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Glory and Progress for Gabriel SS24 KTM at the MXGP of Portugal

Glory and Progress for Gabriel SS24 KTM at the MXGP of Portugal

Round five of the MXGP world championship held at Agueda saw exceptionally heavy down pours over the weekend resulting in very tough conditions putting riders, bikes and teams to the test.

Running alongside the world series, Agueda also hosted round three of the EMX250 series where Gabriel SS24 KTM’s Cas Valk claimed the top step of the podium, pulling back some vital points in his championship title chase.

In timed qualification Cas set the pace ahead of the rest of the field going 1.8 seconds clear for pole position. This set Cas up for an inside gate where the start favoured allowing him a better chance of getting a good start.

In the first race he did just that and gated third and by the end of lap 1 found himself in the lead. He rode a clean and calculated race in the deteriorating conditions and pulled away from the rest of the pack to take the win, 24 seconds ahead of second.

With a lot of work from the track crew overnight, race 2 on Sunday for the EMX250 class saw them with the best the track was going to be, before mother nature would change how the rest of the day played out.

Cas secured another good start in race 2, just behind hole shot man Van Erp. Assessing the track Cas took his opportunity for the lead on lap 6, capitalising on a back marker and launched into the lead. It wasn’t plain sailing from here however as current series leader Valerio Lata applied the pressure on Cas for the remainder of the race. With the team eagerly watching both riders battle from the sidelines Cas kept focused and brought home the win along with the overall.

This was a great result for Cas and the team, with important points gained in the championship.

Cas: “It was a perfect weekend for me with P1 in timed practice and P1 in both races, it was amazing! The track conditions were tough but I managed it with two good starts and good preparation and strategy from the team. Next weekend it’s time for another MX2 race again and i’m looking forward to it!”

With Josh Gilbnert back at GP’s and at full strength he was ready to get back to it in the GP scene. With some of the GP tracks being new to Josh he was eager to learn the track in free practice, with a good feeling he just needed to clean some of his corners up to gain some valuable seconds. In timed qualification however he struggled putting in a clean lap and came away with 21st gate pick for the RAM qualifying race.

With rain throughout the qualifying day the riders thought the mesh grid was going to be slippery meaning they would alter the amount of rev’s off the start, however a brief pause in the rain meant the mesh was surprisingly grippy which caught riders out – Josh being one of them. This combined with a small crash on the opening lap meant Josh started the race in 20th. As he was trying to improve on this, smoke from the radiator cap began blowing in Joshs face distracting him from the job in hand. Worried that if he continued the bike could seize, a team decision was made to pit Josh and they decided to retire from the race. Due to this he then lined up for Sundays races in 26th.

With small showers of rain throughout the morning the track was looking stable ahead of race 1, but with an outside gate pick Josh knew a start would be harder so cut across the back of the pack. He came around the first lap in 19th when the heavens opened and extremely heavy rainfall fell throughout the entirety of the race. With deep ruts forming and filling with water it turned into survival mode rather than racing. With many riders having to abandon goggles and countless bikes seizing Josh was making his way through the ranks and could have been looking for a finish within the top 15 when he too fell victim to the rain and unfortunately wasn’t able to finish the race.

The track crew set to work in-between the racing blocks and officials held an emergency meeting to decide whether or not to carry on with the day. The decision was made to continue and with Josh now looking for some redemption in race 2 he had a much better result despite the still tricky track conditions.

Having worked his way to 15th, Josh was looking to make the pass on the #101 of Guadagnini when he crashed on the finish jump, having to slide down the face of it to remount before being able to continue. Not letting this get to him he found a way back past and back into 15th at the finish flag.

Josh: “It’s good to be back at the GP’s, even with how tough the conditions were this weekend! An unfortunate first race for me but I was happy to come away with 15th in moto 2 and felt like my riding was good. I look forward to progressing from here. A massive thanks to the whole team for their hard work this weekend.”

Shaun Simpson Team Manager: “What a weekend! Tough conditions for the riders and mechanics but we all pulled together as a team and had a very positive weekend. Cas executed a near perfect weekend and secured our first EMX250 win and pulled back some vital points in the championship. Full credit to him for what was a very calculated and impressive show of his skills under pressure.

“It was great to have Josh back to full strength in MXGP. He toughed it out in very difficult conditions and came away with 6 points for the weekend showing pace that could have seen us near the top 10. Josh can build on this going into next week in Spain. Thanks to all our team sponsors for their continued support.”

Words by Gabriel SS24 KTM – Images by Ray Archer