Courtesy of KTM Racing
Rene Hofer posts a solid weekend of speed, form and results to breach the top five of the fiercely competitive EMX125 European Championship as the series reaches the halfway stage at the Grand Prix of Lombardia in Italy.
The KINI KTM Junior Racing Team formed up for the fourth round of eight in the 2017 EMX125 European Championship and it was left to Austrian Rene Hofer to guide his KTM 125 SX to the best classification among the teenage trio with fifth overall.
The sand of the Ottobiano course – remodelled and sculpted for the eleventh fixture of MXGP and the second Grand Prix within Italian shores this year – was a rough and technical test with the EMX125 motos occurring in suffocating heat on Saturday and then cooler and cloudier conditions Sunday morning.
Hofer moved up from a second lap position of thirteenth to grab sixth position by the flag in the first race: the teenager’s speed again evident and the top five of the ranking within view. On Sunday morning – and with overcast skies meaning lower temperatures and the sand wet in parts thanks to early thunderstorms – Hofer gated well again to slot into the top six and classified fifth by the flag.
Hofer: “I worked on my starts and I think they are much better than they were in the first rounds. I managed to get good speed. I had a little crash in the first moto that cost me some time but I’m pretty happy: I’m going forward in the championship and everything is quite OK for my first year. This is a learning season for me but if I could make the top five that would be awesome.”
Marcel Stauffer struggled to find a good feeling on the track and could only emerge through qualification in 26th place; meaning a handicap for the motos. In the first outing the Austrian crashed out at mid-race distance and then also fell on the second lap of the second sprint and needed a visit to the medical centre for a check-up. Mike Gwerder was close to making the qualification cut on Saturday but an accident over the hefty finish line jump meant he had to use his spare bike for the Last Chance dash and a technical problem ruled him out of contention.
Didi Lacher, Team Manager: “Rene was really solid and good starts and unfortunately there was just that little crash on Saturday that meant he had to come back to sixth. Overall I’m really happy because he is making steps, reducing his errors and progressing. We practiced a lot of starts and changed a lot and the whole team did a really good job around him. In the second half of the season he can build-up on these results. Marcel rode stiff and didn’t have the feeling in practice. He had a bad gate pick and had a crash on the third lap. Today he also went down and we’re not quite sure what the doctors will say at the moment but it seems that everything is OK. Marcel had such a good level in Latvia and after France and here we need to work a bit more on his head and confidence; he puts too much pressure on himself. Rene is making a high level in the team and normally Marcel has the speed and level as well. Mike was a bit lucky to escape that crash and then we had a problem after two laps of the Last Chance. We’re sad for him because he was in a qualifying position…but he is heading in the right way. He is still so young and the schedule of heading out at 7am on a flat track and posting a rapid lap, wide-open is very new and tricky for him. He’ll keep improving though and we’ll keep on working.”
The EMX125 series follows MXGP west this week for the Grand Prix of Portugal and where the KINI KTM Junior Racing Team will again be a prominent part of the eager two-stroke pack.
Next Round: July 2 2017 – Ottobiano (ITA)
Results EMX125 Ottobiano 2017
1. Mikkel Haarup (DEN), Husqvarna (1-1)
2. Gianluca Facchetti (ITA), Husqvarna (2-2)
3. Isak Gifting (SWE), KTM (3-3)
4. Brian Strubhart Moreau (FRA), Kawasaki (4-4)
5. Rene Hofer (AUT), KTM (6-5)
Standings EMX125 2017 after 4 of 8 rounds
1. Strubhart Moreau 164 points
2. Haarup 147
3. Facchetti 144
4. Kevin Horgmo 134
5. Notario 95
6. Hofer 94
23. Stauffer 25