A year after his Red Bull KTM dreams were wrecked by a thumb injury following the first sessions at the 2015 Grand Prix of Qatar, former triple MX2 championship runner-up Tommy Searle took an important step towards re-establishing his career with seventh place overall on his Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki debut at Losail last weekend.
Now fully fit and hoping to put his nightmare ’15 season of injury behind him (even three terms of physical setbacks dating back to 2013) Searle was buoyed by his speed and possibilities on what was a return to the KX450F technology with which he barely showed his potential in 2013 and 2014.
“Last year I came away from the first session with a broken thumb,” he reflected. “I’m really happy because I wanted two top 10s. I know I am capable of a lot more but I wanted to leave here healthy and without the feeling that the season is done. I had the fastest lap in warm-up and was also quick in the motos. I think it is only a matter of time before I am fighting at the front.”
He was part of a frantic six rider fight for mid-top 10 positions in the first moto and then charged hard after Max Nagl and Shaun Simpson in the second, eventually failing to pass his countryman for seventh spot.
His scorecard said 9-8 but he was also dealing with another issue against Simpson. “My trousers came down!” he said. “I obviously did not buckle them up probably, so it was a bit difficult. The track was quite tricky so you did not want to push too hard. I had good lines and attack in places where I knew I was fast. I lost time in a few other places. I probably should have passed Shaun on the last lap and should have been more aggressive but I’m happy to leave the first round healthy.”
Searle used the Hawkstone Park International three weeks ago as a warm-up race for Qatar and the 2016 MXGP campaign but suffered mechanical problems in the sand. He says his race bike is perhaps not yet up to his own readiness. “We were very late with the bike and had problems at Hawkstone so I said ‘let’s run it at a similar standard for the first races so we can learn a little bit’,” he said.
He was also blunt about his return to the spotlight in MXGP but insists he has found the team and the circumstances to be considered as a contender once again. “Nobody expects anything of me but the team here know what I can do,” he said. “I feel more like myself and better than the last two years. I’m happy with Kawasaki and with this team I look forward to coming back to the pits.”