MX Nationals 2019

12/08/2019

Foxhill frustration for Josh!

Lewis Tombs struggled to gel with the track but two solid rides earned him eighth overall in MX1

Heading into the penultimate round of the 2019 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship sitting in third place, 34 points down on the MX2 series leader, Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert knew he needed to urgently make up ground but the cards didn’t fall in his favour.

 

Topping qualification on his CRF250R was a great start to the day at the spectacular Foxhill circuit near Swindon and within a couple of corners of the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto he was up to third.

 

Just before half-distance Josh moved into second and three laps later he hit the front and at one stage looked to have the race under control until he was reeled in and then slipped back to second behind championship leader Dylan Walsh. On the final lap he made another bid for the lead at the bottom of a steep hill but there was contact, Josh lost all momentum for the following uphill section and he was demoted to third.

 

In moto two a crash on the opening lap left Josh dead last with a burnt arm after he got stuck under his bike but he staged a brave race-long charge that brought him all the way through to fourth at the flag and saw him only miss out on third overall on a tie-break.

 

“I’m disappointed,” said Josh. “I felt like I was the quickest all day but little things have cost me.

“I didn’t gate too well in the first race but by the second turn I’d got into third and then tried to bide my time a little bit. I managed to get into the lead but then lost it when Dylan passed me back.

“We were battling hard until the last lap when I went to the inside of him down one of the hills and got underneath him but then he kinda went off track and as he came back on he caught something, went sideways and I ended up hitting his back wheel. I lost all my momentum and Alvin [Ostlund] got me so I ended up third which was real disappointing because it should have been a moto win.

“I gated around eighth or ninth in race two, got up to about fifth or sixth and went to go underneath Ashton Dickinson. He had nowhere to go, lent on me and we both went down so I had to come from last to fourth.

“I’m looking forward to the final round at Landrake. The track’s always prepped really well so as long as the weather holds up it should be a really good day. I haven’t got a lot to lose now so I just want to go there and run 1-1.”

 

With Jake Nicholls opting not to compete in the MX1 points-paying races after he tweaked the leg he broke last season in the morning practice session, Lewis Tombs was the team’s sole CRF450R rider. Qualifying in eighth, he never got a feel for the jump-filled hard-pack track and ran 7-9 for eighth overall.

“It’s not been a great day,” said Lewis. “My riding wasn’t that good and I did struggle a bit. It’s hard to explain, I just wasn’t really with it today but hopefully I can move on to the last round and end on a high.”

 

Competing in the MX2 Youth class, the team’s Japanese guest rider Shiaru Honda put in two solid rides to go 13-11 for 13th overall with his biggest score of the season so far.

 

“In the first race Josh started third and then went into second just before halfway,” said team boss Dave Thorpe. “About five laps from the end he took the lead and gapped the front-runners a little bit but they reeled him back in and on the last lap Dylan Walsh passed him.

“On the final big downhill on the far side of the track Josh went for a pass on the inside and they got hooked up, he lost momentum and Alvin Ostlund got him. It was probably the best race this year for the public but, obviously, Josh was disappointed to finish third because he had the speed to win.

“Josh didn’t start quite as well in the second race and on the first lap he went underneath another rider who then fell on him and he ended up stuck under his bike. So he came from completely last to fourth which was a great ride.

“Jake had a big dab in practice with the leg that he broke last year and felt a twinge from his fibula which got progressively worse so he decided to go home and get it checked. It was a shame because he was riding well but it was the right decision.

“It was a tough day in the office for Lewis and he never got to grips with the track.”

 

Jake’s the comeback king!

Jake Nicholls narrowly missed out on a podium on his return to Maxxis action

On his return to Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship action, Buildbase Honda’s Jake Nicholls narrowly missed out on a podium finish at round six of the series at Hawkstone Park on Sunday.

 

Racing his CRF450R, Jake – who broke his leg two weeks before the final round while dominating last year’s series – qualified in fourth at the iconic Shropshire track. He then had to pick himself off the ground in the second turn of race one before coming from last to eighth and in race two signalled his return to top-flight action with a hard-fought third.

