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Searle, Mewse & Bolt storm inaugural AX Festival – Race Report, Results and Interviews

Searle, Mewse & Bolt storm inaugural AX Festival – Race Report, Results and Interviews

A brand new event with a brand new concept – holding Arenacross, traditionally held in tightly-packed concert arenas, on an equestrian show-jumping pad as part of a family-orientated Festival experience – was a highly ambitious project that left many questioning if it would work.

Words: Ben Rumbold, Images: AX Fest

The aerial shot wasn’t far off the digital map released pre-event! It certainly delivered the experience promised.

However, since its rebirth from the pandemic as a newly-sanctioned official British Championship, Arenacross itself has bult its fanbase, not just among the general public, but in the eyes of the industry and the best dirt bike racers on the island.  So what better way to build the momentum from that winter series than holding a one-off Festival, right at the end of the outdoor domestic season, in an Indian-summer outdoor version with all sorts of extra attractions thrown in?  In a brilliant tie-in with chief events company Bolesworth, the grounds of its very own castle made a slightly bizarre but brilliantly fresh venue that, along with the additions of SuperEnduro racing and Trials demonstrations, really celebrated what the dirt bike industry has to offer in 2023.

On arrival on Friday, your author was a little struck by one notable absence – lights! No floodlights on at all were pointed at the track, so it would all have to be wrapped up by sundown at around 8pm. The music and live bands would have to carry the night by themselves, but by then the crowd were in and ready to enjoy themselves.

The usual opening ceremonies were completed promptly and the racing began, although the heats and qualifying format looked to be a little altered, with qualification for the Pro Main Event not necessary in a 15-man entry list.  A Superpole-type “Hot Lap” competition would determine gate pick, with two Main Events each night as well as Head-to-Head races for the top eight riders to re-jig the gate picks between the two mains.

The weirdest thing, of course, was seeing the Hot Lap for Stark Future electric-bike riders Eddie Jay Wade, Carl Ostermann, and late replacement for Arnaud Tonus, Frenchman Thomas Do. Running, silent, running deep, they were actually very fast with Do 4th on Friday and Wade in 8th.

Three bikes, three riders, zero sound. Team Stark Future – ready to kick some ICE tailpipe!

Jack Brunell was full of beans leading into AX Fest with words like “I wanna do’ em!” stating his intent to hold back these outdoor-riding interlopers into his AX world, and he holeshot the first Main on Friday.  Defending Champion Tommy Searle soon hunted him down, however, and took the lead on lap four. Conrad Mewse, in a theme that was to last all weekend, didn’t start with the front men and had to work his way through to 3rd, helped by a crash from Eddie Wade and moving past Ben Clayton, who also went down on lap seven.  Adam Chatfield stuck it into 4th with Ashley Greedy back into AX with a last-lap pass on Do for 5th!

The Head-to-Heads saw Do and Brunell see off Searle & Mewse in the semis before Brunell’s triple-triple rhythm proved unbeatable.  Tommy was not to be denied, however, with a stonking holeshot in the second Main only briefly threatened by recent training partner Wade, who ran up the inside at the end of lap one and startled the Champ enough to draw a hand signal over the finish-line jump.  He simply hadn’t heard the silent bike, and Wade’s sneak attack very nearly paid off.

As it was, Wade did him a favour by losing control and accidentally cutting across Brunell on lap two, bringing the FUS Geartec Huqvarna man down! Mewse again fought from a poor start to 2nd and Brunell worked up to his familiar 3rd position from the 2023 series! Clayton, with brother Joe still on crutches in the sidelines, rode well to move forward to 4th as Banks-Browne dropped to 5th.

The Stark team took their first holeshot on Saturday’s first Main with Do whirring into the lead, but Searle was again right there and made no mistakes in seeing it home while Brunell stayed 3rd all race, and Chatfield just had to give way to a late charge from Mewse that took 4th from him.

With a bit more preparation, Conrad Mewse will again be formidable in next year’s AX Tour.

Conrad took the Head-2-Heads against Brunell, then finally got a start in the second Main on Saturday, whilst Do and Brunell went back and forth for 3rd & 4th! Jack eventually cleared the Frenchman and made a run at Tommy for 2nd, but in going for a last-lap move on the #100 he came up short and went over the bars! That allowed Do & Chatfield to slip past and a dejected Brunell ended up in 5th. Tommy had done enough for the overall win on the night.

Sunday again saw Searle take command on the opening Main, although Mewse once more suffered at the start. The Crendon Fastrack Honda man reeled in the GTCI Revo Kawasaki, however, and set the fastest lap of the entire race on the final circulation, just ending half a second shy of Tommy at the chequers. Do, Brunell, and Chatfield were a distant 3rd, 4th, and 5th, although Chatters had to fend off a late charge from Ashley Greedy.

