It was obvious that Tommy Searle was going to make progress at Matterley Basin, but the amount that he had improved since Teutschenthal surprised a lot of fans. Searle looked much more like his old self at his home race, as he battled inside of the top ten and showed flashes of raw speed. This is just the start, however, as it sounds like there is more to come from the former Grand Prix winner.
MX Vice: I do not think you really could have asked for much more this weekend. Obviously if you had come in healthy, maybe you would have expected more, but considering where you were at Teutschenthal, this is night and day better.
Tommy Searle: Yeah, in Teutschenthal I always knew how I was coming in and how I felt. I just had no confidence after the setbacks. I just needed to get a race under my belt. Coming away from there, I was not really disappointed but I have had two good weeks since then. Thomas Covington came over and rode with me, which was nice to ride with someone. I have been working hard for weeks and weeks. I come in here just feeling a little bit better. It was a good weekend. I started off the weekend well with second in the first practice and seventh in timed qualifying, seventh in the heat race yesterday, fifth this morning and then a ninth and a tenth in the races.
I did not get the best of starts in both races, especially the second one. I really struggled at the start, which is something I obviously need to work on. The first few laps were really intense. I lost a couple of positions in the first race on the first couple laps just because of how fast they are. Even compared to the heat race yesterday, they push a lot harder. It took me by surprise a little bit. I lost a couple of positions, but I rode around. I actually crashed as well, so I probably could have had a seventh in that one, but ended up ninth.
In the second moto I messed the start up a little bit… Just my own fault. I struggled a little bit the first few laps. I made some passes and then I got passed. I was stuck behind another rider for a few laps. I was trying to pass him, but I ended up getting passed myself and just made life a little bit hard work. I kept pushing the whole way and I gave it my best every single session this weekend and that is all I can ask for.
There was something a bit weird going on in the first moto, right? A track marker got stuck in your rear wheel or something like that?
Yeah, a track marker. I was a little bit worried at one point with that because I thought it might have been the chain guide and I have had some problems in the past with that. I was worried it was going to lock up. So I slowed down a little bit, but that came out in the end. I looked at my mechanic and he told me what it was and it fell out. So I managed to push on. I got close to [Jeremy] Van Horebeek with a couple of laps to go and I tipped over, so lost two positions. It set me back a little bit, but overall a good weekend.
Even when you have been one hundred percent recently, starting around the top five has been tough. Was it eye-opening for you to do that? Did you learn some things that you are quite interested in?
No, I just learned that the pace is high, but I knew that. It is very, very important. I think the second race I could have been around sixth position but, with a start like I had, you have just no chance. Unless you get a little bit lucky on the first few laps and really push, which I did in the first race.
I made really good passes on the first lap and that put me right up there. But the second race I was not able to make it happen. Then I just made life hard for myself, but I did not stop fighting until the end. I enjoyed both races, every session this weekend, so that puts me in a lot better position moving forward onto France next weekend.
I am sure a lot of people thought you were like fist pumping after finishing second in free practice, but it was only Glen Helen in 2016 that you last did that. Since then you have basically been injured. This is what we should expect from you once you get some momentum going and all of that. Slotting into seventh or eighth should be the worst weekend that you have.
Yeah, but everyone is fast at the moment. I am one of the fastest guys out there, I believe. I showed it this weekend in parts. It is only my second race back and I have had a decent weekend. I was eighth overall. I know where I need to be, but there is a lot of other good riders so it is hard to say I deserve to be top three because the quality of riders out there is great. But I am capable of it… More than capable.
I just need to continue to work hard and I think we can improve the bike and little things at the minute. I am coming in a little bit… We have not done much testing. I am just riding what we started with at the beginning of the year. I think we can improve, but it takes a couple of races to know what to change. Just sitting and riding by myself at home, I cannot really change a lot. I need to be here racing and just being back. It was my second race back now. Like you said, I cannot ask for more. I would like to be a little bit further up off the start, but hopefully that will come.
I guess you have got your sights set on the top five, but to do that you need to, like you said, get out of the gate consistently. I am guessing that is what you want to improve immediately?
Yeah. I would like to get some good starts in France. France is a track I like, but so is this track. The whole event this weekend has been great. The British public… It has been an amazing weekend with the weather. I think it is great for the whole sport, this weekend. I think everyone has thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I think Steve Dixon has put on an unbelievable event, one of the best GPs I have been to in years, to be honest, with the weather. Obviously that is luck of the draw, but it just makes everything so much nicer. Everything seems to have gone really smooth. Hats off to Steve for that. Onto France next week.
How long do you think it will be until you are at one hundred percent?
I feel healthy now and I have worked hard to be in this position. It takes a lot longer than you think to come back into GPs. You see from any other rider that has a couple of races off. I have pretty much had a lot, a lot of time off, unfortunately, but it is a big step to come back into racing. I just need the race time now. I think my fitness is there, but I need a little bit more race experience. That is going to come though just by being out there.
I just need to be amongst it every race. I need to get good starts, to be honest. That is the one thing I need now to be able to run up there in that top five. That is just what it takes. You see every weekend if a rider gets a twentieth place start… I think if you look at [Gautier] Paulin this weekend, a couple of bad starts and a terrible weekend. Whereas last week a couple of holeshots and he is on the podium. It is that close – that is what it takes.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX