After a good few weeks away in California, Heads & All Threads Suzuki returned to England to start off its first season race at the annual Hawkstone International in Shropshire. The weather played along too; instead of rain, only a strong wind and dark clouds made an appearance, making it a good day out for the thronging crowds.
The first practice and qualifying session got underway at 9 am sharp, and at the end of the session, MX2 riders Luke Burton and Ryo Sato found themselves in twentieth and thirty-first, while MX1 rider Graeme Irwin ended his subsequent qualifying session in tenth place.
For Japanese import Ryo Sato, the event was completely new; despite a crash in the first lap that set him back to the rear of the pack, he worked hard on a surface completely new to him to miss the top twenty by a few seconds. The second race was a battle for twentieth again, this time however, he found himself trumped and relegated to twenty-fourth.
Class colleague Burton also had his hands full. In the first race, he found himself in a war for the top ten, and at the finish flag he was able to collect a twelfth place. The second race was marred by a series of crashes that relegated him to the back of the pack, from where he faced an uphill battle to return to the points. He crossed the finish line with four points in his pocket, ending the day overall in the top fifteen and qualifying for the super final. He chose to opt out of the race due to a hand injury sustained in his second race.
Despite nursing a shoulder injury picked up in California, Irwin nevertheless put in a good first race performance. After a start in the top ten, he held his own against healthier rivals, conceding places only in the last few laps to end fifteenth. With the shoulder warmed up, he then went out for the second race, where he found himself in tenth for much of the race, battling with Dutch rival Herjan Brakke and collecting tenth place and a thirteenth overall on the day as reward for his efforts. With track conditions becoming tougher by the minute, Irwin decided to opt out of the super final to rest his shoulder and give it time to heal before the opening round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship at Landrake in three weeks.
I think it’s been good today. It’s positive from Graeme’s side, his shoulder held up good during the two races, but it was a wise decision not to go out in the last race because a lot of people had big crashes. Ryo had a good day; getting to the UK, riding sand, and then straight into Hawkstone, that’s a massive shock to his system really, so it was positive for him. Luke today rode exactly how we know he can ride, just get on the bike and ride it and show that he’s got the speed. For Graeme, if he was 100%, this would’ve been fine, for the other two this was not their best track, so roll on the less sandy tracks. We’ll see, all the riders have shown something today, so it’s positive. — Neil Prince
The weekend went pretty good, at the start of the day got a good start in the first race, just settled in really. Fitness feels good, the bike was riding good, but I chose the wrong tyre for the first race. I pulled through to thirteenth, then swapped the tyre out for a paddle tyre for the second race and did much better. I tangled with someone else, restarted dead last, came back to twenty first before I binned it again. Started dead last again, and finished seventeenth in the moto despite my finger absolutely killing me. — Luke Burton
Today was just a damage limitation day, it was just to check out how my shoulder is. I hurt it in the last week in California. Today is the first time that I’ve rode since then and I’m happy with how I was riding considering the circumstances. — Graeme Irwin
Hawkstone was a difficult track, but there was a lot for me to learn. There are a lot of things to work on before the next race, I will overcome these weaknesses. — Ryo Sato