Rockstar Energy KTM has had a tough year, but on Summer Bank Holiday Monday, the team returned to the penultimate Maxxis British Championship round at Langrish in Hampshire with a vengeance. With new signing Luke Hawkins in the MX2 and Shane Carless moving up into the MX1 class, the team was looking forward to a great day’s racing.
Qualifying in the MX2 class saw Hawkins miss out on the super-pole session with a sixteenth place, whereas Carless found himself in the midst of it with a tenth in his qualifier and an eleventh place in the super-pole, putting a smile on team principal Darren Wilson’s face.
But that’s as far as things went for Hawkins. After the crush in the starting chicane, Hawkins was stuck in the back of the pack with damaged goggles. Trying to make progress up the pack, Hawkins pushed hard, only to have to pull into the pits with an injured eye after some fly-away debris hit his face. Playing it safe, the team pulled Hawkins from the remainder of the races, ending his day with a DNF.
Carless on the other hand was on a roll. Through the melée in eleventh, the Welshman soon progressed to ninth, where he saw off a challenge from Ross Hill to end the race in the same position. In the second race, Carless did even better. A brilliant start put him into fifth place after two laps, but a small crash dropped him back to seventh, a position he again defended well from several challenges. The final race saw a gradual progression up the pack from a start in twelfth, but with two laps to go, Carless had to concede his position to Tony Craig, ending the race in eighth again for a seventh overall on the day.
Commented a broadly-grinning Wilson: “We welcome Luke Hawkins to the team today, and for the first time on the bike in race conditions he had a reasonable qualifying in sixteenth, he gated well, was pleased with the power of the bike, and then he got hit in the face with debris which damaged his goggles. He carried on for another couple of laps before he got hit again by another stone which effectively put paid to his day because he can’t see out of his eye. I told him to just put the bike aside and get himself healed up. We have a bit of time before the final round at Little Silver at the start of October and we’ll see the true Luke Hawkins that we’ve seen a couple of years ago.
“Shane on the other hand pulled it out of the bag today, I’m going home here with a big smile on my face, he was in the premier class today, in the MX1 on a borrowed KTM 450SX-F, and he scored a ninth, a seventh and an eighth for a seventh overall, so I’m really happy with that. I just want to thank our sponsors who’ve stuck by us for the last few months, it’s not been an easy time for the team, but we’re going to bounce back stronger for 2013.”
Shane Carless (#68): The smaller bike wasn’t going the way I wanted it this year so I decided to have a change and jump on the big KTM 450SX-F and I am doing a lot better so far. I qualified in tenth, made a mistake in super-pole and dropped back to eleventh. In the first race had a ninth, the second race seventh and third race eighth, and I was happy with the weekend for my first big race on the 450. I was on a friend’s bike so it wasn’t set up at all for me. I’m going home to work on my starts and get the bike set up the way I want it and at the next round I should be towards the top five. I’m looking forward to it.
Luke Hawkins (#12): Qualifying was a bit tense, I only managed sixteenth, but I knew I could do a lot better, so I went into the next race knowing I could be in the top ten. The bike hooked up well out of the start, nearly getting the hole shot, then had a lot of mud in my goggles making them not sit properly on my helmet, so decided to take them off which was a big mistake. A lap later a stone hit me in the eye and put me out for the rest of the day due to the loss of vision. I was gutted as the bike was real good, I felt confident in it and that I could’ve had some good results. I want to thank Darren and everyone in the team for their support.