Portavogie’s Robert Hamilton unexpectedly came away with the overall victory in the open class two stroke championship at the first round of Red Bull Pro nationals at Landrake.
Robert was one of the Uk’s top youth schoolboy riders in his time, riding for team green Kawasaki as well as for Dave Thorpe’s Honda team as the 80cc rider. Unfortunately Robert suffered several injuries that really robbed him of his chance to really challenge for podiums in the adult scene but he never gave up and achieved some top tens as well as Irish and Ulster championships.
Roberts is now back focusing on England but this time concentrating on the rapidly growing Red Bull Pro Nationals and their popular two stroke championship.
Slowly getting back to full race fitness, Robert is nearing his best form but unlike years past, when motocross was everything, Robert is taking a more easy going approach to the sport nowadays.
He still puts in the hours training and leaves nothing on the table when the gate drops, but with working in the real world his number one priority, Robert has actually found his racing to be more relaxing without the pressure of it being the be all and end all. His results are showing the new found perspective is working and perhaps it is also due to the new found fun of riding a two stroke again.
With round two at Weston fast approaching, we spoke to Robert about his win at the Red Bulls as well as riding a two stroke against the 450s in the Pro class as well as back home in Ireland.
You won the first round at Landrake, you had been on the podium last year but did you expect to win?
No I was going to get the first round behind me. I hadn’t done a lot of practicing over the winter. I was just going for a top three and a strong result. For Landrake it was really rutty and I wasn’t feeling 100% bike fit but it turned out the luck was on my side and I ended up winning it overall. A yong guy ended up crashing in the last race and it gave me the overall. I was pleased when I found out but I didn’t realise until I came in.
I hadn’t been tracking the points because in the first race I went out on the 300TM and was leading it the first two laps and had a crash. I got up but was flustered and had some arm pump and struggled a bit.
Then I had to take the KTM out in the second race because the TM nipped the ring and started slowing down. The TM was supposed to be my main bike at the time because I hadn’t done a lot on the KTM until then.
You rode the 300TM last year and you were on the KTM at the Ulster championship, what bike do you prefer?
Grahm Ross got me the TM last year and straight away I felt comfortable on it. But it started breaking down and Graeme though it would be a better idea to go KTM because the parts for the TM were more scarce.
I didn’t really take to it but I didn’t really take to it when I rode in the GR7 two stroke championship because It must have came from Norman Watts with the power valve stuck and I didn’t realise for two months. So it wasn’t overally powerful compared to the 300TM.
So Grahm ended up getting a 300SXS kit for it and it had more power. But the stock 250 KTM once we fixed it was quick enough – it’s just the 300 has just that extra bit down low basically.
In the Ulster championship you are racing against the 450s. You are very competitive against them last Monday at the second round on the KTM…
I had been training all winter cycling with Sam Craig but I wasn’t bike fit and I had arm pump problems because cycling all winter you aren’t working the top half of your body. It is just getting myself more and more race time.
I felt comfortable on Monday in the first race but got arm pump and couldn’t push. In the second race I was happy where I was sitting.
Do you feel you had any disadvantage on the 450s?
Not round Seaforde it is quite a tight track for a 450 because I have obviously rode one myself around there. I’m not saying the two stroke is as good as the 450s you have to world harder on it but I feel it is good enough and it is just getting myself a bit more bike time.
You got taken out by Richard Bird in the last race on Monday while leading, what are your thoughts on that?
To me it was a dangerous move but we will go back again to next round. Everyone saw it but I have came through that racing before against Philip McCullough so I am used to it and it doesn’t bother me. It will only make me stronger and want to win more. I was very lucky not to get hurt, it happened so quick I had nowhere to go. I saw his interview where he said he wanted to win but there are three or four other people that want to win as well! If that’s the way the game is going to be played it can be played like that.
Do you prefer riding the two strokes?
It is a lot lighter. I am happier with it and if you crash it doesn’t throw you off as hard! It is harder in one way and it is more fun in another. I like being worked hard but sometimes it can be annoying because you feel the bike isn’t always at its strongest points.
Are you doing any Maxxis rounds?
Graeme might take us over to a few. It is quite expensive to get over, maybe if we had a boat sponsor it would be a wee bit easier! But we are doing all of the Red Bulls and with doing the M1/MX2 Pro class as well I have six in the one day to do.
It is tough, my times were good in the two stroke class but in qualifying in the pro class, I don’t know, but I couldn’t get the same lap times in – if I could have I would have been top ten. I just need to get my head round qualifying, the gate means everything to me.
The upcoming race here at Weston I will be doing the two stroke and Pro classes again and that is going to be tough too because I haven’t had much sand practice and I’m still getting back into race fitness with not riding much in the winter. But every year before I have been coming out too strong and losing my peak fitness too quickly so I am happy with the way I am going at the minute.
I would like to thank G&G Ross, Sam Craig, Ronnie Linton and all the people that have helped me over the years.
Article and photo by Jonathan McCready