Tommy Searle sets the standard at British Motocross Championship season-opener in Norfolk

High flying action at Cadders Hill, Lyng in the British Motorcross Championship MX1 race.PHOTO BY SI

High flying action at Cadders Hill, Lyng in the British Motorcross Championship MX1 race.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Tommy Searle made his title intentions clear at round one of the Maxxis British Championship at Lyng in Norfolk yesterday.

In the morning qualifying session at Cadders Hill, near Dereham, the Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki rider posted a time some two-seconds-a-lap quicker than any of his MX1 class rivals, and went on to dominate both championship races to take a maximum 50 points from the season opener.

In the first MX1 race it was Estonian Tanel Leok on the MVR-D Husqvarna who headed the field at the end of lap one, before defending champion Shaun Simpson forced his Wilvo Virus Performance KTM to the front for laps two and three. Searle took over the running at quarter race distance and disappeared into the Norfolk countryside leaving the remainder of the 37-strong field squabbling over the other points scoring positions.

With Simpson and Leok settled in the final two podium spots there was a five-man battle over fourth, which looked to be going the way of Buildbase Honda's Kristian Whatley, until his Northern Irish team-mate Graeme Irwin, who had raced through from ninth on lap one, passed him within sight of the chequered flag. Gert Krestinov rode consistently on the Pheonix Tools Honda to finish sixth, just ahead of Bury St Edmunds' Elliott Banks-Browne who had a solid start to his campaign after two injury-ravaged years.

At the second time of asking Searle was out of the starting gate and into turn one at the front of the pack. He wasted no time in building a comfortable lead and showed his world championship pedigree as he extended his advantage to nearly 10 seconds by the end of the 25-minute plus two-lap race distance. Simpson had a lonely ride for second, but Ipswich-based Jake Nicholls had a confidence-inspiring return on the Hitachi Revo Husqvarna to claim third ahead of Leok, who resisted a last lap assault by Whatley as he concentrated on gaining revenge on stablemate Irwin after succumbing on the final lap in the earlier outing.

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Less than half-a-second separated the top three in the MX2 class after qualifying, with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Max Anstie topping the time sheets. The 22-year-old from Winchester, who showed his love of the Cadders Hill track with three wins last year, repeated the display by storming to two emphatic victories to keep the large crowd warm in the chilly hillside conditions.

He was kept honest in both races by his young team-mate Conrad Mewse, who is starting to fulfil the potential he showed by winning a schoolboy world title three years ago. With the Husqvarna pairing filling the top two steps of the podium it was Northern Ireland's Martin Barr who came through to third on the Buildbase Honda in the first encounter.

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In the second of the afternoon's two MX2 races Steve Clarke made the full distance to claim third, with James Dunn's team-mate Ben Watson putting in arguably the ride of the day as he charged through the pack from a poor first lap to finish fourth. Ipswich's Lewis Tombs, who 12 months ago suffered a career threatening injury at the same venue, had a superb ride to put his Geartec Yamaha in to fifth, and Brad Todd opened his 2016 account with sixth on the Planet Husqvarna.

In the MXY2 (youth class) Alexander Brown had two faultless rides.

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