New Red Bull KTM rider Tommy Searle has been in Italy for almost two weeks working closely with Claudio De Carli and his crew at their base in Rome and getting used to the nuances of the factory 350SX-F that he will steer in his third MXGP season in 2015.
The former MX2 World Championship runner-up (on three occasions, the first in 2007 in Red Bull KTM colours) signed a deal to ride alongside six-times premier-class world champion Tony Cairoli on the title-winning machine while Ken De Dycker pilots the 450SX-F and leave the confines of Kawasaki for the first time since 2011.
Searle, Britain’s most successful Grand Prix rider since his emergence as a teenager on the FIM World Championship scene in 2006, has been completing laps at both of De Carli’s tracks near the capital. “It has been very relaxed,” he said. “Tony hasn’t been riding [Cairoli was on promotional duty at the Milan EICMA show] so I’ve just been getting used to the 350, which is his bike but we just changed the bars and the positioning, and we’re waiting for next year’s race bike which comes on Monday [10th].”
“I’ve been gelling with it,” the 25 year old explains. “There are some things that I’d want different such as the weight and balance but there is not much point until we get on the ’16 model. The power of it is amazing. Tony is good at starting but I can see why he is able to get away from the line like he does.”
The De Carli/Cairoli combination joined forces with KTM in 2010, a full season after Searle had been part of the factory Austrian set-up and when he tried a year in the AMA but suffered injury problems that eventually led to his return to Grand Prix in 2011. Entering the largely Italian set-up (but with Kiwi mechanic Jeremy Long in place) means a different KTM environment to what the Brit initially experienced. “It is very different… but Pit has been so supportive and has gone out of his way to help me,” he says. “At the moment it feels like a little family.”
“Claudio [De Carli] is really hands-on. He is around a lot preparing and watering the track and gets very excited by stuff. He has some good ideas and recommended some changes that I didn’t think would work but they actually did. So far I’m really happy with how it’s turning out.”