Moto Media
James Stewart

Valkenswaard Report - Kawasaki Team CLS

Both Tommy Searle and teammate Max Anstie had qualified well on Sunday, but neither had the best of luck in the long sweeping first turn during the points-scoring races, run on Easter Monday to attract a massive Bank Holiday crowd.

From 7th place on the opening lap of race one Searle moved relentlessly forward to third place on the 6th of 20 laps, but the gap to the riders in first and second places was too great and, on the hottest day of the year so far, Tommy sensibly concentrated on consolidating his third placed finish whilst conserving energy for the second tough moto still to come. A better start gave promise of a challenge for victory, but the luckless Brit was delayed at the second corner when a rider ahead of him dislodged a haybale and Tommy again had to battle up the leaderboard to third whilst his main rivals opened up an advantage. Third by the 7th of 20 laps, he again concentrated on making this place secure and his good judgment was proven as he again finished third.

Anstie was quickly through to 5th place in the opening moto, but a slight error cost him several places as he slid to the ground before remounting a challenge which brought him all the way back to 7th before a badly rutted take-off caused him to mistime a jump into a corner and his bike flew into the crowd, fortunately without serious injury to anyone. Rejoining the race a lap down, he battled on to finish 10th. After a much better start in race two the teenager, 18 on the day of the GP, had the leaders in his sights through the second combination of jumps until a collision with another rider left him on the ground and forced to reenter the race in last position. Refusing to give up hope, Max tore through the pack and had no difficulty to follow leader Jeffrey Herlings as they scorched past one rider after another until Max was back into the top ten; in the final laps Anstie proved his strength to re-pass Herlings, unlap himself and narrowly fail to catch the 8th placed rider.

#99 Max Anstie at the extreme left and #100 Tommy Searle nearest camera.  Photos courtesy of the Kawasaki Racing Team. 

Tommy Searle: "My starts were not so good and that cost me. You need a very different technique on a sandy surface and they just don't have tracks like this in America where I have raced for the last two years. The second start was better than the first but then another rider dislodged a haybale right into my path at turn 2. By the time I got to third place, the first two were already long gone, so I knew that was the best I could hope for. The track was really rough by the end of the day and you had to ride smart. Tonus was pushing really hard in race two, so I let him pass me; I would have passed him back anyway before the end, but he saved me the trouble when he made a mistake. Now I head back to California for a couple of weeks before the US GP; I have a house there, so I can chill out at home and relax for a week before preparing for the race. I'm only 10 points from the championship pace and, with 13 GPs to go, there's still plenty to play for."

Max Anstie: "I'm a little bit frustrated because there was a lot more in this race for me; I proved that already yesterday when I finished third in the qualification race. I crashed twice in the first race. The first time I just slipped off, but the second time my bike went into the crowd and hit my practice mechanic after I went over a berm in a corner I was jumping into and that cost me a lot of time. I got a great start in the second race and was right on the leaders until I got tangled up on the second straightaway and that meant I was in last place. I never gave up trying and when Herlings lapped me, I was easily able to run his pace. He was getting tired at the end, but I was still strong, so I unlapped myself and nearly caught Osborne for 8th. My fitness is good, my speed is coming and I head back to our home in California to get ready for the Glen Helen GP; I aim to be on the podium there !"