Making his return to Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship action, Jake Nicholls (Buildbase Honda) narrowly missed out on a podium finish at round six of the series at Hawkstone Park on Sunday.
Jake was a shoo-in for last year’s MX1 title but broke his leg just before the final round and following further complications he’s only just getting back into action. After qualifying fourth he then had to pick himself up 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 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.
“The first race was half-decent – I didn’t have the greatest of starts and was running about eighth and then had a big cart-wheel down the hill,” he said. “I’ve bruised my back and felt a bit beaten-up for the second one so just did what I could and ninth was okay.”
The team’s MX2 rider Josh Gilbert started the day in third in the championship and came away in third after qualifying in second and then running 3-3 for third overall.
“I’m not too disappointed because they were two solid rides but the two guys who were in front of me are the two that I need to beat,” said Josh. “If I’m honest I was kind of the third-placed guy all day really – they had that little edge on me and in the second race pushed each other along.”
Team boss Dave Thorpe was supportive of his riders.
“Jake had an okay start in race one but he lost the front end in turn two and went down and restarted dead last and came all the way back to eighth which was a good race for him,” he said. “In race two he started sixth and worked his way through to third which was a good, solid ride. He’s a tough man, there’s no doubt about that.
“Lewis was running a good eighth in race one but caught a bump on the big downhill four laps from the end and went over the bars big time and lost his goggles and his peak and did well to finish. He did well to start race two because he was suffering.
“In the first race Josh got himself into second behind Dylan Walsh and then made a small mistake and lost the front end and went down. That dropped him back and he came through to third and in the second race he started third and finished third. To be fair on the day he didn’t quite have the pace of the top two but he never gave in and kept battling away.”
Picture © Nuno Laranjeira