What an exciting season it has been for those contesting the AMCA Championship! A few new faces in the paddock rose to the occasion over the last six months, whilst other established stars continued to keep fans across the nation on the edge of their seats.
MX Vice have been present catching all of the paddock gossip, plus twists and turns of this series, Heading into the last round, held at Long Lane, you could feel the tension in the air as the riders travelled down to the line for the last time. That is hardly surprising, of course. There was a championship on the line!
The MX2 class were the first to tackle the familiar track. Marsh MX rider Luke Burton led the way with one hundred and fifteen points, in front of LDR's Lewis King and Jack Gardner. Gardner was only one hundred and forty-four points behind Burton. It was all to play for in the first moto! Burton did not get a great start and then had to push his way through the first race pretty much from the get go. '14' made his 2018 MX2 championship win look more than easy and was shortly followed by Henry Williams, Jack Gardner, Clinton Barr, Bradley Tranter and Lewis King. Those riders rounded out the top six in moto one. Burton, Williams and Barr were then the top three overall at the end of the day.
"Awesome day of racing with my friends and family, who made it out to support me," Luke Burton said. "I had three bad starts, which made me have to work very hard, but I wanted to end the season how I started it. I can't thank all the sponsors enough who helped me to go racing every weekend and what an awesome championship it's been by the AMCA and all the clubs involved. Thank you!"
Moving onto the MX1 class, all eyes were on Josh Waterman entering the day as most were intrigued to see if he could grab that double win! Winning the MX1 IMBA class the weekend before, with what was a sensational performance, Waterman just had to play it safe and bring it home. Gary Gibson took a storming race-one win and made it look easy, but Waterman had to just find nine points in the second race to be crowned the champ. There were impressive rides from Sean Wainwright and Luke Bull, who were battling it out in moto two on what was a pretty rough circuit. Gibson took a well-deserved overall victory with three wins, then Waterman and Mellows followed him in second and third overall.
"In race one I had a bad start and pulled through to second. I was struggling with arm pump quite badly and had nothing for Gary, he was shifting," Waterman said. "Race two I had a poor start but I just rode a steady race as I needed to finish the race to win the championship, so I finished in seventh, and won the championship! What a relief! Double champ! Race three I just wanted to go out with a bang. I gated behind Gary and we both pushed on, but he was on fire so I had to settle for second. Ended up second overall on the day."
Gary Gibson, the overall winner, was also elated. "The day started off not so good in qualifying, with the track running the opposite way, so I struggled with lines and had a few adjustments to make for the race, but sixth was good enough for a decent gate pick," he told MX Vice exclusively. "In race one the gate dropped so soon I was not ready and ended up outside the top ten in the first turn. I picked up on some nice lines and quickly made my way to first in a few laps and got myself a nice gap. Race two got the holeshot put down a few good laps and found myself twenty-five seconds in front, so controlled it from there. Race three again got the holeshot and repeated race two, pulling a nice gap and controlling the race from the front. Got to give it up to my team and my Dad for getting my bike so good that it really made the difference to win so convincingly. Nice way to end the season with three wins and moving up to third in the overall standings. Roll on 2019!"
Moving onto the two-stroke championship, Richard Cannings yet again looking super comfortable on his M&S Breaking Dirt Shifter Yamaha and took all three race wins and defended his championship title. "The final round went to plan really," Cannings later said to MX Vice. "Our focus was to win the championship more than the overall at the event, but it went our way taking the overall win and the championship title!"
A special mention must go to the youngest rider in the two-stroke field, Ben Watkins, who has put some pretty impressive times and results in this season. "It's been quite a hard season for me," Watkins explained. "I broke my hand halfway through, so I didn't get to do many of the rounds. So I did Boraston and that was about all I did for the AMCA, because obviously my hand, but I recovered from that and then I have started to come back into doing the events again. I have come to Long Lane today. I have done well. I had a tenth in qualifying, then a eighth in the first race and a tenth in the second race. It has been going well so far."
Right, moving onto the Vet's championship! Simon Lane has been the dominant rider all season, but has had a few challenges from Sean Smith and Gary Jones. It has been impressive to see how much experience those in this class possess in order to cope with the ever-changing track conditions. Lane took all three wins on the day, this secured him another AMCA Championship title.
"First off I just want to thank AMCA for fantastic series, as each season it is getting better," Lane told MX Vice exclusively. "For me to win this was just as good, if not better than, as winning MX1 in 2005. It's been quite tense running a team and racing this year and the last two seasons I've tried to win this. There's a lot behind the scenes I had to do to achieve this, Also with the split from JSR and now forming our own team, along with James (LRT), it's been a busy time.
"I've now been racing for thirty-five years consecutively now, from BSMA to GPs and IMBA to AMCA, but I still have the same drive to win. It's like a curse I've been given! Most people I have raced with retired twenty years ago. It's so sweet to compete with younger generation and show them the way from time to time, so looking forward to 2019 as James and I will be both in the vets and I know that's going to be one hell of a battle. Running a new team, I've got to thank everyone who's been involved with me over the years as this is one hell of trip."
Showing some of the adults up at Long Lane was the youth class, consisting 85cc and CRF150 riders. It has been a great championship to watch this year with the future of the sport showing some fantastic race craft. Joseph Brooks, Matt Tolley and Charlie Palmer were the top three overall in that class at the weekend. That meant that Joseph Brooks had enough points to take the championship win!
We had a quick chat with Hugo Litchfield, who finished seventh overall on the day. "I haven't been to a AMCA meeting for a bit," he said. "It was nice to get a fifth in the first race followed by an eighth and another eighth in the third, so I was pretty happy. The tracks pretty bumpy and rough, A bit slippy in some places. A big thanks to my Dad for helping me, plus the Broken MX team and Moto 101."
Words: Sophie Mcginn | Lead Image: AMCA Events