 

“It’s been all right but it would have been better if I hadn’t have binned it in the second turn of the first race,” said Jake. “The track was like a motorway and normally at Hawkstone it gets a bit gnarly so I was coming through and it was hard to pick people off.

 

“In the second race I got a decent start but struggled a bit to pass into third. It was getting bumpy by then but was still fast so it was intense – I wasn’t getting tired but I could feel that I wasn’t 100 per cent fit.

 

“But I’m pleased to get third in the second race on a tough sand track. More than anything I felt good in the second race and the bike felt good too. It’s a big step in the right direction.”

 

Jake’s MX1 team-mate Lewis Tombs, who’s still getting over a broken hand sustained in a huge first-turn pile-up at round four of the Maxxis at Blaxhall at the start of June, qualified eighth and then recovered from a big crash in race one to bring it home in 14th.

 

Staying out of trouble in race two, he finished ninth for 11th overall.

 

Double tops!

Buildbase Honda’s Jake Nicholls returned to top-flight domestic racing at round four of the Michelin MX Nationals at Canada Heights on Sunday and promptly stuck his CRF450R on top of the box to complete an epic comeback.

To cap off a great day for the team, Josh Gilbert took maximum points on his CRF250R to move into the MX2 championship lead and Lewis Tombs made a solid return after breaking his hand at the start of June.

Jake broke his leg just before the final round of the 2018 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship in October while holding a commanding lead in the MX1 class. Since then he has suffered a series of setbacks but has never given up and his fortitude was rewarded when he ran 2-1 at the Kent track.

 

“I need to race,” he said. “It’s the only way to get that extra bit. I didn’t know what to expect but I honestly didn’t expect to come back with a win. I’ve had such a mission that I was fully in tears when I rode back to the truck. I’ve had such a mission just to get back on a bike, let alone to be in contention and to find out that I can still do it.

“I’m proper made-up to be fair. More than anything because now I know I can still do it and, honestly, I’ve been questioning it. I’m just so pleased that I can still be at the sharp end of things.”

 

Team boss Dave Thorpe was delighted with the way his whole team performed.

“What an amazing day,” he said. “You don’t get any better than two wins! Jake’s been the best part of 10 months with no racing and he’s had some massive highs and lows so for him to come back and win is a fantastic result.

 

Jake Nicholls was back with a bang at Canada Heights Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

Josh digs deep!

Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert grabbed the MX2 series lead in the opening race at round five of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean at Desertmartin on Sunday but lost it in moto two when a technical problem forced him out.

With his MX1 team-mate Lewis Tombs sidelined with a broken hand sustained last time out at Blaxhall, Josh was the team’s sole representative and after a close-fought qualification session he sat second in a field that was packed with Grand Prix riders.

Starting inside the top 10 in the first 25-minute plus two lap race, Josh made a succession of quick passes on his CRF250R and carved his way through the field up to fourth.

A much better start in the second moto saw Josh leading but he slipped back to fourth and then had to withdraw with a technical issue.

“Qualification went well and me, Dylan Walsh and Bas Vaessen went quicker and quicker as the session went on and I ended up in second just over half-a-second behind which I was happy with,” he said. “I didn’t get a great start in the first moto – I was about eighth – and struggled to find a rhythm the whole race so it was good to get up to fourth and I briefly took the championship lead when Dylan finished behind me.

“In race two I got into the lead within three corners and then Dylan, Bas and Alvin passed me but once I settled down I felt that I was riding a lot better and found the flow and felt like I was edging Alvin in a bit but I could feel my bike slowing up a little bit and then it stopped. It was frustrating and I’m gutted to be honest but there’s still time to pull the points back.”

As a three-time world champion, team boss Dave Thorpe knows that you need to take the rough with the smooth when you’re involved in top-flight motocross.

“I really feel for Josh,” he said. “Technical problems are part and parcel of racing at this level and what happened in race two was unfortunate but, being positive, Josh looked fast among some guys who are doing well in the world championship and he can clearly hold his own.

“He’s a great rider from a great family and his class is clear for everyone to see. Yes, it’s disappointing but we will come back stronger from this – it’s days like this that build character and Josh is already a fighter.”

