Kevin Reiterer
Kevin Reiterer (left) is taken out by a chasing Quinten Bossche in the opening moto of the Grand Prix of Italy. Image Credit: Victory Team

Dubai: Victory Team’s two-time defending world champion Kevin Reiterer has vowed that he will be a relentless fighter in the face of growing challenges in the defence of his Ski GP1 title at the 2019 UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship.

After winning all three motos at the season-opening Grand Prix of Portugal in Portimao two weeks back, the 26-year-old Victory Team rider from Austria had to put up with a spirited challenge from Belgium’s Quinten Bossche at the weekend’s Grand Prix of Italy in Olbia. Ultimately, Reiterer came through winning two of the three motos to total 72 points and be crowned champion three points ahead of Bossche.

Reiterer had not got off to the best of starts on Saturday after challenger and Pole-sitter Bossche had collided with him at the very beginning of Moto One. And while the Belgian rider had continued unaffected in front of the pack, Reiterer had lost precious time getting back onto his ski to slip down to 19th place. But the Victory Team rider had shown tremendous resolve while making his way through the maze to end in second place.

In Saturday’s second moto, there was no stopping Reiterer as he had battled neck and neck with Bossche before overtaking his challenger from Belgium with the final two laps remaining to finish 11.70 seconds clear, while Mickael Poret came in third leaving everything to be decided in Sunday’s third moto.

After Sunday’s huge battle, Reiterer knows he has a fight on his hands going into the last three rounds of the 2019 UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship starting with the Grand Prix of China in the second half of October. “I am indeed super happy with what we have achieved this weekend. This was one of the most difficult weekends for and the team and the ultimate winner was the spectator who got to see that our sport is exciting and truly competitive,” Reiterer told Gulf News after the presentation of trophies later on Sunday.

“Now that we are at the top of the overall standings, we know exactly what needs to be done to continue with the preparations so that we can raise our level in the next round. There is a big break for the rest of the summer and when we resume we will be ready for any challenge that comes our way.”

The third moto in Olbia was a memorable one as Reiterer chased down his Belgian opponent through most of the 12 laps of the race. On lap 9, the Austrian had an opportunity to go clear, but Bossche came around quickly from the green buoy and maintained a tiny 1.90 seconds advantage on the Victory Team rider. However, heading into the final bend, Reiterer saw his chance and managed to slip past Bossche and take the win by the narrowest of margins and end the weekend with two wins and a second place for 72 points, while Bossche ended second on the podium with 69 points.

After two rounds, Reiterer is at the top of the overall standings with 147 points, followed by Andersen (94), Barnabas Szabo (89), Axel Courtois (87), Anders Keller (82) and Stian Schjetlein (81). “I can see a lot of challenges ahead, but this round in Olbia will be remembered by many for a long time,” Reiterer said.

“I am just pleased to inspire people and show the world that our sport is really special and inspiring. I am more than satisfied with my performance with Victory Team and I promise to lead in the future as well.”