Although there are no points on the line at the Hawkstone International, there are bragging rights available, which are valuable when it comes to confidence and momentum going into the new season. I’m sure that you would like to know who did well, and who didn’t have a great day in the sand, right? Well, we look at these riders in this weekly feature.
Jeffrey Herlings: Honestly, I almost did not put Jeffrey Herlings in this column, because we all expected the sand master to win. Although it has become normal to see Jeffrey destroy the field by more than a minute, we should not take it for granted! It would have been one of the greatest upsets ever if Jeffrey had lost, as none of the guys present were close to his speed. It would have been interesting if he had started with the MX1 riders in the superfinal. Although it is most likely that he would have won by a substantial margin still, it would have been great to see him slice his way through the field.
Prior to this weekend, I thought that there was a chance that some MXGP riders would be able to challenge the reigning champ this year, seeing as he run into a lot of problems in the off-season. But, he assured everyone present yesterday that he is one hundred percent, and he looked it. It is going to be another long year for anyone not named Jeffrey Herlings.
Shaun Simpson: Obviously, whenever Jeffrey Herlings gets on a sand track he hogs the limelight. So, as a result of this, the great ride that Shaun Simpson put in is going to get overlooked by most. It really is not that surprising that Shaun took the MX1 overall victory – he is a very accomplished sand rider, after all. The fact that he could hang with Tommy for the most part must be a huge confidence booster for him heading to Qatar.
Ben Watson: Undoubtedly, the rider that impressed me most on Sunday was Ben Watson; he really looked like he had put in the work this off-season. The fact that he hung with Mel Pocock quite easily was certainly surprising, despite the fact that the Watson brothers have always been great sand riders. Following his great performance, I am very excited to see what he can do in the Maxxis British Championship this year – I would not be surprised at all if he is a podium contender each week.
Jens Getteman: When the 24MX Honda team revealed that they had signed Jens Getteman to tackle the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship, most people were quite surprised. Unfortunately, he did not really show his potential last year, because of injuries. However, he seems to be on-track to have a successful campaign this year – he finished a surprising third overall at the Hawkstone International! In fact, Jens did not seem that much slower than the frontrunners – he could surprise some people this year.
Adam Sterry: Honestly, the only reason Adam Sterry is under this heading is because he had to take a trip to the hospital; he was quite good aside from that. But, unfortunately, he got taken out in race one and “suffered damage” to his ankle. Sterry was hovering around the top five prior to his incident, so it was a good showing, especially when you consider he was right in the mix with most of the Maxxis British Championship title contenders. Sterry will have to take a little bit of time off of the bike now, but he has not sustained any serious damage, luckily.
Priit Rätsep: I expected to see a little more out of Priit Rätsep, as in my eyes, he is a sand specialist. Of course, we have to allow him time to adjust to racing in the UK aboard an Oakleaf Kawasaki 450f. However, fourteenth overall is still quite disappointing, especially when you consider that the field wasn’t as stacked as it has been at previous editions of the event. Still, Priit has time to build off of this before the Maxxis British Championship season opener.
Nathan Watson: Unfortunately, a mechanical failure in the second MX1 race (caused by a big crash) knocked Nathan Watson out of the moto, and restricted him to sixteenth overall. Prior to that, Nathan still did not set the world on fire; I thought he would be a little stronger, after watching how fast he was at Hawkstone Park last year. Still, it was a solid debut on the Husqvarna, as he can extract plenty of positives from his seventh in moto one.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: Elliot Spencer