Northern Ireland riders reflect on UK Arenacross Challenge in London
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The McCullaghs Centra 85cc KTM rider qualified fourth fastest and in his opening race led until three laps from the flag, before finishing second.
“I wanted to play it safe, take no chances and protect my slim points advantage over third place going into the final race,” explained Spratt.
In race two the 14-year-old miss-timed the start, hit the gate and was last away. A fantastic performance saw him climb his way to fifth by the end of the opening lap and although he battled his way to fourth, unfortunately it was too late to challenge for the final podium place and he had to settle for fourth, and third in the championship.
“I came into the series looking for at least one podium and I ended up with five. To finish third in the championship was good, so I can’t complain” said Spratt, who the following day raced at Fat Cats, Doncaster, collecting three wins from three starts.
In the Pro class Ballyclare’s Martin Barr finished third on the Apico Husqvarna in his opening heat but in heat two stalled the bike before finishing eighth. The local rider had to go through to the final on the public vote, after head to head and LCQ race disasters.
In the 14-lap final Barr was battling for seventh before crashing and limping home in 10th place.
“I was happy to make the final but another rider made a mistake and cleaned me out. The bike was badly twisted and all I could do was bring it home. I enjoyed the series, I’m still in one piece and looking forward to the outdoor season which starts at Hawkstone Park this weekend,” said Barr, who finished tenth in the Pro championship.
Loughbrickland’s Jason Meara on the All Moto Yamaha powered by Start Solar missed out on the final for the first time in the series after struggling with injuries from the previous round in Birmingham.
“I was carrying a broken rib and a shoulder injury and only made the decision to race on the Thursday. I really struggled in qualifying but the adrenaline kicked in for the heats where I finished fourth and fifth. Any other night it would have put me straight through to the final but not this time.”
Meara admitted that by the time he got to the head to head and LCQ races his night was over.
“There just wasn’t enough fight left in me with the injuries. I didn’t want to get into any hassle and played it safe. All in all it was a good series and I’m happy to have made five out of six finals.
"Hopefully with a bit more preparation for next year we can be a lot more competitive” added Meara.
His team mate James Mackrel may not have made the final but he was happy with his first year in Arenacross helping the team to finish 10th overall.
Tommy Searle of GTCi REVO Kawasaki won the 2023 Arenacross British Championship by a single point after finishing second to rival Conrad Mewse, Crendon Honda Fastrack Racing, in a nail-biting 14-lap finale at the OVO Arena Wembley, that went right to the wire.
In the AX 65 class Caleb Ross from Stoneyford claimed his first overall podium in third place and fourth in the championship. Dungannon’s Daniel Devine finished the series with fifth overall in London and fifth in the championship.
Belfast’s AX E5 Electric bike overall winner, nine-year-old Max Jones from Kesh, Co Fermanagh, was the best of the local riders finishing in fifth place behind English rider, and 2023 champion, Austin Edwards at the London final. Seven-year-old Larne rider Jax Knox, who won race two in Belfast, finished eighth in London.