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

Dubai: Victory Team’s two-time defending world champion Kevin Reiterer has vouched to keep his focus firmly on defending his crown after coming through an incident-marred opening day at the Grand Prix of Italy, the second round on the 2019 UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship, in Olbia, Italy.

Starting off from second in the Ski GP1 category, Reiterer’s plans for dominance took an unfortunate turn after he and pole-sitter Quinten Bossche collided at the very beginning of the race. And while the Belgian rider continued unaffected in front of the pack, Reiterer lost precious time getting back onto his ski in the bargain slipping down to 19th place. But the Victory Team rider showed tremendous guts as he made his way through the maze of other riders to end less than five seconds behind race winner Bossche.

“If the first race was tough, demanding and challenging, but I did well to fight and hang in and manage a second place,” Reiterer told Gulf News from Olbia.

“That incident only gave me that extra motivation to push in the second and go for an outright win against the same rider. I am extremely pleased with the way we fought back and that means so much looking ahead to the rest of the season,” the Victory Team rider added.

The 26-year-old from Austria, who was crowned a world champion at the end of December last year in his first season with Victory Team, had finished the mandatory 15-minute qualifying session at the top on Friday. However, Bossche’s time of 1:30.92 minutes was the best for the evening, while leaving defending champion Reiterer second best with an effort of 1:31.60, while Antoine Goethals had come in third.

Bossche led for all ten laps, followed by countryman Goethals during nine laps till he dropped back and finished in sixth position. Bossche took the chequered finish flag to win by well over 33 seconds, and despite a post-race 30 seconds time penalty for not maintaining his line, Bossche managed to ease through for an outright moto win by 4.69 seconds.

But it was Reiterer who was the star as the Austrian made his way through the crowded pack from 19th place to ultimately finish in second and take vital points in the overall standings. Benjamin Scharff came home in third ahead of Barnabas Szabo, while Mickael Poret was fifth.

In the second moto held later in the evening, there was no stopping Reiterer as the he battled neck and neck against Bossche before overtaking his challenger with the final two laps remaining to finish 11.70 seconds clear of the chasing Bossche, while Poret came in third.

After Saturday’s two motos, Reiterer continued at the top of the overall standings with 122 points, followed by a handful of riders led by Norway’s Daniel Svae Andersen (79 points), Axel Courtois (76), Barnabas Szabo (71) and Anders Keller (69). The third and final moto of the Grand Prix of Italy was scheduled later on Sunday with the winner of the race taking the honours in Olbia before heading into a lengthy summer break till the second half of October in the Grand Prix of China.