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