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Race Report: Ashbrook Hawkstone International fires 2024 into life!

Race Report: Ashbrook Hawkstone International fires 2024 into life!

It’s always a brilliant start to the year.  After the thrills and spills and the rock n’ roll/techno disco fun of the Arenacross Tour, which is all massive fun and worth checking out if you haven’t, each year the British dirt bike fraternity gets its coats and boots on and heads to the classic venue of Hawkstone for some good old purist Motocross at its very toughest.  It’s a day for seeing new kit, new teams, and old buddies around the track.  Not to be missed for the hardcore Motocross fan.

Words: Ben Rumbold, Images: Dave Rich

The Salop Motor Club once more attracted a good entry of international stars, this time for both classes with the reigning MX2 World Champion Andrea Adamo present for his debut at the circuit, and reverted to a more traditional schedule of MX1 International, MX2 International, and EMX125 Youth races to keep a hefty audience entertained throughout the day.  Friend of the club Jeffrey Herlings was back, as was Romain Febvre and 2023 winner Glenn Coldenhoff with new Fantic teammate Roan van de Moosdijk.  Pauls Jonass and his Standing Construct Honda teammate Alberto Forato joined the fun, the Italian for the first time. “It’s a crazy track!”, Alberto said at the end of the day.

The MXGP International pack fire around the first corner into race one – Romain Febvre (3) leads here but Pauls Jonass (41) is just about to grab the lead as he gets back on the gas. Henry Jacobi (29), Jeremy Seewer (91), Roan van de Moosdijk (39), Jeffrey Herlings (84), and Glenn Coldenhoff (259) give chase, with Callum Green (49) sneaking around John Adamson (2) to briefly become the leading British rider.


The simple fact is, Hawkstone in February is damned hard work.  The going is wet and soft, the sand carves up deep and choppy, and with the EMX125s getting onto it first, the lines vary wildly from lap-to-lap as the motorcycles squirm for traction. Even when some of the world’s very best hit this circuit, it tests them and their machines and really shows who has been doing their work during the winter.  The MX1/MXGP class (depending which part of the programme you read) was stacked, a little more so with the late addition of Jeremy Seewer due to the French race at Lacapelle getting cancelled, and you can see from the first corner photo above just how many international stars packed in, even more when you consider the #303 of Forato just poking his nose around the chestnut paling.

The MX2 class was also in good health with Adamo showing his class, although the mid-week injury to his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Liam Everts did leave the Italian with little serious opposition until the Superfinal.  Overtaking was at a premium with the conditions, but there was excitement at the sharp end in most of the races with close finishes in several motos.

The only negative I could find was that I could barely hear the commentary around most of the circuit, so for many it would have been difficult to follow the action or running order, especially when riders like Josh Gilbert or Brent van Doninck had to make charges through the pack, or identify those that weren’t in the programme due to late entries.  The trophy presentation was also a tad low-key… any chance of investing in a little podium maybe?

MX1 International

Fastest man in Qualifying was former MX2 World Champion Jonass, who had won in Shropshire when he wore the #1 plate in MX2 back in 2018.  He had snatched pole from Van Doninck on the very last lap of the session, and the Latvian dived past the factory Kawasaki of Febvre to grab the early lead into the second corner.  The Standing Construct Honda man was looking impressive as he pulled away from the Frenchman, setting the fastest lap of the whole race on lap three, a 2:18.937.  Febvre responded to get closer on lap five, with Coldenhoff in tow, then Jonass made a vital mistake to drop to 3rd, peak missing as he got going just ahead of Herlings!

Glenn Coldenhoff was his normal smooth but rapid self on the new Factory Fantic, taking the overall win with a brace of seconds.

Jeffrey seemed to have nothing for him, however, with a best lap of only 2:24.451, and Pauls gradually edged away from the Bullet who looked in conservative form.  Behind the top four, there were great starts for Henry Jacobi and for Brad Todd, although Isak Gifting, fresh into MXGP this year on the JK Yamaha team, moved up to 5th at half-distance, holding Seewer behind him for the whole race as the Swiss man fell prey to fellow Hawkstone rookie Forato in the closing laps. Jacobi finished 8th just ahead of Van de Moosdijk and top Brit Adam Sterry, who had held Gilbert on his tail since lap 4.  Van Doninck recovered from a first corner crash to claim 12th, and Brits Jamie Carpenter and John Adamson were the last riders on the lead lap in 13th & 14th.

