The Buildbase Honda MX Team rounded out the highly competitive three round 2015 Italian Championship with both Kristian Whatley and Gert Krestinov posting their best results to date at the series finale in Ottabiano earlier today. The deep sand circuit situated south west of the city of Milan was covered by a thin layer of snow as the riders awoke this morning, but this was thankfully soon to thaw to leave the track in good shape for the pending action.
However intermittent rain throughout the day was to make conditions heavy as the race programme played out with the sticky mix of sand and water causing the riders plenty of goggle problems. With the circuit perhaps in its best state of the day, both Kristian and Gert acquitted themselves well during the morning timed training session to take tenth and twelfth positions respectively against many of the World’s best riders, as sand specialist Ken De Dycker topped the timing sheet on going not too dissimilar to his native Belgium.
Whatley’s good gate pick was almost immediately cancelled out as the twenty five year old British rider went down in the melee of the first turn. By the time Kristian, who was runner-up in the Maxxis ACU British MX1 Motocross Championship last season, had picked himself off the deck he was dead last and had much work to do if he was to going to salvage a result in the first of the two – twenty-five minute plus two lap sprints.
Whatley did not disappoint and made amazing progress through the field on the opening lap to cross the line in an impressive eighteenth spot. Kristian continued to impress over the remainder of the race, picking off many top names on route to securing an excellent ninth position at the flag. Krestinov’s race was a much quieter and consistent affair, with the twenty four year old Estonian always hovering on the edge of the top ten, to finally claim a solid eleventh place come the finish.
The increasing difficult conditions were to play their part in the mixed MX1 / MX2 race that closed out the day, with the track now showing the effects of a heavy schedule and the rain still falling overhead. Another start just outside the top ten saw Gert make some early progress before then being forced into the pits for a change of goggles that saw him fall slightly down the order. Making the most of his fresh eyewear Krestinov made up for his lost time to take another eleventh place in the MX1 class come the end of the Elite race.
Although Whatley made it safely around the first turn in race two, his start was shocking as he languished down in twentieth position at the end of lap one. For the second time of asking Kristian was to put in another stunning performance as he charged through the pack, catching and passing the likes of Todd Waters, Tim Gajser and Nathan Watson on route to claiming a superb eighth spot as the chequered flag was waved.
Pleased with both riders’ performances Buildbase Honda MX Team Manager David Thorpe said. “As the results show, Kristian and Gert have both made good progress over the last three weeks, especially when you take into account just how early it is in the season. After the disappointment of last weekend, both riders have come here much stronger and more focused and shown what they are capable of against many of the top GP riders. Hopefully we can now kick on from here and continue to make even more progress over the coming weeks.”
Much happier with his day Whatley spoke positively after race two. “Overall I am really happy with both my speed and fitness, which has definitely improved much over the last few weeks. They were both tough races, race one was spoilt by going down in turn one and race two by a really poor start. Despite these setbacks I have ridden well, and having to come from the back each time has certainly shown that my pace and fitness is good. After today I am now really looking forward to Mantova next weekend, which should be similar conditions”
Two more consistent results for Krestinov allowed him to give a balanced review. “Two results inside the top ten today would have been good for me at this early stage in the season, so to just miss out on this each time is not such a big problem. The first race I just tried to ride smooth and safe and that was the plan in race two as well until I had the problem with my goggles. After I pitted I had to push a bit harder to make up the places I lost. Anyway I am quite happy with the improvement over last weekend and that we have made since we have been out here in Italy.”
Both Buildbase Honda MX riders will contest the final pre GP International meeting at Mantova, Italy next weekend before heading back to the UK to continue with their preparations ahead of the opening Maxxis event in mid March.