Tommy Searle: “This is probably one of the most important years of my career”
Former British Champion and one of the UK’s best Grand Prix riders, Tommy Searle, insists he is “all-in” for his sixth attempt at the MXGP category in 2018 and is itching to ditch four years of injury turbulence to finally realise his potential in the premier class of the FIM World Championship.
Searle started and ended 2017 with more physical problems. A pre-Christmas 2016 knee ligament break followed by a fractured hand meant he didn’t appear in the Grand Prix paddock until round fifteen of nineteen. The 27 year old then competed at the Motocross of Nations for Team GBR but faced more adversity. “I hurt my ankle at the 2017 Dutch GP [round eighteen] and I was afraid of another break and just told myself it was some bruising. I raced the Nations but six weeks later I was saying to myself “something isn’t right here”. In the end I had broken the bottom of my fibula so I had to get that fixed.”
Recovery was swift and uncomplicated and Searle has been able to build up through the winter period. “This is the best I have felt since December 2016 and before I injured my knee,” he claims.
2018 will be Searle’s third term with Steve Dixon’s Bike it DRT Kawasaki squad and his fifth with the KX450F since jumping out of MX2 in 2013. He was national champion as part of the UK set-up in 2016. Dixon will again split his team between Searle in MXGP and Darian Sanayei in MX2. According to #100 development on the 450 has been progressing significantly. “I’m happy with the bike and have done some good suspension and engine tests,” he explains of the technical work that was lacking in the past, mainly due to his injury problems. “I have a guy in Holland, Rille Ehnburg, helping out with the engines and have had a good amount of bike time. Obviously you find out more when you actually start racing but I feel more prepared than I’ve have been in a good while. I know it’s going to be a process: I have had almost a full year out so I need to take it step-by-step but I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Above all, the former three times world championship runner-up has used the off-season to analyse his own approach to Grand Prix and for what he feels is a narrowing window to once more showcase the ability that made him a star around the turn of the decade.
“I had to go back and figure things out myself and look at what I was doing,” he admits. “I needed to improve my concentration and make sure my focus is 100% on the job in-hand, which is competing at the very top of MXGP. When I take a hard look back there have been times where I’ve have lacked a plan and a mindset and have made silly mistakes, and paid for them. Now I am 100% switched-on to racing again and have made a programme and a decision to be ‘all-in’.”
“Everything is right there for me and I have worked really hard, as has Steve and my mechanic,” he adds. “I’ve had four years and won the British Championship in that time but haven’t put a GP season together and the results haven’t really happened. Now I’m in a good position. I know if I don’t do well then this could be my last season in GPs: so this is probably one of the most important years of my career.”
Searle is one of the leading figures in a strong British MXGP contingent in 2018. Countrymen Max Anstie, Shaun Simpson and Graeme Irwin are backed by Adam Sterry, Ben Watson and Conrad Mewse in MX2.
Photos by Ray Archer