Last time we spoke with the Devitt x Vanoni Moto Officina Team, they were about to take on the 2022 Flat Track Nationals. Rising star Jack Bell was set to return to the Hooligan class aboard a newly built Ducati Scrambler machine, joined by a new team-mate, Lucia Aucott.
The DTRA-run championship is now well underway and at the all-important mid-season point, the team is riding high. 19-year-old Jack is leading the Hooligan class having taken three out of three round wins so far.
Jack stormed the double-header season opener at the Devitt MCN Festival in May with two convincing victories. Another win at Kings Lynn in June saw him maintain the championship lead with 60 points ahead of George Pickering (48 points) and Leah Tokelove (35 points).
Team manager, Max Vanoni, is understandably impressed with the young rider, whom he and Flat Track legend, Pete Boast, took under their wings in 2019. “Jack is so dedicated and is doing very well” says Max. “I’m biased, but he really is a stand-out rider in the field.”
Max is not the only one who rates Jack’s talent, with DTRA chairman Anthony Brown also citing him as the one to watch. “He has really stepped it up this year,” he says. “I’m not just saying that because I’m speaking to Devitt, I would say the same to anyone who asked!”
What makes Jack’s performance more impressive is that he started the season on a brand-new Ducati Scrambler, prepped by Max over the winter. The team had considered doing the first round on the 2021 machine, but testing soon proved that Jack and the bike were ready.
“The Scrambler went so well in testing and Jack was immediately comfortable,” explains Max. “It was clear that we were in a stronger position than last year, so we decided to go straight in with the new bike. We definitely made the right choice!”
Max’s highlight of the season so far is seeing all the team’s hard work coming together at the MCN Festival. “All the preparation and set-up of the bike over the winter paid off and Jack was absolutely fearless,” he recalls. “It was a great day and a great feeling.”
Jack’s new team-mate, Lucia Aucott, is also doing well as a rookie in the Hooligan class. The team is nurturing her racing talent to bring her up to speed in the competitive field. “She is a really great rider and she’s getting faster every time she gets on the bike,” says Max.
Lucia is one of 23 female members of the DTRA, which is proof of the club’s continuing commitment to welcoming women riders to Flat Track. It is one of the most progressive race series in existence, with males and females competing on a level field.
In terms of the championship, this is the first proper season since the Covid pandemic hit. Any worries that Anthony had regarding the racing and lack of returning riders have been quashed by an excellent turnout.
“I was wondering post-pandemic if we’d get all the riders back and whether the racing would be as good as it has been in the past, but in the Hooligan class, the racing has been as good as ever”, he explains.
“Not just at the front with Jack, George and Leah, but all the way through the field. It has been really, really strong with some brilliant action. The last round at Kings Lynn was the highlight race for me.”
There are three rounds of the Flat Track Nationals Hooligan class remaining, and although Jack holds a 12-point lead, there is still everything to play for. Nobody in the Devitt x Vanoni Moto Officina Team is feeling complacent.
The next Hooligan round takes place in August on the Isle of Wight on a track that both the team and Jack are familiar with. “We tested there and it’s a track we really like,” says Max. “It suits the bike and it’s very well kept, which always helps.”
The penultimate round will take place at Redcar in Yorkshire, another track that Jack enjoys. It is, however, the final round of the championship at Greenfields in Lincolnshire that may prove the biggest challenge for the team.
“George Pickering, who is currently in second place in the championship, literally owns the place,” explains Max. “That obviously gives him an advantage and we’ll certainly be under pressure at that round.
“Having said that, we’ve tested at Greenfields and we know it well, so if we can get a good set-up, we will still be in contention for the podium. We’ve worked hard to prepare the bike and it more than holds its own against the Indian. Jack will still be aiming for the win.”
For the DTRA, Greenfields is a big event that aims to end the 2022 Flat Track Nationals season on a high. Anthony is hard at work organising the attendance of some yet-to-announced big name riders from Europe and the US.
“There’s a huge amount going on,” he says. “All the riders will get a chance to pit themselves against guest racers from Europe and the rest of the world. We have ride-ins and we’re running a very special school on the Friday. We’ll be going out on a bang!”
The season finale promises to be jam-packed with edge-of-your-seat racing, and as with all Flat Track Nationals events, it’s completely free of charge for spectators. Fans can simply turn up and enjoy a full weekend of on-track entertainment in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Just make sure you’re cheering for the Devitt x Vanoni Moto Officina Team!
For more information on the Flat Track Nationals visit https://www.dirttrackriders.co.uk/