After unveiling their equipment for the new season, the Geartec Husqvarna squad travelled to the historic circuit of Hawkstone Park for their first appointment of the year. The Hawkstone International, which attracts thousands of spectators from various locations, typically acts as a warm-up race for those within the paddock.
Despite the fact that this was his first competitive outing aboard an FC450, Elliott Banks-Browne took no time at all to make his presence known in the premier division. In a class that housed seven former Grand Prix winners, as well as a world champion, EBB recorded the fifteenth-fastest time in qualifying and was confident that he could climb up the leaderboard when the gates dropped.
That was not to be, however, as some poor luck stopped Banks-Browne from challenging for a spot at the head of the field. Another rider fell in his path on lap one of the first moto, which left him with a mangled machine and no choice but to retire. The start of the second moto was more promising, as he rounded turn one on the cusp of the top ten, but a lingering issue from the first-moto crash forced him to return to the paddock prematurely. The speed was seemingly there whilst EBB was on track though, as he recorded a lap time that was competitive with those riders inside of the top ten.
Luke Norris, the second rider beneath the Geartec Husqvarna awning, fared well in the MX2 class. After qualifying in the first half of the field, he found another gear in the first of two motos and clawed his way into the top fifteen after starting in nineteenth. The second moto followed a similar pattern, as ‘173’ started outside of the top twenty but was comfortably inside of the points by the end of the race. A seventeenth in that final outing was enough for fifteenth overall in MX2.
Elliott Banks-Browne: “I hit [Shaun] Simpson’s bike off the start in race one, so bent the bike up badly. The start in the second race was better, but I could feel something up with the throttle and had to pull in. It turns out it was damage from the first-race crash! Still, it was great to have the first run out with the team and everything went well!”