Race two was much better for the Bullet, grabbing an extremely rare holeshot ahead of fellow Dutchman Coldenhoff. Gifting got away well and held off Jonass until lap three, then Febvre went through before crashing out on lap eight! His teammate Seewer was getting to grips with Hawkstone and kept charging to take 4th, ahead of Gifting and Van Doninck, who this time had fell exiting the sand pit all on his own!

Forato came out on top of a three-way scrap with KTM boys Jacobi and Sterry for 7th, with Jacobi one the Sarholz KTM edging out his Welsh former teammate on the Schmicker KTM, who was again the best Brit.

Josh Gilbert mounted a stunning charge from a first corner crash to claim 10th at the flag, his last victim being Martin Barr who was enjoying the damper conditions than last year on his new Apico Honda.  Once more, John Banks Honda new boy Sam Nunn, on his MX1 debut, was the top rider to be lapped in 12th place – no disgrace in this company!  A special mention also to 42-year-old Brad Anderson, who claimed 14th on his Rochfords Recovery GASGAS!

Coldenhoff continually pushed to get past Herlings, getting the crowd craning their necks as he drew near every lap in the middle loop of the circuit, but just couldn’t pull the pin as Jeffrey was faster on the hill’s end of the track.  Glenn chased his countryman across the line just 1.487 seconds behind, with Jonass a lonely but decent third.  The 2-2 scores were good enough for Glenn to take the overall verdict from Herlings and Jonass.

MX1 International Podium – 1st Glenn Coldenhoff, 2nd Jeffrey Herlings, 3rd Pauls Jonass

MX2 International

Surprise Norwegian newcomer Hakon Osterhagen, sadly more famous at the moment for crashing in front of Jago Geerts in last year’s Finnish GP and taking the Belgian out of the title chase, claimed fastest lap in qualifying from Hawkstone rookie Adamo.  And young Hakon on the JM Racing Honda claimed an early lead ahead of the World Champion for the first three laps before conceding to the inevitable! Adamo eventually cruised to a near 19-second win over Hakon.  And we all missed Liam Everts!

Teenage Brit Joe Brookes was in an amazing 3rd on the 426 Motorsports KTM until a slip at half-distance let both Cas Valk and Maximilian Werner through.  Dutchman Valk will campaign the Gabriel SS24 KTM in the British Championship this year, and he will be a contender if he carries his speed from Hawkstone to that series as well as the EMX250 Championship.  He claimed 3rd ahead of Werner, while Brookes lost 5th to unknown Dutchman Bradley Mesters on the final lap.

Andrea Adamo had a winning debut on the Shropshire sand, although for sure Everts could have given him some hassle.

AMCA Champion Rory Jones had run as high as 7th early on, but Jake Nicholls claimed that position at the finish as Jones ended up 15th.  Joel Rizzi had started in that position on his Dirt Store Kawasaki debut, but charged impressively through to 8th.  With two laps to go, Ollie Colmer on the K-Tech/Aristocars KTM just lost 9th to Dutchman Scott Smulders, who ridden through the pack from a first lap crash! Alfie Jones was 11th for Chambers Racing ahead of Mackenzie Marshall, the DK Off Road KTM rookie who avoided getting lapped by the World Champion in his first big adult race!  Italian EMX campaigner Federico Tuani was the last on the lead lap in 13th after moving forward from a poor start.

Race two saw Adamo take control straightaway with a clear holeshot, but he had to do it twice after a red flag incident that saw Scott Smulders unable to take the re-start.  Adamo eventually won by 10 seconds, but Valk will be overjoyed that he started to reel in the Champ and was faster for most of the second half of the race.  Osterhagen had an up-and-down moto after crashing out of the sandpit but eventually fought back past Rizzi to take 3rd in the closing laps. Mesters and the fast-starting Werner went back-and-forth for 5th, the Dutchman eventually winning that battle, and a brilliant showing from Alfie Jones saw the Londoner in a fine 7th to claim 7th overall!

