Buildbase Honda MX Nationals19/10/2020
End of an era for Buildbase and Honda
After nine years building up the best team in British motocross, Buildbase ended its run as main sponsor of the official UK Honda squad in winning style as Tommy Searle took the 2020 MX Nationals Pro MX1 crown.
It’s been a partnership that has seen the team win at the highest level in the UK, with race and title wins in the British ACU and MX National championships, and UK Arenacross for riders and as a manufacturer.
And the Buildbase-backed squad has not only established Honda’s team as the most respected and highest-profile team in the UK, but also given an opportunity for talent to flourish and go on to greater achievements.
Honda team manager, triple world 500 champion Dave Thorpe, said: “Together with Buildbase, we have built the team into the envy of the whole paddock with a truly professional set-up, dedicated riders and technicians and the best bikes on the track – the Honda CRF450R and CRF250R.
“Buildbase’s backing has been very much a part of the operation from day one, with total support and help for whatever we have needed. Of course, we are all sad to wave goodbye to our partners and friends at Buildbase and I would like to thank everyone involved there for the incredible support they have given us since we launched in 2012.”
Buildbase’s Managing Director Paul Roche said: “I am delighted with the success that as a team we have enjoyed over the last nine years. I am proud of the role that we have played but now is the right time for us to move on to new projects and new challenges. I would like to thank and congratulate Dave Thorpe on building the very best team in British motocross!”
In nine years of racing, the Buildbase team has fielded some of the world’s best riders including former world MX1 champion Steve Ramon and ex-junior world champion Steven Clarke who is part of the 2020 squad.
The Buildbase Honda roster has included British ACU champions such as Stephen Sword, Brad Anderson, Kristian Whatley, Elliott Banks-Browne, Graeme Irwin and Tommy Searle as well as Jake Nicholls, Lewis Tombs, Josh Gilbert, Martin Barr, Adam Chatfield and Nez Parker. Top foreign talent has included Nico Aubin, Gert Krestinov, Josiah Natzke and Fabien Izoird.
Before he quit the dirt to focus on road racing, Graeme Irwin gave the team its first ACU British MX1 championship title in 2017. And this year, with Covid-19 halting the ACU series, the only professional championship to be run was the MX Nationals. This was initially led by the team’s Jake Nicholls before his Buildbase Honda team-mate Tommy Searle took over and clinched the championship in his first year for the team. And in the MX2 class, Steven Clarke took a clear second place in the series. It’s a successful end to the Buildbase years for Honda.
The Honda team will continue to compete in 2021, and more news will be released when it’s available.
Tommy takes the title!
Buildbase Honda’s Tommy Searle secured the MX Nationals MX1 title with a pair of rock-solid rides at the final round of the series at a super-tough FatCat Motoparc on Sunday and in doing so becomes the only Pro British MX1 champion of 2020.
Competing in the MX2 class for the team, Steven Clarke lost out on a tie-break for third overall on the day but his scores were easily good enough to cement his second-placed position in the final championship standings.
Tommy started the day with fourth in qualification before recording a hard-fought third in the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto on his CRF450R after taking advantage of a last-corner stall by Jake Millward.
With the deep-sand circuit cutting up rough, Tommy took no chances in race two safe in the knowledge that a second-placed finish would give him the coveted crown by a commanding 38 points.
“It’s good for Honda after all the effort they’ve put in this year – it’s not been easy for anyone,” said Tommy. “It’s the only thing to win this year and I’ve won it so that’s all I could do.
“Obviously, I’d have liked to have won [the overall] today but Brent Van Doninck rode well and I didn’t ride too good in the first race. I had good pace in the second race but I didn’t get a very good start.
“It’s equivalent to the British title because every rider was in it apart from Shaun Simpson and he’s injured anyway. We had a strong championship this year and I’ve been consistent and haven’t finished out of the top-three in any of the races so I’m happy and I’m happy for the team and for my mechanic Willie.
“The MX Nationals have put on a brilliant series and everyone knows it’s the only championship in Britain this year and I’ve won it!”
Tommy’s MX1 team-mate Jake Nicholls was still suffering from a thumb injury sustained last time out at Cusses Gorse which has kept him off the bike but he pushed hard all day. Qualifying ninth, he followed Tommy across the line in the opening moto but struggled to sixth in race two as his lack of saddletime began to show.
“It’s been so gnarly today and I can’t really say that I’ve enjoyed it all that much to be honest,” said Jake. “The first race was rough and the second race was much, much rougher – there was no difference to the second race at Lierop. It was a bombsite!
“The thumb injury only really held me back when I started to tire 10 minutes into the second race. I had no rhythm and no flow because I’d only ridden the bike once in three weeks because of my thumb.
“In the first race I found my flow and felt all right but lost my rhythm towards the end and felt a little bit tired with three laps to go. In race two I was pretty quick at the start and was thinking ‘I can go here’ but that lasted three laps before my thumb started hurting – I had no flow and that was enough to cook me.”
