It was a home round for Apico Husqvarna at the Genting Arena at the Birmingham leg of the UK Arenacross Tour.
Alas the team would be without European EMX250 champion Steven Clarke following his shoulder injury in Belfast who would be resting in for the coming weeks. For a rider replacement the team had worked hard to secure the services of Canadian pilot Kade Walker to line up alongside Franklin Nogueras.
The day started with the practice and qualifying sessions and both riders were looking after the learning of the track and settling into a good rhythm. At the end of the two qualifying sessions Franklin had set the eighth fastest time with Kade 12th fastest.
Before the night time show could take place the riders and team enjoyed meeting the fans during the pit party at the Arena, allowing the fans to get up close to both the riders and bikes.
While Franklin and Kade prepared for the evening racing, Steven Clarke made the short trip to the National Motorcycle Museum to take part in the ACU Annual Awards evening and collect his award for his achievement in the 2014 season. Steven proudly received his trophy for winning the European EMX250 Championship in front of a room full of World, European and British champions from all forms of motorcycle sports.
Back at the Genting Arena both Franklin and Kade lined up in the second heat of the night and regrettably both riders suffered some bad luck. As the race progressed Franklin worked his way up to fourth place and would slip back to finish in sixth; however, Kade suffered a crash towards the end.
Heat three saw Franklin return to the track and start the race with a holeshot but after riding tight Franklin lost out to Loic Rombaut and would eventually finish in sixth. The final heat race of the night saw Kade make a good start and he stayed strong to finish in fourth place.
Sadly neither rider transferred direct to the Main Event and had to face the dreaded LCQ. For Franklin it was to be a good race as he took the lead early on and took the race win, while Kade would crash out of third place with a lap to go and missed the transfer.
In the Main Event Franklin suffered a bad start due to being on the second row of the gate, after a busy opening few laps Franklin was into eighth place and was trying to push forward when he crashed in the whoops and slipped back to 12th place to secure more championship points. Franklin now sits 13th in the Championship stands.
“Between Belfast and Birmingham we went out and tested a different rear shock to try and help me get through the whoops easily,” said Franklin Nogueras. “And last week it was much better. During the Practice sessions I was fourth fastest in both my groups and I was feeling good going into the evening.
“In the first heat I was running fourth when I lost the front end and ended up sixth. Then in the second heat I took the holeshot but was making some mistakes and then tightened up and finished fifth. Lucky I managed to transfer to the Main Event with a win in the LCQ and then in the Main I was running in eighth until I crashed hard in the whoops. I’m looking forward to next weekend and going with a different mentality and attitude!”
“This weekend was ok,” said Kade Walker on his debut AX ride. “Practice was just a case of getting a feeling on the bike. In the first heat I was fourth until the last lap then I crashed.
“Then in heat two I had a bad start and only got back to fourth. In the LCQ I had a bad start and was third and went for second but crashed on the last lap. This week I plan to ride a bit and get move comfortable on the bike before Newcastle.”
Richard Clarke commented: “It was a busy weekend for the Apico Husqvarna Motorcycle team with a new rider arriving late on Thursday night which meant that our head mechanic Stu Summers had a busy few days getting everything sorted.
“Both riders did well in timed practice and hats off to Kade, having only ridden a 250f before arriving at the event and at just 17 years old he did really well.
With both riders not having the best of luck in heat races they were transferred to the LCQ where Franklin rode well and made the final with Kade losing out – but [Kade] gained a lot of experience to take forward to next week.
“In the Final Franklin suffered a bad start but was riding great – a small mistake in the whoops cost him several places and [Franklin] finished the race very disappointed, but both riders are healthy and we all look forward to next week.