Apr 15

Houghton holds out for seventh at Lyng

Ryan Houghton battled through the pain barrier to finish a fantastic 7th at Lyng in the 2nd round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championships for the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha team.

After suffering from a painful rib injury last week at Culham in the Bridgestone British Masters, there were doubts about Ryan’s fitness coming into this event. But he showed grit and determination to power out 6th in qualifying before holding out for ninth in Moto 1 and a tremendous fifth in race two which gave him 7th overall, and leaves him 6th in the series standings.

Ryan said of his weekend “ It went better than I expected to be honest. When I woke up Friday I wasn’t even sure if I was going to race or not.  But I went out on Saturday and did some practice starts in the garden, and took a load of painkillers and it wasn’t too bad, it was obviously sore, but I knew I could get through the weekend. I knew I wasn’t going to be on it, I haven’t practiced in the week now for three weeks, I had a little niggling arm injury then last week I broke three ribs, so it hasn’t been ideal.  I know I have the capability, and the bikes good, and that I just needed to get good starts, put my head down and get on with it.

“In the first race I gated about eighth and I kind of felt pretty good at the beginning of it, but where I haven’t ridden for so long, I sort of tightened up a bit. I didn’t get arm pump, I just wasn’t fluid, so I ended up dropping back to ninth which was where I finished.

“Race 2 I made a good start and was in third. I dropped back to 4th which was where I was for 4 laps, which was good. I knew I had to go, so I put my head down and got myself a big gap from me to the guys behind. But obviously my ribs were hurting and things, and I didn’t feel that great out there where I haven’t ridden, but where I built up the gap, I ended up 5th in that race and 7th overall which was really good.”

Team Boss Rob Hooper was very pleased with Ryan commenting on his weekend “Considering Ryan came into this meeting not having ridden in the week he did very well. In light of him riding with the pain and with that discomfort, I think he has had a fantastic day. He made two really good results, with two typical gusty determined rides. The second race was particularly good. He had a good start, and he rode really well.”

The weekend didn’t work out as well for young Taylor Hammal in the MX2 class.  His speed was evident from Qualifying, but luck hasn’t been on his side at all this year. He was taken down at the start of the first moto leaving him over a minute behind the closest rider in front of him, but showing remarkable speed and determination he worked his way right up to 17th and only four seconds off of 14th position. With lap times on par with the top 6 in race one, hopes were high for Moto 2, but a mechanical issue meant a DNF and a meeting where you wonder what could have been.

“Today was probably one of the most frustrating days racing I’ve had in a while,” said Taylor after the meeting. “ I felt really good all day on the track, and my speed was there to show in the first race after crashing on the first lap, then, unfortunately, the bike stopped in the second race. I felt like I could have had a really good result, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I just have to move onto the next one and look for a good result there.”

Rob said of his young rider “Taylor is riding fantastic, but we had a mechanical problem in the second race, which we need to find out what it is, but it has caused him a problem. He got taken down on the first lap of the first race, which messed up what could have been a fantastic result. The speed on him was up there with the top 5 or 6 riders. He needs to get a good start, and race with those riders at the front that he is as quick as, and he needs to get used to it. But at this minute it’s just not happening for him. Everyone around him and a lot of other people can see the potential is there and it will come to the forefront for him very soon I am sure.   I am really disappointed for Taylor that he hasn’t gone home with the bagful of points that he deserves, but onto next week and let’s put it right.”

This weekend is a busy one for the team as they head to Marshfield to take part in the Huck Cup, which is part of the Mike Browne Memorial Meeting on Good Friday before they return to Hawkstone Park on Easter Sunday for the second round of the Michelin MX Nationals.

Pictures by Elliot Spencer

Apr 8

Hammal sticks his RHR Yamaha on the box at Bridgestone British Masters opener.

Rob Hooper Racings Taylor Hammal showed exactly why the team have so much faith in him, by putting in a stunning performance at the first round of the Bridgestone British Masters at Culham yesterday, claiming 2nd in the Pro MX2 class.

The team went into the event hopeful of good performances by both Ryan Houghton in MX1 and Hammal in MX2. With Houghton not racing for almost a month, it was a good second in qualifying from him considering his lay off while Taylor qualified in 7th.

Poor starts from both of the riders in Moto 1 of the mixed Pro class meant the hard work had to start in earnest, and both riders did a sterling job, with Houghton weaving his way to 3rd and chasing down the lead duo and Hammal up to second. The fight to the front for both racers would be halted 15 minutes into the Moto with Ryan being awarded third relinquishing his chances of a race victory, while Taylor would disappointingly be relegated to third, with the result being called a lap previous to his pass on Martin Barr.

Keen to make amends for a poor start in Moto 1, Houghton came out of the traps well in Race 2 but went down hard early into the first lap, knocking the wind out of himself. Taking stock of the situation the tough as teak racer remounted and circulated for championship points which saw him claim 6th overall. 

