Hopes were high coming into the third round of the MX Nationals for the Rob Hooper Racing team with Taylor Hammal sitting second in the standings, but the weekend turned into frustration with mechanical issues halting his title chances.
Pictures by Warren Kee
The Cusses Gorse MX circuit in Wiltshire has been a happy hunting ground for Hammal recently, and by going fastest in practice, things boded well for him and the team.
Raw speed in the Straight Rhythm on Saturday evening also pointed to a good day on Sunday, although a fall would end his progress in the competition.
A superfast qualification time on Sunday morning gave Taylor the second gate pick of the MX2 riders, and with a good start and some great hustling around the first few bends, he emerged as the front runner of his class in moto 1. On lap three though disaster struck as his machine slowed and ended his moto. At the same time, Taylor’s MX2 teammate Sam Nunn who qualified well in eighth was buried deep in the pack but reeling in places rising to ninth before a fall would undo his hard work, and he would finish fifteenth.
On a fresh bike for Moto 2 the team were set on damage limitation for Hammal, but from the get-go machine number 2 was spluttering and before the opening lap was out, he would be back in the paddock, only to be joined by teammate Nunn a lap later.
“For me personally it was a bitterly disappointing and frustrating day”, said Team Boss Rob Hooper. “Taylor could and should have won, but he was let down by his bikes which is a massive shame.
“I had set a target of going through the season trouble-free, and I certainly didn’t expect a day like yesterday. I have put countless hours into the bikes, and I really hoped for better.
“We now have two British meetings left this year and wins for Taylor in both is achievable, and I am sure Sam is getting closer to a big result.”
A dejected Hammal said of his weekend “Yeah so don’t really know how to perceive the day to be honest other than I’m completely gutted. It seemed like it was going to be a good day going P2 in qualifying. It started off really good in the first race leading mx2 but all came to a stop when the bike stopped. I cannot describe how it felt having to pull off and see everyone go by. It is worse when you are actually in the championship hunt. And then for it to happen again on the second race bike stopping on the first lap, I was just in shock and couldn’t believe it. Things like that can’t be happening when you are going for the championship. I’m trying to make it my full time job as well and money was involved which made it worse. That first race alone stopped me making around £600.
” Obviously, I know on the other side it will cost double to fix the bike. It’s just frustrating as that shouldn’t be happening when I and everyone in the team put 100% into the weekends. Really just disappointed and now and I am out of the championship as well as trying for 2nd. So I will be going all out for the last round, as I have nothing to lose.”
In MX1 Tony Craig toughed it out with 13th and 15th for 14th overall in a stacked field of top-class talent.
The team will be heading back to Cusses Gorse to exorcise their demons on the 20th September for the Bridgestone Battlecross event.