Who impressed: 2019 Hawkstone International
With such a stacked line up of GP and quality riders in the MX2 class at Hawkstone if you’d have said that Adam Sterry would be less than a lap away from going 1-1, I don’t think too many people would have believed it prior to the weekend. But it’s exactly what happened, a mistake cost Sterry a 1-1 but he’ll be delighted with his speed. It looks like he’s had a good winters preparation and Marc de Reuver has been working magic – even Sterry’s starts were on point which we haven’t really seen during his time with the F&H Racing team.
“I’m taking away from today that I won the overall. A small mistake on the second to last lap but I led every lap except the last one there! I’m really happy with my riding, happy with three holeshots, I almost holeshot the Superfinal but against the 450s that’s more difficult! Yeah, as I say I can only take positives from today, a small mistake, but my riding was really good especially with the stacked line-up this weekend”, Sterry told us regarding his weekend.
Whenever Sterry crashed on the last lap it meant that Jago Geerts ended up winning the MX2 class overall at Hawkstone. The Belgian didn’t have the best of results during the Italian pre-season races so he’ll get a boost of confidence just at the right time.
The thing that I love about watching the young Belgian rider is that he looks so effortless on the bike and just makes it look easy. One thing that I had noticed during his pre-season is that his starts haven’t been the best but if he can get his Kemea Yamaha out of the gate he belongs right at the front.
Young Dane, Mikkel Haarup rode the Hawkstone International last year in what was one of his first races on the 250cc after moving up from the 125cc. Fast forward a year and just look at his improvement. He had the speed a year ago after making the jump up from the 125cc but the intensity and making too many mistakes was a bit of a problem.
The IceOne Rockstar Husqvarna rider has clearly worked on his weaknesses and will race the MX2 World Championship in 2019 after looking so good during pre-season. “Yeah, you know, last season wasn’t the best. I had a lot of mistakes even though I was fast which you saw here last year in qualifying. I just didn’t have the consistency which was needed. During the winter all I focused on was just getting those laps in, to not crash and not make mistakes. It seems to have been paying off now, I have almost been top five every weekend this pre season”, Haarup commented.
At the start of the day things weren’t looking too good for Bas Vaessen as he was way down the order in qualifying – sixteenth and over four seconds off the pace.
The young Dutch rider improved as the day went on though and seemed to get more comfortable as the track got rougher. In the end he ended up an impressive fourth overall in the MX2 class. Perhaps qualifying laps are an area he needs to improve but at an International race that isn’t too much of an issue.
New Revo Husqvarna rider, Dylan Walsh had a good year in 2018 as he was fast in the EMX250 class but made quite a lot of mistakes. Hawkstone was actually quite a similar story but his speed was very good and perhaps quite surprising.
Walsh is very aggressive and because of that might make mistakes during the season but if he can keep it on two wheels he showed at Hawkstone he could surprise. He ended up winning the second MX2 moto at a track he’s never previously rode at so he’s going into the season feeling good. “I’ve had a really good off-season, it’s gone perfect. I’ve been training hard so I knew the speed was going to be there so I’m happy with that”, Walsh told GateDrop.com.
If we go back to the end of the 2018 season, Max Anstie was out of a ride and it looked like he might not even be in the GP paddock this year. Thankfully, the Standing Construct KTM team stepped in to snap him up.
Anstie made his debut for his new team at Hawkstone and it went well. The Brit looked to have rode within himself but still did enough to go 1-1 for the overall. He looked really comfortable on the bike and that he could go faster if it was required so he’ll be feeling good.
Back on a KTM and Shaun Simpson really is looking at home. One thing you rarely saw from Simpson on the Yamaha was a holeshot or a really good start but he was a rocket out of the gate at Hawkstone which he’ll be hoping continues.
Simpson looked really good and perhaps the best he’s looked in a while. It’s a shame he crashed and dislocated his shoulder but it didn’t cause too much damage as he’s set to race in France this weekend so he’ll be raring to go in Argentina at round one of MXGP.
You wouldn’t have thought that Hawkstone Park is a track that Ivo Monticelli would excel at as he tends to favour the hard pack conditions. However, the Italian really did look the part at the weekend. Not only did he end up on the podium by finishing third overall but he also won the superfinal.
The Italian briefly worked with Christophe Pourcel last year and he’s clearly had a strong winter on his Standing Construct KTM so Monticelli might just be one of the biggest surprises in the 2019 MXGP World Championship.
Shaun Simpson isn’t the only rider back on a KTM for 2019 as Max Nagl has went back to his roots signing with Sarholz KTM. In the past the German has never really made a big fuss about pre-season races but this year he’s had good results at the two races he’s contested which could be a sign of the things to come.
He might not be racing MXGP in 2019 but Harri Kullas put on a great showing at Hawkstone as he made his debut for the Cabs Screen Honda team. Kullas will be concentrating on the Maxxis British Championship in 2019 and if he continues to ride like he did at Hawkstone he should be at the sharp end.
Kullas just missed out on a podium by finishing fourth overall but that’s a great start to his season on the Honda.
Article: Andy McKinstry
Pics: Scott Dunne