Jake Nicholls had one of the most dominant days of his career on Sunday, as he swept both motos at the second Maxxis British Championship and took control of the championship standings. Nicholls, who has gelled extremely well with the Buildbase Honda squad, took some time to discuss that outing, his current outlook and much more.
MX Vice: There is not really much to say, is there? Perfect day. Good starts. Led pretty much every lap. You had to work around EBB each time, but you did it pretty quickly. Did anything go wrong at all?
Jake Nicholls: Not really. The second race to start, they ripped in front of the gate that I used in the first race, but I sort of wanted to use that again. So the second start was not quite as good, because it was so loamy out the start straight but, other than that, it was good. Just got into the lead and put my head down. The bike was riding really nice, to be honest with you. I was just enjoying it. It was so predictable and I could just sort of push. I was gaining confidence with the bike every lap.
Then the second race was a bit weird. The fence went down or something. Someone hit the fence coming down one of the hills, so it was like double waved yellows for four or five laps. I was like, is it red flagged or what? All of a sudden it disappeared. I was not jumping that step down and I think a few were. I did not really know what to do. Other than that, it was a good day.
I just spoke to Bobryshev and he said for the inside gate, you could kind of get onto the hard stuff? He was on pole, so obviously he had that choice. Had you been on pole, would you have gone there? Was the second gate in from the inside no good, because you could not get on that hard stuff?
No. I did not even look at it, to be honest with you. The thing is with that, I was always like, if I don’t get a good jump I’ll wait in the middle. I had a bit of a backup plan. Whereas when you are down the inside, if you get a good jump, you are sort of… So I just tried something different. It worked out alright, really. Like I said, they ripped it pretty deep so it like dragged the bikes down. It felt like we were in first gear going up there. Bike pulled up well.
Do you feel like you have got more time to enjoy these now? Maybe before you’d come off a podium and immediately be like, “what do I need to fix for Russia?” Do you have a bit more time now to breathe and take stock of the situation?
Yeah, massively. Saturday, I do not work Saturdays. I pop in there, normally fill my van up with diesel and just have a look around. I’ll drive to the track now. It’s just nice to get here at like 4:00 whereas when I was doing GPs I’d just sit around on a Saturday just relaxing and spending time at home. I’d get here at like 7:00 at night and then be rushed. Then to get back from here, because I’d be getting ready for something else.
Whereas now it’s like trying not to think about going back to work tomorrow morning. But it’s good. It’s a nice situation. I’m lucky I work for my father, so there’s a bit of leeway there, but at the same time I work hard with the business. I’m putting the work in with the racing as well. I think it’s sort of showing a little bit in both ends, really.
Does it not make you think a little bit when you have Evgeny handled today and he is getting eighth in MXGP? Maybe if you could take this positive outlook, great team, everything working vibe to MXGP you could push it a little bit and get to where you want to be? Does that even enter your mind?
Not at all. It’s funny, really. I’ve said to you before, I’ve said to everyone, I’ve got so much respect for the boys doing the GPs. They are all so quick. He was eighth last weekend, but the tracks are different. This is a British track – I’ve rode it since I was young. My bike’s set up for these tracks a little bit. There is a little bit of that, but I rode well today. I think if I rode how I did now in the GPs, yeah, I might do alright, but I don’t want to do it. I’ve got no interest in it.
I watched Portugal and for the first time I actually thought I’d be up for riding it, because it looked slow and technical. But I don’t miss it one bit. It’s no disrespect to any of the boys doing it. Total respect for them. But I don’t want to do it. Last weekend I raced the championship at Wakes Colne – we had a really good day and came home just happy. I guess driving home I might think about it a bit, but it’s different. It’s so different.
I know what your answer to this is going to be, and I probably shouldn’t even ask it, but maybe you’ll surprise us. HRC need a rider. That’s kind of a dream for a lot of guys. If they did come knocking, would you at least think about it twice and maybe look at it in a little more detail?
Yeah, of course I’d think about it. Factory Honda is the epitome of a factory team, isn’t it? So I would definitely think about it. It would be a tough old decision, but my priorities lie with the business and with the Buildbase Honda team these days. I don’t know where it would go, but I’m enjoying myself at the minute and really want to keep it that way. We’ll see. My bike at the minute is really, really good. Just enjoying it like I did when I was a kid. Different worlds now.
Someone said something to me the other day and I kind of shrugged it off, but it’s got me thinking now. A few people reckon that this is the best you have ever rode on a 450F. Are you kind of feeling that way?
Yeah, I do feel that way to be honest with you. I rode well on the 250s the last three years I was on them. Then I had a bit of a tough go at the 450s. I did my finger, then I did my wrist and then I did my back on the second year. Then the Husqvarna year I had a good year. But I was always like thinking about just finishing the year. I wanted to get through it, because I’d had such a bad two years. Then last year it just went obviously bad again.
Honestly it was so much to do with bike set-up. The Husqvarna and the KTM, it goes without saying, they are fantastic bikes. But setup-wise it was just, I don’t know, you get into that thing in the GPs of “he has got this, so you should have this.” There’s a lot of that. It takes a strong character to be able to get out of that and I wasn’t strong enough to say no, I didn’t like that. I ended up going along with it. I think that’s got a big part of it.
The Honda works so well, especially on our little gnarly tracks. It seems to just work fantastic. I think I’ve bonded with that. I actually grew up on Hondas, so perhaps there’s a little bit there as well. Mark Eastwood would ride the bike that I race and does my suspension. He rides a Honda 450F himself, so he knows how the bike acts. He knows my style. It seems to work alright. There’ll be tough days going ahead I’m sure, but I just want to keep enjoying the racing. Whatever happens, happens really.
Everything is clicking at the moment, obviously. Is there one thing with the bike set-up or on the physical side that you are looking to improve going forward?
You can always be fitter. Don’t get me wrong, but I think my main thing is not doing too much. I put the hours in with work and I train as well. I think nowadays I’ve actually got a better balance, because I’m training less and riding a little bit less. But my body seems to react to that better. Whereas GPs, some of the boys are so fit. They ride for three days a week and then do a GP. I can’t even ride three days a week and do a British. Hats off to them. Some of them are beyond normal; I don’t know what they’re up to. But I’m really happy with where I’m at, I’ll keep pushing and I’ll keep practicing hard. We can always be quicker. Everyone can be quicker. I’ll keep trying and go in the right direction.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: MPS Images