Round four of the indoor Arenacross series took place at the Genting Arena in Birmingham and the Heads and All Threads Suzuki team were eager to improve on their results at the previous rounds, but it was to prove difficult.
Pro rider Harri Kullas had been consistently placing fourth at the previous rounds, and this weekend seemed set for him to step on to the podium. He had seeded fourth during qualifying and was confident of improving on his previous results.
He had to work hard in heat one to claim his eventual third place, and in heat two he snatched the hole-shot, but he was hard pushed in what turned out to be epic battle for first. Kullas crossed the line in second, but had qualified for the Head-to-Head and Main Event.
Kullas attempted to recover from his bad start in the first H2H round, but was denied of scoring any championship points.
The Main saw Kullas squeezed out going into the first corner and had to avoid a fallen rider in front. This cost him precious positions, and was left with work to do from the back of the field. The track layout left little option for overtaking, and drawing on his experience, pushed all the way to the finish and ninth place.
“The track was pretty slippery for me,” Kullas said. “I didn’t get a good feeling all day. It was the same for everyone, so I tried to make the best out of it.
“The evening didn’t go so well, but I was really happy with the second heat, it was a really nice race for the crowd.
“I didn’t get the start in the Head-to-Head, Banks-Browne rode well and unfortunately I missed out on some championship points.
“The main wasn’t so good. There was a crash in the first corner just in front of me, I rolled the triple and lost so many positions there. I just did what I could and made ninth.
“Hopefully we can just make this the bad day, we can only look forward and aim to get on to the podium in Newcastle.”
Gary Gibson was optimistic after his result at the second round in Belfast, but Birmingham proved tough for the Pro pilot.
His practice times were showing good speed, but a big crash in the rhythm section during qualifying left the Irishman battered and bruised.
A mistake in the first, and forced wide at the start of the second left Gibson towards the back of the field and finished eighth in both heats. Despite his best efforts in the LCQ, Gibson couldn’t quite make the passes and missed out on a Main appearance. “It started off well,” says Gibson, adding, “I thought the track suited me better than in Belfast, but I tripled out of the rhythm section in qualifying, had a big crash, and it knocked my confidence a bit.
“I got some good starts, but just made some mistakes at the start of the races. It’s hard in Arenacross to make positions back, so I didn’t qualify for the Main, but hopefully I can get a result in Newcastle”
Heads & All Threads Suzuki Team Manager, Neil Prince commented: “The heat races went to plan with Harri, he did what he needed to and qualified for the Head-to-Head and Main.
“The H2H is what it is. He didn’t get the start and just couldn’t come back from that really.
“The track was difficult to pass on, and losing positions in the first corner of the Main made it hard work for him. He did what he could.
“Gary was looking good in practice, but I think his big off in qualifying made him lose a little bit of confidence and he struggled with the track, which I think was quite demanding already.
“We’ll just move on, look forward to Newcastle, and a better result.”
Round five will be on Sunday, February 1, at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle.