Triumph ValMoto's first experience of Rockingham Motor Speedway turned out to be a positive one thanks to another excellent ride from Craig Jones, which culminated in a hard-earned eighth-place finish.

The 18-year-old rising star had looked a likely candidate for the top five during the early stages of the race and it was only misfortune that denied him this reward.

The cancellation of regulation qualifying meant that the grid was determined by championship positions. This gave Jones a tenth place start, however after a trademark lightning start, the #18 Triumph ValMoto Daytona was up into sixth place by the time the pack had exited the very first turn.

Jones kept up the momentum and very quickly made fifth place his own with a brave and committed move on John Crockford. After driving round the outside of the Padgett's Honda - and swapping a fair bit of paint in the process - Jones rocketed off in pursuit of the leading pack.

He was within touching distance of fourth-placed Rob Frost when the Kawasaki rider lost the front end and tumbled to the ground. Almost simultaneously, another rider crashed in front of the Daytona rider, forcing him off the track.

This unplanned excursion onto the grass cost Jones three places and he rejoined the race in seventh place. The Brit reacted to this setback in characteristic style and clocked his fastest lap of the race on lap 14, however it still proved difficult for him to make up the lost ground.

Despite his best efforts, he was forced to settle for eighth place at the chequered flag after suffering arm problems - the result of a morning accident.

"After getting a great start like that, it was pretty frustrating to end up in eighth place," said Jones. "I'm not saying that it would have been easy, but I was definitely on for our best finish so far. Being forced to go cross-country didn't help much and I had to ride real hard to catch up.

"I was taking at least half a second a lap out of him towards the end, but then my shoulder [the painful legacy of a warm-up crash] really began to hurt. When my whole arm went totally numb I decided that it was best to take eighth rather than risk crashing," he explained. "I'm steadily improving my championship position and there are still five races left to get on the podium."

Meanwhile, his more experienced team-mate Jim Moodie crossed the finish line in 16th place after battling his way through 20 action-packed laps.

The massively popular Scot has worked tirelessly to pinpoint the elements that will ultimately help ValMoto convert the Daytona 600 into a race-winning machine and this round provided him with more food for thought.

"That was the first time that I've raced at Rockingham," said Moodie. "And I have to say that it was very hard work. After morning warm-up I was definitely starting to find my way around the track but during the race every lap was different.

"Switching lines changed the way the bike behaved and I was constantly learning how to deal with the circuit. I was getting the hang of it towards the end, I got past a few riders and my last three laps were my best, even though someone crashed in front of me during one of them. Unfortunately, by that time it was too late to do any more," concluded the Scot.

 

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