The UK’s maddest, baddest race series kicks off on Friday night when Belfast’s SSE Arena plays host to the opening round of the 2020 Arenacross Tour.
Top-flight racers from eight countries and three continents will line up in the historic Titanic Quarter of Northern Ireland’s capital city with six rounds of super-intense bar-banging action ahead of them.
The Arenacross Tour has been a huge success since it exploded into UK arenas back in 2013 and heading into its eighth consecutive season the momentum it’s built up shows no signs of slowing down.
For the 2020 tour, every AX champion ever crowned will be in action with Britain’s Adam Chatfield (RFX Honda) and Frenchmen Fabien Izoird (Shocktech Kawasaki), Thomas Ramette (Offset CBD Yamaha) and Cedric Soubeyras (ASA United Husqvarna) all lining up to scrap it out for Europe’s biggest indoor prize.
Defending champion Soubeyras is aiming to make it a hat-trick of titles but he’ll face stiff opposition, especially from three-time winner Ramette who was forced to sit out last year’s series.
“I honestly don’t think about the hat-trick,” said Soubeyras. “I just want to give my best every single moto. When I look back I’m probably the rider who has held the red plate the most times in the last four years but, you know what, I only got two titles in my four seasons racing AX.
“Arenacross is something special. This year Ramette is back. He is probably the guy that has got the most experience in AX so beating him again would be incredible.
“He is a real Arenacross champion and I know the fight between him, me and all the other guys will be awesome.”
It would be a brave person who’s prepared to bet against a French champion this year but if you were to have a flutter on another nationality then Fro Systems Yamaha’s awesome Aussie Dan Reardon could be well worth a punt.
The 34-year-old has a wealth of experience in the Monster Energy AMA SX series and is returning to the Arenacross Tour following an impressive debut season in 2018.
“I’m excited to get back to the UK and compete in the series, especially coming off an Achilles injury and missing AX in 2019,” said Dan. “The series is great, the show is great, I’ve partnered with a strong team this year and we are in a good position to take out this title.”
Reardon’s German team-mate Brian Hsu is another rider to watch, despite requiring hospital treatment when he crashed out of the Dortmund SX after winning the opening evening’s SX2 final.
While there are a number of definite title favourites, when it comes to Arenacross there are no certainties – the intense, unpredictable nature of the sport makes sure of that – and the Pro classes for Lites and 450 machines is littered with quality.
But it’s not all about the Pros and there will be a strong supporting cast every night with Pro Am, Rookie, Supermini and 65cc titles on the line and Belfast will also feature races for the All Ireland Cup with former British MX champion and GP racer Graeme Irwin (Fona Cab Honda) making a temporary return to dirt after switching full-time to BSB racing in 2019.
Freestyle is a huge part of the AX show and the Lings Bolddog trio of Dan Whitby, Samson Eaton and Arran Powley will be hitting the ramps along with Czech star Petr Pilat. “Arenacross is just such a cool production and it’s amazing to be a part of it,” says Samson.
“It’s the biggest thing in motocross in this country in my opinion. It’s a real family audience, the atmosphere is electric and every night I can’t wait to get out there and hit the ramps.”
2020 AX Tour
Round 1: January 17 – SSE Arena, Belfast
Round 2: January 18 – SSE Arena, Belfast
Round 3: January 31 – Resorts World, Birmingham
Round 4: February 1 – Resorts World, Birmingham
Round 5: February 21 – SSE Arena, Wembley
Round 6: February 22 – SSE Arena, Wembley