The Honda World Motocross team’s Rui Gonçalves put on a strong qualifying race performance for his home Grand Prix in Agueda, Portugal today to finish in fourth place at round seven of the MX1 World Championship, while teammate Evgeny Bobryshev crashed out of the lead on lap five.
Following this morning’s dry practice and pre-qualifying, in which Bobryshev finished in the top three in both sessions, the Russian racer was feeling strong for this afternoon’s 20-minute plus two-lap moto. Despite rain throughout the later part of the day, Bobryshev took the qualifying race holeshot in style aboard his Dunlop-shod factory CRF 450R and led the race for five laps while looking comfortably smooth with a five second advantage over Clement Desalle.
Unfortunately Bobryshev then lost the front going into the whoops section, where he crashed heavily out of the race. The Honda pilot was winded and while there is some visible bruising to his chest, it does look likely that he will be well enough to race tomorrow.
In the meantime Gonçalves, who started just outside the top ten but made good headway on the first lap, was setting a nice pace in fifth position. He was promoted to fourth due to Bobryshev’s crash and was catching third placed Christophe Pourcel in the closing stages of the race to maintain his fourth position at the chequered flag. This puts the home hero, who is the most successful Portuguese racer of all time in a World Motocross Championship, in good stead ahead of his local Grand Prix tomorrow.
The qualifying race was won by Antonio Cairoli with Clement Desalle second and Christophe Pourcel in third position.
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Rui Gonçalves #999: 4th position
“Today has gone pretty well for me. In first and second practice I couldn’t really put a good lap down, as I kept making small mistakes and while I wasn’t so far from the front, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. My start was okay to the race, but (Antonio) Cairoli pushed wide and I ended up outside of the top ten. I got my head down and made some good passes in the first lap; it had been raining a little, so everyone was quite tentative with it being slippery, but I took a bit of a risk and settled in fifth before getting fourth. It was nice to be able to set a comfortable pace and I have a good gate pick for tomorrow. It’s going to be really important for a good start, and then be consistent with a lot of focus, while keeping out of trouble. The track today was quite tricky, as in some laps you could go fast, but then others you had to watch out with the front washing or the rear sliding out. It’s so important to stay focused with the throttle control and where you put the wheels, but the main thing for me is that it is such a good feeling to be back home, as I’ve not seen my family for six months, then to also have all my fans here has really given me a positive energy.”
Evgeny Bobryshev #777: DNF
“What can I say, I am really disappointed and we just seem to have no luck. We were going well throughout the practice sessions, and we got an awesome start to the race. I got the holeshot and I was riding smooth; not pushing or anything silly, but I lost the front going into the whoops section of the track and went down hard. This feeling of not being able to breathe is really not good, as I hit my chest and I was stuck there on my knees trying to breathe, so by the time I got going again I was already too far down. I am frustrated, as I feel really good; I was no-where near the limit and riding my own race, but something went so wrong so quickly. I am very far down on the gate, so it’s going to be really difficult, but I’ll try to make a good start and I hope everything stays okay to have two solid races.”
Marcus Freitas: Honda World Motocross Chief Mechanic
“The riders went out during the week and we found some settings there coming into this race, although from a technical point of view we haven’t really made any changes for Bobby. With Rui we changed some settings on the fork and rear shock to find the optimum setting for him. We have worked throughout the sessions and now we have a final set-up for tomorrow. In the race Bobby got a good start and was riding smooth with the bike working well. He’s coming better and better from a health point of view, but he made a mistake and crashed. He isn’t going to have a good gate pick, but hopefully he can put in two good races, although he does have some bruising to his chest. With Rui, he finished fourth, which was good for the gate tomorrow and if he gets good starts I hope he can put on a good show for his home fans.”