Verde Sports Racing came away from the opening round of the Michelin MX Nationals at Preston Docks MX with mixed results.
Although it was a cold weekend with inches of snow on the Friday, the sun came out for the weekend and the track was in great shape to handle the many races over the course of the two days.
Verde Sports Racing’s Brad Anderson and Jake Millward know the track like the back of their hands but could they use this to hold off the competition?
Brad looked good in MX1 Qualifying. He has taken to the KTM really well and within the first couple of laps he had the lead time – one second ahead of all the other riders. Then, halfway through the 20 minute session, Graeme Irwin put in a flying lap time and bested Brad. He couldn’t get another clear run, so settled for a very comfortable second gate pick for the first race.
Jake was out on his 250 KTM in MX2 but he just didn’t settle into the session quite as easily as Brad. Although he knows the Preston track well, he struggled to get settled into a rhythm. With Martin Barr out front, it was all down to who was to be in second and with only half a second between eight of the MX2 riders it was going to be a close call. Jake ended up with eighth place, but a gate pick of 18th when the two classes come together for the Fastest 40 motos.
Brad got the jump in race one but got cut up on the start straight which pushed him back, but by the end of the first lap he was comfortably in fifth place. By the fourth lap, Elliot Banks-Brown took a fall, allowing Brad to take third, behind Jake Nicholls, with Graeme Irwin taking the lead.
Unfortunately, Brad’s clutch went making the remainder of the race a tad tricky and even more difficult to catch the two riders ahead. But third place was a pretty good start to the season.
Jake didn’t get too bad a start, getting out of the gate near the front of the pack. He was fourth in MX2 with Martin Barr, Lewis Thombs and Neville Bradshaw ahead.
But the race just wasn’t going to plan and both Liam Knight and Carlton Husband made their passes, leaving Jake to finish sixth place in MX2.
As the day started to close in, the sun was sitting low making it near impossible to see going over the jumps for the second moto of the Fastest 40.
Brad got another good start and was close on the wheels of Kristian Whatley, who took the holey with Graeme Irwin in second.
By lap two Irwin had taken Whatley and by lap three, Brad had got them both for the lead.
Brad is not a quitter and was determined to take the win in the second race. He put in an impressive ride to hold off Irwin’s attempts to pass. Brad took the chequers in first place, leaving Irwin with second and Whatley 44 seconds behind the pair.
This gave Brad second overall for the round with Irwin taking the top step. An excellent finish for Verde Sports Racing’s first race of the series but Brad was left disappointed. “It’s not a bad start to the year,” Brad said. “In the first race I was a bit tense and got some arm-pump. In the second race I managed to pull through, even though it wasn’t too good a start.
“The sun was low so you couldn’t see the ruts, but I knew what I had to do and once I pulled into the lead, I controlled it from there. I managed to hold Graeme [Irwin] off, even when I made a mistake in the last lap. Finished second overall, which is okay…but I wanted first!”
Jake struggled in race two. His performance just wasn’t up to his usual standard. Sometimes you just have one of those days and today it was one of those for Jake. The sun was low, the ground was rutted and he just wasn’t feeling it. He finished the race in 13th for the MX2 class.
He finished 10th MX2 overall so scored points which will help towards his championship position.
A day to forget,” exclaimed Jake. “But onward and upward. It was just one of those days.”
Team Manager, Adrian Kirk commented: “An excellent start to the season for Brad and a bad day for Jake. So both a happy and sad camp rolled into one.”