The popular Hawkstone International has been and gone. Although most were scared that the poor weather would have a negative effect on the event, it seemingly did not, as the place was packed! With the track in perfect condition, the stage was set for some great racing, which is exactly what we saw.
Undoubtedly, the biggest draw for the crowd was to see Jeffrey Herlings tackle the sand, and as expected, he was dominant from the start. In qualifying, the sand master set a time that was three seconds faster than second place, Mel Pocock. Herlings’ time was also one second faster than the fastest MX1 rider, Tommy Searle. However, you have to factor in that the track would have been tougher for the 450 guys. In the MX1 qualifying times, Shaun was just a couple of tenths off of Searle – they were faster than the rest of the field by almost two seconds.
The MX2 riders kicked off proceedings with their first moto. Lars Van Berkel took the lead early on, surprisingly, which left most fans scrambling through their programme in order to find out who the number one-hundred and seven was. Ben Watson, Mel Pocock and Jeffrey Herlings followed Lars on lap one. However, by lap two Jeffrey had moved into second; he then took the lead on the following lap. Obviously, the Dutchman then rode off into the distance – he took the victory by one-minute and five seconds.
Behind him, there was a great battle for second. Although Van Berkel looked comfortable in second, Ben Watson seemed capable of matching his speed whenever he needed to, as he pulled right onto his back wheel. However, it looked like the track was quite difficult to pass on, which made it tough on the guys. It was so rough that mistakes were imminent, also. Eventually, after a bad start Petar Petrov started to move towards the front at around the same time that Pocock dropped out with a chain issue.
Petar clawed his way to the runner up position four laps from the end when Van Berkel seemingly began to tire. Although he lost a bit of ground in the middle of the race, Ben Watson gained a ton of time on Lars and was alongside him heading down the final straight before the finish. However, he just missed out, but it was a great ride, nonetheless. Lenoir finished in fifth following a good, consistent ride. Bradshaw ended sixth, ahead of Eccles (the last rider not to be lapped by Jeffrey), Dunn, Barr and Callaghan.
Although the MX2 class was fairly uneventful, the opening MX1 moto was action-packed! Matiss Karro took the holeshot in this one, but it was short-lived as the Latvian dropped to fourth on the first lap . Shaun Simpson inherited the lead on lap one, with Todd Waters and Tommy Searle hot on his heels. The top four were seemingly the class of the field, as they separated themselves from the rest of the pack immediately.
The top four didn’t change for four laps, before Searle dropped the hammer and started making some progress after this, as he got around Waters for second. Although most were expecting Tommy to immediately pull onto the back wheel of Shaun, he made no real progress, as he kept making up a chunk of time and then losing it. Karro moved into third on lap six – Todd seemed to slow for some reason. Eventually, Waters dropped out of the race after a big crash, which damaged his clutch.
Searle grabbed the lead two laps from the end, and immediately gapped Simpson; he won the race by four seconds. Matiss Karro rounded out the podium, ahead of Brad Anderson, Jens Getteman, Nathan Watson, Marc de Reuver, Jamie Law and Yentel Martens.
Jeffrey Herlings really excels when the track gets rougher, as everyone knows. So, it was not surprising at all that Jeffrey Herlings was even more dominant in moto two; the fact that he got the holeshot helped him out, too. Pocock, Van Berkel, Bradshaw and Watson followed him on lap one. Obviously, Herlings ran away with the race, so there was no competition at the front of the field. Behind him, Van Berkel moved around Pocock and into second on lap four, and Martin Barr got around Pocock later in the race too.
However, Mel regrouped and got back into second in the closing stages, as Van Berkel appeared to tire – he dropped to fifth by the finish. Pocock was one-minute and twenty-six seconds down on Jeffrey by the end, but it was still a solid ride for him. Martin Barr had a brilliant ride in third, just ahead of Petar Petrov, who had to move up from a bad start again.
The final MX1 race belonged to Shaun Simpson, but he was far from dominant. Matiss Karro again led on lap one, and he managed to hold onto the lead for three laps this time around. However, on lap four, both Simpson and Searle stormed through, and the stage was set for a titanic battle. Tommy did eventually take the lead, but one lap later he dropped out when a stone got stuck in his sprocket. Karro retook the lead after this, but Simpson soon moved back through and went on to take the moto win.
Todd Waters ended up in third this time around, but he was thirty-three seconds down. Jens Getteman finished fourth in a great ride, ahead of Gert Krestinov, Marc de Reuver, Brad Anderson, Nathan Parker, Herjan Brakke and Graeme Irwin. Shaun also took the MX1 overall victory from Matiss Karro, and Jens Getteman; the latter was certainly a shock to most.
Finally, it was time for the SuperFinal, where the top MX1 and MX2 riders face-off. The MX2 riders got a small advantage in this one, but it was not ten seconds like it has been in the past, and this caught some riders off-guard. Tommy Searle started dead last, as he didn’t even have his hands on the bars when the gate dropped! Lars Van Berkel again led them around for two laps, before Simpson took the lead. However, by lap four, Herlings had the lead after starting eighth.
Shaun dropped out of the race on lap five, which allowed Karro to move up into second. Van Berkel dropped down as far as fifth at one point before moving back up into the final podium position at the finish. Martin Barr had another brilliant ride in fourth, just ahead of Jens Getteman, Todd Waters and Gert Krestinov. Tommy had moved up as far as eighth, but ran into a handful of issues, which restricted him to twenty-seventh.
So, that’s a wrap from the 2014 Hawkstone International. Thanks to everyone that followed our live updates on the day and left us positive comments. We will have a lot more coverage from the event this week on MX Vice.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: Elliot Spencer