Jake Nicholls last swept a Maxxis British Championship round four years ago, but he was expected to do at the opener on Sunday. The Hitachi Construction Machinery KTM rider did just that, of course, thanks to a pair of brilliant motos. In this piece, which is presented by Atlas Brace, we cover all of that with the series leader.
MX Vice: 1-1 on the day, your first victory like that in a while I think. I’m guessing you are pretty happy?
Jake Nicholls: Yeah, I can’t remember the last time. Obviously it was three races before, wasn’t it? I think the last time was Lyng, when I came on Jake Martens’ team. It was a good day; I was really looking forward to coming here. I like the track and have raced here for years. The weather was playing up a bit and it was almost like last weekend all over again, but not quite as bad. It was probably worse all over, but without the one or two interesting sections [laughs]. I had a really good day and have just enjoyed riding a lot.
Last year when you came to these races with Shaun [Simpson] and Tommy [Searle], there was obviously a little more competition. You were chasing them, just as you were in GPs. Coming here this weekend and knowing that you were facing domestic riders, who are great, but obviously you have been brought along by that speed. Did you come in a little more relaxed, knowing that you could play it smart and pace yourself?
To be honest with you, it was actually a worse situation for me. I would rather have Shaun and Tommy there. This is no disrespect to the other boys, but they are GP riders and very well established riders too. If I could beat them here and there it was a really good day. It brought me on loads last year, so obviously I was a little disappointed that Shaun wasn’t here and Tommy was injured. It was a little bit, yeah, disappointing.
I was not nervous, because I don’t get nervous, but it was probably a worse situation for me to be in. I had everything to lose, in a way, from other people’s perspectives. Not mine, because I know how fast the likes of those top five domestic riders are. All of our British Championship tracks are very British tracks, if that makes sense, and are not like MXGP tracks with big jumps into turns; I would think I would have a big advantage on them there. It is a funny situation. I just tried to not think about anything, treat it for what it is, get out front and do what I can do.
I guess that is the case when you are riding alone out front, you kind of lose yourself a little bit. There was a point in that second moto where [Brad] Anderson started creeping in a little bit and I guess you thought that you were going fast enough to continue pulling away?
Yeah that is it. With the track how it was I just wanted to get out early, pull a little gap and be sensible. The track could catch you out. I just got to a stage where I was comfortable. It went up to like ten seconds and then came down to eight at one point, so I thought I would try a little bit harder and got the gap out again. It was more because of the track though. There were some sections that could catch you out and ruin your race. If it was not like that then I would have tried to get away more, but I did what I had to do.
Going forward Tommy is obviously going to be back, which changes the face of the championship completely. If he were not coming back at all, would you be happy to race these? Are you happier knowing he is coming back and you’ll have someone to pull you along?
I am happy to know he is coming back. There was talk of [Tanel] Leok coming back as well and I told him to do it, because it is better. It doesn’t really make any difference, because there is a race and championship to win. Whoever wants to do it, it is up to them. The team is here and has really good support. I was so excited at the end of last week, knowing that there was a British Championship this weekend. It is nice to sharpen myself up and get a bit of confidence for the GPs.
Speaking of that, when I spoke to you at the first round last year you were all about building yourself back up step by step. Has it been weird to retrain yourself to come into here wanting wins? Have you found yourself falling back into that a little bit?
It has been good. It has been nice to have a full season under my belt with training and stuff. I have been able to work so much harder this year, because my body has adapted to it instead of having those injuries. From that side of things it has been good, I have not really thought about the rest of it. I have just been trying to get faster and faster. I had a really good off-season.
Obviously Qatar was a bit of a setback; I was a bit shocked to be honest. I thought I was a lot better than that. We tried something different with the bike that we tried on a sand track and it just completely did not work on that track. I hate that track anyway and have always struggled there. It made it a lot worse on Friday and then I just lost all confidence. That was kind of like weekend over. I had a go, don’t get me wrong, but I was happy to get out of there and excited for the following weekend.
I probably would have had a thirteenth or fourteenth last weekend, had it not been for that bog. Obviously some guys got stuck right at the end. At the end of the day I had just as much of a chance of getting stuck as they did; I think the smarter people got through. Forgetting Qatar, last week it was already heading in the right direction.
Finally, the confidence from Indonesia must have been big for you. A lot of people would look at the results and be like ‘Nicholls got eleventh in a mudder,’ but that is where you should be. I think people forget that. I guess that is what you are shooting for this year, top tens at least.
Yeah, exactly. Last year the goal was to just get in the top ten once and I came up short with like five elevenths. Already this year I have matched that at the second round. I know it is going to be tough on a dry track or whatever, as everyone is going to be there and fighting. That is what I am ready for.
Last year I was there or thereabouts, but this year I am so much better. It is not just me; the whole package is so much better. I am confident I can do that. At the same time I want to keep building throughout the year again and not just be silly with it, especially in MXGP. In the British Championship I am a little bit more established and want to push more, whereas there I want to build up a little bit.
One more thing. When you come to these races I am sure that there is an area that you aim to improve for when you go back to MXGP. What are those? Is there a specific area of the bike or your riding?
Just everything, to be honest with you. These are really good because on the early laps I am confident that I can get through. I have been so slow on the first laps of every race I have done this year, whereas today I was really good. In the week I try to go as fast as possible as soon as I get on the track, but it is tough in a race situation when there are people everywhere. Today it was muddy and a bit minging, but I was still really good on the early laps. That was something that I wanted to improve and did.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX