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.
“The thumb on my clutch hand is quite sore,” said Jake. “It’s such a small thing but it makes everything so awkward. It will be all right but it made today hard work.
“I felt good in practice and the track was really good and I was enjoying myself but in the first race I got a bad start, came through to fourth and was closing in on the top three. I think I was maybe too relaxed and I went over a jump, landed a bit sideways and I went over the bike and my thumb got hung up on the grip. I felt proper second-hand and couldn’t finish the race which was a shame.
“I got a really good start in the second one but my thumb was really hurting so I was in survival mode and rode pretty tight. With hindsight, if I’d just moved a few lines I’d have had an easier race because I had pretty good pace. Right at the end I found some better lines which was good but it was just a bit of a funny old day.”
Steven fought back from multiple crashes in the opening moto to finish eighth in class before laying down the law in race two with a sizzling second place to maintain second in the series.
“I crashed in the first turn of the opener, got up last and rode like a man on a mission until half-distance and crashed again,” said Steven. “My handguard bracket was bent and was jamming my front brake on so I had to pull off the track and kick it off. I got back up to eighth and I was riding mint and my lap times were good.
“In the second one I had a good start, made a quick pass on Josh Gilbert and led the MX2 class pretty much the whole way. He passed me with a lap-and-a-half to go, I got him back but then he drove up the inside of me.
“I’ve left in one piece and ready to fight another day so I’m happy. The track was wicked but I just had a bit of bad luck.”
Team owner Dave Thorpe left the track satisfied that his riders had given 100 per cent.
“I think Tommy suffered a little bit in the first race and tightened up and got a bit of arm-pump but in the second he rode much better and looked a lot more like the rider we know he is. Jake was right in the mix in the first one until he crashed which was unfortunate but that’s racing and in the second he strapped his thumb up, gritted his teeth and ground out a fifth.
“You win championships on your bad days – not on your good days – and I think Tommy dug deep and rode with passion and commitment.
“Steven got caught up in a crash on the first corner in the opening race and came back really well. I think he crashed a further two times which was unfortunate but in the second race he got an amazing start on the 250 and battled for the win for the whole race.
“The MX Nationals and Justin Barclay did an amazing job. The track was brilliant.”