Searle in a class of his own as he surges to win
TOMMY Searle took his first overall win of the season at the second round of the FIM World Motocross Championship at the Bulgarian track of Sevlievo.
This was always going to be the real start of the season for the Goudhurst star aboard his Floride Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, as the course is one of his favourites and a superb hard pack track.
Conditions on Saturday were difficult with plenty of rain, but Searle made a solid start in the qualification race, unlike current leader Jeffrey Herlings, who crashed in the first corner, and steadily worked his way to the front to take the lead by mid-race.
With both of his main rivals down the order, Searle took the win to set himself up for race day.
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Sunday's weather was far better with the track getting a good blast from the sun as the riders lined up for the first race. Searle streaked up the inside to take the holeshot and immediately pulled a healthy gap on the pack. Behind him, both team-mate Joel Roelants and KTM man Herlings were inside the top ten, despite their poor gate position.
By the end of the first lap, Roelants had moved to second while Herlings was up to fourth, but Searle was clearly in a class of his own. Lap four saw Herlings pass for third, fourteen seconds down on Roelants.
Then, suddenly, Roelants was on the back of Searle and as they went past the pit boxes he took the lead as Searle shook his head.
By mid-race the top three seemed to have stabilised with Roelants a clear leader. But, as the clock ticked down, Herlings began to close on Searle for second. In the latter stages Searle dropped to third despite all his efforts to hold on.
"I got a really good start and I was happy about that because last year I didn't get any holeshots, so we're onto a good thing there," Searle said. "I was doing everything right, I was setting the fastest laps and was about to break away then I lost the front brake.
"I don't know what happened but for some reason there was nothing and with no front brake it's really hard to ride. But, I was the fastest rider and I've just got to take that and win the next one."
Race two kicked off with another holeshot for Searle, but Herlings made a much better start quickly settling into second. Searle opened up a decent gap, but by mid-race Herlings was threatening. Searle responded and the gap went up and down, until the closing stages when Herlings made a big push.
Both riders traded fastest laps, then a mistake by Herlings on the last lap allowed to Searle to take the flag.
"I was really happy," Searle said. "I think the whole team is so happy to get this so early on.
"I'm still disappointed I couldn't win the first one, but I made it happen in the second and did the best I could, so I'm really, really happy."
Searle now moves past his team-mate to claim second in the championship on 87 points, just seven behind Herlings. The series now moves to the coastal town of Fermo, Italy, for the third round this weekend.