Searle on his home GP this weekend
Matterley Basin, scene of this weekend’s British Grand Prix and the second round of nineteen in the 2019 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship has always carried a special resonance for one of the UK’s top riders, Tommy Searle.
It was at Matterley back in 2006 that the teenage Englishman scored his first podium result. Six years later he defeated Jeffrey Herlings twice across the Winchester soil to celebrate arguably the best of his Grand Prix triumphs. In a wet and muddy weekend in September 2017 he was part of the British team to climb the rostrum at the prestigious annual Motocross of Nations: the first Brit trio to manage such a feat for two decades.
Searle is one of the darlings of the British crowd, many of whom are expected to journey tosouthern England this weekend as MXGP starts its European phase of a long calendar. While the visitors and fans will also be able to look at Ben Watson for possible success in the MX2class and the likes of Max Anstie (the race-winning hero of the 2017 Nations and local-born) as well as British Championship leader Shaun Simpson, 28 year old Searle could be ready to write another career landmark at his preferred circuit.
Injury and circumstance have conspired against the former three-times MX2 world championship runner-up in pursuit of his first trophy in the premier class: #100 has been part of the MXGP pack for six seasons now. This year Searle is steering the BOS Suspension Factory Kawasaki KX450F under the guidance of Jean-Jacques Luisetti: the Frenchman was his team manger during MX2 title-contention years with Kawasaki between 2011-2012.Although BOS still has to be proven at the highest level of the sport, Searle is heading to his home event healthy, happy and the most confident he has felt for a number of campaigns.
“Kawasaki have made a great base,” he says of the new KX450F motorcycle. “The bike is new and we haven’t encountered any problems – which is not something you can always say when a brand brings out a new motorcycle. We have only found positives.”
“I was hesitant at first,” he reveals of the deal to join the BOS team and to use their suspension technology. “It is not a brand you will find as stock on many production bikes yet,but I was happy with it and found – for me – it was very good. I was impressed but I know we can still improve and we need to test more because I feel it has great potential.”
Searle placed seventh overall in the season-opening Argentine grand prix three weeks ago using a stock Kawasaki engine. There is a chance he’ll have more of a race-tuned set-up for Matterley. “Hopefully yes,” he says. “We’ll see how it goes but we still need some testing time and I want to go step-by-step instead of perhaps making a big jump in the wrong direction.”
Such is Searle’s enthusiasm that he’s targeting a strong showing at Matterley Basin and for a weekend that seems to be set for a dry forecast despite the traditional unstable spring climate in the UK. “I’d love to go top five,” he claims. “I haven’t had a podium in years so I don’t want to talk about winning or making the top three but I’d be really happy with a top five overall. I feel really good at the moment. I’m healthy and the bike is working really well. I always love going to Matterley and I’ll give all I’ve got.”
Words: Adam Wheeler