Hitachi ASA KTM UK returned to domestic action at Duns in Scotland after a five-week break with MX2 red plate holder Conrad Mewse returning from an injury that kept him out of the last grand prix.
The 19-year-old was looking to maintain his 31-point lead of the MX2 championship and got off to a flyer as he took pole position ahead of Josh Gilbert.
The weather quickly turned before racing began, as did the team’s luck. Rain and increasingly stronger winds greeted the #426 of Mewse and teammate Michael Ellis at the starting gates. Both riders launched their KTM 250 SX-Fs brilliantly, Mewse charged to the first left-hand corner from the inside while Ellis rubbed elbows with the middle of the pack – both making it through the first few turns in the top 10.
Mewse was soon forced to make a pit stop as he suffered bike issues. The Shepton Mallet rider’s mechanics swiftly had Mewse back out on track, but now he had to chase down the entire field. Working his way through the pack and with conditions and visibility worsening, Mewse had a small crash costing him a further 10 places. He then valiantly pushed on to collect seven points, finishing in 14th.
Ellis capitalised on his strong start and took the fight to the top 10 pack. Riding consistently, he managed to make his way up to sixth position before being pushed back to seventh by the overall MX2 winner Mel Pocock later in the race. Ellis held this position to secure his season-best finish so far.
The weather worsened for race two. The rain had intensified, visibility lowered and standing water built up around the circuit. The slippery conditions proved tricky, causing a number of riders to go down early in the second lap, collecting Mewse in the process.
Mewse pulled his bike from under the pile-up and cut his way back through the field to start lap three in 11th position. As the laps clicked off he continued to recover positions, bridging the gap to the leading top five riders by the middle of the race, but with goggles off and heavy spray, it made passing difficult.
On the penultimate lap, #426 managed to pass Martin Barr’s Husqvarna to take second position. However, there was not quite enough time to catch the race leader, Jay Hague, who had led the majority of the race with clear track ahead of him.
“It was a struggle, I haven’t ridden the bike properly in two or three weeks because of the leg injury so we knew it would be a tough weekend,” Mewse revealed.
“The first race I had some bike problems that forced me to make a pit stop, so I had to work my way back through the group from last. I had a small crash which cost me some more time, but I pushed on to recover some points.
“The second race, I got off to a good start, but I was caught up in an incident and had to pull my bike out from the bottom of a pile up. I pushed hard from then on to reach second, nearly had the win in the end but just didn’t quite get it. It wasn’t an awful weekend, but it was far from my best. I’m not happy with my riding but it was a bit of a lottery out there with the conditions today. On to the next one!”
Hitachi ASA KTM UK Team Manager, Lee Tolan: “It’s been very up and down! Conrad had a terrible start, combined with the conditions he just couldn’t make good of it which resulted in a poor finish to the first race. His second race he redeemed himself with a second, we were happy with that as the weather was atrocious.”