Buildbase Honda got its outdoor season off to a solid start at the opening round of the Michelin MX Nationals at Sherwood on Sunday with Josh Gilbert beginning the defence of his MX2 title while new recruit Lewis Tombs represented the team in MX1.
Josh got the day off to a great start by topping qualification by over half-a-second on his CRF250R. Under the series’ Fastest 40 format, both classes race together but are scored separately and Josh had to deal with a full line-up of 450s off the start.
After completing the first lap of the opening moto just inside the top 10 he began to move forward, using smart lines to pick his way up to second on track and first in MX2. Another good start in race two put him at the front of the 250 field before a crash dropped him back down the order.
Restarting mid-pack, he immediately began to climb back up the leader board and with torrential rain making the track super-slick his efforts were rewarded with a ninth-placed finish as second MX2 rider home. The result tied him on points for the class win but he lost out on the overall on a tie-break.
“Overall it was a pretty decent day,” he said. “Qualifying was really good and although the 450s out-gated me a little bit in the first race I was still best 250 and just worked my way up to second which I was really happy with.
“There was a lot of rain before the second race which made the track quite slippery. I got another good start and was running around top five but it spun-out a little through the whoops and I ended up high-siding and hit the deck quite hard. I got up, regrouped and went again but I lost a bit of my rhythm and just missed the overall.
“I’m glad to get the first race of the year out of the way. In the opening moto it took me a few laps to settle down because I hadn’t done a race for so long.”
Lewis is a late addition to the team line-up but he’s quickly gelled with the CRF450R and was looking good in the first race before a puncture forced him to pull out. In race two he settled into third but was forced to discard his goggles and, with his vision impaired, lost a place to cross the line fourth.
“Conditions have been tough today,” he said, “but I’m pleased with my result in the second race. I was third for most of it but I had goggle problems and decided to play it safe. The puncture was unfortunate because I was in about eighth after a bad start and going forwards when it happened. My speed was good and it’s all been very positive seeing as I’ve only ridden the bike a handful of times.”
The team also ran a guest rider in the competitive MXY2 250 class with Japanese teenager Shiaru Honda scoring in all four of his races for 17th overall.
“Josh was the fastest in the first MX2 race by a mile,” said team spokesman Ryan Thorpe. “He was the leading 250 rider in the second one when he crashed and took a while to get up and sort himself out so he missed out on the overall on a tie-break.
“Lewis was unlucky to get a puncture in the first race. He pretty much holeshot the second race and was a strong third for most of the moto but lost his goggles. I’m very happy with his form and his fitness and it was a solid debut for the team.
“Our MXY2 rider went well too so all-in-all a very promising, positive first round for us.”