HONDA’S BRITISH MOTOCROSS 1-2!
By Marc TRU7 | 15 November 2023
It was a double celebration for the Crendon Fastrack Honda team as Conrad Mewse and Josh Gilbert took the top two places in the 2023 British MX1 championship, with the title going down until the very last moto of the season in a thrilling end to a dominant year.
Words and Images: Honda Racing UK
Tackling the new Monster Mountain circuit in South Wales, the Honda CRF450R riders faced everything from scorching heat and humidity to a massive mid-race downpour in the first heat that saw Mewse hit the ground twice. But he bounced back to totally dominate the final race to take his first MX1 championship in his first full season in the 450 class. And Gilbert ended up second in the series – his best ever MX1 championship result.
Mewse, fastest in qualifying, took a 25-point lead into the first race and knew if he beat Gilbert, the title would be his. But Gilbert took the holeshot and led from Harri Kullas while Mewse went wide on the start and ended up fighting his way through to third place.
He started to reel in the leading duo and recorded the fastest lap of the race, setting up a three-way fight for the title, until a torrential downpour hit the hilltop circuit. Kullas managed to get past Gilbert for the lead, but Mewse went down. He picked himself up then crashed again, twisting the front of the bike.
He pulled to the side of the track briefly and managed to knock it straight, then continued in a safe third place – taking the title down to the final race.
As the gate dropped for the climax of the season, Mewse rode hard and fast and exiting the second turn he took the lead. Kullas gave chase but the 24-year-old Brit was in no mood for playing it safe as he romped to the win, setting a lap time more than half a second quicker than anyone.
Gilbert didn’t have the best start and battled hard to pass Ivo Monticelli for third as the track became more difficult to pass on as it was so rutted. The 25-year-old Gilbert took until the penultimate lap to make it into third, which cemented his result as second in the championship. Honda also won the manufacturer’s award.
It also meant the record-breaking podium record for both riders was unbroken, as Mewse and Gilbert have been together on the podium at every national-level championship round this season – all seven British championship rounds and all six of the MX Nationals. Mewse and Gilbert were also first and second in the MX Nationals series in a year of total dominance for Crendon Fastrack Honda in the UK.
Mewse said: “It’s still sinking in that I’m 2023 British motocross champion as well as MX Nationals champion. Two for two and it’s amazing. I’m over the moon.
“Harri and Josh made it difficult for me and when we’re that close in pace it’s hard to pass. A massive congrats to Josh too – we’ve been together on the podium at every round and he’s kept me on my toes.
“Today I crashed a couple of times in the first race when the downpour came. It was raining so heavily, so I thought I didn’t want to take any risks so just bring it home a safe third. I eased off a bit and then had two silly crashes which beat me up quite a bit.
“Then in the second race I was determined to win even though I just really needed to get to the finish. I got a solid start, rode my own race and I knew I could control the race from there as my fitness wouldn’t be a problem. And the bike was fantastic. This is a dream team for me, the bike’s incredible and the team do so much work behind the scenes that people don’t see. And it was so nice to have my girlfriend and family here to be with me on this special day.”
Gilbert said: “Overall I’ve had a mega year, been consistent, and my speed has increased for sure. It’s been a massive step in the right direction. It’s my best ever result in MX1, although I was second in MX2 a few years ago.
“This season I’ve been happy with the progress we’ve been making and the 100% podium record is such a good thing for the team. So I’d like to give a massive thanks to Dave Thorpe, my mechanic and the whole team.”
Team manager, triple world 500 champ Dave Thorpe said: “It’s been a great championship with Conrad, Josh and Harri Kullas, and I think the fastest guy won. Conrad is a champion through and through. Josh has ridden amazingly well, the CRF450R has performed unbelievably well and we are all really happy to be first and second in the
championship, and also in the MX Nationals that finished last week.
“As well as the riders, it’s the people behind the scenes who are the real heartbeat of this team and I’m really proud of all of them.”