Tough Night for Team Honda HRC at Monster Energy Cup
10/16/2017 8:24:00 PM
The 2017 Monster Energy Cup didn't go as planned for Team Honda HRC, as both Tim Gajser and Christian Craig were sidelined early after crashes in main events one and two, respectively. In the first race, both riders started on the left side of the split gate, with Craig coming out in fourth and Gajser running mid-pack. A few laps later, the race was red-flagged and riders were directed back to the line for a complete restart. When the gate dropped for the second time, Gajser got away much better and was running fourth on the opening lap, while Craig was near the back. After taking the Joker Lane early, Gajser moved into third and Craig was 10th. During the closing laps, the Slovenian lost two positions before a scary crash sidelined him for the remainder of the race and evening. Craig gained one more position, taking the checkered flag in ninth.
In the second main event, Craig secured a top 10 start and was working his way forward before he came together with another rider and went down. Unfortunately, the Californian reinjured his left hand and was unable to rejoin the race or finish the evening.
- Both of Team Honda HRC's riders were on loan for the Monster Energy Cup, with 2016 MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser visiting from Team HRC and Christian Craig being borrowed from GEICO Honda. Normal Team Honda HRC racers Cole Seely and Ken Roczen were absent, the former having recently undergone an operation to remove hardware from his hand, and the latter still working his way into race shape following his injuries from the Anaheim 2 Supercross.
- On Friday, Gajser was pleased to take part in the pre-race press conference along with other top riders. After taking questions from the media regarding this preparation and expectations for Saturday, Gajser joined Craig in some exhibition laps on the track.
- Despite having never raced supercross and only having two days of practice and testing prior to the event, Gajser impressed everyone during the daytime qualifying practice, setting the sixth-fastest time with a 1'00.876" time. Craig was slightly off pace, securing 10th with a 1'01.594" lap.
- On race day, Team Honda HRC went above and beyond for a Make a Wish child named Witze and his family, who had flown in from Belgium to experience their first-ever supercross race. Following the day's practice sessions, Honda provided the guests an inside look at the team's technical and hospitality trucks. After learning that his favorite rider was Roczen, who was not in attendance, the team surprised Witze with a special video message from Roczen himself.
- The Monster Energy Cup track showcased the same hybrid format as in the past, with last year's unique split elevated start and a Joker Lane that was now an advantage instead of the traditional disadvantage. There was also a challenging rhythm section out of the high-speed Monster Alley, and it claimed multiple riders. "To me, this track was quite different and out of the ordinary with some of the elements," said team manager Erik Kehoe. "It's difficult because for supercross the suspension settings are so much stiffer, but then the track was high-speed and flat, which is an interesting mix. With the settings like that and then the track being choppy and rough, I think it raises the danger."
- Young Amsoil Honda rider Jo Shimoda had a strong showing in the Amateur All-Stars class, finishing third overall via 2-4 results aboard his Factory Connection CRF250R.
I'm so bummed with how Vegas ended. The entire team worked their butts off testing with me the past couple weeks. We had a lot of fun and got the bike perfect. Practice went pretty good. The track was sketchy and guys were crashing everywhere in the mains. In the second main I got together with another rider and punched the ground as I fell. The fall wasn't even that hard but I hit it just right I guess. I'll be fine, just bummed I didn't get to finish out the night for the team.
I really like supercross but I just think I need more practice. It's very different from what I'm used to. I was having fun all day and during the race before my crash. I'm very sore but thankfully nothing is broken, so I'm able to go home pretty healthy. I think this was a good start and positive learning opportunity, so hopefully I can come back and race again.
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
This wasn't the day I was hoping for my first race back, but it was good to get a race under our belts as a team prior to Anaheim. I think this was a good taste for Tim of what supercross is about. This is pretty intense and a completely different style of racing for him, so I think with the small amount of time he had in preparation for it, he did a really good job. The main thing is he's going home healthy and not injured, so it'll be interesting to see if he decides to come back and race again. I think the restart frustrated Christian a little. He got a good start in the first race, then they red-flagged it; the second start didn't go so well, so I think mentally, that took away his momentum. He was riding okay but then went down in the second race and was unable to finish the night. Hopefully he'll be okay but we'll see what the doctor says.
Marcus Pereira de Freitas: MXGP HRC Team Coordinator
We're proud of Tim. I think he did a good job out there. Obviously with only two days testing, it probably wasn't enough for him, but he was battling with those guys who are used to supercross full-time. I think mostly everything went well. He lost a couple positions before he crashed but it was good. It's positive that he got the experience and is walking away healthy. We'll bring this experience back home and see if he wants to come back again in the future.
Mandie Fonteyn // Dispatch Communications // firstname.lastname@example.org // +1 (951) 537-0454
1) Marvin Musquin (1-1-1)
2) Jason Anderson (2-2-2)
3) Dean Wilson (3-5-3)
4) Broc Tickle (4-3-4)
5) Jordan Smith (5-4-6)
6) Justin Barcia (10-6-5)
7) Josh Grant (6-7-8)
8) Benny Bloss (7-8-7)
9) Vince Friese (8-10-10)
10) Tyler Bowers (12-9-9)
17) Christian Craig (9-18-21)
22) Tim Gajser (19-22-22)
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