13 March 2017Go Back Hitachi KTM UK riders Jake Nicholls and Ben Watson dominated the opening round of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship supported by Pro Clean at a rough, tough Culham Moto Park on Sunday.
Nicholls ran 1-1 in MX1 with two commanding rides and Watson matched his scores in MX2 while in MXY2 it was Team Green Kawasaki’s fast 14-year-old Lewis Hall who came away with the overall win with a 2-1 score.
Overnight rain made the always testing circuit even more challenging but Nicholls and Watson, both fresh from points-scoring rides at the previous weekend’s rain-lashed Indonesian GP, never faltered.
After posting the second-fastest time in quali behind Geartec Husqvarna’s Elliott Banks-Browne, Nicholls converted good starts into early leads and maximum points with Buildbase Honda’s Graeme Irwin and Hobbs Racing Kawasaki’s Steven Lenoir joining him on the podium.
“In previous years I’ve always been a little bit careful coming into the first races coming off injuries but I’ve had three races already and it was good to come here and stamp my authority on it straight away,” said Nicholls. “I got all right starts but really good first laps put me in position early and I pushed for the first few laps and then took it sensible because the track was really good but it could have caught you out. I really, really enjoyed it.
“I’m enjoying riding at the minute. I got a new race bike and rode it for the first time yesterday and that was a lot better too so I’m going in the right direction.”
His home round at Lyng is next up on April 9 but Nicholls isn’t looking too far ahead.
“Lyng should be good but I’ll just treat it the same as any other round, try and match what I’ve done today and take the whole championship weekend by weekend.”
Watson, who missed almost the entire 2016 season with a foot injury sustained at the Argentine GP, topped qualifying by over two seconds and looked in total control on a technically very challenging track.
His double win gives him a 15-point lead over MVR-D Husqvarna’s flying Finn Harri Kullas with Putoline Planet Suspension Husqvarna rider Brad Todd a further three points adrift.
“This is my first British since the first round last year so it’s good to be back and get in the groove of it again,” he said. “I’m happy with today, obviously, with two wins. It’s a long season so I just want to stay consistent and not get too excited too early.
“My foot’s been all right. It will never be perfect but I’ve just got to crack on with it. We spent a lot of time with Harris and Ross and have got it the best we can so when I’m riding I don’t have any problems and for me that’s the main thing.
“Track conditions were a lot better in the second race. I think the problem was we had a lot of rain last night and this morning and it was sloppy.”
After following Gear4 KTM’s Jake Edey home in the opening MXY2 moto, Hall clinched the overall with victory second time out.
“I got two good starts which I’ve been working on all winter and these conditions suited me so I got the win overall,” he said. “I’m aiming for top three in the championship this year now I’ve seen I can run with them and just plan to take it race by race.”
Keenan Hird put his Craigs Kawasaki on the second step of the podium with Edey surviving a crash in race two to take third.
Picture © Nuno Laranjeira