The 24MX Honda team will return to action this weekend at the inaugural Russian GP in Orlyonok. Russia will be the first MXGP with the team for the returning Ken De Dycker. Team mate Damon Graulus goes into 10th round of the FIM MXGP World Championship fresh from his second place at the 24MX Tour French championship in Pernes-Les fontaines last Sunday.
There’s a whopping 3.800 kilometers between Pernes-Les-Fontaines in the south of France and the next MXGP stop in Russia near the black sea. Although the setting will be a lot different for Damon Graulus this weekend his 24MX Tour performance once again underlined that he’s ready and able in his first full season on the 450 bike. In spite of missing one round of the French Championship Damon ended the series 7th overall.
Ken De Dycker scored a rostrum finish in his last visit to Russia in 2012. However circumstances are very different this time around for the Belgian veteran. Midst the devastating events that marked the Cassel International on Monday De Dycker missed out on the opportunity to familiarize himself with the 24MX Honda CRF450R in race conditions. Yet Ken can draw confidence from the fact that his results have been improving since the GP of Latvia. His best MXGP moto result so far was 16th place in Teutschenthal.
Ken De Dycker: “Compared to last year the bike has improved significantly. I was able to put in some laps in practice but obviously that’s always different from what you learn in racing! So Russia will be a lot about getting comfortable again with the CRF450R. To make the transition has smooth as possible I also decided to continue work with WP Suspension and Stop&Go. One of the biggest differences for me personally is the support from the team around me. Because I had to deal with a lot of practical things like getting parts and servicing my bike for the next practice I lost valuable time for my physical training. That’s a huge hurdle to overcome at this level. Now I can focus completely on my job as a rider again. Russia will be the first step but I want to build some more momentum for the next round at the end of the month in Ottobiano.”
Damon Graulus: “Pernes-Les-Fontaines was a good experience on a typical blue-groove French hardpack circuit! There was a first corner pileup in the opening moto where I went down as well. Most unfortunately I should add because I was on my way to grab the holeshot and I was keen to wrap up the series with a moto win. I had to fight hard to remount but my speed was good so I still managed to finish 4th. I took it easy for the second moto because it was so dusty and I finished 4th again and second overall. It was cool to be on the podium with three fellow Honda riders! I feel good and even when it was not as hot (in Pernes-Les-Fontaines) as it had been in Ernée I didn’t suffer any issues with the heat last weekend. I don’t know what to expect from the track in Orlyonok but I’m definitely looking forward to racing there!”
Photo: G Smeys