Wilvo Forkrent KTM’s Jake Nicholls is one of three British KTM riders in the 2015 MXGP field and the former MX2 star is preparing for a different set of circumstances for his second campaign in the premier class and as part of the UK-based team.
The 24 year old (25 in April), who has fully recovered from the horrific injury to the little finger on his right hand that curtailed the second half of his 2014 season, will switch to a 350SX-F and stares at second billing in the Wilvo Forkrent awning thanks to the arrival of former GP winner and ’14 Motocross of Nations winner Steven Frossard.
“I was injured pre-season last year and never really got up to race pace on the 450 for the first few GPs,” he says. “Just when I thought I was building momentum on the bike I split my finger and it meant four months without riding. It ended the season.
“The decision to move to the 350 is mainly due to the starts. It seems crazy to admit that I might get out of the gate better missing 100cc but I think other riders like Bengtsson [Filip] and Matiss [Karro] proved it is do-able and of course Antonio [Cairoli] does it all the time.”
“I loved riding the 450 but I had trouble getting the power down to the ground out of the gate and good starts were my strength back in MX2. I also like how you can be a bit more aggressive on the 350 – I think it will suit me,” he added.
A former Team GBR representative at the Motocross of Nations, Nicholls had a promising first year in the MXGP class cut short by the mangled finger he sustained at Whitby for the fifth round of the British series last summer. With the addition of Frossard to Wilvo Forkrent the Englishman is in the vaguely unfamiliar scenario of playing second fiddle to a more decorated rival in the same camp. Previously he had led line-ups with Jordan Booker, Romain Febvre and Karro.
“I’m quite thankful to be honest,” he admits. “It has nothing to do with taking any pressure away from me but more about the fact that it is somebody I can learn from. That hasn’t really been the case since I was in the same team as Stephen Sword [back in 2009].”
“He’s [Frossard] a better rider than me, there’s no escaping that, and I want to see what I can take from racing besides Steven.”
Before the opening Grand Prix of the year in Qatar on February 28 the Wilvo Forkrent KTM team will compete in two events in France including this past weekend’s Valence International where Nicholls finished 11th in the first race, before electing to sit out the second, while Frossard finished sixth overall.
Nicholls is expected to be one of brand-mate Shaun Simpson’s main competitors for the British crown this year and will also be fighting for KTM GP bragging rights with fellow Brit Tommy Searle now part of the works Red Bull squad.