The first race of the season always brings its nerves. Leading up to the first race I didn’t know what to think, having struggled through the wet practice sessions quite badly. The pressure of performing coupled with the risk of injury can really stare you in the face in situations like this, but I had a saving grace.
I had the words “Think of the bigger picture,” running through my head all afternoon but it wasn’t until we were lining up for the first race that it all came together. I realized that this was just the first race of many so my tactic had to be simple. Get good starts of course, but then stick to the jumps and speed that I could do confidently- nothing more. While less exciting than the alternative, it would prove to be a good way to start the season and pay its way with a good result.
Sandwiched between my Honda Racing teammate Michael Phillips and a young hotshot from Aussie named Sam Martin, I avoided problems after the gate, to be in front of the former. Sam drifted wide on the first turn which gave me the lead down the first straight. It wasn’t long before the Aussie passed me and used his considerable ability to pull away.
That race also had Rhys Carter in the mix aboard a borrowed bike like many of the riders there, the only difference in this race being that we were all on 450’s while he was on the RMZ250. Without the pure horse power, Rhys worked in overdrive and ended up taking Michael down and giving the Honda rider a corked leg in the process. Next it was my turn with another big hit that forced me up and over the berm, slamming his left handlebar into my right and giving us a sore hand each. Sam took the win with Rhys second and myself third.
Oddly enough Rhys didn’t show for the next 450 race. This time Sam took the lead with Michael in second but it was not to stay that way. With a stone stuck in his rear brake Michael missed a berm which let me through for another second place which I took gladly. It gave me a chance to get my riding sorted, including some great practice through the whoops section which Sam was absolutely blitzing. Great fun now that the fear was fading.
The last race was similar except Michael stayed in front to get second place this time, with Rhys cruising through in fourth position which was enough to give me second overall for the day, which also happened to be where I finished in the “Whip Comp” behind Kieran Leigh to finish a great day, in one piece.
This turned out to be the only Supercross of the season with all others cancelled due to low rider numbers. It seems that the biggest reason there were enough riders was the opportunity for locals to put in plenty of practice on the track before the big event, combined with the extensive efforts of local organizers such as how Brent Scammell convinced me to come last year. It really was an excellent event and I will certainly book it in early again for next year.