Taylor once again made his customary poor start but his speed is apparent to see, and he scythed through the field to work his way into second again just 8 seconds off of the leader and with a 3-2 scorecard he secured his first ever podium for the RHR team and second overall.

“It was a frustrating weekend in one way” said team Boss Rob Hooper “Both of our riders were going forward at such a rate in the first race, that I honestly feel that if the race could of run the full distance, Ryan would have caught the two leaders as he was lapping the quickest. Whether he would have passed them, I don’t know, and Taylor had already passed Martin Barr and was closing on the leader Ashton Dickinson, after coming from such a long way back. So the potential was there for both of the riders to have won their class, but then the race got red flagged, and they took the results back a lap which put Taylor back behind Martin Barr which was a bit a disappointing really after he did the hard work to pass him.

“In the second race Ryan was trying to put it right with a good start, but when trying to get into the lead, he had a big wipeout, which completely knocked the wind out of him. He got back on and rode as Ryan does because he is as hard as nails.

 “In all, it was a bit disappointing for Ryan for what could have been a potential win for the day, and again Taylor had to come through a lot of riders, MX1 and MX2  to get to second on the track. I am very impressed with the young lad, and again he has shown he has immense speed coming through the field”.

Taylor said of his weekend “Yeah the weekend was good. It started off slow getting a puncture in qualifying so had to go out on the practice bike. In both races, I got awful starts but managed to pass and get up towards the front. I passed into second before it was red flagged, but I got put back to 3rd, but in the second race, I finished second. Overall it was a really good weekend. My speed was there, the Track was rough and technical, and the bike was working really good”.

The team now move onto Lyng in Norfolk this Sunday for the second round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championships.

Pictures by Lee Ashby

Mar 25

Hammal battles hard at British MXGP for EMX top 20.

Rob Hooper Racing’s MX2 racer Taylor Hammal made his mark on the European 250 Motocross Championships at the weekend with two gritty from the back races at the MXGP of Great Britain.

The Matterley Basin circuit was in prime condition and with the weather good, British fans were out in force to cheer on their riders, and with Taylor being a local lad the support was fully behind him.

Just to qualify through to the main races was a task in itself with over 90 riders having to be whittled down to 40. Taylor put in a good time to qualify out of his group in 17th and take his place on the start line for the first moto, with only three other Brits making the cut.

His race couldn’t have got to a worse start, with his machine failing to fire into life as the gate dropped, leaving him 10 seconds behind the field from the outset.

Taylor is a battler though, and his raw speed shined through as he sliced his way through the pack and up to an incredible 18th place.

Luck was against Taylor again in Moto 2 as on lap one he got caught up in a crash, placing him at the back once again. After moving up to 22nd in the first two laps, a rider fell in front of him forcing him to take an off-track excursion, losing a number of places in the process, the hard work began again.

Never one to give up Hammal set about making the deficit up once more and again rode like a hero to come 19th, with in turn gave him 18th overall, and the second British rider in the standings.

Team boss Rob Hooper was impressed with Hammal’s performance “I was really pleased that he did it, I think it would have given him a bit of a boost. He was the next best Brit after Josh Gilbert by a good old way. He rode aggressive, he wasn’t messing about with people, he was catching them and passing them, and he rode very well”.

Taylor also came away from Matterley happy with his performance “The weekend was good in some ways for me as I felt like I rode well and my speed was there, I just had a bit of bad luck. I qualified through to the main races on my standard practice bike which I was pleased with. I went out on my race bike for the races, and unfortunately, it didn’t start on the line. It started, and I was roughly 10 seconds down from last and made good passes up to 18th to score some points. In the second race, I crashed twice but managed to get back to 19th. Overall I am really pleased with my riding, its just my starts that let me down”.

The next meeting for the team is at Culham in Oxfordshire for the first round of the Bridgestone British Masters on the 7th April.

Pictures by Ray Archer

Mar 11

Rob Hooper Racing slog it out at Fatcats in Maxxis opener!

A cold, wet and blustery Fatcat’s Motoparc was the scene for the first round of the ACU Maxxis British Motocross Championships on Sunday, and following on from a positive opening MX Nationals round at Sherwood, spirits were high in the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha camp.

Starts were going to be imperative, so a 6th in MX1 qualification meant a good gate pick for Ryan Houghton, while in MX2 Taylor Hammal was 18th.

In MX1 moto one Houghton made a good jump but couldn’t make it to the first bend clean, and then found himself tangled up in a crash on turn two forcing him into an off-track excursion, leaving him right at the back of the pack apart from the fallers.  Ryan fought bravely back to tenth before nursing his machine home in this position with a small electrical problem hindering his progress.

