Jun 3

Difficult day at Blaxhall for Rob Hooper Racing!

The fourth round of the 2019 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship is not a meeting the Rob Hooper Racing team will look back on with any fondness.

Coming into the event, the team were buoyed by a great performance from both Ryan Houghton and Taylor Hammal at the midweek Rhayader Motocross where they came 2nd and 4th overall, so hopes were high in the camp for a good result. These hopes were raised even higher after qualifying when Ryan had the sixth fastest MX1 time and Taylor seventh in MX2 showing both riders had the pace to push for a podium position.

Things were to change dramatically for the team on the first bend of the first MX1 race when Ryan was involved in a big first bend pile up. After lengthy treatment at the track, Ryan was transferred to hospital where it was confirmed that he had broken his femur and a bone in his neck. His femur is being operated on today, and his neck will heal naturally over the course of time.

“Today has to be one of the toughest days in my time running a race team,” said team boss Rob Hooper “but it could have been so much worse for Ryan. Luckily he wears the best safety equipment in the business, and thankfully his Alpinestars neck brace and 6D Helmet stopped his injuries from being worse than they could have been. Our thoughts are now with Ryan and his family while he recovers from his injuries”.

Young Hammal had a lot to contend with having to race after the injury to his teammate, but he put on his race head, and after a poor start in Race 1 set about the business of reeling in places. Once again, his speed was sensational, and he battled his way through to a fantastic fourth place finish, which is the best Maxxis finish of his career.

In Race 2 Taylor once again made a poor start, but he was gaining places at a canter before an electrical problem halted his stampede and resulted in a DNF.

“I am so frustrated and disappointed,” said Rob “Taylor was once again riding excellently, and the machinery let him down when he had a good chance of a podium position. The lad deserves one the way he is riding.  It’s difficult to know where to start with the bike. It was fine for 4 races on Wednesday and in the opening moto today.  When the bike is running at its best and with Taylor on board, he is one of the fastest riders in the country. We now need to make sure he gets the results to show it”.

Taylor said of his day “Yesterday was hard to accept with all the problems that happened on the day. My starts were shockingly bad in both races. In the first race, I felt good and made passes all race to finish 4th, which is my career best.  In the Second race, I felt much better, but unfortunately, the bike stopped. I am absolutely gutted because I’m sure I would’ve had my first British podium if it carried on. Never mind I’ll keep on trying, and we will try again at the next round. Overall it was a difficult day for the team and me. A massive get well soon to Ryan, I hope he is doing alright”.

The team now have a two-week break before the Bridgestone British Master resumes on the 23rd June at the Fatcat Motoparc.


May 30

Successful summer nights racing for RHR at Rhayader!

A full strength Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha team headed to the resurrected Rhayader Motor Club promoted Welsh Open Midweek Motocross last night (Wednesday) and came away with a great result from both riders.

Back on the calendar for the first time since 2011, the event has been popular in the RHR camp with the team sending their top riders throughout the years, so it was a great pleasure for the team to be back in force at the rejuvenated meeting.

On a track not dissimilar to the one used in years gone by Ryan Houghton and Taylor Hammal both looked at home posting excellent results in all three of their motos.  Houghton kept MXGP star Shaun Simpson on his toes in each of the three motos for second overall, while Taylor showed great speed for a 3-4-4 scorecard in the mixed Pro/Expert class.

The event culminated in the Dash for Cash race which took place in the ever fading light, and it was young Hammal who had been stringing good starts together all night long who was harassing the leader Simpson early doors. Before long Houghton was in second and looking to close on the leader, but in the end, he had to settle for an excellent second with Hammal in third to round out a fantastic evenings racing.

Team Boss Rob Hooper thoroughly enjoyed the evening saying “It was a brilliant night, both riders went well, the event went well, and the weather wasn’t as bad as predicted, so it was a really good night all round.  They did a fantastic job with the track too, and the viewing is perfect for spectators.  It was an excellent work out for both the riders and for the team in the pits. We had a trouble-free night, so let’s hope our mechanical gremlins of the last couple of weeks are behind us. The way they both rode gives them a nice confidence boost for the weekend, and its better than any practice day by a mile. They made four starts and had four good races. The biggest plus point was Taylor’s starts. He made four good starts, and in the Dash for the Cash race he almost made the holeshot”. 

Taylor was also enthused with the evening saying “I really enjoyed last night’s racing even with the last race riding round in the dark. I finally got four good starts nearly holeshotting two of the races. I won all of the mx2 races and was 3rd and 4th in the combined throughout. The track was, considering the rain. Well done to the Rhayader club it was a great event. I really enjoyed it.

"I am looking forward to Blaxhall this weekend now, which is one of my favourites so hopefully, I can get some good results”.

So it’s onto Blaxhall for the team on Sunday where Ryan will be looking to get his Maxxis British Championships campaign back on track and Taylor will be looking to build on the last round where you had his best ever Maxxis result.

May 20

Frustrating Lyng weekend for Rob Hooper Racing!

It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha Motocross team with Ryan Houghton putting in a solid performance on his return to racing and Taylor Hammal suffering from mechanical gremlins as they took on the third round of the MX Nationals at Lyng on Sunday.

Houghton, whose season came to a grinding halt a couple of weeks back when he was suffering from illness made a welcome return to the awning and plugged away with a 7th and a 6th in MX1 for 6th overall, which keeps him in 4th place in the Championship standings.

“It was a tough day for me,” said Ryan. “Having an illness the past few weeks I haven’t been able to train and ride. But on a positive note, I’m feeling much better and looking forward to putting some hard work in to improve my riding and fitness for the Blaxhall British championship round”.

