Kristian Whatley and Gert Krestinov rounded out their pre-season campaigns by taking excellent fourth and fifth places overall respectively at today’s Starcross event held at Mantova, Italy. The famous international meeting marked the last of four warm up events for the Honda duo as they prepare for the start of their season proper, as the Maxxis ACU British Championship gets underway-mid next month.
The compact sandy circuit showed little signs of the recent bout of bad weather that has been evident throughout Europe in recent weeks, and even overnight rain prior to this morning’s practice and qualifying sessions did not have any real impact on conditions. Both Whatley and Krestinov showed an early liking for the tight track as they qualified in fifth and sixth spots respectively despite not making the most of the final superpole process.
Good starts in race one by both of the Honda duo saw the British based team members right at the sharp end of the action with immediate effect as they settled into their respective rhythms behind factory GP runners, and eventual top two finishers overall Clement Desalle and Evgeny Bobryshev. Riding both comfortable and safe, Whatley claimed the final podium place whilst Krestinov followed him in fourth position in the first twenty minute plus two lap sprint, which is the same race distance as used in the Maxxis series.
Race two saw Whatley grab the holeshot into the initial turn, but the Buildbase Honda rider was then forced wide at the second corner to be demoted down the order. Despite this slight setback Kristian once again put together a strong race to take fourth in the MX1 class come the flag. Krestinov looked odds on favourite to follow his teammate over the line again, but was to come off worst in a tussle with backmarkers with only a lap and a half to go that was to see him drop to an eventual sixth in class in the second mixed capacity encounter of the day.
The final sprint of the meeting was to prove to be the toughest with the soft surface now showing severe signs of wear and tear. Whatley signed off with a solid fifth place in the third race to miss out on an overall podium position by just a single point. Completely the theme of the day Krestinov was close on his teammate’s heels to take sixth spot in the last moto and fifth place overall, as both domestic focused riders performed superbly on the international stage.
Delighted with the day’s results Buildbase Honda MX Team Manager David Thorpe commented. “The Italian trip has been massively positive for the team, and has ended on a real high today with two great performances by our two riders. We have got four quality races behind us, where we have come up against top opposition, and both the bikes and riders have shown that we have been up to the challenge.”
David went on to say. “I want to say well done to both Kristian and Gert for how they have approached the last few weeks and made improvement each time out and to both Ryan and Willy for all their hard work and efforts on what has been a long road trip for the team. We can now go into our final testing back in the UK full of confidence and knowing that we have done our homework ahead of the first Maxxis round.”
Although a little frustrated about missing out on being on the box Whatley was upbeat about his day. “It would have been nice to have made it on to the podium, but the last race didn’t go just as planned. Overall today has been good as have the last few weeks in terms of being ready for the Maxxis. We are in good shape and are in a good place to fight for the British title which is our main goal this season.”
Equally satisfied with the last few weeks, Krestinov said. “Three races and three good results, and that is exactly what both the team and I were looking for today. My speed and fitness was good again, and so was my consistency, which is important over the length of the year. I think as a team we can be happy with how things have improved week by week since we came to Italy and now we can go back to the UK in a strong position and still with sometime to improve further before we begin the Maxxis championship.”