Viewpoint: Tommy Searle

Tommy Searle on his return from injury

· 7 min read

After breaking his collarbone a little over a month ago, Tommy Searle returned to racing at the second round of the Maxxis British Championship and immediately showed flashes of potential. Lewis Phillips, the MX Vice editor, caught up with the Bike It DRT Kawasaki rider at the end of the day to discuss his recovery and return to racing. This interview was originally posted as a podcast elsewhere on MX Vice.

MX Vice: It looked like you were kind of playing it safe to begin with, but that second moto was a great way to end your comeback. You had a good speed and really showed that things are going to progress quite quickly.

Tommy Searle: Yeah. Obviously with coming to race here I knew that I was way behind where I needed to be, but I would rather be here racing than at home on my practice track just riding by myself, with how the tracks develop and all the lines. The track was really good this weekend. I knew it was going to be a hard weekend for me, but my shoulder is just weak and I did what I need to do. I cannot really risk anything yet, but I can ride around safe at my own speed. That is just what I did this weekend.

The first race I did okay. I rode around the whole race in fifth really. Got a little bit of arm pump in my right hand where I'm holding on so tight with my arm, my good arm, and then the second race I pretty much got caught up in a kerfuffle in the first turn. I just pretty much stopped and hit the brakes and thought, "I'm not going to get caught up in a crash again on my first race back." So I came from last on the first lap. The first couple of laps were really easy, because back there at the British Championship race a lot of dangerous things happen on the first laps. The things I saw on the first three laps I was just like, "Oh, I want to get out of this area."

I just slowly made my way around people and in the middle of the race I started doing some faster laps and it was alright. I enjoyed the weekend in that I expected to be where I was this weekend. I expected probably to be a little bit worse than I was actually, so all in all it's quite a positive weekend. I'm glad I did it rather than sit at home.

Tommy Searle broke his collarbone a little over a month ago (MPS Images)

You have not actually been back on the bike for too long, like a week or something. Were you always going to come here no matter what? No matter if you had had two days on the bike and were really not ready, you just wanted to get a race under your belt?

I wanted to be here obviously, because anything can happen in this championship. If I can get a few points on the board and I can start winning from Blaxhall, then you never know what happens in this championship. It is just hard to make all the rounds and now I've missed one. It's very easy for someone else to miss one. I thought I might as well keep the championship alive a little bit. Obviously I'm way back and I'm not in the hunt at the minute, but it's a long season and anything can happen. I wanted to be here.

Obviously if it was really bad I wouldn't have been here, but I managed to get three days of riding before this weekend. I wasn't really riding fast at home in the week. It was hurting, but I've got physio every day and every day it does improve. I think by Blaxhall I should be ready to race for the win.

Obviously, you got a couple of races under your belt before the injury, but most of those were sandy surfaces. Coming here, was it tough because you did not really have any data to go off of on a hard-pack track?

Not tough, no. My bike's really good. We have a good engine and that. I think the problem is a little bit my suspension here, but I'm probably going five seconds a lap slower than what I would be going around the track. It’s hard to then change the whole bike when next week I'm going to be going way faster. The bike's set up to ride around at race pace, not roll around like I've really been doing today. It wasn't really worth changing anything. I think I'll go over to Belgium in the week before Blaxhall and change a couple of things. We changed a little bit before Valkenswaard and I think we can fine tune that.

But, overall, with the team and the bike, it's all gone really well. Other than my injury, which obviously has set us back a little bit. But in general, the team's really good this year and everyone on board with our gear sponsor, ASW, and with Steve and Kawasaki. I'm really happy where I am at the moment with the bike. I think we can improve a lot these next few GPs that I can do. Obviously I'm not racing Russia. I'm going to come back in Latvia, after having another race under my belt. If I ride around like I did today I'd be in twenty-eighth position at a GP, so it's pointless. But I think by Latvia I should be closer to be battling back up in the top ten.

Searle faces a sixty-point deficit to the current series leader (MPS Images)

There were a couple of reports lately that the injury was worse than you had told people or whatever and that there were little things that you'd kept quiet. That was not the case at all, was it? Just a collarbone break?

It was a collarbone break, but the collarbone does not really hurt me still now. It was behind the shoulder. The way I fell, somehow it flipped me around in the crash and I landed on my back – the back of my left shoulder. The bone broke from behind, pushed it up and nearly came through the skin. I don't know what I did, but the muscles have been… It's the muscles in the back that are actually causing me the pain, but they get better and better every single day. It's just I need to keep up with physio and doing my exercises, because each day it gets better, but I need to make them fine.

It's like I've had a big impact and they are bruised, just from probably not using it in the right way and protecting it while the muscles aren't working like they should. It's just a case of getting them back firing. I think in a couple of weeks I'll be up to 100%. I don't think it's going to be a niggling injury or anything. Today it was a little bit weak, but it's also a very tough track. All the tracks are hard these days, especially if you have got to go a pace you are not comfortable with. Today I was able to ride around at my own pace, but at a GP you are always out of your comfort zone if you want to be in the top ten.

Obviously, you have had a fair few injuries lately. This was maybe the smallest compared to all of those. Was it the toughest to get over mentally though? You came into the season fresh, with a good off-season, and the crash was not even your fault, so I imagine it must have sucked.

Yeah, every injury is tough. It's just I've had injuries the last few years and then I don't feel like I crash a lot at all, but it seems when I crash it can be… I'm just sick of getting injured. I don't want to be getting injured. It's not fun. It is hard work to come back when everyone's riding and you are coming back out of shape. You are behind everyone else and you are trying to race people who are healthy. It's just hard. It's hard mentally. It's hard physically. It's just not a position you want to put yourself in, but it is part of the sport.

If you look down the list of riders that are injured, unfortunately it's just how it is now. I don't want to be the one getting injured. Of course I don't. This crash was completely out of my hands and it just happened, then I'm just sat there on the floor again in agony and back in the same situation. It's not one I want to be in. Hopefully I won't be in it again this year, but when I am in it I work hard. I put a lot of work in. I train my ass off like I have done and I've done all winter, so I'll continue to do that. Hopefully I don't have to be in that position again this year.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: MPS Images

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