Alfie Jones was one of few British riders not to be lapped by the reigning World Champion in either race, a fine performance for one of Britain’s most promising young talents. (Image: Cult Moto)

Calum Mitchell was the last rider on the lead lap in 8th after failing to finish race one in a cloud of steam.  Glenn McCormick moved forward well to claim 9th in race two ahead of Tuani, his other teammate Ben Franklin, and a goggle-less Jake Nicholls!

Adamo was joined on the overall podium by Valk in 2nd, who took the tie-breaker on the second moto from Osterhagen. Rizzi was top Brit in 6th from Jones in 7th, Nicholls a fighting 8th and Glenn McCormick 9th.

MXGP/MX2 Superfinal

The split-start mixed-class Superfinal saw the MX2 boys launch first as always, then the bigger bikes blasted away soon after – too soon for Pauls Jonass, who was left standing and remonstrated in the pits later that it wasn’t quite the wait between gate drops that he’d expected! Adamo led immediately from Valk and Mesters, with Ollie Colmer gating in a fine 4th, but the big boys were swiftly into the top five as an all-factory freight train of Herlings, Febvre, Coldenhoff and Seewer roared through to start hounding Adamo for the lead by the end of lap three.

The Bullet took over as the two KTM factory men bounded from the sandpit, and Febvre did not want to let the #84 streak away so blasted through to 2nd up the hill, with Hoff also squeaking through at the very top corner. Romain couldn’t quite pull the trigger on Jeffrey, but Glenn suddenly bolted past the Kawasaki on lap eight.  Once again he had more speed than Herlings around a lot of the circuit but just couldn’t get through.  Ultimately Herlings took the Georges Jobe Trophy for the Superfinal winner ahead of Coldenhoff, Febvre, and Seewer.

Jeffrey Herlings with the Georges Jobe Trophy.

Jonass recovered well to make it four MXGP men passing Adamo on lap five,  and came home a solid 5th.  Forato made a late charge on Adamo and went for a blast around the outside of the 250 man on the last lap, but buried the front end and went down hard.  He complained of a sore shoulder afterwards but nothing major.  Gilbert came home top Brit in 7th to lift the Vaughan Semmens Memorial Trophy at the end of the day, with Jacobi, Van Doninck, and Forato rounding out the top ten.


The EMX125 races, always hectic affairs as the teenage talents of the future work hard to impress both fans and future factory bosses alike, saw three different race winners in the shape of Northern Irish rising star ColeMcCullough, Finnish 17-year-old Kasimir Hindersson, and 125cc new boy Josh Vail.

Josh Vail seriously impressed on his second big 125cc race (Matterley Basin EMX125 was his first), by winning a moto and claiming 2nd overall. Watch out for this lad in the future!

Cole just held off a late charge from Hindersson to claim the first moto, but then suffered a snapped chain whilst leading the second outing. He then suffered a crash on lap four of the third and final race, again whilst leading, and although too beaten up to continue was ultimately unhurt.  Hindersson inherited the lead in race two but just lost out to Vail,  who made a great lunge to claim the win on the last lap!

Dutchman Dean Gregoire, drawing comparisons to Tom Vialle with his #28 and KTM Junior team graphics – oh yes he’s on that outfit’s radar – came in 3rd overall with 4-3-3 motos. Jamie Keith put in a solid showing to take 4th overall ahead of Lewis Spratt, who had done the overnight trip from winning the final AX Futures race at Wembley (Jacob Randall actually won overall).  Bulgarian Ventsislav Toshev took a decent 6th overall.

Ultimately it was an awesome day to be a Motocross fan, and for sure the Salop MC can be assured of a decent turnout each year if they keep things going like this.

See the full results from the day >>> here <<<

The track next sees some serious action at the end of March with the first round of the Fastest 40 series on Easter weekend.