Another victory in the British Championship at Canada Heights last Sunday further embellished Mel Pocock’s position as the UK’s main hope in the MX2 class with the British Grand Prix at Matterley Basin nudging the FIM Motocross World Championship near the halfway mark this weekend.
Pocock will be the focus for British fans as he continues to come to grips with the Hitachi Construction Machinery UK KTM SX250-F for the eighth round of the world championship at the circuit that has entertained the UK stop since 2011.
Sitting a lowly 18th in the series standings, the 22-year-old has to yet to rediscover the speed and form on the international stage that allowed him to complete the most dominant of European EMX250 campaigns in 2012 riding the fabled Bike it Yamaha Cosworth YZ250F.
“It has been a long process getting used to the KTM purely because I had ridden the Yamaha for so many years and it hadn’t really changed so I built confidence with it,” the tall Englishman explains. “Changing bikes has proven to be harder than I thought; I believed I’d just jump on it and go. The KTM is actually a bigger bike than the Yamaha so that has worked in my favour…I just need to pull my finger out.”
One of Pocock’s weaknesses this year has been his starts. On several occasions the Brit has run into trouble with other riders crashing around him. Although Jeffrey Herlings has won six from the seven rounds, Pocock insists the level of MX2 behind the flying Dutchman is intensely competitive: “I don’t feel that I have lost speed but the field I am in has a lot of fast riders, when you see Herlings and a couple of those other guys then I still a bit off their pace but I’m working and training hard to be able to get as near as possible.”
He failed to pick up any points at all in Bulgaria and Holland and is now hoping his superb form in domestic duties (he is unbeaten in British MX2) will slide straight into Grand Prix level. Pocock has struggled to really shine since sustaining a knee ligament injury that prematurely curtailed his 2013 MX2 campaign with the factory Yamaha.
“I came away with a big smile on my face and I had a torn knee ligament that day,” he recollects of his sixth position overall at the 2013 British GP, his final race of that term. “This year I just need to get a good start. I’d love to get in the top six and there is no better feeling than having that crowd cheering you on. Two consistent rides at the GP is what I need.”
“I had that boost and the feeling of a ‘leg-up’ on the others because going to the gate last year Dean [Ferris] and I had a bike that was on another level,” he explains of the Dixon Yamaha. “It helps a lot with silly mistakes like blowing out a berm or if I didn’t get the jump from the gate then I could literally ride past people on the straight. It was a massive thing. This year we have five gears, different power and different suspension, so it has taken a lot to get used to.”
Pocock has another year of MX2 racing before he has to start to think about MXGP and while he says “time is on my side” with reference to the exodus of riders reaching 23 years of age and having to depart the class for 2015, he needs to lift his confidence to have any chance of a similar impact to his European season.