Over the course of the last week, the MXGP paddock moved from Russia to visit Latvia for the tenth running of the popular Kegums race. The Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee team were hoping to pick up stand-in rider Alexander Brown during the week, but his injuries from the French round prevented him from returning to action in Latvia. This meant that the team’s only entry was again Bas Vaessen, eager to recover from a double DNF result in Russia. Decent weather, huge support for local favourite Pauls Jonass, and the return to racing of KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings boosted crowd numbers that have supported the Kegums race for a decade now.
For part of Saturday it seemed as if Vaessen had brought his Russian bad luck with him to Latvia. The progression of the day through free and timed practice was brought to a halt with a crash in the qualifying race. Another first corner incident could have spelt disaster for Vaessen, but a cool head prevailed and after remounting the Hitachi man rode a great race to secure a 13th place start for Sunday’s action.
Vaessen didn’t entirely capitalise on the hard work come the first moto on Sunday, but rode a progressive race and pushed hard in the last third to pick off places to eventually finish sixth, his best result of the season. Fifth was on the cards, but Maxime Renaux eventually pipped Vaessen by half a second after the 17 laps of the race.
A slightly better start in the second moto saw Vaessen sit comfortably in the top ten throughout the race, before Vaessen’s fitness enabled him to pick off a place with three laps to go. Vaessen finished seventh in this race, avenging Renaux’s result of earlier, and the 6-7 result enabled Vaessen to take fifth at the GP, easy making this the best result of the year. Vaessen now sits just two points off a tenth place position in the championship standings. This was a much needed tonic to the team, and a boost as the Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee squad head to Teutschenthal in Germany for the 10th round of the championship this weekend.
Bas Vaessen: “I had a good weekend at the MXGP of Latvia, which went some way to making up for the issues that we had in Russia. On Saturday we made some positive changes on the suspension and after a start crash in the qualifying race got all the way back up to 13. By Sunday I was ready to have a good day and after two mediocre starts I fought my way back into 6th in the first moto and 7th in the second moto for my first top 5 overall in two years. The team did a superb job on the bike and want to thank them for the effort!”
Roger Magee, Team Manager Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee: “This was a very good weekend for Bas Vaessen and the whole Team. with a very well deserved P5 overall. Bas had two mediocre starts in both races, but he showed his true ability on the very rough and technical circuit that is Kegums to come through the field twice from mid-pack. He is now just a few points behind 9th in the 2019 MX2 World Championship, and he can hopefully close the gap even further at next weekend’s round in Teutschenthal, Germany”
Results MX2 Latvia 2019
1. Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM (1-1)
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN), Husqvarna (2-2)
3. Jago Geerts (BEL), Yamaha (3-3)
4. Ben Watson (GBR), Yamaha (4-4)
5. Bas Vaessen (NED) Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee (6-7)
Standings MX2 2019 after 09 of 18 rounds
1. Jorge Prado 397
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen 367
3. Jago Geerts 301
4. Henry Jacobi 251
5. Ben Watson 246
11. Bas Vaessen 154
Images: Ray Archer