Josh wins at Blaxhall!

Josh Gilbert claimed a career-first Maxxis overall win at Blaxhall Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

Josh Gilbert raced to a career-best first overall and moved to within one point of the MX2 series lead with a stand-out performance at round four of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean at Blaxhall.

The Cornishman narrowly missed out on the overall at the sandy Suffolk circuit on a tie-break in 2018 but he went one better this time around, topping the podium with a 1-4 scorecard to claim the overall on his CRF250R. Unfortunately, it was a much tougher day for Josh’s team-mate Lewis Tombs who broke his hand in a first-turn pile-up in the opening MX1 moto.

After qualifying in third, Josh started the opening moto near the front and took the lead at two-thirds distance which he held to the flag to win by over 13 seconds. In race two he was second after the first lap but lost a couple of places following a mistake at half-distance, although a fourth-placed finish was good enough to put him on top of the podium.

 

“If I’m honest I didn’t feel comfortable all day but I managed to pull it off,” said Josh. “In the first moto I took a bit of time to settle down and I dropped to fourth for a little bit but I regrouped, found my rhythm and got back into second and then the leader ended up having a bike issue which was lucky for me.
“I’m just one point off the championship lead and I can’t complain about that. I was using far more energy than I should have but I’ll take 1-4 for the overall every time.”

 

Lewis headed into his home round of the championship looking to advance on third place in the title hunt on his CRF450R but went down in the opening turn of moto one in an incident that saw the race red-flagged and was sidelined for the rest of the day.

“I got caught up in a first turn crash in the opening race and it was a nasty one,” he said. “I’m gutted to be fair, I’d had some good results leading into today – I just hope everyone is all right because it was a big one. It was easily the worst crash I’ve ever had.”

The team’s Japanese guest rider Shiaru Honda, racing in the highly-competitive MX2 Youth class, just failed to score.

Team boss Dave Thorpe knows the highs and lows of top-flight motocross as well as anyone.

“It’s been an amazing day for Josh but a brutal one for Lewis,” he said. “Josh rode really well. I think he found it hard though – he was racing against three grand prix men – but he got his head down and battled and won the first race well. He was a very strong second in race two until he made a mistake but he knew fourth would give him the overall and he used his head.

“It’s been a great day for Josh. He’s won the overall and is just one point behind in the championship at the halfway stage and I couldn’t ask for anything more from him. Everyone’s working hard and we’re obviously doing it right and it’s lovely when your man’s on the top step of the podium.

“In the first MX1 race in the first turn there was a very bad crash and Lewis got caught up in it. He was taken straight to hospital and he’s broken his hand. It was a nightmare for him but he got off much more lightly than Ryan Houghton and we wish him a speedy recovery.
“It was a tough day for Shiaru and he finished out of the points but he continues to make progress.”

Highs and lows

Josh Gilbert dominated the opening moto in the Pro MX2 class but ended the day in A&E following a first turn crash in race two Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

 

The highs and lows of top-flight motocross were perfectly illustrated at round three of the Michelin MX Nationals at Lyng on Sunday where Buildbase Honda’s Lewis Tombs took third overall in Pro MX1 and Josh Gilbert won the opening Pro MX2 moto before ending the day in A&E.

 

The old-school, mostly natural Cadders Hill circuit always cuts up rough and with the series’ Fastest 40 format pitting MX1 and MX2 machines together in a pair of 25-minute plus two lap races that are scored separately the opening stages of both motos were hectic.

 

After qualifying seventh, Lewis didn’t have to concern himself too much with the early chaos as he took the holeshot in the opening moto on his CRF450R and led until just before half-distance when he was demoted to second which he held to the flag.

 

In race two he got another good start but following a small crash he dropped back from third to fifth before a late pass gave him fourth at the line which earned him the final step on the podium and moved him up to third in the championship.

 

“It’s been good,” said Lewis. “I didn’t have the greatest of qualifications which I’m a bit disappointed about but I holeshot the first race and led until about halfway but Harri [Kullas] was right behind me so I ended up second.

