When it comes to injuries, Crendon Fastrack Honda’s Jake Nicholls is probably the most qualified rider out of his entire generation to have an opinion.
The 31-year-old from Ipswich, the MX2 world #4 in 2012, was in pole position to win the 2018 ACU British 450cc title until a freak accident at an Eastern Centre meeting at Blaxhall two weeks before the final championship round of the year left him with a broken leg. Unable to race at the last round, he missed out to Evgeny Bobryshev by just five points.
Further complications with the break sidelined him for much of 2019 but after 2020 was washed out by COVID he hoped to be back in action this season. However, a training crash just before the start of this year’s British championship again put him on the back foot – but the good news is that he’s now returned to his winning ways.
Nicholls staged his comeback at the fourth round of the Eastern Centre Championship at – of all places – Blaxhall where in a stacked field including Lewis Tombs, Liam Knight and Dan Thornhill he ran 2-1-2 to come out on top.
“It was good to have a bit of a clear-out and a roar round,” said Nicholls. “There were some decent lads there. Tombsy got out front in the first one and got himself a clear track. I clawed him in and got close to him but I got the most severe arm-pump which was only to be expected – the track was quite spongey so I think I would have got arm-pump anyway. That combined with a bit of nerves and a bit of tension probably made it worse.
“I won the second one by a bit but I still didn’t feel that great because my arms were so tight still. In the last one Dan Thornhill got out in front and he was going like f**k to be fair to him – we gapped everyone by a mile – but I really struggled to focus. It was weird and it was only in the last three laps that I started to focus. I think I lost it by half-a-second at the end.
“I was probably a bit tired, mentally. Physically I felt okay but mentally after three races on the bounce I think I was a bit wasted so I found the focus a bit difficult and that’s been the biggest challenge. I’ve been back on a bike for three weeks and the biggest challenge I’ve found is keeping the focus. My speed and fitness have been good. It’s about keeping your eye on the ball and that’s getting better every week.”
Nicholls has always been a philosophical rider so, naturally, he’s got his own unique take on his comeback.
“If I’d gone there and won all three races it would have been like ‘that was all right but what did I learn?’ so it was good. The last race I was blowing out my arse when I came across the line because I’d proper hung it out for the last few laps – I had to dig deep and you need to learn how to do that again.
“There was some apprehension [going to Blaxhall]. It was in the back of my head a little bit so it was nice to put it behind me. I’ll be honest, I was thinking about it a bit so it was nice at the end of the day to get that out of the way.”
Nicholls has always had one-year deals. He feels he could still win a British crown – he’s younger than both Tommy Searle and Shaun Simpson – but knows if he’s going to get the right machinery next year to do the job he needs to produce the results.
“I still think I’ve got a British title in me. I still feel good every time I ride and I’m still enthusiastic. It’s down to getting on a sensible bike for next year which I guess is my job from now until the end of October.
“I need to get myself a platform I can win from. Obviously, I’m happy and confident with what I’ve got but that’s not secure for next year. I am confident that I can do what I need to do between now and the end of October to show I’m still worthy and can still do it. I know