Jake Nicholls interview – Lille SX
Revo Hitachi Construction Husqvarna rider Jake Nicholls hadn’t raced supercross since he was 11 years old, but that didn’t stop him signing up for last weekends Lille Supercross, probably the toughest supercross of the european winter.
With his bike, a van and two mates, the British rider crossed the English channel and took on what turned out to be a very enjoyable weekend. Results wise it might not have looked like much, but that won’t stop him giving it ago in 2017 and more often in the coming years.
We caught up with Jake, and asked him about his indoor adventure and also what he expects from his pre-season. Including the Redsand International in Spain.
MXLarge: So Jake, how did this Lille Supercross thing come about, because all of a sudden you were on the entry list?
Nicholls: I had watched it four or five times and always wanted to do it. Every year I watched it on television and last year I told myself I need to do it. It was just a week before the race. Jamie Dobb my manager got me an entry. I am at the point that I enjoy riding more now than ever in my life. I used to worry I wouldn’t as well as I wanted to and it would tank my reputation, but I am past those days of really giving a shit now. I just went there to have fun and get some experience. I really want to do a handful of those events every winter. I haven’t done a supercross since I was 11 years old. I needed to start somewhere and maybe this was a tough one to go into, but I thought bugger it.
MXlarge: So how did that work? You load your big into the van and head over to France. That sounds the best way to do it.
Nicholls: It was a laugh. I rode the 250 two times before the event, and I hadn’t ridden the 250 since 2013 obviously. I must admit the transition wasn’t hard, because I did so many years on it. I had my mate Lewis Tombs and Ian Browne, who is our technician in the team. It was funny we were probably the most inexperienced trio of people there. We just turned up with no idea what was going on, we didn’t even know when we needed to be there or anything. It was a real laugh.
MXlarge: It looked like you at times were on the speed, how did you feel you did?
Nicholls: I keep getting people asking me if I was alright. I had two crashes on the Sunday, and they were not too bad, but it could have been a lot worse. I had a fun weekend, but I was fully shitting myself when I watched the press day on Friday. I was watching the yanks going around the track, and there were some big jumps and they were hitting them hard.
MXLarge: How was your preperation?
Nicholls: I will be honest with you Geoff, I haven’t don’t one bit of training since Foxhills (final round of the Maxxis). I had two weeks off at home, just drinking and eating and doing whatever I wanted, then I went on holidays for 10 days in Dubai, which was much of the same thing. Then I spend some time just pissing around with my mates on the bike. I weight 84 kilograms at the moment. I am normally 80 on a 450, but I didn’t go there with any expectations, just to enjoy myself.
MXlarge: I heard you look pretty good at times?
Nicholls: I knew deep down I can do that stuff, I mean you don’t get into the top level of world motocross unless you can ride a bike. It was nice that a lot of people came up to me and said I looked good, that was pretty cool. It was just a let down with suspension really. I was on par with the top four or five guys, all the way around the track, but just not in the whoops. Its stupid saying that, because it’s such a big part of supercross anyway.
MXlarge: I heard it wasn’t as brutal as it could have been? I guess watching is a lot easier than riding?
Nicholls: I must admit, I watched the last two years and I thought the track was simple, so I was keen for it, but I must admit, when I got to the track, I thought, this is pretty severe. I know other people, including the guy who won the MX2 final said the track wasn’t very nice this year. It was really sticky, the ground was really wet. The track was good, apart from the whoops, they were the biggest whoops I have ever ridden. You really needed a really stiff suspension for them.
MXLarge: What about the event as a whole? Like the show and the crowd?
Nicholls: I haven’t been to a supercross in years and I was so into it. It wasn’t like I was part of the opening ceremony or anything, like the 450 guys, but honestly, I had such a good time there and I am so disappointed in my self that I waited to do one. At the same time I am happy I have done it now. I am only 26 and I want to do it more often. Racing in front of that type of atmosphere. I mean I stuffed a guy in one corner and you should have heard the roar. I was almost laughing to myself over the next jump. Awesome it was. I really, really enjoyed it. It is so well organized as well.
MXlarge: I spoke with Shaun a week or so ago, and he mentioned with getting married and looking towards the future of having a family, that he is enjoying racing more, and he knows he only has a few years left and wants to enjoy it. Are you a bit like that?
Nicholls: I think I am, I don’t think too hard into it, but something has changed in the last year or so. I enjoy riding my big more than I ever have. After a few injuries you appreciate what you have got, when you can ride. Also I just enjoy events, I mean I used to have my race face on and that was it. Don’t take me wrong, I still take my racing really seriously, but at the same time I can now stand back and enjoy it for what it is. There will be a time when I won’t be part of the event, I will be standing watching it. I should enjoy it while I am still part of it.
MXlarge: Have you thought about doing the arenacross events?
Nicholls: You mean the UK ones?
Nicholls: Not really, and the only reason why, that time of year, in January, my season is so full with pre-season training and we also have that Redsand race in January, then Hawkstone Park in the first weekend of February. Then after that I have only two weekends off until October. If I was a national rider I would be all over the arenacross, but the schedule we have in 2017 it a long one. My intention for 2017 is win the British championship and get into the top ten in the GP’s as often as possible. I have to give myself to have the best chance.
MXlarge: You mentioned you have the Redsand race in January. I am guessing you have ridden there before. What do you think the event will be like and what is the track like?
Nicholls: To be honest with you mate, I haven’t ridden there since 2010. What I do remember its fantastic dirt. I hear that Greg Atkins is down there working on the tracks and it sound pretty good. We will be down there training, so it’s all good. I want to travel as little as possible, and being down there works out.
MXLarge: I heard a rumor that the break between Mexico and Argentina might be two weekends now instead of just one weekend. Have you heard that?
Nicholls: Yes, I heard that also. Whatever, travelling is pretty hectic, so it is what it is.
Images by Nuno Laranjeira