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Fighting Spirit: Jake Nicholls Interview

Jake Nicholls is a true racer. He says what he feels and isn’t interested in making friends or being there for the image. He just wants to achieve his goals in World Championship racing.

And at Valkenswaard he finally achieved a big one when Jake made his first ever GP podium.

After coming so close last season the Martens KTM rider finally got what he wanted and he put in two fantastic riders to do it. It was one of, if not the best performance of Nicholls career and he was understandably ecstatic.

All of the British media were pleased for him too as Jake has had to overcome numerous injures and setbacks along the way but, he finally made it.

Honest and open, Jakes reveals to MX Vice just how hard the start of the season was for him with his new teammate doing so well and we also got his thoughts on friend Ben Townley’s retirement announcement.

You had a tough start to the season but this was a good way to rebound for the injuries and disappointments!

Yea the first two rounds of the season were really hard. I can’t tell you why, I haven’t changed anything from then until now. Sometimes it swings your way and sometimes it doesn’t.

It is good to come back like this. I sort of just wanted a couple of top fives or top sevens today just to get some points on the board but third overall was magic, it was a good boost.

Did the first moto give you confidence?

Yea I think the qualifier yesterday helped because we were all on a fast pace but yea I can take a lot from it. I’m an English rider and I’ve said before I am not naturally a sand rider but I’ve learnt a lot and it makes living inBelgiumpay off for me.

I would rather live at home but I am riding for aBelgiumteam and it is a good sacrifice I guess.

The British championship guys, until the last moto, seemed to struggle here. You got yourself away from doing the British championship and moved here, is that something you felt you needed to do to progress?

Yea, definitely. We might only have two sand races a year but every GP gets this rough and it really wasn’t that sandy today but it got rough. Every day here I go practicing I don’t have a choice but to ride a really rough track and for me I think it helps. Tommy never lived here and he has done excellent, better than I ever have so it works for some people and for some people it doesn’t but I have no choice but it works well.

Can you talk about your battle with Febvre within the team and his success so far this season?

Yea it was very hard to take. I am the second person on the team and he is the second in the world. It is a tough position to be in, all last year I was team leader and now I am not so I have to take it how it is and get back to that position.  He is a very good rider and a smart kid, I just need to have a few more along this line of how I did today and change it round.

It is only motivation but at the time I was destroyed because it wasn’t like I had two fifths and he had two podiums, I was terrible.

Coming into the year you looked so good in the internationals…

Yea that’s it. I felt really good and I spent time inNew Zealandand felt the best I ever had and I honestly can’t tell you why it went wrong.  I was sick going into the first round but I still rode good in the second race but I had a big crash and really injured my back.

It didn’t hurt me there but all that week inThailandI was in so much pain but then I got third in the qualifying race so I thought I was going to be alright.

Do you think that is you over that mental barrier now?                                                                    

Then my brake didn’t work because I got a stone in it and had a huge crash and the throttle cable snapped when I had the crash when I was in eighth or ninth. Then I had a big crash all on my own  in the second one.  It just went that way but I have trained just as hard since then and turned it round today in a big fashion and got my first podium.

You have beaten Febvre today but obviously that battle will continue. Does that give you extra motivation?

Yea it is. For the management it is going to be hard because we are going to be rivals but that’s part of it and you just have to feed off it I guess. I don’t speak to anyone I race with really anyway so it isn’t going to make that much difference to me. He is a nice guy and we are fine but on the track he is not my friend – like anyone else.

I didn’t feel any pressure to get the podium from anyone but myself. I have been so close so many times I needed to get it. I have no pressure from the team, I have had sixteen rounds coming into this to get a podium and with the hard work I did I knew I was going to get it, it was just a matter of when. Here is a good place because it is ten minutes from my house!

Yea when I pulled off the track it was such a weight off my shoulders. You can’t help but start doubting it. You don’t mean too, but when you come that close you think, ‘is it actually going to happen?’

Just changing subject a bit, you know Ben Townely quite well what are your thoughts on his retirement?

I was gutted you know? He told me a couple of days before he announced it and I was really surprised because when got injured recently I texting him positive messages and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to do it anymore. But when he told me I was surprised but I was happy for him at the same time because he puts so much so much pressure on himself. I mean I am hard on myself but he is on a different level to that.

I know he is going to be a much better person family wise because he was a hard person to be around when he was like that even for me and I’m not his family. Yea credit to him he has been a hell of a rider and good luck to him.

Was it good for you to see what it takes to be the best and the mentality you have to have?

Yea I have learned so much from that bloke and I am happy for him that he can move on.

Interview by Jonathan McCready

Picture by Nigel McKinstry

MX Vice Editor || 25

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