Past champions down-power in search of their fun

BRETT PEARCE’S ambition this year is simple – to win as often as possible.

But to up the ante, he is operating on a hefty reduction in horsepower.

As he lined up on Saturday for the first half of the two-day motocross event at Pleinmont, gone was his powerful 450cc ride and in its place was a new Fantic 125XX.

That did not stop Pearce winning two A Group races from three on a day when his sole foil was George Symons, a young rider who has stepped down from a 250cc to a Husqvarna TC125.

The reason for these apparent downgrades?

‘It’s just to make it fun again,’ Pearce said after a long spell of competitive inactivity due to lockdown.

‘To ride a smaller bike fast is a different challenge and you need to be in shape to ride bigger bikes – with the time off, it’s easier to ride smaller bikes.’

Last year, Pearce was the king of the two-day and managed to win all six A Group races split across the two days.

But Symons – the overall 2020 champion – quickly ensured that he would not be repeating that this year.

In first competitive A Group race of 2021, the two MX2 stars were quick to resume their rivalry and on this occasion it was Symons taking the honours, though by under 2sec.

Aaron Lesbirel placed third and topped the A Group Open class, finishing another 38sec. down, in turn just ahead of teenager Owen Waddingham.

Come race two, Pearce was back on top, with Symons inching Waddingham for runner-up in a near-blanket finish 15sec. later. Ethan Brehaut took fourth and top Open rider.

The concluding heat gave Pearce the opportunity to tip the balance in his favour – and he did.

But he had to bide his time as Symons grabbed the MX2 holeshot and then led for six of their 12 laps.

It was then that the smooth Pearce finally managed to forge ahead, extending his victory margin to 21sec. by the end. Symons sealed his second runner-up, followed by Waddingham and Brehaut.

After careful consideration, organisers chose to cancel the usual grand finals to keep the day short.

‘It’s always nice to be on the bike, and it’s a shame we had to stop after this one,’ Pearce said afterwards.

‘It would have been nice to carry on, but it’s nice to be back riding, that’s for sure.

‘It’s all fair, because everybody hasn't been able to ride, and we were all beginning to struggle towards the end of the racing.

‘It’s gone alright – I’m happy with today.’

He added when asked about his main aim for 2021: ‘To win as many races as I can, that’s the one. We’ve got the same equipment now, so it’s an even playing field.’

Meanwhile, the B Group proved competitive as ever, producing a different winner each time.

Top female rider Chloe MacDonald, someone who made her long-awaited return at the equivalent event last year, showed the boys how it’s done in heat one.

MacDonald won that heat by huge 33sec. margin from Braden Morris.

Next time up, she was taking a very close second, just 2sec. adrift of all-round motorsport regular Paul Le Messurier.

In the third and ultimately final heat, Josh Ballard so nearly had his moment of glory.

He was leading until mid-way before a big stroke of misfortune, being brought to a standstill by bike issues directly in front of the main spectator point.

To his credit, he eventually managed to restart his bike and soldiered on to much applause, finishing ninth in a race headed by Rob Cluett from Patrick Dewe.

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