Heading into FatCat holding down second in MX2 on his CRF250R, it was always going to be a huge ask for Steven to overtake series leader Josh Gilbert and although he reduced the deficit by eight points with his 4-6 finishes it wasn’t enough to take the title.
“I’m in one piece so I can’t complain but it was a difficult day,” said Steven. “I was one of the first 250s around the opening turn in the first race but I struggled with arm-pump almost immediately. It was okay – I managed to keep it on two wheels and pushed through the arm-pump to finish fourth.
“We made some suspension changes between races which worked well and in the second moto I got a good start and was right next to Josh Gilbert but I got taken out in the second or third turn so I had to come from dead last.
“The track was brutal but I managed to get up to sixth 250 which I was pretty happy with for fourth overall on the day and second in the championship. I’m happy with that – obviously, I’d have liked to have won it but Josh rode a solid season.”
Buildbase Honda boss Dave Thorpe praised the performance of everyone involved with the team after a very challenging season that was seriously disrupted by COVID-19.
“If you’d told me we’d get first in MX1 and second in MX2 at the start of the season I’d have been happy with that,” said Dave. “Tommy deserves to be champion and the team has been amazing. Willie, Rob and Ryan can’t be faulted – the bikes have been brilliant, they’ve never let us down – and Mark Eastwood has done a fantastic job with the suspension.
“We’ve worked hard and done our best and I’d just like to thank everyone who’s been involved with the team. It’s been a testing time but everybody has been magnificent.
“The conditions today were great considering the rain we’ve had. The MX Nationals and FatCat Motoparc teams have done a fantastic job with the track which was first class but tough for the riders. It was probably a track they didn’t want to see when they haven’t had regular racing so it was a hard day all round.
“Tommy and Jake dug deep in the first race. My own opinion is that they didn’t ride as well as they normally do and they both got a little bit lucky when Jake Millward stalled his bike on the last corner but we’ll take that.
“In the second race Tommy rode exceptionally well and Jake was right up there at the beginning but, as expected, his thumb started to play up in the second half of the race. You couldn’t fault their effort – today and all year.
“Steven was a little bit out of sorts in the first race but got lucky with Josh Gilbert breaking down. He had a chance in the second race but he got tapped in turn two and came around dead last but he rode his heart out and used every bit of energy he had left.
“The MX Nationals have proved it was possible to run a series, even without spectators. They’ve dug in, they’ve followed the rules and have done an amazing job.”
Tommy in control!
Tommy Searle maintained his lead at the front of the MX Nationals Pro MX1 Championship chase with a hard-fought second overall at round three of the series at the spectacular Cusses Gorse circuit in Wiltshire on Sunday.
His team-mate Jake Nicholls had a harder time on his CRF450R and had to pick himself up off the deck in the opening race and Steven Clarke, contesting the Pro MX2 class on his CRF250R, also took multiple soil samples in race one before showing his class second time out.
Tommy’s 3-2 scorecard was good enough for second overall on the day and with one round remaining he now holds a comfortable 24-point advantage at the top of the table.
“The first race was just a steady third – I didn’t really have much else in me because I was riding a bit tight,” said Tommy. “In the second I was third off the start and moved into second but didn’t really have enough to close up the gap on Brent Van Doninck.
“I felt good on the bike and was happy with it – we didn’t have to change a thing all day, I just needed to be a little bit better. I’m not disappointed but it would have been nice to win and I’m going to try and do that at FatCat at the last round.”
Jake went into the day in second in the championship but his title hopes took a big blow when he crashed and hurt his thumb in race one and was forced to pull out. Racing through the pain barrier, he battled back to fifth in the second moto but the damage had already been done and he slipped to fifth in the standings.
Tommy on TOP!
Buildbase Honda maintained its 100 per cent podium-topping record in the Pro MX1 class of the MX Nationals at round two of the series at Landrake Motoparc in Cornwall on Sunday.
This time around it was Tommy Searle who came out on top on his CRF450R as team-mate Jake Nicholls struggled to gel with the track and, as a result, it’s Tommy who now leads Jake by 16 points at the top of the table at the halfway point of the championship.
In Pro MX2 Steven Clarke put in another pair of impressive performances on his CRF250R to maintain a strong third place in the title race.
On the heavily rutted hillside circuit, Tommy completed the first lap of the opening moto in seventh and pulled through to second just after half-distance but left it too late to make a move on race leader Harris Kullas. Second time out he made no mistake and converted a holeshot into a comfortable win.
Jake failed to fully get to grips with the track and didn’t get into a groove until midway through the final 25-minute plus two lap moto. However, his 6-6 scorecard still sees him sitting in a clear second in the championship table.
Team boss Dave Thorpe was full of praise for all three riders after another successful event for Buildbase Honda.
