HAWKSTONE INTERNATIONAL RACE REPORT: HM PLANT KTM UK
Great start to the season for the British team
HM Plant KTM UK launched into its 2014 season with a visit to the venerated Hawkstone Park track in Shropshire this past weekend.
Although very windy, the dreaded rain that has plagued much of the western part of the country in recent months, stayed away for a fantastic day's racing. Qualifying got underway with the MX2 class, where the team's MX2 star, Mel Pocock, clocked up second behind Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jeffrey Herlings, followed by colleagues Ben Watson in eighth, James Cottrell in fourteenth, and James Dunn in sixteenth. Shaun Simpson repeated that in the MX1 class soon after, putting in the fastest time at the start of the session. For all riders, the day came with a mixed bag of results, although the full team transferred to the super final at the end of the day.
Pocock's first race got off to a blinder of a start, although much so his dismay, he found himself at the side of the track with a locked rear wheel six laps in. In the second race he came up trumps, crossing the line second for a tenth overall. In the super final he proved himself again, running third until mid-race when he lost control of his bike and went down. Watson, the youngest team member, also showed his worth; third throughout the first race, he only conceded the place unwillingly with only a few laps to go. He looked to repeat the performance in the second race, but a crash put paid to that ambition and he remounted for a finish in eighth place and a fifth overall on the day. The mixed-class super final at the end of the day turned into the battle for positions in the middle of the pack; he ended the race in seventeenth.
After a year out thanks to an injury sustained a year before, Dunn returned to shine again too. Running in tenth for the first half of the first race, he moved into eighth for a solid run there. His second race was a repeat of the first; he again put in a consistent performance that earned him a tenth place and an eighth place overall on the day. The super final saw him start from the back of the pack and work his way forward, holding his own against bigger bikes to end the race eighteenth. Cottrell made the best of a mid-pack start in the first race, working his way forward consistently and ending just outside the top ten, in eleventh. In the second race he again found himself in the thick of things. After a solid run in twelfth had to concede the position with two laps to go, ending the race thirteenth and twelfth on the day overall.
The star of the day was Simpson though. After leading the MX1 pack from start all the way to the two-lap board, he was happy to take second place. The second race saw him scrap with fellow KTM rider Matiss Karro, eventually taking the lead and going across the finish line nearly twelve seconds ahead of anyone else for the overall win on the day. The super final however did not go as well. A bike problem forced him to pull in after only four laps.
Mel Pocock MX2 #119
“I was happy with qualifying, was second, happy days! In the first race I got an amazing holeshot, that's going to make a good picture. I was sat in third, I felt clicking from the chain, backed it off a little because I was wondering what it was, but the next thing I knew, the rear wheel had locked up and that was a DNF. The next race I got a really good start again, Herlings did his thing and cleared off, and I just had a solid ride in second which gave me a tenth in the super final. Fifteen minutes into that my left hand side grip grip came loose, I hit a bump, lost control and went over the handlebars. I put it back on and finished fifth in the MX2 class overall, not really ideal with a couple of mechanical issues. We need to sort this, we needed this race to find these problems, so happy days and on to Qatar.”
Ben Watson MX2 #919
“Qualifying went good, went out there and got a few laps, did a fast lap and pulled in to check where I was. I was up there, decided to stay in and got eighth. In the first race got a really good start, got a top five, just pushed and at one point was up to second. Herlings and a few others passed me and I was really pleased going over the line with Lars van Berkel. In the second race I got another good start, a top five, crashed in a corner and managed to get eighth, which was good. Then in the super final I didn't have such a good start, but it still was a top ten; I got a bit tired, it's rough sand and it's really hard. But I tried to stay safe, it's still early in the year.”
James Dunn MX2 #200
“This is the first race of the year and my first race since my crash last year. It's been been a tough time trying to come back and I'm really happy with how Hawkstone went. Overall I'm happy to get away in one piece and fit for the next race which is coming up soon. I hope I'll have a good year and just keep building confidence again after my bad crash last year.”
