If running a Pro Motocross team was easy… With plenty of years’ experience Rob Hooper knows the challenges and perils that you face running an MX team at the top of its game, but this year there have been some great results and plenty of challenges and that’s how it panned out again in Round 3 of the MX Nationals when the RHR Yamaha motocross team descended on a Thunder soaked Hawkstone Park on Sunday.
The qualifying session followed a consistent pattern of past rounds with Ryan Houghton posting a good time in MX1 for 3rd fastest in the group, whilst his MX1 team mate Kristian Whatley was down the order but looking smoother and faster than his time suggested with high hopes come the Moto 1 gatedrop. The teams MX2 racer Robbie Dowson was back from his shoulder injury and as the team come to expect with him he was down the order when the qualifying results were pinned up, but when it comes to race time he inevitably steps up a gear.
Houghton had been working on his starts during the week and it payed off with a fantastic start placing him in third on the 1st lap of Moto 1. Whatley and Dowson also showed favourably when they appeared from their first circuit both inside the top 15, but for Kristian that was the highest he would be placed as he fell back down the field and circulated to finish a lowly 9th in the MX category.
Ryan though was riding at a good pace and although he dropped back a few places he finished a credible 4th in MX1. Dowson put in a blinder of performance to come 6th in the MX2 class and 13th in the mixed group overall.
With Kristian struggling for energy and still feeling second hand from the illness that affected him at Preston Docks last weekend, he didn’t go out for Moto 2.
Once again Ryan made a good start and was 6th from the outset of the race. His pace dropped off though and he tired at the end of the race but still kept strong enough for 6th in MX1 and 5th overall which is another great result for the rider who is consistently keeping the team at the front end of the field at each meeting.
Robbie started mid pack but after making some quick moves a crash on his injured shoulder proved to be the end of his race, and a frustrating end to his meeting after such a promising moto 1.
Team Boss Rob Hooper was once again full of praise for Houghton after his 5th overall “Ryan is going well and riding strong, and producing the results for the team. He had good starts today which make a difference, but it posed a different challenge and a pressure for him, having to run the pace of the front runners and it tired him out for later in the race. So that is something for us to work on, but overall Ryan is doing a sterling job for the team”.
On Whatley Hooper said “Kristian is just struggling so much, it appears to be a health issue more than anything. He just looks like he is making everything hard work when he is riding. He just has no strength and no energy. His first race was a real low point and he needs to seek medical advice to find out what is wrong with him. There is no point him racing in the physical state he is in at the minute as it is not doing his reputation or the teams any good. I really feel for the lad, he really wants to do well this year for the team and himself, but so far it’s been one thing after another, but we know how good he can be and he has shown glimpses of the huge talent he is. He just needs things to come right for him. He has the teams full support; we just want him back to enjoying racing and riding like we know he is capable of. “
Hooper was also really positive about the performance of Dowson in Moto 1 “Robbie had a really good first race, mixing it up there with the front runners of that class. Bearing in mind he is struggling with a shoulder injury a sixth was a fantastic result and effort from him. It was just a shame he crashed early on in Moto 2 and was unable to capitalise on it for a good overall result.”
With a Two week break in Championship racing Hooper think’s the break is good and bad news for the team saying “Hopefully this break will be enough for Kristian to get himself fit and right, but with Ryan he could do with races every week to keep his strong momentum going and to ensure his intensity doesn’t drop. Robbie could also do with a rest to try and give his shoulder time enough to recover properly, but he is young and fit and wants to race and you have to admire him for that”.
Ryan has now moved into joint 3rd in the MX Nationals MX1 Championship standings and following the sentiments of Hooper he rides in France this weekend to keep up his race fitness and intensity.
Words: RHR Yamaha – Press
Pic: Kieran Lewis