A week after a positive outing in Bulgaria, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe was back in action under warm sunshine at Fermo for the Grand Prix of Italy today as 17,000 spectators saw Harri Kullas take his factory-backed RM-Z250 to sixth position in the first moto and recover from an early fall to ride to 14th and leave the rough and rutty venue with 11th spot overall in the MX2 class.
The Italian hard-pack of Fermo was defined by many downhill and uphill sections as the steep hillside layout pushed the demands of the MX2 equipment to the maximum. Several technical parts of the track and battled-scarred corners helped vary the difficulty of the course.
Kullas started brightly and blasted away near the top five in the first 35 minute and 2-lap dash. He was part of a six rider group vying for third spot at one stage but settled into an effective rhythm and was satisfied to classify sixth one week after a similarly-encouraging performance netted the Fin fifth in Bulgaria. A mistake on a freshly watered track in the opening phases of the second race meant that the top 10 was a major ‘ask’ considering the ground Kullas had lost, but he persevered to reach 14th.
Alongside him in the awning, Petar Petrov was doing his best to deal with the physical and technical demands of the racing surface that was becoming heavier work with the passing laps. The Bulgarian was pretty consistent once he found his flow and eliminated some of the errors that were restricting his pace. Thirteenth and 10th still represented his best joint points-haul of the season so far and he rested in 12th.
Jorge Zaragoza picked up a superb debut podium result on the RM125 in the European 125 two-stroke championship at the Grand Prix of Bulgaria last week but the Spanish teenager was devastated when his Italian run ended before it had even begun: A slip on just his second lap in practice led to a cleanly broken right wrist and an estimated recovery period of four weeks.
There is a chance Zaragoza could be fit in time for round three of seven in the EMX125 series, which takes place on June 10th at Agueda in Portugal. The MX2 element of the team however has only a few days respite before freight needs to be prepared and travel arranged for the South American stint of the Grand Prix calendar. Trips to Mexico and then Brazil will constitute rounds four and five.
“The first race was really good and my starts now are much better. Like Valkenswaard I didn’t feel 100% here and a bit like I was running on ‘empty’. I was sixth for almost all the race and a couple of guys passed me near the end but Roelants vanished and I managed to find sixth again. The speed was OK. I was pushed wide at the second start and I was lucky I didn’t crash. I was thinking that I had to be smart because the track had been watered but I still went down! I passed some guys and came to 14th but then had a problem with my goggles and I was disappointed with that. It was my mistake and it meant I couldn’t push as much as I wanted. Sixth and 14th is not so bad but it could be better. I still had a great feeling on the bike.”
“I was making mistakes out there and I’m not happy about this but there are some positives from this GP because I worked hard and my riding turned out OK. My start wasn’t so bad in the first moto but I had to put my head down to come back to 13th while in the second race I had a top-10 start, lost some places and then came back to 10th. It was a similar story in both parts of the day really. The track was a bit weird and sketchy. The ruts were really hard and you paid for any mistakes. You had to be calm out there. If you were aggressive then you crashed.”