The inaugural Ottobiano MXGP round was notoriously tough. Additional sand added to the track before the Grand Prix and extreme heat made the Lombardian race a true test for man and machine. Ken De Dycker was the highest scoring 24MX Honda rider collecting six world Championship points.
Saturday’s qualifying race, also ran in hot conditions, landed De Dycker a 21st gate pick for the races. Damon Graulus rode his CRF450R to 22nd. With two 30 minute plus two lap motos awaiting on Sunday, each race on an ever rougher course, riders needed to dig deep.
Damon Graulus started around 18th place in the first race. Early on he managed some good passes and moved up to 16th. It was clear that Damon was not performing at his best level, still he hung in and managed to grab two points. De Dycker was slightly faster than his team mate on the compact Italian track. From just inside the top-20 he battled his way to 17th by the checkered flag.
With one exhausting race done the second sprint was all about who was able to recover in between motos and who could tolerate the heat once more. Although De Dycker got off to a clean start he found himself outside of the track in the first lap. Ken made the best of a bad situation by climbing up from 31st to finish 19th. Graulus made a brave attempt to add points to his tally unfortunately he came home 21st, just outside of the last points-scoring position.
Ken De Dycker: “Leading up to this race I had only limited time on the bike. I had to wait for the bike to return from Russia and after that I had a crash in practice so conditions were not ideal. Both on Saturday and in the first moto I had a pretty good start around 14th place but I couldn’t get into the groove. After dropping back I was able to regain some positions. In the second moto I was around 16th place in the opening lap when I blew a berm. It took me a long time to get going again. I was able to remount quite well but near the end I was really spent! It’s been a difficult weekend, I also struggled a bit with the suspension setup here. However I know we can fight for more with more time on the bike in between races.”
Damon Graulus: “I did everything I could to prepare for this kind of race but it seems I don’t perform at the level I’m able to in these extremely hot conditions. I felt quite okay in the first moto but I really needed to dig deep to finish 19th just behind Bobryshev. I was 19th for the first 10 minutes or so in the second race when I hit the wall so to speak. To get some air I tossed my goggles and it was just one long struggle to reach the finish line. It was disappointing not to score any points but I couldn’t have done anything more! The big jumps and rough track this weekend didn’t favour my injured thumb either. For now I know that I have to ride through the pain though.”
The 24MX Honda team will travel to Agueda, Portugal for the 12th round of the MXGP series this weekend. Pic Shot By Bavo.