 

“In the second one I had another good start and was running third but I didn’t really settle in that well – it took me a little while to get going – and then I had a small tip-over and dropped to fifth but I came back strong towards the end and got up to fourth which was good enough for third overall.

 

“It’s always nice to get on the podium and it’s good to be consistent. I just need to keep it going.”

 

Josh topped qualification on his CRF250R by a massive 2.2 seconds and dominated MX2 in the first race to win by an impressive 19 seconds but went down hard in the super-fast left/right kink at the start of moto two in a pile-up that brought out the red flags.

 

Bleeding heavily from a facial injury and with a badly damaged bike, Josh was forced to sit-out the restart. However, with his main championship rival Martin Barr also out of the restarted race, by virtue of his first moto win Josh has closed to within three points of the series lead.

 

“I felt really good today,” said Josh. “I topped qualification and the opening moto went perfectly to plan but the start of race two was like a war zone and I went down hard. I was bleeding but still wanted to get back behind the gate for the restart but the bike was too beat-up for me to continue.”

 

The team’s Japanese guest rider Shiaru Honda was racing in the MXY2 class and he showed continued improvement to score solid points in all four of his races.

 

Team spokesman Ryan Thorpe was quick to point out the positives.

 

“It was great to see Lewis on the podium and now up to third in the championship. He was on it today and he led the first race for a good few laps and was looking smooth.

 

“Josh was unstoppable in the opening moto but there was a big pile-up in the first corner of race two which wasn’t anyone’s fault and the race was red-flagged. Josh got up but he was bleeding quite a lot and the bike was too beat-up for him to make the restart.

 

“Martin didn’t make the second race restart either and with Josh finishing the first moto as best MX2 rider he’s now just three points from the championship lead.

 

“Shiaru had a good weekend and scored in all the races so all-in-all, despite Josh’s crash, it’s been a solid weekend for the team.”

 

 

Josh on the box!

Lewis Tombs recovered from a first corner crash in race one to defend his third place in the MX1 championship chase Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

 

Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert raced to his second consecutive Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean MX2 podium finish at round three of the series at a tough and testing Canada Heights circuit on Sunday.

A fighting third in the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto after qualifying second on his CRF250R, Josh was held up by but narrowly avoided the carnage at the start of race two which claimed the championship leader and then managed to fight his way back through the field to finish fourth for third overall.

“It’s been a tough day but I’m happy to get another podium,” said Josh. “Obviously, I want to win so anything less than that is a disappointment to me but it’s coming together and I’ve got a great team behind me and a fantastic bike under me so I’ll take this result, build on it and move on.

“There are still another five rounds to go and I’m confident I can keep improving.”

Racing the CRF450R in MX1, Josh’s team-mate Lewis Tombs had a tougher day after being taken down in the first turn of race one and losing his rear brake – a huge disadvantage given the track’s dramatic changes in elevation.

Ending the first race in 12th, Lewis came home sixth in race two to finish the day in eighth overall to maintain his third place in the championship.

“I went down in the first corner in race one – I got hit from behind – and the impact took out my back brake so 12th was all I could get,” he said. “In the second race I started eighth but struggled to get into it at the beginning although at the end I was riding good.

“So it hasn’t been my best day but at least I was riding all right and I’ve kept hold of third in the championship by the skin of my teeth. It is what it is.”

Competing as a guest rider for the team in the highly-competitive MX2 Youth class, Japanese teenager Shiaru Honda got scores on the board in both motos with a pair of 20th-placed finishes.

Team boss Dave Thorpe knows all about the highs and lows of top-flight motocross racing and was taking the ups and downs of Canada Heights squarely on his chin.

“Both Josh and Lewis rode really well but both got caught up in first-turn misdemeanours which was really unfortunate for Lewis in the first race when he lost his rear brake.

“Josh was lucky because he could have gone down but he managed to save it although it took him from a third-placed start to 10th and for whatever reason it appeared to be really hard to pass today. He dug deep and rode very well. They both tried really hard and you couldn’t have asked for any more from either of them. They make me proud every time they race and that’s all I expect from them.

