Cairoli set the quickest time with the 350SX-F in pre-qualifying and then escaped free in the heat race. The Sicilian leading a 1-2 for the new bike out of the gate with 2009 MX2 runner-up Rui Goncalves, making his first appearance in the MX1 class after recovering from a shoulder problem. Cairoli was peerless for his first pole on Dutch sand that has been rougher and certainly damper in past years, as wonderful sunshine started the weekend on the right foot.
Behind the world champion and winner of round two in Italy, Ken De Dycker took the Yamaha Monster Energy Ricci YZ450FM to second place and LS Motors Honda Tanel Leok emboldened his ritual qualification speed with a solid ride to third across terrain that was hard-packed and slippery in parts.
2008 World Champion David Philippaerts had excellent speed to rise from a dodgy start to fifth, but then a problem with the front end of the YZ slowed the Italian’s progress. The Rockstar Teka Suzukis of Clement Desalle and Steve Ramon round out the top five while Evgeny Bobryshev will continue to set landmarks on his CAS Honda thanks to being the sole -- and therefore most prominent -- Russian in MX1 history to-date. The friendly MX1 rookie was 6th.
With factory Kawasaki Racing teammate Jonathan Barragan facing an extensive spell out of the sport after dislodging his hip joint during training this week, Seb Pourcel could offer the green crew little reason for cheer after a collision with another rider at the start of the heat saw an errant foot peg piece the engine of the KX450F. He had to retire. The third member of the squad, Xavier Boog, was a first-lap faller.
“When you have good starts, everything is much easier; it was a quiet race but I felt good on the sand and the 350 worked really well for me,” said Cairoli.
The MX2 affair was suitably dramatic and showed the tendency of the sand to catch out even its newest stars. Fifteen-year-old prodigy Jeffrey Herlings flighted his works Red Bull KTM ahead of Marvin Musquin in the opening phases of the race but crashed and lost a lot of time restarting, eventually taking 14th. Fellow 15-year-old Ken Roczen chased relentlessly to close the margin to Musquin and the assistance of backmarkers created a grandstand finale. In perhaps a rash attempt to re-pass the thirsty German, Musquin misjudged the final jump and narrowly avoided hitting the Teka Suzuki Europe rider in the air. The result, however, was a heavy impact/cartwheel for the normally flawless Frenchman, who laid dazed on the track for a good two minutes but was later given the all-clear. Even if Musquin is fighting-fit for Sunday, his lowly gate standing for the motos means that Roczen at last has the chance to depart away from the KTMs. The tight opening ‘S’ of the left first turn, followed by a right hairpin, means chaotic getaways and being on the inside, or as close to, was the goal for the serious players today.
Jimmy Albertson started well on the factory Honda and settled in 14th for his first attempt at Valkenswaard. Zach Osborne is getting quicker and sharper and should have been higher than 6th in MX2 but almost lost control of his Yamaha coming out of the gate and was frustrated by the ground lost in those crucial moments. The 20-year-old remains a decent, quiet bet for a podium result tomorrow.
Post-‘rush’, as ever, former GP winner and darling of the Dutch crowds Marc de Reuver was good value in the post-race press conference, offering no excuses for his slowish start to life as a Beursfoon Suzuki rider. When asked if he had the same speed as countryman Herlings at fifteen years of age he replied “I was just as crazy, full gas everywhere. Now though...well, I think I will ask Luongo to lower the age of the Veteran’s class; 28 years old would be good.”
Fortunately hot weather is on the cards for Sunday.
MX1 Qualification Heat
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 24:22.123;
2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Yamaha), +0:06.680;
3. Tanel Leok (EST, Honda), +0:07.544;
4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:15.996;
5. Steve Ramon (BEL, Suzuki), +0:16.959;
6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:22.550;
7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), +0:28.115;
8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Honda), +0:36.175;
9. Tom Söderström (SWE, Yamaha), +0:36.920;
10. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Aprilia), +0:44.481;
11. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:46.045;
12. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:57.077;
13. Anthony Boissiere (FRA, TM), +0:57.191;
14. Jimmy Albertson (USA, Honda), +0:59.864;
15. Tom Church (GBR, CCM), +1:01.929;
16. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), +1:03.856;
17. Manuel Monni (ITA, Yamaha), +1:13.929;
18. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:22.925;
19. Yentel Martens (BEL, KTM), +1:25.024;
20. Cedric Soubeyras (FRA, KTM), +1:34.169;