Flying Ryan powers 2019 Yamaha to maiden Pro victory at Hawkstone!
The brand new 2019 Yamaha YZF 450 met with universal approval from the Rob Hooper Racing team and MX1 racer Ryan Houghton, as he stormed to two holeshot’s, and his first ever Pro Motocross win in the Bridgestone British Masters Motocross Championships, at Hawkstone Park on Sunday.
Coming into the weekend second in the Pro MX1 championship, spirits were high in the RHR camp as a storming qualifying lap on the new 2019 steed placed Houghton in second, under 200th’s of a second off of the pace setter, and series leader Elliot-Banks-Browne. Kristian Whatley also looked smooth and fast with the fifth fastest time, while MX2 rider Robbie Dowson broke the mould with a good qualifying lap time for a change in 3rd.
Starting has not been Ryan’s strong point in 2018, but all of that was forgotten as he powered his 2019 YZF on its UK competitive debut, to the front of the field in moto 1. Houghton then held the lead until lap 5 where Banks-Browne moved through, with the pair trading places a few times as they jostled for the lead. Houghton kept the gap to under 5 seconds until the chequered flag for a strong second place finish. Whatley also pulled well from the traps and held fourth in MX1, where he stayed for the remainder of the moto and another positive race result, which shows good progression for the former British Champion.
Dowson was showing great speed in the MX2 class, holding the lead until lap 4 when Josh Gilbert edged ahead. Disaster struck on lap 5 though, when a big crash saw the young racer pull from the track in considerable pain. He made a gallant attempt to race in Moto 2 but had to pull out with the pain being too much.
Houghton showed his race 1 holeshot was no fluke by replicating it with more of the same in Moto 2, followed by team mate Whatley making it a RHR 1-2. With the lead in his grasp Houghton stalled the machine dropping back to third, whilst Kristian enjoyed some fresh air at the head of the field.
Digging deep, reeling in, and passing Whatley, Houghton bided his time in second to make his move on race leader Liam Knight with four laps to go. After pulling the pin for two laps in the lead, Ryan was able to keep composed and take the race win and his first ever Pro overall and race victory.
Kristian, although fading in the latter stages of the Moto held on for 5th in the race and a solid 5th overall in the MX1 class.
“It was a good day all round from practice onwards in terms of speed from our riders” said team boss Rob Hooper. “Ryan rode fantastically. His second race was amazing; he made a mistake but didn’t let it get him down and rode tremendously for the win. It has been on the cards for him for a couple of month. He has been working so hard for it, so hopefully there will be a few more to follow on. It was great too that Ryan’s first win came on board the brand new 2019 Yamaha machine in its debut outing, so that bodes well.
“I was really pleased with Kristian too, he kept plugging away. He struggled a bit with arm pump but he is starting to come back into it now and is working really hard.
“Robbie was going well, and was leading the MX2 class for a while until he had a big crash and hurt his back badly. He did try the second race but you can’t ride Hawkstone unless you are 100%”.
A delighted Ryan Houghton said of his victory “I just believed I could win yesterday. I’ve needed to win a race all year, but from qualifying on, I felt comfortable. In the last race I pulled the holeshot and went like stink in the first lap to pull a gap then stalled it. I kept calm though, and I followed Liam Knight for 6 laps, but I had a pass worked out, and made the move with four laps to go. I nailed it for two laps which gave me the lead I needed to bring it home for the win. That’s my first ever Pro race win and overall win, so now it’s on to the next one at Duns and see what we can do there.”
The team now head to the far reaches of the fantastic Scottish circuit of Duns for round 6 of the Maxxis Motocross Championships this weekend, where Ryan will be looking to build on his 6th place in the MX1 standings. Kristian will be looking to continue his quest for race fitness, while at the time of going to press it was unknown if Robbie Dowson will make the trip, or if he will be looking to rest his injuries.