Jack Nixon: From Novice to Championship contender
Our Rider of the Week is British rider, Jack Nixon, who this weekend will battle for the UK RC Cup championship after only two seasons on tarmac.
Talking to Jack Nixon, he is an excellent example of what the KTM RC Cup is all about. Shy when you meet him at first, Jack really comes alive on a bike and showed a natural talent on two wheels from the off. Riding from just three-years old before progressing to motocross racing at the age of six.
The 16-year old from Folkestone, England, saw success on the dirt with podiums and wins at club level, moving up to compete in the British Nationals and hovered around the top 10 until a broken wrist from not even crashing saw him out of action for most of a season. With this time away, it gave young Nixon time to think it was the chance for a change on two wheels. Enter the KTM RC Cup...
Having begun racing on a KTM 50 SX, Jack progressed with the brand through the various two-stroke capacities meaning KTM was always his brand of choice - to date he has had ten Mattighofen machines! When the opportunity came up for him to test the KTM RC Cup bike at Brands Hatch, he jumped at the chance.
“I’d been around the paddocks because my Dad was a racer,” Jack told us. “My brother is in Supersport and my cousin, Jake, rides in the MCE British Superbike Championship. So, it was natural that I wanted to give circuit racing a go. Once I tried it, I loved it!”
Obviously, motocross is a very different style to road racing and adapting to those changes throws up a lot of challenges - such as putting your knee down as opposed to a foot! But the experience had him hooked and Jack and his family signed up for the 2016 Santander Consumer Finance British KTM RC Cup. Considering the switch of disciplines after over a decade, getting used to a four-stroke for the first time and learning all the tracks, his rookie season was nothing short of special.
“When I was sitting on the grid at Silverstone heading out for my first race, I felt like I had thrown myself into the deep end,” Jack beams at us while chatting to us in the back of the KTM support van. “I know it is a class for relative novices and I was nervous, but as soon as I was on the bike, it was down to business.”
Jack’s first RC Cup event finished with a best result of 5th from the two races - surprising even himself. But keeping both boots firmly on the ground, he approached Round 2 of his rookie season with the same attitude; to use it as a learning curve, master the tracks, get to grips with the KTM RC Cup machine and have fun.
However, by the final lap of the last race of the weekend he was in P2 staring through the screen at a first podium in only his fourth ever RC Cup race, but he crashed out before he could get a hand on the trophy.
“After my crash, I went to Round 3 trying to be a bit calmer. But I was sitting in third position on the last lap and I was so excited about grabbing a podium. But - again - it wasn’t to be and I low-sided the bike on the last lap. I walked away from the weekend pretty downbeat. It knocked my confidence. Two crashes out of podium positions in the first three rounds. I was doing something wrong.
His first podium finally came at the Brands GP circuit, fighting for the win but ending up in second and n the penultimate event of the season, Jack grabbed his first win at the legendary Cadwell Park circuit - not bad for someone who in his debut season on tarmac with no expectations. Suddenly he found himself competitive and the plan to sit back and learn had to change.
“Over the winter I thought a lot. I knew that I wanted to win this year. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself but felt confident that I could do it. Of course, then Brian Hart and Fenton Seabright came in and suddenly I had a huge challenge. They ride fast and a little different to UK riders. I love racing against them. It’s made the season far more exciting, and I am really proud to have been up there with them. They both started at a very young age, and the program is very different in Spain. To be able to compare myself to them is great. They push me. Every weekend I am getting faster.”
Clearly, Jack has a natural talent for racing and a real passion for the sport. Talking to him, his maturity outweighs his age - probably from being surrounded by the experience that comes with a racing family. His commitment to pushing himself to be better each race helps him deliver consistent and excellent results. He has a calm head on his shoulders and is determined to succeed, yet manages not to pile on too much pressure. We asked him what he thought of the KTM RC Cup series
“It’s just incredible. I am gaining so much experience of all the best tracks in the UK. Alongside that, I am in the British Superbike paddock, which is great for networking and understanding what goes on in professional racing. I am building my profile too; we have TV coverage and support from a manufacturer. KTM has been so helpful. We’ve had high-profile mentors, and the KTM team give lots of support, tips, and encouragement when we need it. The series is also great value, so sponsorship is easier to find as it isn’t too expensive.”
Jack has enjoyed his two seasons in the Santander Consumer Finance KTM RC CUP to the point he recommended the series to Dan Brooks, another former Motocross rider who has now taken on the challenges of circuit racing with KTM.
We wish Jack the best of luck as he battles Brian Hart and Fenton Seabrightto become British champion at the final round at Brands Hatch this weekend. Whatever the result, there isn’t much time for the youngster to rest as he will travel to Jerez the following weekend for the RC Cup World Final and then to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup test session in Almeria.
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