After an abortive first attempt, Lanes Kawasaki welcomed Alfie Smith under the green awning for the remainder of the Red Bull Pro Nationals season, making it four riders for the team at Duns in Scotland this past weekend.
The advance guard consisted of James Harrison, who promptly qualified in second in the Rookies class on Saturday morning, followed by a solid first run in third from start to finish. The second race, albeit off to a bad start with a crash in the second corner, was arguably Harrison’s best. Recovering from dead last to tenth place at the chequered flag was a remarkable testament to will power and determination. The final race on Saturday rounded out the day with another sterling top five performance. Sunday saw Harrison put in two more podium-worthy performances, seizing the lead first but having to concede it to fellow Kawasaki man, Jake Millward. A fourth and a third for a fourth overall on the weekend was the end result.
For the Pro Nationals riders Marc de Reuver, Sunny Thompson, and Alfie Smith, things did not look as rosy when the day was over. In the morning, Smith and De Reuver found themselves in ninth and eleventh after the qualifying session, while Thompson, after experiencing bike trouble, qualified in thirty-first on a spare KX450F.
For de Reuver, the day ended three laps into the first race. After getting tangled up on the start, the Dutchman found himself struggling to get back into the groove, pulling out with a leg injury.
Smith on the other hand made a remarkable comeback in the second race after his first ended mere yards along the start straight. Suffering from a dead leg and a stiff neck, Smith borrowed a stationary cycle to force his leg back to life to return to the start in time for race two. Off the start without any problems this time around, he found himself in sixth, keeping pace with the leaders. Much to his and the team’s dismay, the injury sustained in the first race started to take its toll and Smith slipped back before pulling out for safety sake.
Thompson also had a tough time. Although he has past experience with the big bike, it was a tough job to manhandle a bike with twice the capacity around a rough and technical track with less than an hour’s riding time under your belt. Nonetheless, Thompson found himself in the top fifteen MX1 riders, keeping pace until the end and ending just one position down in sixteenth. The second race saw Thompson get off the start in eleventh and holding his own again. Arm pump set in and sent him to the ground, costing him several positions in the process. With the track becoming tougher by the lap and his arm pump worsening, Thompson felt it sensible to pull in, taking a sixteenth overall on the day.
“What can I say about today?” mused team principal Dean Lane. “For Marc it was a black day, so we’ll just leave it at that. James rode really well all weekend; he scored a third, a fifth and a ninth on Saturday, and a fourth and a third today for a fourth overall. Sunny had a little bit of a problem with his bike in the morning, so we opted to put him on a KX450F, which is the first time he’s ridden one all season. He did ok all things considering, he got out of the gate mid-pack and the size and power of the bike tired him out throughout the day. He finished the first race but pulled out of the second one due to arm pump and just struggling to hang on.
“We’re also running Alfie for the rest of the year in the Maxxis and the Red Bull championships and this weekend was his debut on the bike. In the first race he got off the start really good and took a really heavy fall. As a result he had a dead leg and a stiff neck, and we didn’t think he’d go out for the next race, but he managed to borrow a spin cycle and worked his leg throughout the gap between the two races. In the second race he got a good start, and he was running in fourth for a lot of the race, but you could see he was in pain over every jump and every bump and it just tired him down in the end, and he pulled in when he was around eighth. Fair play to him, he really gave it a go.”
Sunny Thompson (#177): Today’s not been too bad. We had a problem with the bike in free practice, so as a result I rode Marc’s spare bike. I had some fun but it wasn’t really set up for me. I do enjoy the 450 so all in all not a bad day.
Alfie Smith (#41): Today’s not been a very good. It started off with a crash, followed by another crash, and then I pulled out of the last one because I was in a lot of pain. But I proved that I could start and run with them for the first half of the race, but I was just aching so much so it wasn’t a good weekend for me really.
James Harrison (#153): I had a really good weekend. I had a great qualifying, I love the track here, it was awesome all weekend, real rough. Qualifying went well, got second. First race I got a good start and got third, which is obviously good. In the second I got a good start again, got to the second corner and crashed, and that was my best race and my best speed all weekend. I got a ninth in the last race on Saturday because the bike wouldn’t start for a while, and then I got a fourth in the first and a third in the second race today. I was happy with my results, I got a fourth overall which is real good. Happy with it!