James Cottrell MX2 #711
“Today didn't go to plan but I had a good day, it was worthwhile. I know I need to go home and do some more homework, testing suspension and that sort of thing. It's all working good, but it can be better. I just need to find a bit more speed. My fitness I'm really happy with, I can't moan at that at all, but yeah, I need to find some speed if I want to come out swinging at the first British. It was a bit of an eye opener, everyone was going quick and I'm not going to be left behind; I'll be ready but I just need a little bit more time. I have three weeks now and I'm going to get it done.”
Shaun Simpson MX1 #24
“It more or less went to plan in the first two races. In qualifying I felt good, had the quickest time, then Tommy put one in in the last lap and second position was still fine for the gate pick. The first race was going ok, I pumped up a bit, got a bit edgy towards the end and Tommy caught up. I got held up with a back marker and he was right on me. When he got past me, I still wasn't too stressed, because I just wanted to get laps under my belt in race conditions today. The second race everything just fell into place for me to win it, and I won it by ten seconds or so, which was good for the confidence. Seeing the finish flag first is always nice and I was looking forward to the super final. Unfortunately we had a problem with the clutch and I could only do three or four laps, so it's a bit of a shame not to finish the super final, but I still won the MX1 overall for today and had lots of track time under racing conditions for Qatar next weekend.”
Roger Magee: HM Plant KTM UK Team Manager
“A solid start to the 2014 Motocross season for all of our riders at the historic Hawkstone Park circuit. In MX1 Shaun Simpson continued his return to form following his maiden GP win in Lierop and showed that he will be a strong contender in the MXGP Championship. A problem with an unobservant back-marker cost him the opening moto win, but he redeemed himself in the second and deciding moto with a strong win. It is good preparation for next weekend's GP in Qatar where Shaun also likes the circuit.
“In the MX2 class, the performances of Ben Watson were perhaps the highlight of the day, as he is now showing the potential that we all know that he has. Coming off the back of his recent win in the Youth class at Le Touquet Beach Race, his confidence is running high and I know that he will spring some more surprises in the British Championship this year.
"In the opening moto, Mel Pocock pulled a massive holeshot and proved that our winter preparations have been strong. Unfortunately, his bike suffered a freak incident which caused him to DNF. He made amends in the second moto with a strong second place to Factory KTM pilot Jeffrey Herlings. Both James Dunn and James Cottrell also showed good form in the MX2 class motos and we look forward to their continued improvement over the coming weeks. The Team members fly out on Wednesday to Qatar in preparation for the first GP of 2014.”
MX2 Overall Result
1. Jeffrey Herlings (Red Bull KTM Factory) 50, 2. Petar Petrov (Kemea Reytec Yamaha) 40, 3. Lars Van Berkel (Honda) 36, 4. Martin Barr (VMX/Malin KTM) 32, 5. Ben Watson (HM Plant KTM UK) 31, 6. Neville Bradshaw (Putoline Apico Honda) 30, 7. Steven Lenoir (Dantec Husqvarna UK) 28, 8. James Dunn (HM Plant KTM UK) 24, 9. Michael Eccles (Silver Action KTM) 23, 10. Mel Pocock (HM Plant KTM UK) 22, 12. James Cottrell (HM Plant KTM UK) 18.
MX1 Overall Result
1. Shaun Simpson (HM Plant KTM UK) 47, 2. Matiss Karro (Wilvo Forkrent KTM) 42, 3. Jens Getteman (24MX Honda Team) 33, 4. Gert Krestinov (Apico LPE Kawasaki) 32, 5. Brad Anderson (Buildbase Honda Racing) 32, 6. Marc de Reuver (BT Honda) 28, 7. Tommy Searle(Monster Energy CLS Kawasaki) 25, 8. Nathan Parker (Buildbase Honda Racing) 22, 9. Yentel Martens (Talon Kawasaki) 21, 10. Todd Waters (Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Racing) 20.