“Today has been a real team effort and everyone has worked hard to make sure we’ve come away with two solid results and maintained our positions in the MX1 and MX2 championships.”

Double podium for Buildbase Honda!

Crashes in both motos cost defending champion Josh Gilbert overall victory in the Pro MX2 class Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

Lewis Tombs and Josh Gilbert put their Buildbase Hondas on the Pro MX1 and MX2 podiums at round two of the Michelin MX Nationals on a sweltering day at the iconic Hawkstone Park on Sunday.

 

The hot weather and super-tough sand circuit meant both riders were forced to dig deep in challenging conditions. The championship’s ‘Fastest 40’ format sees MX1 and MX2 classes race together – although they’re scored separately – so Josh also had to contend with a full line-up of 450 machines on his CRF250R.

 

After qualifying in fifth, Lewis’ 4-3 card earned him third overall on his CRF450R following the two 25-minute plus two lap motos but he would have finished one step higher on the podium if he hadn’t lost second place in race two on the final lap.

 

“It’s been good but it was hot and the track was gnarly so it was quite a difficult day,” said Lewis. “In the first race I struggled a bit – I had quite bad arm-pump and was just riding tense and didn’t really get into it but I managed to hold off Nathan [Watson] towards the end.

 

“In the second moto I didn’t get such a great start in around seventh and managed to work my way into second but Mel [Pocock] passed me on the last lap which was a shame because otherwise I would have been second overall but I’m happy with a podium.”

 

The defending champion, Josh was second in qualifying and led the MX2 field in the closing laps of both motos but each time crashed and had to settle for a 2-2 score and second overall.

 

“I’m a little bit disappointed really,” said Josh. “I kinda handed it to Martin [Barr] in both motos. In the first race I got a reasonable start, picked off the 450 riders ahead of me and was just about to get into second but lost the front wheel which was game over. Martin went past and by the time I got up he was a good 15 seconds in front.

 

“It was frustrating because there were only about five minutes left and I felt I had it in the bag – I knew where Martin was quick and where he wasn’t so I had it sussed.

 

“In the second moto I didn’t get as good a start but it still wasn’t too bad. I was sat behind Martin, not pushing too hard and feeling really comfortable. I was biding my time and planning to go for it at the end but he made a mistake and I passed him with about seven minutes to go and then almost straight away I went round a turn, tried to double a couple of bumps, lost the back end and high-sided. By the time I got up Martin was long gone.”

 

The team’s guest rider – Japanese teenager Shiaru Honda – was racing in the MXY2 250 class and towards the end of his first race on Saturday he was looking good for a solid score when he was pushed over a berm, crashed and injured his hand.

 

After sitting out the second moto he bravely attempted to race on Sunday but was in too much pain to compete.

 

“Josh crashed out of the MX2 lead in both races which was a real shame,” said team spokesman Ryan Thorpe, “especially in the second race when he’d just passed Martin for the lead and then went down probably around 200 metres later.

 

“Lewis is still learning the 450 but he was strong again and to get both riders on the podium is great so all-in-all it was a really good day for the team.”

Lyng shots!

Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert and Lewis Tombs almost made it a double podium celebration on Sunday at the second round of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean at Cadders Hill, Lyng, on Sunday.

 

Racing in the MX2 class on his CRF250R, Josh topped qualification and holeshot the opening 25-minute plus two lap moto and led until over half-distance before dropping back to second. In race two his start wasn’t as good but he fought hard and an eventual fourth-placed finish was good enough for second overall.

 

“I’m happy,” said Josh. “It’s been a really good day. That’s the first time I’ve ever poled qualifying which was a great start – I’ve been working on that and it seems to have paid off.

“In moto one I got a perfect start and got away a little bit for the first five or six laps but then I tensed up and Conrad Mewse closed up and passed me which I’m a little bit annoyed about.

“There was a little bit of argy-bargy off the start in race two and I ended up about fifth or sixth and had to scrap for the whole race. It was tough but I was actually happier with the second race than I was with the first because I was more relaxed and my fitness felt fine.”

