Carrying on exactly where he left off last season, Luke Burton started the 2018 campaign with yet another win to prove that the desire for victory is still burning red hot! In challenging conditions at Lower Drayton on Sunday, the FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna pilot went 1-2-1 to earn glory in the AMCA Superclass round one. Runners-up slot on the day was claimed by Ryan Crowder on his Hazport/Sandiford Husqvarna with Gary Gibson on the big green TMC Kawasaki in 3rd.
Despite the recent awful wet weather, the Lower Drayton track although being deep was in surprisingly good shape thanks to the hard work of the organising Cannock MXC but definitely still very testing for both man and machine! Making a mockery though of the heavy going Crowder having trained hard throughout the winter and already showing great early season form recorded the fastest qualifying time ahead of Gibson.
Buoyed by that quick time, Crowder having the first gate pick was looking to take full advantage by making a quick getaway in moto one but his hopes were to be dashed, instead finding himself last after stalling his motor on the concrete start pad! As Crowder began the long climb back through the pack, Burton in contrast had made a brilliant gate and lead the contest from start to finish in style.
Behind him there was a simply super tussle for 2nd as Andy Smart locked horns with 2T Yamaha ace Rich Cannings, the battle raging until Cannings machine popped a piston! Meanwhile Crowder was charging hard with a stunning ride, eventually getting home in a terrific runners-up slot as Smart took a fine 3rd. In this opener, Gibson, James Dodd and Bradley Tranter were also right in the mix.
What a crazy opening lap there was to be in moto two as Cannings with a new piston fitted grabbed the holeshot. Taking Burton on in an aerial dual over the Lower Drayton jumps, both riders were then to be stunned as Tranter on a 250F KTM came zooming through with a pass to thus lead proceedings at the end of lap one.
Tranter’s joy though was to be rather short lived as he then crashed allowing Crowder to now join the party. Quickly Crowder moved up into 2nd and started to reel in leader Burton. Eventually Crowder hit the front and there he stayed to bag a very popular win whilst Smart produced another strong, impressive performance despite having rode the majority of the moto without the use of his broken clutch!
Following a very heavy rain shower, conditions were simply awful in moto three but once again Burton ensured clear vision for himself. Very quick out of the blocks, Burton controlled the clash from start to finish, cruising to a comfortable win as Crowder settled for a safe 2nd spot. Whilst unfortunately mechanical gremlins stopped Smart, in this moto Jamie Wainwright produced his best performance of the day as the consistent Luke Meredith, Dodd, Cannings and Gibson were all right at the front end of proceedings.
Afterwards on the podium Burton explained that in moto’s one and two he had problems with his right fork leg pushing up through the head stock clamp causing his handlebars to move and twist. Third placed Gibson had encountered problems with vision having to throw away his goggles in moto one and three after coming under fire from heavy roost!
Backing up the main contest was the Superclass Challenge. Robert Fox grabbed the moto one holeshot before being passed by Sean Wainwright and Thomas Shepherd. Quickly Wainwright and Shepherd broke clear of the pack with the win eventually going to the former as Kieran Mcavoy took 3rd from James Lane. In moto two, Lane was the early pace-setter only to be overhauled by a fast Shepherd.
From here onwards, Lane was now under severe pressure from Mcavoy for 2nd, a battle which raged until the last lap when Mcavoy finally found a way through. With conditions at their very worse, the experienced Lane finally got his just rewards with a moto three victory from Wainwright, Bradley Doyle and Chris Neesam. On the Superclass Challenge podium it was Wainwright from Shepherd and Lane.
In what was a very busy day of action, Joe Seedhouse (MX1 Experts), Jamie Comley (MX2 Experts), Reece Grove (MX1 Seniors), Jack Crawford (MX2 Seniors), Gari Waites (MX1 Juniors), Ozzie Murray (MX2 Juniors) and Ben Dutton (Inter-Juniors) all bagged overall wins in their respective classes. Both Comley on the FUS Marsh MX Husqvarna and Murray recorded maximum points scores with unbeaten performances.
Words: Press Release | Lead Image: Mike Wood