The attrition rate at the Grand Prix of Russia was high, and the Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwakee team was not immune to falling victim to the actions of others on this undulating and dauntingly quick track.
Only Bas Vaessen travelled to Orlyonok, for the third Russian race to be held on the shore of the Black Sea – Conrad Mewse is still recovering from surgery, while Alexander Brown’s shoulder injuries suffered in France prevented him from making the trip to Russia. Brown is hoping to make the next round in Latvia.
Vaessen demonstrated good pace throughout Saturday, quickly adjusting to the hard and slick conditions. The Dutchman finished 11th in the qualification race, which set him up well for Sunday’s action.
Vaessen’s starts have been improving through the mid-season, but this worked against Vaessen in race one as he got caught up in a first corner melee.
It was clear once Vaessen had picked his bike up that the damaged to it meant that was a very quick end to his race. A wrecked front wheel showed that Vaessen was lucky not to suffer a significant injury in the crash.
Undeterred, Vaessen got away sharply in race two, running comfortably in 10th until lap eight when he was taken out.
Remounting quickly, Vaessen rode aggressively to make up for the lost time, but pushed too hard, crashing again to force a retirement and a double DNF for the team.
Clearly having the pace to run in the top 10, but getting taken out in the process of fulfilling that promise meant a very frustrating weekend for both team and rider, who now have to regroup and head to Latvia for round nine of the series.
Bas Vaessen: “A double DNF at the GP of Russia really doesn’t tell the full story of the weekend. I started well in race one, but the crash broke my front wheel so had to retire immediately.
“In the second moto I was fighting in the top 10 and got taken out hard. Riding went well all weekend so was a big bummer to finish like this. All I can say is we need to forget about this round and head onto next race.”
Team manager Roger Magee: “This was definitely not the weekend that we had anticipated, but sometimes you just have to accept that it’s all part of racing. We look forward to next weekend’s GP in Latvia where Bas has historically had good results in the past. We hope that Alexander Brown will be fit to compete next weekend, but a final decision will not be taken until mid-week.”