Buildbase Honda’s Jake Nicholls took two dominant MX1 race wins at the opening round of the Michelin MX Nationals at a muddy, rutted-out and challenging Preston Docks on Sunday.
The Suffolk-based racer – third overall at the opening round of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship a week earlier at Culham – came out swinging on his CRF450R in the first moto.
Third around the first corner, he took the lead on lap two and checked out to win by 53 seconds. In race two he grabbed the holeshot and never looked back as he crushed the opposition.
“It’s been a good day,” he said. “It was nice to get some decent starts and then just clear off. The track started wet and then got really, really rough which is how I like it. I holeshot the second one and led it from start to finish which was great and in the first I got into the lead on the second lap and checked out which was good.
“The bike was really, really good – we tried a couple of different things and I’d worked on a few things with my riding during the week and we seem to have gone in the right direction. I’m chuffed to bits.”
The team’s MX2 rider Josiah Natzke had a tougher time in the two mixed-capacity Fastest 40 races on his CRF250R and the New Zealander ran 5-8 in class after struggling to get out of the gate against the big-bore bikes.
“It wasn’t the best day for me,” he said. My starts weren’t good and nothing went my way. I struggled with everything that was going on with the track being super-gnarly and trying to get a good start with the 450s. It was tough.
“It’s hard work for a 250 rider to get a good start against 450s and then try and come through, especially on a track like that where the bigger bikes have a real big advantage.”
Racing in MX2 for the satellite Honda Adventure Centre team, Josh Gilbert was fast and confident. In the testing conditions his bike suffered a technical issue on the final lap of the opener while holding fourth but he bounced back in race two to card a strong third in class.
“I had a bad start in the first race,” he said. “Overnight where they’d scraped a lot of the wet stuff off they’d pushed it to the side which made the track a bit narrow so coming through was hard but I was right on third the last two laps and then I had a mechanical problem so that was that.
“In the second I still didn’t get a brilliant start but I put some passes together and ended up coming through to third before I ran out of time. I’m happy with my fitness and speed at the moment, just my starts let me down a bit today.”
Team owner Dave Thorpe was full of praise for the organising team which battled the terrible weather conditions to put on a first-class event.
“The conditions were really, really tough,” he said, “but they did an amazing job overnight and I’ve nothing but praise for Lee and the team at Preston Docks and the MX Nationals team who worked all night on the track.
“Jake pretty much dominated. He started the first race in third and once in front stretched his lead and won by almost a minute. In the second he holeshot and won by 26 seconds. He rode faultlessly – it was very, very impressive.
“The whole concept of MX1 and MX2 combined was a challenge for Josiah. In the first race he was fifth and second time out he was eighth but there are plenty of positives to be drawn from today.
“Josh Gilbert had a poor start in the first race but battled hard on a one-lined track only for his bike to lose all its water on the last lap while fourth in class which was a real disappointment. In the second he fought all the way to the end and was a strong third. He’s coming good and riding really well at the moment.
“Little Callum Green in MXY2 also deserves a mention. It was his first race for us and he put in two really strong performances for sixth overall in the 250F class which was particularly pleasing on a very challenging track.”