It is always positive to see an all-new team venture into the sport, as it is a sign of growth. It also provides a home for a few more of our most talented riders – it is basically a positive all round. When the Talon Kawasaki squad first appeared on our radar, most believed that they would enjoy some success in their rookie campaign. However, the team has had a turbulent season thus far, unfortunately, as injuries have had a large impact on their program.
Sometimes that is how it goes in our sport, but it is unfortunate that Talon Kawasaki haven’t really had a chance to show what they have to offer – yet. I am certain that the bad luck that they have encountered would have put others off. However, Talon Kawasaki are now hoping to turn things around, in an attempt to salvage something of the 2013 season. But what is all this bad luck that they have been forced to overcome? It is quite unbelievable.
At the start of the season, an intriguing dynamic was created underneath the Talon Kawasaki awning, as the riders on the green machines come from quite different backgrounds. Nathan Parker is the most accomplished rider on the squad – he has had a good amount of success in his career so far. Initially, things were looking good for Nathan, as he was set to return to the familiar surroundings of the domestic scene after a tough year contesting the FIM Motocross World Championship in 2012.
Unfortunately, any hopes that Nathan Parker and the Talon Kawasaki squad may have had of finishing in the top five in the final standings were washed away at the start of the season, as Nez was forced to succumb to injury at Landrake – round one of the Red Bull Pro Nationals. It was certainly a cruel twist of fate for the team – but the injury was not as bad as most feared at first. Initially, it was thought that his knee injury was another ACL issue. However it turned out to be a cartilage issue, which still required a few months rest. Still Nez was forced to give up his sixth position in the Maxxis British Championship, and watch from the sidelines.
It [the injury] couldn’t have come at a worse time, as fellow MX1 rider Ross Keyworth had to bow out with an ACL injury in the week’s prior. Ultimately this left Talon Kawasaki with none of their original riders, so they called upon the talented Belgian, Yentel Martens. But the bad luck that the squad had encountered continued, as Martens was also struck down by an ACL injury whilst riding in the Belgian Championships. Martens rode one race for Talon Kawasaki before the injury, as he completed the fourth round of the Phoenix Tools Premier MX series with some success, finishing with a second and two fifths. But unfortunately, the Belgian did not have a chance to build off of that performance with the team.
Talon Kawasaki actually tried to hire another replacement rider, as they were in contact with Scott Champion. However the American was holding out for a ride with the Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oil Honda team. When it became apparent that the ride was going to Malcolm Stewart, it was too late to get a deal sorted in time for round four of the Maxxis British Championship. So, the Talon Kawasaki team was without a rider, once again.
Nathan Parker has returned to the track in recent weeks, as he contested the British Masters at FatCat, and then the Red Bull Pro Nationals at Canada Heights most recently. At FatCat, he [Parker] finished fifth overall, which was a pretty good comeback, especially considering how difficult the deep FatCat venue is. But, Canada Heights was the greatest test for Nathan – the tough competition and weekend-long program was the best way to gauge how strong his leg is.
The Saturday was the better day for Nathan Parker and the Talon Kawasaki squad, at Canada Heights. In the first pro moto Nathan finished ninth, sandwiched between Jamie Law and the 250f of Steven Clarke. However, the lap times indicated that he could have been much closer to the top five, which was a positive that could be extracted from day one. Clearly, his fitness was on point, as he battled right to the finish; he crossed the line half a second down on Law in eighth. Unfortunately, race two on the Sunday was disastrous for Nathan, as he ended the first lap dead last; he then had to get the handlebars adjusted on the side of the track before continuing on. But, Nez ended up pulling in soon after, resulting in a DNF.
In race three, Nez Parker finished in fourteenth (ninth MX1 rider across the line) for eleventh overall, which wasn’t bad when you factor in the DNF. It was certainly a ride that Parker, and the Talon Kawasaki squad can build on at Hawkstone Park, on Sunday, when they make their return to the Maxxis British Championship.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer