JAR Honda by IFS again split in half this past weekend for a dual-prong championship attack; MX1 rider Wayne Garrett travelled just a few miles down the road to the Laurel Bank track just outside Saintfield to defend his Ulster Championship chances, while MX2 rider Lewis Tombs made for Culham in Oxfordshire for the third round of the Red Bull Pro Nationals.
While the weather in County Down was overcast throughout, Oxfordshire saw its first bit of sustained summer weather, making qualifying conditions later in the day more challenging.
At Laurel Bank, Saturday morning saw Garrett put in the second fastest time in the MX1 class, soon followed by the first race. Here Garrett found himself in the dirt on the first lap. Gathering himself together, he got back on the bike and fought his way back to fifth place at the chequered flag. In the second race, Garrett made short work of David Russell before setting his eyes on the leaders. With his throttle hand injured in the first race, third would be the best result on the day.
The final race arguably was the toughest of the day, with Garrett fighting pain to stay in control on the bike to the final lap. Ending sixth, he missed out on the podium with a fourth overall on the day. At Culham, Tombs qualified in eighth in the MX2 class, going to the line for his first Pro race of the weekend towards mid-afternoon. Here things got off to a good start as Tombs found himself in second behind Steven Clarke on the first lap. A crash a lap later set Tombs back several positions, where he established a rhythm for the remainder.
With but corners to go, a fuel leak that had developed in the crash earlier in the race, left him high and dry, but rather than simply give up, Tombs pushed the bike up the hill and across the line in legendary Ryan Hughes fashion to finish three places down, in tenth.
The first race on Sunday saw Tombs refreshed and raring to go. A start mid-pack left Tombs searching for a rhythm all race long amongst a group of MX1 riders, ending the race in fifth. The final race of the weekend again got off to a good start. Third in the first lap, a mistake sent Tombs back to sixth again, where he found himself blocked from further progress until the end. With two sixths and a tenth under his belt, Tombs ended the day sixth overall.
Lewis Tombs – MX2:
“It was an OK weekend. In the first race I had a really good start, was in second behind Clarkey, but just washed the front end out in one of the corners and Martin ran me over. That ripped the cap of the fuel tank off and the fuel slowly leaked out which I didn’t realise until the last lap. It was a bit disappointing but I pushed the bike over the finish line to still score some points and ended tenth. In the second race I just didn’t get on with the track, just kept plugging away and was fifth. I knew for the last race that I had some good lines, to be fair it’s the best I rode all weekend. I had a good start again in third, but just had another stupid little slip-off which I have to stop doing. I worked my way to sixth and then got stuck behind an MX1 rider, which is really stupid, but never mind.”
Wayne Garrett – MX1:
“Saturday was tough! I crashed heavily in the first lap of the first race and landed on my throttle hand, which made it really tough to hold on all day. As the day progressed, the hand progressively got worse and it got harder to hold on, so I had to end the day with a third, fifth and sixth.”
Richard Rea – Team Coordinator:
“All in all it’s been a good weekend. Lewis struggled with the 450 bikes on track this weekend. He needs to work on pushing through in the early laps so they don’t interfere as much with his race. It’s a shame that he had a crash in race two, resulting in the bike losing fuel and running out just before the line but he did well to push it across and still scored steady points. Race 1 and 3 went well and we scored valuable points this weekend. We’re happy with the way he was riding.
“Wayne stayed at home to concentrate on the Ulster Championship. It’s unfortunate he suffered a crash in the first race, injuring his hand. But he did well to finish the rest of the day. Hopefully it’s not too bad and he’s back to full fitness soon.”