HM Plant Red Bull KTM rider Jake Nicholls returned to British MX2 championship competition for round five of the series at Desertmartin, Northern Ireland, where he took an outstanding win in the first moto and completed the day with a 1-2-3 scorecard to take second overall.
Having qualified in fourth place, Nicholls got a good start in the opening moto of the day. The 21-year-old took the lead aboard his KTM 250 SX-F on lap two and controlled the race from the front, despite the best efforts of Elliott Banks-Browne who chased and pushed Nicholls throughout the 20-minute plus two laps moto to take an impressive race win in his first British championship race since March. Team-mate Jordan Booker was forced to retire early on in the race with a machine issue.
In race two Nicholls gated in fourth place and soon found his rhythm around the gnarly Northern Irish sand circuit. The KTM pilot clambered his way past Bryan MacKenzie and Mel Pocock to take up second place where he remained with a strong performance to the chequered flag. Booker, who is still suffering from the after effects of a collarbone injury sustained in Portugal a few weeks’ ago, gated in 11th place and found it tough going in the latter stages of the race, dropping to 13th position.
In the final race of the day Nicholls launched off the gate into third place and took the race lead on lap two. By now the Desertmartin track was super-rough and catching many of the riders out in some of the bumpier sections. Nicholls looked to be able to hold the lead when Arnaud Tonus managed to catch the KTM ace in the middle part of the race which then upset his rhythm and allowed Zach Osborne to get close enough for a pass, forcing Nicholls to settle for third.
However, this concluded a solid outing and a second place overall on the podium with race-winning pace despite being away from competition for so long. Booker had a nightmare first lap – coming round in 31st place – but the 18-year-old fought hard throughout the race to finish 12th.
Jake Nicholls #45
“It’s been a good day for us. It was always going to be tough – it’s one of the hardest tracks in the UK. I’ve worked hard coming up to it and I’ve been in Belgium in the sand so I knew we would be well prepared. Qualifying went well although I messed up a little in the Superpole lap and came out fourth. In race one I got a pretty good start and was really aggressive in the first few laps. I got through to the front and just kept my head down throughout.
“I changed a little bit of the bike set-up after the first race to get a little more comfortable. It worked good and I stayed with Arnaud for nearly the whole race – he dropped me a little at the end but I generally felt good on the bike and my fitness felt good.
“In the last one I was pretty determined to try and win it for the overall. I led for half the race and felt good but because I was in the lead I was protecting my lines a little bit too much and the track was tough so I lost my rhythm a bit and those two guys got past, which I was a little bit annoyed about as I wanted the win.
“Anyway, I’m pretty happy with second overall as it’s my first British championship race since March and I’ve worked hard with it. Hopefully we can go one better next time and try to get a win for the team before the end of the year.”
Jordan Booker #114
“I dislocated my collarbone in Portugal and had a week off riding so coming into this race I wasn’t sure what to expect. It hasn’t been feeling too good but we managed to get through today.
“In the first race unfortunately I had a bike problem early on and had to retire. In the second race I got a fairly good start but I got a bit tight as my shoulder was hurting me so I dropped back from the front guys. I managed to finish without a crash so it was fairly positive.
“In the last race I got a mid-pack start and in the second turn, which was really tight, I collided with a couple of guys and came out dead last. I put in the hardest race I could and managed to get up to 12th. This week the plan is to stay off the bike and get some physio on my shoulder ready for Sweden.”
Roger Magee – HM Plant Red Bull KTM Team Manager
“It was good to have Jake back today and with it being the home round for the team it was great to see him back in first position and beating the Yamahas in the first race. I think he’s shown he has the speed – he just needs a few more laps under his belt to get up to the pace that Tonus and Osborne have shown all year both in the British and world championships.
“We look forward to the next round at Foxhill with Jake as he’s won there the last two years and it would be great if we can make it a hat-trick. Jordan had a difficult day today – he’s still suffering a bit from his crash in Portugal a few weeks ago so he will have more physio this week to get him in better shape for the GP next weekend.
“It’s good to see Graeme Irwin here today after his horrific crash in France a few weeks ago. We look forward to announcing his replacement in the next few days.”