Riding through the pain of a badly broken finger on his right hand, Brad Anderson (Verde Substance KTM) put in a typically gutsy performance to retain his EMX300 title at Imola on Sunday.
Ando’s no stranger to riding hurt – he won at Matterley Basin in May with a painful knee injury – and he was on the defensive all weekend to protect his series lead, finally clinching the title by five points with ninth in race two.
“Over the moon to be EMX300 champion once again,” he said. “It’s only just sinking in that all the hard work has actually paid off. I struggled all weekend with a broken finger in two places. So glad that it is done and dusted.
“A massive thank you to the team, Chris Muir on the spanners, Steve Clitheroe for having my engines spot-on and all my family, friends and sponsors that have supported me all the way. Couldn’t have done it without you all.”
Team boss Adrian Kirk was delighted to make it back-to-back titles. “It is a great feeling to win the championship two years in a row,” he said. “It has been a tough year with Brad’s injuries. Thank you to everyone involved. Brad did us all proud.”
Brad’s main rival all season has been 2016 champion Mike Kras (GL12 Racing KTM) whose title hopes received a body blow at Matterley Basin when he suffered two mechanical DNFs.
“Imola was a great weekend,” said the Dutchman. “Pole in quali and two race wins. We came up five points short but when you think that we gave 50 away it was a good season. I want to thank Bob Buchanan for all his hard work and the 100 per cent effort he put in the team. Bring on 2K19.”
Never a man to back down from a challenge, Ando’s had to tough it out this season to retain his EMX300 title with first a knee injury and then his recent hand injury ensuring he’s been up against it from the halfway point of the championship.
“This season’s been probably one of the hardest ones for me,” said the 37-year-old. “I did my knee at Matterley Basin and didn’t know if I could even ride but I went out and rode really well to win. Then I came off at the Bridgestone Masters two or three weeks ago and ended up doing all my leg in and my side and breaking my finger.”
The many heavy landings from the Imola jumps meant Ando had to dig deep all weekend to make sure of the championship.
“It was real difficult to ride with that many jumps. Every landing I had to grit my teeth because it was all going through my hand – I had to try and change my riding position and how I was gripping so I’ve got blisters all over my hands. Even my back was aching because I was having to ride so stiff.”