MX Nationals learning curve for Rob Hooper Racing!
There are some days when things don’t quite come together, and it’s those days that shape thing’s to come, and it was that type of weekend for the Rob Hooper Racing Yamaha team who didn’t quite get the results at Preston Docks that they deserved in the opening round of the MX Nationals series, but the progress that was made bodes well for the rest of the season.
Images courtesy of Elliot Spencer
After a near on day one wash out the track team at Preston Docks worked marvels to ensure the running of the second and Pro day of the event. Qualification times were close for all of the top racers, with Kristian Whatley 5th just .688 of a second behind Micky Eccles who set the pace, and Ryan Houghton in 7th just over a second behind pole. Robbie Dowson had, what seems his customary slow qualifying lap which meant a poor gate pick going into the opening Moto.
A collective team bad start in Race 1 meant some hard work for the trio as both Ryan and Kristian were buried mid pack whilst Robbie was stone last after a first lap fall. Kristian started to make some moves and record some good lap times, but a track with very few passing options meant his progress was slower than his potential speed. He worked his way up to 7th only to run out of fuel on the last lap. Ryan also moved through the pack and got to 9th before clutch problems befell him and he fell back to 11th in MX1. Robbie also had one of those races, after his lowly start he pulled off some fantastic lap times moving himself into the MX2 top 10 before Engine problem’s meant a DNF.
Hoping the bad luck was behind them, the RHR squad lined up for Race 2 knowing that the only way was up in this moto. Better starts for the MX1 riders saw Ryan and Kristian up with the front runners. Ryan struggled with his goggles but showed grit and determination to come home in a fantastic MX1 4th with Kristian in 5th continuing his on track rehab with a good result. Robbie also put his first race woes behind him to finish 6th in MX2.
When it comes to the overall’s the first race DNF’s hindered Kristian and Robbie’s scoring but Ryan’s second race 4th meant a 6th overall in MX1.
Team Boss Rob Hooper came away from Preston Docks knowing his team is moving in the right direction even if the overall results don’t show it, saying “It was tough day for the team, and our start’s in the first race made it hard work for them, but all three of them showed good speed to move through the pack. Unfortunately Kristian ran out of fuel on the last lap. Yamaha have a new smaller tank and based on his fuel consumption at Culham last week he should have easily enough fuel, but that’s a lesson learnt and it won’t happen again.
“The second race was a real example of what our boys can do, and with even better starts I know they will be pushing for podiums and higher. Kristian and Ryan seem to be joined at the hip when they are racing at the moment, and going forward this is going to drive them on. Robbie impressed me with his speed in race conditions but we need to work with him on his qualifying times as with such a poor gate pick he is making it awfully hard work on himself. Again amongst some mechanical problems there are lots of positives to take away from the weekend, and with some better starts, and a bit of luck we will be on the box”.
Whatley also is coming away from the weekend with plenty of positives commenting “I was happy with qualifying which I put in 5th best, with the times being so close. In the first race I decided to make an inside gate but it didn’t work out for me and had a bad start which left me loads to do in the race. I came from 25th back to 7th but ran out of fuel on the last lap.
“My 2nd race was a lot better. I had a better start and was in the top 8 and was running a good pace with the boys in front. I pulled back up to 5th which I was happy with, and that I could also push a little towards the end too. I’m just happy I’m getting more racing under my belt and building all the time.”
It was problematic day on the goggle front for Ryan who said of his day “There is lots to take away from Preston Docks. Race one I messed up the start and was around mid-pack. 2 laps in I pulled all my laminates off at once so had to do 30 minutes with no goggles which wasn’t easy around there as the track was really one lined. Anyway I made it up to 6th but a small mechanical on the last lap left me with an 11th.
“Race 2 I was 6th off the start and then lap 2 my lens popped out my goggles. So had to do another moto with no goggles! I had no idea at all what position I was in but I kept battling and ended up 4th.”
MX2 Team member Dowson spent the day battling through the pack saying “It was an up and down day for me. I struggled in qualifying but knew I could do better in the race. The first race started off good with a decent start but I had a crash on the first lap. I moved up to 9th place in mx2 with 5 minutes to go and unfortunately my bike broke. In the second race I pulled my spare race bike out and rode that. I had a bad start so had to pull through the pack and managed to get into 6th position in mx2. I was happy with that result but know I can do better with a better start.”
The team now have a rest weekend before they head to Canada Heights in Kent for round 2 of the Maxxis British Motocross Championships on Sunday the 22nd of April.