Honestly, it seems as though Rui Goncalves (of the Ice1 Racing team) has slipped under the radar in the opening two rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship. With so much going on in the series at the moment, most of the riders that have been on the cusp of the top ten have been overlooked.
Rui had a very difficult season last year; I was intrigued to see if he could put that behind him and effectively start again with the Ice1 Racing team. Evidently, he has done this. The KTM is a bike that he is familiar with, and that he has enjoyed success on in the past. I think that this did help his mentality through the off-season, and this has translated into good, solid results. Although he is not on a factory team this season (like he has been in the last few years), the Ice1 Racing team do receive some factory support from KTM; his equipment is capable of great results.
Before we get to his impressive performance in Thailand, how was Qatar for the Portuguese rider? It wasn’t his best performance; however when you consider how deep the field is, and that it was his first “proper” race with the Ice1 Racing team, it was good. Eighth overall, after a ninth and a tenth was a great way for him to start his season. His results were solid for the first round; however, he went backwards in moto one and in the Superfinal. Whether or not Goncalves could have achieved these results if he had started a little further back in the pack remains the seen. But nonetheless, it was a good start to the year for him.
Anyway onto Thailand, which is where Rui Goncalves really flew under the radar. Goncalves’ performance in moto one was solid; however once again he went backwards, as he started up in the top five and dropped down to eighth. His fastest lap time would have actually put him up inside of the top six; his lap times were a little inconsistent though. If Rui could have posted times like this more consistently, he probably would have ended up closer to where he started. Goncalves actually had an issue on the fourteenth lap, which meant that he lost ten seconds more than usual; this hindered his result also.
Rui Goncalves’ performance in the Superfinal this past weekend was particularly impressive; a sixth (fifth in the MX1 classification) was a great result for the Portuguese rider. Definitely, it was his best ride of the year. Goncalves started up inside of the top five again, which is a testament to how good the Ice1 Racing KTM’s are. The Superfinal at the GP of Thailand was the first time that Rui has not gone backwards, which made this performance more positive. Although he did drop back to seventh after starting at the front, Rui actually reclaimed the position inside of the top six (fifth MX1 rider) by the finish. Goncalves ended the Thai GP sixth overall, ahead of three full factory riders. He is now seventh in the series standings, also.
‘Under the Radar’ is a new weekly feature on MX Vice that focuses on a rider who had quite a successful weekend, but slid under the radar and went unnoticed by most.
Words by Lewis Phillips