After two storming weekends for Hammal and the team, they came down to earth with a thump with a frustrating mechanical problem resulting in two DNF’s. The laps Taylor did complete were super fast with him setting the fastest MX2 laps in both motos.

“It wasn’t the best weekend,” said Taylor. “Two mechanicals, two DNF’s, but it was just one of those days, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Rob always has my bike prepped and ready each week without fail and is as good as brand new each meeting. The positive was my speed was there, and I will take that into the next meeting”.

A perplexed Team Boss Rob Hooper said of the weekend “I am frustrated and annoyed. I hate it when we have DNF’s, and we had two yesterday. Taylor could have been the overall winner with the way things panned out with other riders, and with the speed he had. It was cruel luck for the lad, on a bike that ran faultlessly last week and which he won on. Ryan had two decent rides considering where he has come from with his illness”.

The team return to the track a week on Wednesday for the Rhayader Motor Club Evening Motocross, and in the meantime, Rob and the team will be testing and working hard to get to the root of the problem with Taylors machine.

May 13

Hammal nails his first ever Pro win at Wroxton!

Taylor Hammal continued his impressive rise through the ranks with the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha Motocross team with the MX2 Pro overall win at Wroxton yesterday in the second round of the Bridgestone British Masters.

Fresh from his best ever Maxxis British Motocross Championships finish the previous weekend, Hammal again showed he has the speed to be a Pro MX2 front runner in any UK series this year.

Although his starts were once again lacking, his ability to pass riders was once again on show at Wroxton, as he made his way from the back in each moto, passing a number of top line 450 riders to go 3-2 and take the MX2 overall and his first ever Pro overall win. Taylor now sits with the joint series points lead with two rounds completed.

"Another good day from Taylor," said Team Boss Rob Hooper "each week is an improvement on the previous week. His starts haven't improved, and have gone backwards a bit from Canada Heights, but his riding was excellent. While he is getting these bad starts, he is certainly learning the art of passing people and looking for different lines.  So while it's slightly frustrating, it is teaching him some valuable track craft, and once he does get his starts sorted, he will be a very powerful force I am sure."

Taylor said of his weekend "Today was another good day. It started a bit steady in qualifying. All day my starts were appalling, but in each race, I managed to pass through people. I was a little frustrated at not winning the second race, but I am still happy with the overall today, and to be leading the championship on joint points so a good day overall.

"I am now looking forward to a good week riding out in Belgium to get ready for the next round of the MX Nationals at Lyng".

It is hoped that the teams MX1 rider Ryan Houghton will be back this weekend for the third round of the MX Nationals at Lyng. After coming down with a virus, he has missed the last two meetings, but is hoping to begin training and riding again this week, and sitting 4th in the standings he will be looking to continue his excellent form the in the MX Nationals. Taylor sits in 7th in the Pro MX2 class of the MX Nationals but just 8 points off of third so he will be hoping to continue his great run of form and push into the podium positions.

May 7

Hammal hits an all-time high in Maxxis stunner!

Taylor Hammal came of age at Canada Heights on Sunday claiming his best ever Maxxis British Motocross Championships result with a stunning performance and 6th overall in MX2 and the Expert class win for the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha Motocross team.

All eyes were on Hammal as his MX1 teammate Ryan Houghton was laid up with a nasty virus and the teenager from Hampshire didn’t disappoint showing a mixture of speed, tenacity and for the first time this year some great starts.

Qualifying gave the team hope that this could be Taylor’s day with a good 11th. Speed has not been Hammal’s problem this year, but posting a quick qualifying lap has been a tough nut to crack, but not as tough as making a decent start.

In Moto 1 though it all came together as for the first time this season, he made a great jump from the grid and came through the first lap melee to pass timing in 8th. Showing great pace, he moved into 6th by lap 4 and settled in that position for the remainder of the moto for his best ever Maxxis race result.

Taylor’s start was much the same in Race 2 circulating on the opening salvo in 9th and bearing down on those ahead. After moving into 8th on lap 3, he made a mistake and stalled and took what seemed to be an age to get going again, rejoining the race in 17th and with a mountain of work to do. Not deterred the 575 wound up his YZF250 and carved his way through the field posting lap after lap of blisteringly fast times to pull through to a fantastic 7th place.

Team Boss Rob Hooper was cock-a-hoop with the performance of Taylor saying “A very good day from Taylor; he has ridden fantastically. His best ever result in a Maxxis round in the first race and not a better result in the second race, but it was an excellent ride. He made two good starts, and then stalled it in the second race and went back to 17th. I thought that had ruined his race and he would be lucky to make the top 10, but he really set about the job and in the last four laps the amount of ground he made up, and the people he passed was fantastic. It was a really impressive day from the lad.”

Taylor was, of course, delighted with his day and said “I am over the moon with today after the way the last few weeks have gone. Finally, I got two half-decent starts just inside the top 10 which for me is really good. In the first race, I made a few passes but struggled to get past 6th at the time, but when I did, I just rode my own race by myself and just wanted to keep it upright to the finish. The second race was much tougher. I really struggled to pass in the first part of the race and then stalled it in a corner. I couldn’t get it started but managed to in 17th. I was so angry I rode really hard up to 7th at the end. I ended up 6th and 7th for 6th overall which I’m really pleased with. Overall I really enjoyed it. I loved the track and everything about it. Big thanks to Rob, Will and the team and also everyone around me for all of their support.”

The team will be looking to use this result to push on with their season as they head to Wroxton on Sunday for the third round of the Bridgestone British Masters. It is unknown at this point if Ryan will be well enough to ride.

Pictures by Dave Rich