For the second round in a row Jake Nicholls (Hitachi KTM UK) climbed onto the top step of the podium at the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship, staged at the challenging Cadders Hill track at Lyng in Norfolk – but he didn’t have it all his own way.
In MX2 ironman Harri Kullas (MVR-D Route 77 Husqvarna), who is competing in both classes, scored two wins to push Nicholls’ team- mate Ben Watson down a place on the podium after Watson made a couple of mistakes.
Nicholls set the fastest qualifying time, just over half-a-second faster than Kullas with Ashley Wilde (RFX KTM) just a bit slower.
But come the start of the race Nicholls got the holeshot from Steven Lenoir (Hobbs Racing Kawasaki), Graeme Irwin (Buildbase Honda), Elliott Banks-Browne (Geartec Husqvarna) and Brad Anderson (Verde Sports Racing KTM).
While Nicholls spent the rest of the race doing just enough to maintain the lead over the rest of the field, Irwin was all over the back of second-placed Lenoir and with two laps to go finally managed to sneak through.
Banks-Browne spent all race in fourth while Anderson was doing all he could to catch and pass him until he lost his back brake at half-distance and slipped down to 10th.
Kristian Whatley (Apico Husqvarna) took full advantage of Anderson’s misfortune to snatch fifth from Kullas, Gert Krestinov (Phoenix Tools Honda), Jamie Law (Apico Husqvarna) and Wilde.
Krestinov was on fire in race two and after getting the holeshot he held off the attentions of both Irwin and Nicholls for the whole of the race on a track that had become a bit of a one-line.
Wilde and Lenoir fought over fourth for the first couple of laps until Lenoir finally made it his own.
Anderson relegated Wilde to sixth on lap five with Whatley demoting him another place four laps later.
Kullas, who was on his fourth race of the day, didn’t get the start he wanted and was down in 15th place on lap one but managed to fight his way back to eighth by the end of the race.
So it was Krestinov from Irwin and Nicholls with Lenoir, Anderson and Whatley filling the next three places but overall it was Nicholls from Irwin and Krestinov as Lenoir missed out on a podium by a single point.
“The way I rode today was a bit disappointing as I was just struggling,” said Nicholls.
“I had damaged my hand last week at the GP in Mexico and it was very hard just to hold onto the bars today.
“We did struggle a bit with set-up. At the GPs on the man-made tracks they seem to go from a big jump into a tight turn and the dirt is really grippy and you can really stiffen the suspension up but come here on this great old-school track it really needed to be softened up.
“So with a stiff bike and with my hand hurting it was an uphill battle.
“But I can’t complain as I came away with the overall win and have extended my lead in the championship race and that’s what we came here for – it just wasn’t the performance we were looking for.”
Watson was the fastest in MX2 qualifying by over a second from Martin Barr (Buildbase Honda) and Mel Pocock (REVO Husqvarna UK) with Kullas in 14th place, three seconds off Watson’s time. The rest of the pack watched Watson disappear around the first turn at the start of the opening MX2 race with Barr, Lewis Tombs (Lings Husqvarna), Kullas and Pocock chasing.
On lap five Kullas had worked his way into second and started to close the gap on Watson as Pocock found a way past Tombs for fourth place.
Just after the halfway point Watson slid off his Hitachi KTM unseen by the race commentators and Kullas was through and into the lead.
Watson re-mounted still in second place and closed the gap to just over a second come the end of the race. Barr was a distant third from Pocock, Todd and Tombs.
Watson got the holeshot in race two this time from Todd, Kullas, Nathan Dixon (RFX KTM) and Dylan Woodcock (Team Green Kawasaki) with Barr and Pocock in sixth and seventh.
Kullas passed Todd on the second lap and as he tried to chase down the leader the pair stretched away from the rest of the pack headed by Todd, Barr and Pocock.
The race settled down until three laps from the end when Watson – under a great deal of pressure from Kullas – made his second mistake of the day, crashed and handed the lead and the win to Kullas.While that was going on Pocock had passed both Barr and Todd for third place.
In the end Kullas and Watson crossed the finish line separated by just under two seconds with Pocock third almost a half-a-minute down on the leaders.
Overall it was Kullas from Watson and Pocock with Barr on the same points as Pocock but just missing out on a podium on a tie-break.
“I am really tired now,” said Kullas after four championship races in one day.
“The thing now we must be focusing on is MX2 as we had a DNF in MX1 at the first round. To go 1-1 today was really good but I was helped a bit when Ben [Watson] fell in the second race with two or three laps to go.
“We were really pushing each other the whole race so it’s been a good MX2 day.”
Lewis Hall (Team Green Kawasaki) was fastest in MXY2 qualification but come the races he seemed to self-destruct.
Tom Grimshaw (HCR Putoline Apico Yamaha) got the holeshot and was unchallenged on his way to a race one win while
Keenan Hird (Craigs Kawasaki) had to come from sixth to move into second with four laps to go.
Fast-starting Jake Curtis-Stevens (DSC Cornwall Kawasaki) hung onto third with Billy King (rjking KTM) fourth but no one had an up and down race like Hall.
He had his problems at the start and ended the first lap in 14th but in three laps was up to eighth only to crash back down to 16th place a lap later. He re-mounted and fought his way back to 11th place only to crash again back to 19th place which is where he finished.
It was Grimshaw’s turn for a bit of trouble in race two as after getting the holeshot and leading the race until half-distance he crashed down to ninth and finished his race there.
Hird took over the lead and went on to win the race from Jake Edey (Gear4 KTM) and Callum Green (MVR-D Route 77 Husqvarna) while Hall finished lap one in 22nd but fought back up to sixth place.
Overall it was Hird from Grimshaw and Edey with Joe Cadwallader (RMJ Husqvarna UK) just missing out on the podium.