24MX Lucas Oil Honda’s Damon Graulus returned to action for round thirteen of the MXGP World championship in Loket, Czech Republic. Graulus’ first race attempt since his thumb injury in Matterley Basin turned out to be a tough test.
The fast, hard-pack, swirling course of Loket, just outside Karlovy Vary, has been a fixture on the motocross GP calendar since 2002. Due to the one-lined nature of the track and with all MXGP riders more than familiar with the circuit qualifying positions were critical. After positive adjustments to his setup Damon placed his CRF450R 20th out of 34 entrants in time practice. Unfortunately he only mustered a disappointing 29th place after stalling the engine early on and when he couldn’t avoid the crash of a rider in front of him.
The former French, Belgian and Dutch MX2 champion had to overcome even more struggle in the first moto on Sunday. After being taken out in the start Graulus was looking at a hefty 55-second deficit. He managed to post some impressive lap times in his comeback bid but overjumped an obtacle and re-injured his thumb. Damon got off to a strong start in the second sprint, placing himself on the edge of the top-10 after the first corner. However the discomfort of his painful thumb clearly held him back. Eventually he finished 22nd.
Damon Graulus: “I was looking forward to racing again this weekend. Conditions were not ideal because I couldn’t do any other race before Loket, still I had a pretty good feeling on the bike on Saturday. I was unlucky in the first moto when I gated from the outside and someone tagged my wheel in the start. When I was getting lapped I tried to stay in contact with the faster riders first with Van Horebeek and than Cairoli. It’s always a bit awkward because you don’t want to interfere with their racing so I was not pushing all the way. On a drop-off jump I slighty overshot, a pretty innocent move in itself but I hurt my thumb again. After that the second moto was more about survival really. In spite of my good start It felt like I was riding with one hand! I’ll consult with my surgeon Dr. Claes for further evaluation.”