The Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha Motocross team were eager to get their season underway at the Hawkstone International on Sunday after a strong offseason of testing and training.
Pictures by Ray Archer
The team’s MX1 rider Ryan Houghton came into the event off the back of a career-best 2018 and a solid winter, and the hard work revealed itself in speed as he powered out a 9th in qualifying.
Coming into the races, Ryan was back to his Hawkstone best with 9th in the first moto up against a World Class line up, which he then followed up with an 8th in Moto 2 for a tremendous sixth overall.
Young, raw recruit Taylor Hammal showed tons of promise in a stacked MX2 class with no less than 15 World Championship regulars in the field. Poor starts would hamper his results, but his talent and speed showed, and he finished with a 19th and 22nd for 24th overall.
Team Boss Rob Hooper came away happy with the performance of his team saying “Another good day from Ryan. He ground out two good races and put in a good time in practice. It was what we hoped for from him. His speed was good, and up with those, he will be racing against on the domestic scene in the Maxxis British Championships. He is with the best of the boys in terms of speed, and we are hoping for good things to come. Hawkstone is one of his favourite tracks, but the last time he lined up on a start gate was Lyng last October, so along with a lot of the other boys, he was bit race rusty. He was riding a little bit tight in the first race, but the second race was good from the start.”
Ryan was excited to be back behind the start gate saying “It was a solid day, so overall I’m happy with how it went. It was nice to blow out the first race of the season nerves. I’ve missed that feeling of waking up on Sunday morning with that weird feeling in your stomach.”
On young Taylor Hammal’s team debut Rob said “Starts were a struggle for Taylor. He wasn’t happy with his time in Qualifying, and his bad starts put him at the back. It was a difficult day for him, but I see so much promise in Taylor. I have no worries about him at all. I think the lad will bring home some real good results.”
Taylor though was disappointed in his performance “It was a bit strange for me. I was really disappointed with how the weekend went. I went in there thinking I would do much better. I didn’t really ride like myself with bad starts and crashes. I did show some alright speed now and again. Hawkstone was good to get the first race for the team out of the way, and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The team now have a weekend off before they embark on their quest for MX Nationals glory on the 3rd of March at Sherwood.