Another mediocre start in race two saw Ryan back on the offensive, and this time he was making quick passes going from 25th on lap one to the top 10 by the end of the third. His rise to the top didn’t stop there, and with two laps to go he was up into 5th and chasing down 4th placed Lewis Tombs.  Fourth place was a bridge too far, although he got close enough to challenge Tombs on the last lap, this 5th position was enough for 5th overall and a good start to the championship.

Hammal found it tough to make a start in MX2 which meant his day was a tough slog.  As the racers passed the timing loop for the first time, Taylor was back in 33rd out of 34 riders with a whole lot of work to do ahead of him.  He dug deep though and fought his way up to 14th by the end of the race in extremely hard conditions.

A slightly improved start in the second race meant he had less traffic to work through and enabled him to climb to 13th which was enough for 12th overall, and a solid start to the championship for a rider who in this round last season didn’t make the top 20.

Team boss Rob Hooper said of the weekend “It was a hard weekend for everyone involved, we have a Sprinter van full of filthy kit and bikes as I am sure everyone else has. Ryan had some hard luck, but he made his way through the pack on both occasions and was very close to 4th in the second race.  Taylor found it tough going but fair play to the lad he stuck it out and he kept moving forward from poor starts in both races, and he has made a big improvement on his position from last year”.

“I made life hard for myself today” admitted Ryan. “I had two starts outside the top 25. In race one we had a small electrical problem which was making things really tough with the track being so deep. In Race 2 I came from 25th to 5th and felt really good on the bike at the end, so we come away from Fatcats with some positives”.

Taylor was hard on himself when we asked him about his day saying “Today wasn’t the best for me. I ended up with 12th overall which was ok but not where I wanted to, and I know I should be. It’s the first round so at least I had two consistent rides and scored points, but I didn’t ride well by any means, and I wasn’t myself.  The track was brutal, so it was really about staying upright to the finish and saving the bike. I am looking forward to the next meeting, knowing I will be riding like I did at Sherwood.”

That next meeting is this weekend as the Bridgestone British Masters opens its season at Hawkstone Park, where Ryan will be looking to replicate his win from there last year in the same championship

Pictures by Elliot Spencer

Mar 4

RHR Yamaha start the 2019 MX Nationals on the podium!

The Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha Motocross team began their MX Nationals season in earnest yesterday and came away from Sherwood with a podium result from MX1 racer Ryan Houghton, and a stunning couple of rides from MX2 rider Taylor Hammal.

Houghton’s speed came to the surface again as he powered his YZF 450 to third in qualifying, while Hammal managed 6th in the MX2 classification.

At the beginning of last year, poor starts hindered Ryan, but he got good drive off of the new mesh start in Moto 1 emerging from the first bend in third. Riding a bit tight he dropped a few positions, before regrouping and pulling himself back up to second where he stayed for the remainder of the race.

Taylor’s moto one start would see him at the opposite end of the field to his teammate as a first bend fall put him right at the back. With the bit between his teeth though, he churned through the pack with ease and was recording lap times up there with the front runners as he carved his way past 13 riders by lap five where his race ended with a big high side, injuring his ankle in the process.

With a fair start from Ryan in Moto 2 he worked his way up from 7th to 3rd by lap seven and set about reeling in the top 2, but with conditions deteriorating he settled for his position which gave him 3rd overall and his first podium position of 2019.

Once again, Taylor had work to do from the get go and his ability to pass other riders was evident as he made up 12 places, to finish 3rd in the MX2 class, and 11th overall, but his talent and ability is plain to see.

Team Boss Rob Hooper was delighted with his riders and said “Ryan was just what he is. He made good starts, stuck at it, rode hard and came away with the result. It was a bit of shame he couldn’t get Spinksy (Josh Spinks) in the second one which would have given him second overall but to come away with a podium position is an excellent start to the season.

“I am chuffed to bits with Taylor, and I am over the moon to have him on this team. Once he can get his starts sorted out, or even get them a little bit better, he will be in the running.  The speed of him and his ability to pass is phenomenal, and he has been quite a revelation. Had he stayed on in the first race he would have been at worst 3rd which would have given him third overall.

”The track was really rough but full credit to Mark at RSS Suspension the bikes handled really well which showed in the speed they had.”

Ryan too was happy with his day saying “It’s nice to start the season off with a podium. I felt like I had lots more to give today too, so I am looking forward to getting the ball rolling for the remainder of the year.”

Hammal’s speed impressed many, and he commented on his day “It was a good day in general. I started off 6th in qualifying which wasn’t too bad. In the first race, I crashed on the first lap and was nearly half a lap down but managed to get back up to 4th and then had a massive crash. I went out for the next race really sore and in pain but managed to get a 3rd. I had a good feeling all day with the track and the bike. Apart from the place in the championship and the crash it was a good day. Thanks to the team and Matt from Mx Zone for getting my race bike done.”

The team now head this weekend to the Fat Cat Motoparc and the first round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship in a confident mood.