 

Viewed as a 250 specialist, Lewis’ form on a 450 has been a revelation since he’s joined the team and he showed that his third-placed finish at the opening round of the series at FatCat last month was no fluke by qualifying fourth and running 4-4 in the points-paying races for fourth overall.

 

“It’s been a good, solid day,” he said. “I was fourth in qualifying which I was chuffed with because I don’t normally qualify that well and that set me up for a good gate pick.

 

“I didn’t get the best of starts in race one but managed to work my way up to fourth and got third off Mel Pocock towards the end of the race but he passed me back. In the second one I started third and stayed there until Harri Kullas got me near the end.

 

“The Buildbase Honda CRF450R is such an easy bike to ride and it handles like a dream – I’m also quite big so it suits me.”

 

Competing in the MX2 Youth class, Japanese teenager Shiaru Honda got a score on the board with 19th in race one to seal the deal on a successful day for the team.

 

Team boss Dave Thorpe was very happy with how his riders performed at the challenging Norfolk circuit.

 

“We’ve had a great day,” he said. “Lewis qualified fourth – he got pipped by Harri Kullas on the last lap – and battled really, really hard in the first race. It was a bit of a dogfight for him.

 

“He had a slightly better start in the second one and for 10 minutes he stayed right behind Tommy Searle which was great to see but then he tightened up a little bit and Harri got him which cost him a place on the podium. To be fair he rode absolutely fantastic and we were all really pleased for him.

 

“He’s been given an opportunity to show everyone what he can do on a 450 and he’s grasped his chance with both hands. As a team we can’t fault his attitude, he’s been absolutely brilliant.

 

“Josh holeshot the first race and for the first six laps he was outstanding and had a good 15 seconds on Conrad Mewse but he possibly got a little tired riding at that pace with the grand prix boys which is understandable.

 

“In the second race he didn’t quite make the start and got caught up in a real battle. The last lap was frantic but Josh did what he needed to do to get second.

 

“Shiaru, our guest rider from Japan, scored his first points in the MX2 Youth class and while it’s still a very steep learning curve for him it was great to see. It’s a big challenge for him to come to Europe and he’s rising to it.”

 

 

11-3-19 Lewis on the box!

Buildbase Honda’s new signing Lewis Tombs put his CRF450R on the box in MX1 with a sensational performance at Sunday’s opening round of the 2019 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean at FatCat Motoparc near Doncaster.

Battling high winds, torrential rain and the country’s best motocross racers at one of the UK’s most notoriously tough tracks, Lewis – in just his second outing for the team – qualified in 10th and then ran 5-4 in the points-paying races to take a career-first British championship podium finish with third.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. “It doesn’t seem real – my first ever Maxxis podium, I’m over the moon! Qualifying went okay. I crashed on my first fast lap but I did another one that was good enough for 10th which I was quite happy with.

“I almost holeshot the first moto and then found my feet and settled in. I was third for the first four laps before Tommy [Searle] and Mel [Pocock] passed me because I was riding tight because I haven’t been in that position for a while.

“In the second race I was running fourth for most of it. It was a long moto and the track was brutal but I was happy to put two solid performances together. I’m really enjoying my racing at the moment.”

Following his crash last weekend, Lewis’ team-mate Josh Gilbert was forced to race through the pain barrier on his CRF250R but – despite carrying a knee injury – he scored good points in both MX2 motos with a typically gutsy display.

 

Going to the gate in seventh after qualification, the tough Cornishman matched this result in race one and then dug deep second time out for a hard-fought fifth that earned him sixth overall.

“Today was an exercise in damage limitation after I tweaked my knee last weekend and wasn’t able to ride in the week,” he said. “I’m not trying to make excuses but it didn’t help me and I felt quite stiff on the bike but I had two mega starts – I holeshot the second race and should have holeshot the first one as well but tucked the front in the opening turn.

“The bike is working amazing and in the first race I felt quite comfortable in third but made a small mistake which turned into a big mistake and I went down quite hard. I got back up in fifth but then made another mistake going for a pass and crashed again and lost my rhythm.

“In race two I got a little bit tired if I’m honest and struggled and lost fourth in the second-to-last turn which I’m annoyed about but the track was tricky – it’s not too bad but I would have liked a little bit more.”

