The fourth round of the Maxxis British Championship, powered by Skye Energy Drink, was held at Hawkstone Park, Shropshire at the weekend.
The day promised to be prestigious as a few wildcard entries were guaranteed to stir up the already boiling field. Steven Clarke qualified a very impressive fifth behind Lenoir, Mackenzie, Anstie and two-time world MX2 champion Herlings.
Assisted with some superb starts, Clarke finished fifth, ninth and eighth for seventh overall. Check out the interview as Steven talks us through the racing action with his exclusive GoPro footage!
DBR: The track looked in great condition. What did you make of it?
Steven Clarke: “Yeah, I agree. To be honest, it was definitely the best I’ve seen Hawkstone in a very long time. It didn’t get down to the base sandstone and it held moisture well considering the weather, which meant some good lines developed too.”
DBR: How did you feel going into this weekend?
Steven Clarke: “I felt good! The great result at Matterley has really helped my confidence. I feel I’ve managed to turn all the recent bad luck around! Through the week leading up to Hawkstone I had been doing quite a bit of sand riding to get myself settled and the bike fully set-up.”
DBR: Now that you’re back on a 250, have you had to concentrate on setting the new race bike up?
Steven Clarke: “I now have two race bikes, one is for the EMX250s and I now have another for the British championship. Recently it’s been more about replacing parts and replicating the original set up I had on the bikes which were stolen. It has taken time getting all my old settings back!”
DBR: You qualified fifth. Are you happy with that?
Steven Clarke: “I think I approach qualification differently to a lot of people. I have a nice slow cruise throughout most of the untimed sector so I can spot lines which are developing. I’m good at putting the hammer down and I’ll do that the moment the timed qualification starts. I’m really happy with fifth – that’s the best I’ve qualified all year. It was nice knowing that I actually had more speed as a few flying laps were ruined by slower riders.”
DBR: You had some cracking starts! It’s interesting seeing how riders prep their gate as everyone has a different preference when on concrete. What’s the secret behind your gate prep?
Steven Clarke: “I tend to pile up 4-5 inches of sand on my start. The beauty of qualifying so well means that I could prep my gate early knowing that the spot wouldn’t be pinched! I’m actually quite used to starting off concrete as most of the races I did in America would have a concrete start pad. I’d usually take a broom down and sweep it so I could maximise my grip.”
DBR: Can you briefly talk us through the races?
Steven Clarke: “I gated well and entered the first corner around fifth. Carlton Husband was in front of me for a few laps and I tightened up trying to pass him. Once I had made the pass at the bottom of the hill (4:33 in footage) Adam Sterry came in for the attack! We had an awesome battle – I knew I couldn’t afford to make a mistake as he would capitalise on it and pass me. In the end I managed to hold him off.”
Steven Clarke: “I had my first holeshot of the year in race two! It’s a great feeling and certainly makes for an easier race. Anstie and Herlings came past pretty quick though! I feel I tightened up quite a bit as I tried to keep up and because of that I couldn’t find my rhythm. That caused me to make mistakes and crash.”
Steven Clarke: “It wasn’t my best start of the day but I gated well and got myself into a good position alongside Bryan Mackenzie by the first corner. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a rhythm and started making a few mistakes. I stalled the bike (12:02 in footage) which let Matiss Karro through. I was determined to make the pass back and I managed to cut him off with a really nice pass in the end (12:58).”
DBR: The next round of the championship is at Blaxhall on June 28. You also have the next round of the EMX250s the week before in Germany on the 21st. How do you plan to prepare between now and then?
Steven Clarke: “There isn’t anything specific that I want to change. I feel like I’m going in the right direction. We have got the bike working well and I feel I’m on my game. In fact, I’d honestly say I’m good to go. Obviously I’ll keep on top of my gym work and focus on getting as much bike time as possible. As the track in Germany is clay/ hardpack, I’ll try and replicate that as much as possible with the tracks I ride between now and then.”
DBR: Thanks for that Steven – all the best and we look forward to catching up at the next round of the British championship at Blaxhall Circuit on June 28.