Buildbase Honda MX Nationals07/09/2020
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.”