HM Plant KTM UK’s Natalie Kane has taken her first ever Women’s World Motocross Championship red plate at the Trentino Grand Prix in Arco di Trento, Italy yesterday after her consistent four-three results over the weekend gave the Irish racer a podium third overall and the series’ lead.
It wasn’t an easy weekend for Kane, who never found comfort around the picturesque Arco track, and the KTM racer finished in sixth in timed practice, as she struggled to get a clear lap in on Saturday morning.
With adjustments made to the bike to try and help Kane around the slippery hardpack circuit, the KTM pilot fired off the gate with a superb start in Saturday’s moto into second position. Within the first few laps Livia Lancelot snatched the position from Kane, who was struggling in the less grippy sections of the circuit, particularly in the middle part of the race.
Chiara Fontanesi made a pass towards the closing stages of the 20-minute plus two-lap moto, and while Kane was looking like she would be able to fight for the final top three position, the KTM racer was unable to retaliate, as passing opportunities were hard to find, resulting in a fourth place finish at the chequered flag.
In yesterday’s race two conditions were slightly better, as the track had been ripped in places and watered. Kane found a better rhythm in warm-up and was feeling more confident ahead of the race.
The 22-year-old once again got a good gate into third position aboard her KTM 250 SX-F, and was watching the action ahead with then-series leader Meghan Rutledge and Fontanesi battling it out. Rutledge crashed mid-moto (and was later disqualified for outside assistance), handing over a position to Kane, who was within reach of the lead.
Unfortunately for Kane she had problems with the back brake of her machine after a handful of laps, and was struggling to stay on the circuit, using first gear in some sections to slow herself down, which allowed Steffi Laier to get close in the final stages. It looked certain that Kane would hold off Laier, but a last minute line-change from a lapped rider gave Laier an advantage halfway through the final lap, demoting a bitterly disappointed Kane to third position.
Despite Kane being frustrated with the results from the weekend, as she knew she was capable of better, the KTM star was pleased to be awarded her first ever Women’s World Motocross Championship red plate, as she took third overall and the championship lead. Kane’s next World Championship event is in the sand at Valkenswaard, The Netherlands at the beginning of May.
Natalie Kane #44
“It’s been a weekend with really mixed feelings for me, although of course I am excited to have the championship lead. Yesterday I got a good start into second, before losing a place in the early stages. I felt alright, but I had a few bad laps in the middle where I was struggling with the track, which was so slippery; I couldn’t find the lines, and I couldn’t get the flow, so I started falling backwards. I ended up fourth, but I knew where I had gone wrong, so I knew we could improve for the second one. I had another good start into third, but I took a few laps to get into it, and the gap stayed the same for a lot of the race, although the track was a lot better than the day before. I lost my brake halfway through the race, and I started to get a bit frustrated while also panicking, so going down the hills the last two laps I was using first gear to try and get stopped. I knew Laier had caught me, and on the final lap a backmarker got in the way, which gave her the advantage. I was really annoyed, because I knew we should have had two results one place higher than I got, and every point is important, but we’ve come out of the weekend with the red plate, which is really special and a credit to everyone that has supported me during my racing career. The bike still needs some work so I can be completely comfortable and I know I need to be more relaxed with my riding to get the very best; I know what we’re capable of and we have to find that to keep hold of the red plate, but I will keep working hard at it.”
Images copyright Ray Archer