Adam Chatfield is currently the top-placed Brit in the Pro class. Can he take it all the way to the top this Saturday?
If the ‘Ginger Ninja’ gives us a repeat performance of last year’s final round at Wembley, and plants his Buildbase Honda on the top step of the podium, we could be in with a very real chance of the AX trophy staying in the UK.
So, with no pressure on our ‘golden boy’, let’s take a quick look at his form to date. Chatfield’s had something of a mixed bag of results this year swinging from brilliant to disappointing (by his own standards). He was on the podium in third place at the Manchester opener back at the start of January and then had two fifths at Glasgow and Birmingham. He was on fire at the first of the Belfast double-headers when he stormed to the Main Event win, but then didn’t quite get on the pace the following night when he finished eighth. At Sheffield last weekend, he took a solid sixth, which has left him fourth overall in the Pro class championship, 16 points off red plate holder Cedric Soubeyras (RFX St Blazey).
With just a matter of hours until the AX gate drops on the final Pro Main Event, we tracked down the Honda rider to find out how he feels about the upcoming weekend.
AX: Adam. You’re our top-placed Brit, how are you feeling about this weekend?
AC: I’m really looking forward to it. London was good to me last year, so I’m aiming to duplicate that result and finish on top.
AX: Do you feel any pressure?
AC: I don’t tend to feel the pressure and as I’m a little bit behind on points, I don’t have anything to lose. I’ll do my best and see how it turns out.
AX: You were the first-ever AX champ back in 2013. Has it changed much since then?
AC: Yes it has. The level of competition is really high and close, as you can see from the state of the current championship. To have so many riders capable of winning is pretty mad. To my mind, it’s truly a worldwide series now, especially with all the top French riders coming over. When I won, there was more of a British field.
AX: The series attracts many of the best European indoor MX racers, and you come over from Brazil for it each year. What is it about AX that keeps you coming back?
AC: I like the excitement and it’s nice to be back home in my own country for once. It’s the only UK series I do and it’s got such credibility now that it is THE one to do. That’s clear by the level of interest from the international Pros.
AX: We know you’re mates with Jack Brunell – although he reckons he’s just your chauffeur when it suits – are you close with any of the other AX riders?
AC: I get on well with most of the Brits but Jack and I get on really well. We probably speak every other day. We always want to beat each other but off the track we’re good pals. I get on well with Jordan Booker too and have known him for years.
AX: Arenacross is short, sharp, brutal, yet financially rewarding. What would you say to those riders who reckon out-door is the way to go?
AC: I think they’re crazy. Indoor is the way forward. Everything about it ticks the boxes – the atmosphere, the fact that families can sit indoors in the dry and warm, grab a drink and something to eat and watch all the racing. Why would you want to sit outside in a cold, wet and muddy field where they don’t get the crowds? We get a least 6,000 people watching us at each Arenacross round and many of them are from outside the scene – it’s growing the sport.
AX: How has it been in the paddock this year?
AC: Really calm actually. I think that by taking out the head-to-head races for the top eight has changed everyone’s mood. There’s not so much pressure. We’re all still out on track all doing the job, but without the drama. For the riders who don’t automatically qualify, the head-to-head gives them a chance to get a place in the Main Event, without anything to lose and so they go for it. I’m still in two minds about the hot lap though ....
AX: You’re part of a bigger Buildbase Honda family now with the Bayliss brothers (Matt and Chris) riding with you. How has that been? Are you the sensible elder brother?
AC: Yes I am. Those boys like to go out and have fun, I can’t keep up with them. It’s been great though to be an all-British team and they are good guys. We all get along really well and their mum and dad are really cool too – I particularly appreciate the way they keep me in water. As ever, Dave Thorpe runs a tight and tidy team and I’m hugely grateful to him for including me in the team this year. The set-up he and Buildbase Honda put together is second-to-none. Totally professional and really supportive. I want to win the championship for them.
AX: Is riding your living, or do you have a day job?
AC: Up until now, I’ve made a living from racing in Brazil and it has been mega. I’m considering my options at the moment and may have to get a day job. Not too sure what will happen, but it’ll all work out and I won’t let anyone down.
AX: Finally, you’ve been on that top step once this year at Belfast. Can you repeat it at Wembley?
AC: I will one hundred per cent try my best. I’ve had a few up and down races lately, but with double points on the final Main Event, anything can happen, just like it did in 2016. Fingers crossed that I can get ahead, stay out of trouble and deliver the result. But, more than anything, I really hope it will be an exciting race for the fans.
AC Quick Fire
Favourite song/band/artist: Drake
Favourite food: Pizza
How do like your steak cooked: Medium
Dream car/bike: Mercedes A45
Nike or Adidas: Nike
Favourite sport/athlete outside of motocross: Colin McGregor
Who inspired you to race: My dad. He took me to a race one day, and I was hooked.
If you were an animal what would you be: Tiger
Last holiday: Skiing in Italy
Cats or dogs: Dogs
Would you rather always have to speak your mind or never speak again: Always speak but gets me in trouble at times
Would you rather have hiccups for the rest of your life or always feel like you’re going to sneeze but never do: Sneeze
If you were on a desert island, what would your one meal be: Chicken barbeque pizza
Two-stroke or four-stroke: Four
Would you rather get even or get over it: Get even
Sweets or chocolate: Neither
What would you like to see next year at Arenacross: Less points on the hot lap, ie, just one point for the fastest rider. More British riders
Pictured; Top - Chatfield (right) enjoys mixing with the FMX boys (Torronteras, Whitby, Eaton)