stands as Elderfield, Allingham and Wilde. Championship title sponsor Maxxis rewards the riders with a tyre each.

The second MX2 race goes to the line, and this time it is Simpson who seizes the lead. The battle for the lead starts there and then; Sword challenges time and again, but doesn't make it stick until the fourth lap. Simpson remains in second though, again thirty seconds ahead of the remainder of the field. At the head of that field is Swift Suzuki's Elliott Banks-Browne who, in the first race, was in the same position. Yet, there he saw his chances literally go up in smoke as the factory Suzuki he was riding blew up. In this race he keeps it all together, and the only time he has to concede a place is when Suso MVR-D Suzuki's Carl Nunn forces him back. Gregory is fifth.

The day overall for the MX2 class is Sword, Simpson and Gregory, Gregory celebrating his first ever podium in the championship.

The final race of the round is the second MX1 race which again sees MacKenzie take the lead and win. Anderson again stalks MacKenzie, but he has to yield to Noble who has a better start and makes better progress this time round. UTag Yamaha's Carlos Campano, who has not had the best of races in the first, ends in fourth this time after a start in tenth. Pioneer Yamaha's Wayne Smith closes out the top five. The podium here has, as expected, MacKenzie on the top step. The second and third places are Anderson and Noble respectively.

With this, championship slows down to a rate of one round a month as the world championship ramps up for the summer. The next round is in June at the much-loved Desertmartin track in Northern Ireland, after which the MXY2 class returns to the calendar.

MX1:

1. Billy MacKenzie 50 25 25
2. Brad Anderson 42 22 20
3. James Noble 38 16 22
4. Mark Hucklebridge 28 13 15
5. Jim Murro 24 11 13
6. Wayne Smith 23 7 16
7. Mark Eastwood 22 14 8
8. Micheal Phillips 21 9 12
9. Jamie Law 21 12 9
10. Mark Jones 20 20 --
11. Bryan MacKenzie 19 5 14
12. Carlos Campano 18 -- 18
13. Danny Smyth 18 8 10
14. Tom Church 18 18 --
15. Aston Bird 17 10 7
16. Jordan Rose 15 15 --
17. Jamie Lewis 11 -- 11
18. Richard Lawson 11 6 5
19. David Willet 9 3 6
20. David Yelland 4 -- 4
21. Jody Smyth 4 1 3
22. Alex Rockwell 4 2 2
23. Alex Rach 4 4 --
24. Gavin Foulston 1 -- 1

MX2:

1. Stephen Sword 50 25 25
2. Shaun Simpson 44 22 22
3. Lewis Gregory 34 18 16
4. Carl Nunn 29 9 20
5. Neville Bradshaw 28 15 13
6. Martin Barr 26 11 15
7. Kristen Whatley 25 14 11
8. Joseph Dark 24 12 12
9. Jake Nicholls 22 16 6
10. Mel Pocock 21 13 8
11. Alex Snow 20 10 10
12. Jason Dougan 20 20 --
13. Elliot Banks-Browne 18 -- 18
14. Marcus Norlan 14 -- 14
15. Robert Hamilton 9 -- 9
16. Shane Carless 9 5 4
17. Alex Butler 8 8 --
18. Ashley Greedy 7 -- 7
19. Chris Bastick 7 7 --
20. Jonathan Pettitt 6 6 --
21. Klemen Gercar 5 -- 5
22. Alan Keet 5 2 3
23. Richard Mike Jones 4 4 --
24. Graeme Irwin 3 3 --
25. James Dodd 2 -- 2
26. Joe Gregory 1 -- 1
27. Lewis King 1 1 --

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