“Tommy had a cracking battle in the first race with Harri but he couldn’t find a way around him and I could feel his frustration,” said Dave. “In the second I could see how determined he was when he went to the line and he holeshot, broke Harri very early on and then rode a textbook race. He made it look easy.
“I think the way they prepped the track probably wasn’t to Jake’s liking and he just didn’t gel with it all day. Saying that, he knuckled down even though it was a slog for him and in the closing stages of the second race he started to look like himself again. He’ll be disappointed but you can’t fault his commitment to grinding something out on a difficult day.
“Steve rode very, very well – especially in the first race. The track was tough and I think it got to him in the middle of the second moto a little bit but it was another solid result and it’s very difficult at the MX Nationals for the 250 guys – they eat a lot of roost.
“I thought the track was first class and as always the MX Nationals put on a great event.”
The 2020 racing season finally got under way at Hawkstone Park on Sunday where Jake Nicholls, Tommy Searle and Steven Clarke ensured Buildbase Honda packed the podium with Jake and Tommy filling the top two spots in Pro MX1 and Steven bringing it home in second in Pro MX2.
With the season badly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers of the MX Nationals series took the brave step of kicking off the championship at the iconic Shropshire venue and their courage was rewarded with two bar-to-bar 25-minute plus two lap Pro races.
Racing a pair of CRF450Rs, Jake drew first blood when he topped Pro MX1 Qualification by almost a second with Tommy slotting into third. Jake then holeshot the opening race and dominated to win by over five-and-a-half seconds, despite suffering from arm-pump from the mid-point of the moto.
Tommy, who was making his debut for the team and for Honda, also suffered with arm-pump but he toughed it out and was rewarded with third at the line after making a late pass.
Tommy started race two at the sharp end and by mid-race was holding second. After losing a couple of places he fought back and came out on top of a four-man fight to take second in the moto and second on the day as Jake recovered from a slower start to clinch the overall by one point from his team-mate with a dramatic last-lap pass for fourth.
“It’s been a weird start to the season – I was really nervous and I’m never like that – but I’m always happy to get the win,” said Jake. “I felt good in practice and then put in a decent lap in qualification which helped calm the nerves a bit.
“I holeshot the first race and just ran away really. After about 15 minutes I got savage arm-pump and started to ride a bit tight but to be honest I think everyone did. In the second moto I didn’t get a great start but I came through to fourth which was hard work.”
Tommy was satisfied with the second step of the podium in very testing conditions.
“I’m happy with that,” said Tommy. “It was obviously a bit of a struggle in the first race when I pumped up but everyone was in the same boat and it was good to get a race under my belt on the Honda. The track was very rough and I’m happy to get that out of the way to be honest.”
Also making his debut for the team, Steven came out swinging with a strong second in Pro MX2 Qualification. With the MX Nationals running a mixed-capacity ‘Fastest 40’ format with the classes scored separately, Steven was at a disadvantage up the long, uphill Hawkstone start straight on his CRF250R against the 450cc machines.
The experienced Midlander is, however, well known for his never-say-die approach to racing and despite pitting for fresh goggles in the opening moto he crossed the line fourth in class and then backed this up with a storming second in race two to secure second overall.
“I’m buzzing,” said Steven. “It wasn’t an easy one by any means – the track was mega-rough, probably the roughest I’ve ever seen Hawkstone and I’ve been riding there since I was a kid. I loved it – the rougher the better!
“I’m not a fan of having to go off the gate alongside the 450s because it’s so unfair but it’s the same for all of us so you just need to get on with it.
“The second race was great. About four laps from the end I was seven seconds behind Josh Gilbert and I crossed the finish line side-by-side with him so it was good for myself and the team. Onwards and upwards.”
Team boss Dave Thorpe was delighted with his riders’ performances.
“It’s been a really good day,” he said. “The boys rode well in really difficult conditions and the second race in particular was very tough.
“Jake rode a textbook opening race. He got the holeshot, pushed hard to make a gap and won it quite comfortably. Tommy was in a bit of a dogfight with Dylan Walsh and Brent Van Doninck – I think he pushed really hard to get them and then tightened up a little bit.
“In the second race it was very close. Van Doninck made a move four laps from the end but Tommy, Jake, Harri Kullas and Evgeny Bobryshev were all fighting hard which made it a really good race to watch.
“I’m delighted for Steven – second overall is a great result for him. In the first race he thought the roll-off pulley on his goggles had snapped so he came in for a fresh pair and lost several places but battled back to fourth and in the second race he closed right in on Josh Gilbert and there was nothing between them when they went over the line.
“Ryan, Will and Rob have all worked really hard, as have all three riders and it’s nice to get a great result on our first race back. The MX Nationals team deserve a massive pat on the back for taking the risk to put the meeting on in very difficult circumstances.”