This weekend the Maxxis Henderson LPE Kawasaki team travelled to Culham for the final round of the Red Bull Pro Nationals Championship. With the weekend’s weather forecast not looking great the organisers took the decision to switch the days so that the Pro’s raced on Saturday, rather than risk cancelling the Sunday.
Saturday started with the morning’s free practice, and marked the return of David Goosen to the team following a knee injury in pre season. Also for the Culham event the team had decided to give young Connor Walkley the chance to race the 450f in the MX1 class alongside fill in rider Gordon Crockard. In the free practice Connor finish 9th fastest in MX1, while Gordon struggled to get comfortable on the track, Goosen also spent the session getting comfortable and finished 12th in MX2.
Next up was the timed qualifying session and again Connor was able to produce a solid lap time to finish in 10th place in the MX1 class. Gordon was also able to improve to finish in 13th place. MX2 rider Goosen struggled slightly with the pace after being off the bike for so long and finished 15th in MX2.
The first race of the day would see Walkley make a strong start rounding the first corner inside the top 5. With a strong start Walkley set about producing a number of solid laps early on to cement his strong start. Both Gordon and David suffered from bad starts and had a lot of work to do to. Gordon was able to pick off a number of riders and finish in 12th place, while Goosen would finish in 14th place. Connor’s solid race continued as he finished n 6th place in MX1 and 7th place combined.
After the short break it was time for the second Pro race of the day and the final race of the season. As the gate dropped Connor again made a superb start and rounded the first corner in third place. Within a lap Walkley had worked his way forward and was running in a comfortable second place. With each lap Walkley was becoming more confident and settled during the first half of the race. With only 4 laps remaining Connor made a small mistake in a corner and dropped the bike, losing a few position. The small crash was enough to disrupt his rhythm and the youngster would go on to finish in 8th place. Gordon again had another bad start and had to work hard to recover to 12th place. Goosen also showed much better promise in the second race to finish in 12th place.
Connor’s strong results gave him a superb joint 6th overall on the day, in his first MX1 race at the Red Bull Pro National. Gordon’s two mixed results were still good enough for 12th overall on the day, along with Goosen making a steady return to racing for 12th overall and now has two weeks to prepare for the final Maxxis British Championship Rnd at Little Silver.
I’m extremely exhausted after today; it’s been my first race back at the Red Bull Pro Nationals or any Championship event for that matter. After being off the bike for so long it was always going to be hard but I feel that I’m not a million miles away from where I need to be. I’d like to say thanks to Steve and everyone at Maxxis Henderson LPE Kawasaki for helping me out with my return and giving me this chance. I know what I need to do now before the Maxxis at Little Silver in two weeks.
Today I’ve felt that I’ve really struggled to get comfortable with the track and with the set up of the bike. It’s been a long day, I didn’t get a good lap time this morning and then struggled with the start and opening corners, which made the whole day hard work. I’m just really disappointed and I’m now looking forward to the next race at Little Silver in two weeks.
I’m really happy with how today went, we chose to ride an MX1 bike and I felt more comfortable than I have all year and I was really enjoying myself. I had some good starts and two good races minus a few little mistakes. I want to thank Steve for giving me the opportunity to ride one of his MX1 bikes and also thank all the team for their support this year.
This weekend has had its up and downs but on the whole it wasn’t all that bad. It was David’s first race in six months and also his first race for the team and he was a little disappointed after the first race but it is very hard to come back after that long a lay off. It’s hard to be up to the speed and bike fitness of the guys who have been racing week in week out so when you take that into consideration I think he did well and is back on the right track. Gordon had a nightmare day with set up and just couldn’t seem to get going but he dug deep to grind out a solid result at the end of the day. Connor has been struggling all year on the MX2 bike so I decided to put him on the big bike this weekend and try him in the MX1 class and I am very pleased I did because he was a totally different rider with 6th place in the first race and then held second place for two thirds of the second race. He rode very well and very nearly ended up on the podium but he unfortunately slipped off in a corner losing a few places and his rhythm, but he still did enough to finish joint 6th overall on the day which was a great result. We now move onto the last race of the year in two weeks time down in Devon for the last round of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship at Little Silver.