KOPP SECURES A FIGHTING TOP-FIVE AT THE BLACK HILLS HALF-MILE
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – Black Hills Half-Mile
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Round 11 of the 2022 American Flat Track Championship was a mixed bag of results for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team, who fought hard to get through Saturday’s Black Hills Half-Mile in Rapid City, South Dakota. AFT Singles championship points leader, Kody Kopp, made a strong fifth-place comeback in the Main Event after a challenging start to the day; while teammate Max Whale salvaged seventh after battling track conditions throughout the evening.
It was an uncharacteristic start to the day for Kopp, who found himself a little off-pace early on with an eighth-place qualifying position in the class. Lining up alongside his teammate Whale in Semi 2, Kopp powered his KTM 450 SX-F to a top-five start. Racing in the fifth-place battle for the majority of laps, Kopp made a mistake that nearly resulted in a crash and he ultimately dropped back to a seventh-place finish. With a last-row start-position in the Main Event, Kopp had his work cut out for him off the start but he swiftly made his way up to 11th by the end of lap one. Putting on a charge through the second half of the race, Kopp dove into top-five contention late in the race and he was able to make a pass stick on the final lap to secure a fighting top-five at the half-mile.
Kody Kopp (12) at the Black Hills Half-Mile. Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing.
Kody Kopp: “They say you win championships on your worst days and I feel like we made the best out of what possibly could have been a terrible finish. We didn’t qualify the best and I just wasn’t gelling with the track. I got fired up because I had a back row start for the Main Event – I think I had grid pick 14 or 15 – and I went to work and passed 10 guys to end up P5. It’s our worst finish of the year but given the circumstances, I’m pretty happy with a fifth-place finish and we live to fight another day and only lost a few points.”
Whale, the second-place qualifier, had a strong start to the day after coming away from his first victory of the season last weekend in Peoria. The Aussie had a great jump off the line in Semi 2 and he claimed the early race lead aboard his KTM 450 SX-F. Holding strong out front for the first four laps, Whale ended up getting passed midway through and he maintained a solid pace to finish second. After grabbing the Main Event holeshot, things were looking strong for Whale as he led the way on the opening lap. However, he lost his momentum early in the race, dropping back to eighth midway through, and it took him several laps to get back into a groove. Late in the race, Whale made a push to overtake seventh and that’s where he ultimately finished for the night.
Max Whale (18) at the Black Hills Half-Mile. Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing.
Max Whale: “I started the day off really well with second overall in practice and second in my semi, so we definitely had some speed early on. I had a battle for the lead and felt really good leading half of it. For the Main Event, we did a few changes and it definitely wasn’t the right way to go. The track went away from us and we didn’t think it was going to go the way it did – it got super slick – and I just really struggled. I started in the front row and faded back to seventh. It was super hard for me because I haven’t faded like that in a long time, but I really want to thank the whole team for everything they do.”
Next Race: Castle Rock TT – Castle Rock, Washington – August 13, 2022
Round 11 Results – Black Hills Half-Mile
AFT Singles Main Event
1. Trevor Brunner, Yamaha
2. Morgen Mischler, Honda
3. Trent Lowe, Honda
5. Kody Kopp, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
7. Max Whale, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
8. James Ott, KTM
12. Hunter Bauer, KTM
AFT Singles Point Standings (After Round 11)
1. Kody Kopp, 234 points
2. Morgen Mischler, 190
3. Dalton Gauthier, 160
5. Max Whale, 156
8. James Ott, 90
9. Hunter Bauer, 74
14. Travis Petton IV, 52
2023 pre-season test dates announced
Monday, 08 August 2022
Provisional dates for pre-season testing ahead of the 2023 season can now be announced.
Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia will first host the Shakedown Test, which is for MotoGP factory test riders and class rookies only, from the 5th to the 7th of February.
Sepang will then host the first, three-day MotoGP test from the 10th to the 12th of February.
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, as the venue for the season opener, will host the final, two-day test for the MotoGP class on the 11th and 12th of March.
Shakedown Test: 5th – 7th February
Sepang Test: 10th – 12th February
Portimão Test: 11th – 12th March
The pre-season Moto2 and Moto3 test will also take place at Portimão.
Moto2 and Moto3 Test: 17th – 19th March
Set up takes place on the two days preceding the MotoGP tests and the shakedown, and on the day before the Moto2 and Moto3 test.
UPDATE ON ALEIX ESPARGARÓ
Following medical checks carried out today at the Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona, Aleix Espargaró has been diagnosed with a heel fracture in his right foot. The Spanish rider, the victim of a frightening high-side during the last free practice session at Silverstone, then stoically took to the track for both qualifying and Sunday’s race.
The injury does not require surgical treatment, and Aleix has been prescribed seven days of absolute rest during which he will have to use crutches in order not to strain his injured foot. The aim is to arrive at the next race weekend (19-21 August, Austria) in the best physical condition.