The 2019 season came to a close on Sunday for the Rob Hooper Racing Motocross team as they travelled south to Landrake in Cornwall for the final round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship.
Images courtesy of Warren Kee
For the first time since May, there were two riders under the RHR awning with Taylor Hammal returning from injury in the MX2 category to join MX1 racer, Tony Craig.
Overnight rain made conditions tricky in qualifying which didn’t seem to suit Craig who struggled to put in a good lap, ending up in 17th. A race rusty Hammal pitched in with 13th in MX2.
In the opening MX1 race, Craig suffered with a poor start but was working hard to reel in places and was up to 14th by the end of the second lap only to fall and drop back down the order twice and back to 18th at the midpoint of the race. Not deterred Tony clawed his way back to a 13th place finish with a strong end to the moto and some smooth and consistent laps.
Moto 2 was a similar story for the Scottish racer who after another bad start, and some costly mistakes could only get going towards the close of the moto, ending up in 16th for 15th overall on the day which was his best Maxxis overall of the season. Tony would finish 17th overall in the series and fifth in the Expert Cup.
For Taylor it was going to be a hard slog having not raced for over three months and with conditions hard going early on it was never going to be an easy task to return to a British Championship event. A customary bad start in the opening race would mean having to tough it out through the pack to get any sort of result, and although finding it tough going, he ground out a 10th.
In Race 2 Taylor was looking more like himself, recovering from another terrible start, where he was second from last as they passed timing, to pass the chequered flag in an excellent 7th position for 7th overall as well as the overall in the Expert Cup. Although he missed a round, Hammal would finish the season 11th in the Championship standings and 3rd in the Expert Cup.
Team Boss Rob Hooper said of the day “Tony struggled, to be honest, it just didn’t really click for him, and then an incident in each race seemed to click him into gear, and he got going. If he had ridden like that the whole race he could have had a great result as he certainly wasn’t lacking speed when he was going.
“For a first race back Taylor did very well, the second race especially. He had to pass a lot of riders, being last but one around the first bend, which is typical Taylor, but he got back up to seventh with some good speed. It finished with the best race of the day from our riders being Taylors second moto, so we came away from Landrake with a bit of high.”
“The final round of the Maxxis British Was a tough day for me,” said Tony. “I struggled to find a good rhythm early in the tough conditions. Qualifying I didn’t get a clean lap with way too many mistakes leaving me with 17th. Race 1 I had a horrendous start. Two crashes made the moto hard work, but I worked hard the second half of the moto to pull through to 13th which was ok considering.
“In Moto 2 I went out with the full intention of making up for moto 1, but another terrible start, then a crash once I got going, left me with more work, but again I was late to get into a rhythm, but I picked off as many riders as I could to finish an average 16th.
“15th overall for the day wasn’t what I was aiming for, but I have had much worse days, and the results didn’t show the work I had to put in to get this result.”
“It was my last race with the team for the year. These last few months have been the best time I’ve had at the races for a long time, so thanks to Rob and the team for the opportunity.”
Taylor was glad to be back on the bike saying “Yeah Landrake wasn’t too bad considering. I have only ridden twice since the middle of July before going there, so I wasn’t expecting anything. I wasn’t able to train coming into it as I was really ill and just couldn’t get out of bed. I had no energy at all on Sunday. I started the day really steady with a 13th. I haven’t ridden any ruts or any wet conditions in months, so it was tricky.
“I had consistently bad starts all day. In the first race, I just couldn’t ride at all, and I nearly crashed twice and finished 10th. The second race was much better, and I came from last to 7th on a track that was hard to pass. So I was pleased with that. It is just going to take time to get back to where I was. Overall I really enjoyed being back out there, and I was enjoying riding. I have got one more race left, then it’s all over for the year, and then it’s back to finding a proper job for the winter.”
The one race meeting Taylor was alluding too is representing Team GB at the Coupe De L’Avenir which is classed as the unofficial Under 21 Motocross of Nations, which takes place in Belgium on the 5th and 6th October.