Viewpoint: Tommy Searle

The two-time British champion speaks out

· 8 minutes read

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Tommy Searle's season came to an end at the final round of the 2019 Maxxis British Championship this past weekend. Searle wrapped things up in the best way possible too, as he clinched the MX1 title in the domestic series. That is covered in this exclusive MX Vice interview as well as injuries, the future and the Motocross of Nations.

MX Vice: You won the title, which obviously you expected to do. Anything less than that would have been a disappointment. Considering the shoulder injury and stuff like that, it's got to be good to just get this one locked up?

Tommy Searle: Yeah. To start off with I thought it [Landrake] was a couple of weekends before Turkey and China. When it was not that weekend, I was like, "Oh no! I've got to get through these two races." Then I hurt myself in Turkey, and actually quite bad. I couldn't lift my shoulder the first week. Even this time last week I was thinking, "I have no chance." I got an MRI and saw the shoulder specialist and they said, "You just bruised your shoulder." I went home for a couple of days and I called them a couple of days later and said, "There is no way my shoulder is bruised."

(ConwayMX)

I thought, "That's it. Career is over. I can't even lift it." Every time I lifted it it just fell back down. It just started getting better quite quickly. I rode a little bit of enduro one day this week. Then I didn't really know how I was going to fair, but it wasn't too bad out there. I could get around and go a sensible speed. The track was pretty easy. It was quite technical but easy in a way where it was not too jolty on your arms. You were not hanging off the bike. You were just riding the track. I'm happy to get it done.  

I wanted to get it done in the first race, because we weren't sure on the weather. Overall, I'm really happy. The team – Matt [Hutchins] at Evotech and Nige – they have done a great job. We have had a small team with how it's been this year in the British Championship, but we have not had one problem with the bike all season. I could not have asked for a better group of people around me. I had never worked with them before this season. I owe a lot of this whole championship to them, really.

(ConwayMX)

Shaun [Simpson]'s bike broke twice in one round and I'm not silly. I know that's the reason why he lost the championship. I've been fighting injuries the last half of the season, so I've sort of been doing what I can do to bring it home. I've been in the championship where I've almost won it and had bike problems two other times on the 250 [2006 and 2007]. It is what it is. Injuries, bike problems… It's not easy to win a championship. At the British Championship – with how many GPs we have as well – just being healthy for every round is quite hard. 

How does this one compare to the first one in 2016? Obviously this one has come from a rough old road with switching teams and all sorts of drama. 

It's quite difficult. Obviously to win the British Championship is good. It's nice. In 2016 it was better, because it was quite close between me and Shaun. I remember the last round… I think we ended up one point apart. That was a lot better to win it that way, more of a fight to the end. This one I sort of knew I'd won it unless I really threw it away, which I almost did a couple of weeks ago. We got through that.

It was just one of those things where you don't want to do anything stupid, and just get through the day. It's obviously really nice to win. More so for Matt and Evotech, because they were racing with Steven Lenoir the year he died. They were leading the championship with Steven and it means a lot to them to win this.

(ConwayMX)

That's enough about the British Championship. Turkey when you crashed, was it a gnarly crash or did you just fall on the shoulder wrong?

It was quite bad in the end. A little crash, but just the way I landed was really awkward. There was a small single into a turn. It was warm-up and I caught the rut. The gear shifter must have caught the rut on the take-off and then I was in neutral as I landed. I went over the front, then sort of flipped and landed on my shoulder. It was just a real awkward crash and as soon as I had done it, I was just there like, "I can't lift my arm up." The team said that they would just tape it up.  

I just said, "Look, there is no point in taping it. I cannot even lift it up. It's impossible for me to ride the bike." It was just one of those. Just frustrating. I've been in the situation so many times where I've been riding with injuries. I rode with my broken ribs in Czech, crashed because of that and broke my hand. Then I was trying to come back with that. When you are trying to race those tracks at that level and you are not one hundred percent all you end up doing is hurting yourself again, which I have done. I've had three injuries all through trying to race.

(ConwayMX)

It's our job to race and people give you a hard time. "Oh, he's injured. You're getting paid to be out there." That's what we do. Sometimes it is hard. It would be nice if you could just sit out. Get one injury, sit out, and then come back and race when you are one hundred percent. It's just not how it goes and then it is easy to make other mistakes, which I have done. I've gone from a cracked rib – that I carried on riding through – to then a snapped rib to a broken hand to my shoulder. It is what it is. The year is done now. I'm happy enough. That's it.

Maybe this is a stupid question, but are you happy with how the whole KRT thing went? Your body was obviously screwed the whole time, but you did actually have decent results. You kind of showed what you could do.

Yeah, no. Not really. The results I got with how I felt, I couldn't believe I had gotten those results. I felt awful. When I was going to those races, I couldn't practice in the week. I was trying. I couldn't ride. The actual results I got… I couldn't believe it when I went to Italy, I think, and I got sixth overall. I was just in shock about how that happened. I almost think with that bike and how I was – I could not go fast so I had to be so smooth because I didn't want to jar my ribs or jar my hand – everything actually came quite easy.

In Turkey I felt a lot more confident. I had done a couple of days of practicing and sort of over-rode the bike in the qualifying race, so went even slower. It's difficult to say. It's hard. It's one of those things. I would have loved to get better results, but I didn't. I was injured and it was what it was. 

(ConwayMX)

You are not on the ‘Nations team but, as far as I can make out, you would have actually been doing the MXoN before that Turkey thing, right?

I was injured and then carrying these little niggles, so I didn't feel really confident to go there. I only wanted to go if I could really show what I can do and do Britain proud. Then as I started to feel healthy, I said to Mark [Chamberlain], "Alright, I'll race it. I want to race now. I feel good. I feel I can do well for the team." I didn't want to race it for the sake of racing it. I just wanted to race it if I could do well. Then I fell on my shoulder. I think the team they have got now is good. I hope they have a real shot at a podium.

We cannot say what you are doing next year, but can we at least say that you are not doing the GPs? Can we confirm anything?

I cannot confirm anything at the minute, but I think that's it for me with GPs. We'll see. I want to do the odd few. It depends how everything falls. I may end up doing the full season. It is what it is. In discussions at the minute still. I'm quite happy with where I'm at. I have had a long-time racing GPs since I was fifteen, with my couple of years in America in-between.

I won a lot of races on a 250. My 450 career has not really gone as I had expected, but that's life. I'm not bitter about the sport or GPs. I loved racing GPs. I'd love to do a few more in the future, but the position I'm in at the minute I want to take the deal I have on the table. I'm happy with it, really happy. That's that, really.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

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