In the second Main, Mewse started to make his speed pay off with a third-lap pass on Tommy for 2nd behind Do, then a nice move to pass the electric runner on lap 7. Tommy did all he could to peg back his French name-sake, just nipping past on the final lap as the Sunday matinee crowd got behind him! Brunell had to come through from a poor start to 4th, just two seconds up from Greedy. Conrad took the first overall trophy for the third night, and will surely be tough to beat once the series resumes in Manchester on the 7th of January.


With a complex circuit layout that saw the SuperEnduro riders ride the whoops in a reverse direction to the other classes, but drew the riders closer to the spectators than the standard AX track, the bikes with lights had a great showcase in front of new and existing AX fans.

A rare moment in SuperEnduro with Billy Bolt (#57) having someone ahead of him, namely Jonny Walker (#22).

The headline stars of the show, Billy Bolt and Jonny Walker, were right at the front of the pack as could be predicted, even with the “reverse grid” arrangement that saw them with the last two gate picks on the second Main Event each evening.  In each of their four motos across the two nights, they finished in the order Bolt 1st, Walker 2nd, and Will Hoare 3rd.

In the Clubman class Ryan Crowder was in dominant form with all four moto wins.

Amateur & Youth

The ProAm class was split for AX Fest with the 450 (or 250 two-stroke) class being separated from the “Lites” riders (125cc two-stroke or 250F machines). Both Youth & Amateur classes raced on Sunday, but they alternated with Amateurs on Friday and Youth on Saturday.

The Lites class was dominated on both nights by Kieran Banks, with Ben White 2nd on both occasions, although Marshall Smith took a fine 3rd on Friday and Connor Challinor got there on Sunday.

The 450s provided some scorching racing between Welshman Sion Talbot and the stocky Kyle Lane, as they left Josh greedy in their wake on Friday. Talbot just edged the scrap on Friday, but Lane reversed the order come Sunday night, whilst two-stroke Fantic man Raife Broadley got a better start and took the final podium trophy.

There was so much for all to enjoy at AX Fest.

The Futures class saw Isaac Ash, moving up from his unbeaten 2023 season in the Superminis, continue his winning ways with dominant victories on both nights. Jacob Randall took 2nd from Charley Irwin on Friday, whilst defending Champion Joel Fisher replaced Randall on the podium on Sunday.

The Youth classes saw wins for Harry Lee in the Big-Wheel 85s, Olivia Reynolds in the Small-Wheel 85s, John Slade in the 65cc class and Austin Edwards continuing to impress with wins on both electric and 50cc auto bikes.

Only the Bolesworth people will truly know the numbers as to how successful it was, but for sure it felt like a well-attended and well-received event for both riders and fans alike. With one year already done it can only build its following in the future, and thoroughly deserves to.


AX Pro Friday

Pos Competitor Total Points Race 1 Race 2
1 Tommy Searle 30 15 15
2 Conrad Mewse 24 11 13
3 Jack Brunell 24 13 11
4 Adam Chatfield 18 10 8
5 Eliott Banks-Browne 16 7 9
6 Thomas Do 15 8 7
7 Ashley Greedy 15 9 6
8 Ben Clayton 10 10
9 Luke Burton 10 5 5
10 Adam Sterry 7 6 1
11 Jake Preston 6 2 4
12 Brad Todd 6 3 3
13 Carl Ostermann 6 4 2
14 Scooter Webster 1 1
15 Eddie Wade

AX Pro Saturday

Pos Competitor Total Points Race 1 Race 2
1 Tommy Searle 28 15 13
2 Conrad Mewse 25 10 15
3 Thomas Do 24 13 11
4 Jack Brunell 20 11 9
5 Adam Chatfield 19 9 10
6 Adam Sterry 14 6 8
7 Eliott Banks-Browne 12 7 5
8 Luke Burton 12 8 4
9 Ashley Greedy 7 7
10 Ben Clayton 7 1 6
11 Jake Preston 7 4 3
12 Carl Ostermann 5 5
13 Scooter Webster 5 3 2
14 Eddie Wade 2 2

AX Pro Sunday

Pos Competitor Total Points Race 1 Race 2
1 Conrad Mewse 28 13 15
2 Tommy Searle 28 15 13
3 Thomas Do 22 11 11
4 Jack Brunell 20 10 10
5 Ashley Greedy 17 8 9
6 Adam Chatfield 16 9 7
7 Adam Sterry 13 7 6
8 Ben Clayton 11 3 8
9 Jake Preston 10 5 5
10 Luke Burton 10 6 4
11 Scooter Webster 7 4 3
12 Eliott Banks-Browne 4 2 2

For the Full Friday Results >>CLICK HERE<<

For the Full Saturday Results >>CLICK HERE<<

For the Full Sunday Results >>CLICK HERE<<