 

Team boss Dave Thorpe was impressed with the way both his riders performed.

“Lewis did so well,” he said. “FatCat is not the easiest place to go to and given the weather we had and the wind and the pressure that comes with racing for the Buildbase team he rode absolutely amazingly. He made a small mistake in the first race and crashed but I was really, really pleased with his third overall and first-ever Maxxis podium.

“To be fair to Josh he did hurt his knee last week so he’s not been able to ride or train. Okay, so a 7-5 isn’t what he was hoping for or what we were hoping for but this is just the beginning and we’re still in it. The level has stepped up this year, especially at a venue like this because there are some great sand riders so we always knew that FatCat was going to be a challenge.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to the whole team – they’ve worked their socks off to get everything ready and I’m really pleased for them all.”

Positive Start for Buildbase Honda

Buildbase Honda got its outdoor season off to a solid start at the opening round of the Michelin MX Nationals at Sherwood on Sunday with Josh Gilbert beginning the defence of his MX2 title while new recruit Lewis Tombs represented the team in MX1.

Lewis Tombs impressed on his debut for the Buildbase Honda team Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

 

Josh got the day off to a great start by topping qualification by over half-a-second on his CRF250R. Under the series’ Fastest 40 format, both classes race together but are scored separately and Josh had to deal with a full line-up of 450s off the start.

After completing the first lap of the opening moto just inside the top 10 he began to move forward, using smart lines to pick his way up to second on track and first in MX2. Another good start in race two put him at the front of the 250 field before a crash dropped him back down the order.

 

Restarting mid-pack, he immediately began to climb back up the leader board and with torrential rain making the track super-slick his efforts were rewarded with a ninth-placed finish as second MX2 rider home. The result tied him on points for the class win but he lost out on the overall on a tie-break.

“Overall it was a pretty decent day,” he said. “Qualifying was really good and although the 450s out-gated me a little bit in the first race I was still best 250 and just worked my way up to second which I was really happy with.

A crash in the second race cost defending champion Josh Gilbert overall victory in MX2 Picture: Nuno Laranjeira

“There was a lot of rain before the second race which made the track quite slippery. I got another good start and was running around top five but it spun-out a little through the whoops and I ended up high-siding and hit the deck quite hard. I got up, regrouped and went again but I lost a bit of my rhythm and just missed the overall.

“I’m glad to get the first race of the year out of the way. In the opening moto it took me a few laps to settle down because I hadn’t done a race for so long.”

Lewis is a late addition to the team line-up but he’s quickly gelled with the CRF450R and was looking good in the first race before a puncture forced him to pull out. In race two he settled into third but was forced to discard his goggles and, with his vision impaired, lost a place to cross the line fourth.

“Conditions have been tough today,” he said, “but I’m pleased with my result in the second race. I was third for most of it but I had goggle problems and decided to play it safe. The puncture was unfortunate because I was in about eighth after a bad start and going forwards when it happened. My speed was good and it’s all been very positive seeing as I’ve only ridden the bike a handful of times.”

The team also ran a guest rider in the competitive MXY2 250 class with Japanese teenager Shiaru Honda scoring in all four of his races for 17th overall.

“Josh was the fastest in the first MX2 race by a mile,” said team spokesman Ryan Thorpe. “He was the leading 250 rider in the second one when he crashed and took a while to get up and sort himself out so he missed out on the overall on a tie-break.

“Lewis was unlucky to get a puncture in the first race. He pretty much holeshot the second race and was a strong third for most of the moto but lost his goggles. I’m very happy with his form and his fitness and it was a solid debut for the team.

“Our MXY2 rider went well too so all-in-all a very promising, positive first round for us.”

 

2019 venues:

Round 1 – March 2nd/3rd – Sherwood, Nottinghamshire
Round 2 – April 20th/21st – Hawkstone Park, Shropshire
Round 3 – May 18th/19th – Lyng, Norfolk
Round 4 – July 13th/14th –  Canada Heights, Kent
Round 5 – August 24th/25th – Cusses Gorse, Wiltshire
Round 6 – September 21st/22nd – TBA