The toughest ever opening round of the British motocross championship faced the Tru7 Honda Racing Academy squad riders Charlie Heyman and Callum Green at the new Oakhanger track in Hampshire on Sunday, but both riders showed true grit to show their obvious potential.
For Heyman, it was the start of his first professional season as an adult on the Honda CRF250R in the MX2 class. And in qualifying he showed mastery of the very tricky course to set the fourth fastest time, just 1.3sec off pole position.
As the gate dropped, he made a great start but as he went into the first corner, a rider cut in front of him and took him down. Heyman was hurt but despite the pain got back on and re-started. He threw away his destroyed goggles from the crash then had to make a pitstop at the end of the lap to get fresh ones. At the end of lap one, he was last in 37th place.
He then put on a great ride through the field, overtaking 18 riders despite the testing conditions and his own discomfort.
Although still sore from the crash, he opted to go out in race two and had a much better start. He came around the opening lap in a solid fifth place. He battled with Taylor Hammal and then Carlton Husband, holding sixth spot for most of the race until Husband fell and Heyman had nowhere to go. He hit the fallen machine and was thrown down hard, injuring his left hand. Again he showed bravery as he eventually got back on and ended up 13th.
Heyman, who finished with his face caked in dirt, said: “I had nowhere to go in the first race start and went down. I was so far back but carried on until the end to get some points. In the second race I was I was sixth for ages but finished 13th after I crashed. My goggles were destroyed as there was so much mud. I went to pull a roll-off but it had been smashed off so I had to take my goggles off.”
In the MX1 class, Green was making his return to high-level racing after several seasons off due to a string of injuries. And what an event to come back to, as the rutted sand and mud caught out many vastly experienced riders.
The 23-year-old found it difficult in qualifying and had a poor start in the opening moto. But once he got comfortable he made his way well through the pack and took 18th place. Second time out he gated much better and set a respectable pace against tough competition. He held his own against the pack and took a respectable 16th place finish.
Green said: “I had an OK day. In the opening race I didn’t get best of starts. I think at the back was me and Conrad Mewse – I don’t think there was anyone behind us! I worked my way thorough to 18th. In race two I had a much better start and was 16th. I’m happy with that as I haven’t raced for so long. It was very rough though. More like an enduro than a motocross race.”
Team manager, triple world 500 champ Dave Thorpe said: “Callum has been out for a long time with injuries. So for him to come back at this level and get two points-scoring rides, that’s a great result.
“For Charlie, he showed he has the pace to compete but in both races was in the wrong place at the wrong time as he got caught up in other people’s misdemeanors. He took a knock in that first race but was determined to get out in the second. Then in the second race he was going really well, but Carlton Husband crashed and he couldn’t miss it.”