Andy McKinstry: Last weekend was a good one for the British fans as they got to see plenty of Grand Prix talent in action at Hawkstone International.
In the MX1 class it was all about the front four all weekend – Jeffrey Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff, Max Anstie and Gautier Paulin. All four of them showed really good speed and that they’re ready for the MXGP season to get underway. After Coldenhoff struggled in Italy the week before I didn’t expect him to be so fast so I’d give him rider of the weekend!
Tommy Searle showed that when he gets the starts he hasn’t much of a problem running their pace – hopefully he can stay injury free all season. Graeme Irwin and Evgeny Bobryshev were locked in battles most of the weekend. Irwin looked really smooth and riding like that should get plenty points in Argentina. With Bobby, you feel he has more to give and will continue to improve on the Suzuki as the season progresses.
Two other riders impressed me in the MX1 class, Micky Eccles and Liam Knight. Eccles ended up eighth in the first moto and was running sixth in moto two before a mechanical problem – for his first MX1 race that’s very impressive. Knight on the 350cc also showed good speed.
The MX2 class provided some great racing too – Jonass is looking really good on his Factory KTM and he might be very hard to beat in MX2 this year. Martin Barr was the star of the show for me after comfortably finishing second in the first moto and beat a host of GP stars. If Barr can bring that speed to the EMX250 races then he will be a contender and especially if he can get good starts like at Hawkstone.
Thomas Kjer Olsen ended up a second overall and showed in the second moto he wasn’t much off Jonass. The rest of the MX2 stars seemed to all have one good moto each so it’s hard to judge who’s better prepared heading into Argentina but they all certainly look good.
One rider I’d like to mention is Mikkel Haarup, it was only his second race on the 250cc and he looks comfortable. He was already Jago Geerts pace really so look out for him in the EMX250 series. He could be the next big thing but needs to cut out the crashes, although as a rookie that is to be expected.
Jonathan McCready: Despite the snow and cold temperatures, the Hawkstone international turned out to be a superb day’s racing. A huge crowd descended upon the famous circuit to see some of the best riders in the world do battle against the Brits and they weren’t disappointed.
Pauls Jonass was superb all day, fast, smooth and very loose the Latvian showed why he was world champ last season. Despite early race pressure from Martin Barr in race one then then Thomas Kjer Olsen in race two, Jonass didn’t make a single mistake on the track to take both wins, in the Superfinal he showed the pace he had by almost catching Gautier a Paulin for third and holding off Britain’s Tommy Searle for fourth overall.
The other star of MX2 had to be Martin Barr. The Ulsterman nailed his starts and showed his GP level speed by hanging with Jonass in the first half of race one and a brilliant second place and another top three looked in the cards in race two until Barr went down trying to re-pass the world champ, a couple more mistakes restricted Barr to ninth and fifth overall, his speed and the starts are right where the Ulsterman needs them to be for an assault on the British and EMX2 title in 2018.
Jeffrey Herlings won, but didn’t dominate in 450 class and that might be a good thing. Herilngs used his head all day, making very few mistakes and letting the races come to him instead of getting frustrated that he wasn’t pulling away. After missing the races in Italy, three tough motos against his teammate and still winning all three motos, was ideal preparation.
Glenn Coldenhoff rode fantastic all day, leading his teammate for much of the day but not quite getting the win he potentially deserved. Coldenhoff showed what he could really do at Hawkstone Park after a somewhat quiet season debut in Italy last weekend after a pre-season injury. Tommy Searle was top Brit and showed that with the starts, he can run with the top boys in MXGP – and he should only get faster from here. Mickey Ecceles was also impressive in the bigger machine and will be one to watch this year in the British championship.
it was a big day for Graeme Irwin, back on KTM running and the number one plate he earned last year in the British championship. Graeme rode well all day, and although the was slightly frustrated with his own performance, the Hitachi/ASA scaffolding KTM UK rode well, showing good speed for fifth overall.
The team also probably looked the best on the track with the TLD gear looking superb on both Irwin and Mewse who rode really well for third overall in MX2, the kid looks ready to do some damage in MX2 this season!
Another couple of impressive performances came in MXY2, Sam Nunn rode the wheels off his KTM 125 showing great technique while Joel Rizzi rode superb in race two to almost take the win on his YZ125. Rizzi was super-smooth as he floated around the track on the nimble 125 looking for a way past the bigger 250f machines. Keep an eye on both these kids, they could be stars of the future if they can keep their progression going!