Racer X Race Report:  MXGP of Belgium

Racer X Race Report: MXGP of Belgium

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In the fourteen rounds prior to the Grand Prix of Belgium, Red Bull KTM had swept nine of those meetings in both MX1 and MX2 classes. MX2 had been an orange wash and Jeffrey Herlings had duly confirmed the title two weeks previously in the Czech Republic. Tony Cairoli came to the rudimentary Bastogne circuit – full of military undertones once more for the bloody history that surrounds the region – needing only ten points more than Clement Desalle to confirm a fifth MX1 crown on the bounce. In short it would take something pretty exceptional for the Austrians to be absent from the spotlight. And, as is won’t in sport from time to time, it came to pass.

Desalle defeated Cairoli and all other MX1 pretenders for the second event in a row on the factory Rockstar Suzuki for what was his first success in front of an appreciative and slightly damp home crowd; particularly since Desalle is from this same French-speaking part of the country. In MX2 Herlings’ absence due to injury excitedly threw the formbook into the dark cluster of trees that surrounded the basic, occasionally bumpy and fast, natural layout. It was Monster Yamaha’s Dean Ferris who revelled in the space left by ‘84’ at the front of the field and his 1-1 represented a first for Australia since 2005 in Grand Prix and made the 23 year old just the fourth Aussie to walk the top step (and this is the second Aussie win from the confines of the Steve Dixon-led Yamaha set-up, the late Andrew McFarlane being the other).

With Desalle in hot form after his superb performance in the Czech Republic two weeks earlier and Cairoli never stronger than when bouncing back from a disappointing race (he was fifth and missed the podium at Loket fortnight before) it was clear that this would be a two-rider affair. A Saturday preview in the qualification heat showed as much and the duel accordingly continued through the motos with both starting at the peak of the MX1 pack. Cairoli knew the best he could do to confirm the championship with two rounds remaining would be to push to win and hope Desalle would finish lower than second on both occasions for the mathematical difference to be confirmed. The Sicilian had built a 90-point gap over his title nemesis for the past three seasons and 100 points remained on the table after Bastogne.

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Desalle (center) took home the overall in his home country.
Suzuki-Racing.com photo

In moto 1 he showed Desalle around the dark mud with those florescent boots and while the Suzuki man set up a finale by shadowing ‘222’ all the way into the last lap a brief front end tuck ended the dispute and Cairoli was free. Desalle adjusted his tactics to attack from the outset instead of following for moto 2 and it paid off. There was a stage where Cairoli was chipping into a three second advantage the Belgian retained as he was cheered on by the 19,000 multitude, but a rock to his prototype Neox goggles (launched this winter) forced a slow lap and the tow was broken for good. Desalle emotionally celebrated win number three of 2013 and over the last three rounds has displayed championship form with 1-2, 1-1, 2-1 moto finishes. He now has a total of twelve podiums from fifteen. “It is difficult to answer the question [on the elevation of form],” he admitted. “I always try my best at each race but sometimes you feel better at some events during the season. It feels great to win GPs and I have just kept on following my programme and will continue to do so. My first victory was very nice [back in 2009] but this one is really emotional. I have never won in front of the Belgian public before.”

Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin returned to active duty after his concussion in Germany and his lonely third in the first moto was a pleasing result but his scrap with the impressive Shaun Simpson (top Yamaha in eighth overall on a privateer effort) resulted in some bar-banging and tough moves that saw each rider blaming the other and the Frenchman pulling out of the second moto after one risky moment too far. The third step of the box again belonged to Honda World Motocross team’s Evgeny Bobryshev, looking fitter than ever and really back into fierce and confident shape on the factory CRF. The Russian revealed his second podium on the trot was due to a month of good training after pain from his broken leg recovery had finally subsided in the wake of eight to nine weeks of discomfort. KTM’s Ken de Dycker was allegedly dealing with a twisted knee and Desalle’s teammate Kevin Strijbos never really got going across some of the Belgian bumps.

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Dean Ferris won his first career GP in Belgium.
Monster Energy photo

Among the talking points at Bastogne was the innocuous crash on Saturday by Herlings that ruined an impeccable MX2 season. The Dutchman tussled with Ferris and a simple 90-degree left turn with the same speed and courage as he had in the previous fourteen Grand Prix where he had emerged as a winner. Herlings has had some heavy falls and walked away from all in 2013. There have been some spectacular accidents like those in France, Holland and Finland and the faux pas in Belgium was not fast or dangerous but it was costly. The eighteen year old’s luck ran out and while he was so disappointed to have to leave the circuit and possibly also think about missing the British GP there was some relief inside KTM that the spill had happened at round fifteen instead of round five and with a second world championship already won. Nevertheless Grand Prix lost the prospect of a rider going undefeated which is a big shame. Herlings could not move a painful left shoulder and is expected to have an MRI in the next two days to determine if there was a brief dislocation and whether round sixteen of seventeen at Matterley Basin is a realistic fixture or not.

While his teammate Jordi Tixier, all but confirmed as second in the championship, struggled with goggle lenses in both motos and ran to the runner-up spot through sheer bloody mindedness the dizzying prospects of actually being able to win must have gone to the heads of the likes of Christophe Charlier (3-7 with a crash in the second moto), Jose Butron (dicing with Charlier for third in the series and went 7-3 after a moto1 bad start) and Glen Coldenhoff (third overall but mediocre in the first race). Mechanical gremlins interrupted proceedings for Alex Lupino, Alex Tonkov and Dylan Ferrandis. Standout performances came from MX2 rookies Maxime Desprey and Tim Gajser both former stars of the European stage. The former led the opening chase for the majority of laps and fourth by the flag was a personal best while the latter also notched a career-highest with sixth in the same sprint. Max Anstie, on the factory Suzuki, continues to be unable to buy a decent start but with his home GP next and the sand of Lierop to close a lacklustre term in yellow he could still terminate 2013 before a rumoured switch to Ferris’ Yamaha for ’14 (the Aussie needs to move into MX1 according to the age rule) with his tail up.

“I am one of four Australians to be on a GP podium and also to win and to be in the record books with Reed, McFarlane and Leisk is pretty special,” said Ferris. “At the beginning of the year I had a goal of winning a grand prix and I knew I’d be super-stoked if it happened and this is my fourth podium this season; I’m pumped that I actually got one.”

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Jordi Tixier finished second behind Ferris in MX2.
Ray Archer photo

Eleven classes, from momen’s to amateurs to European’s to veterans and of course the MX1 and MX2 stars will constitute the second ever MXGP Festival next week (AKA British Grand Prix) at the 2006 Motocross of Nations site Matterley Basin for one of the most popular and well-received circuits on the calendar. Whatever the results it is more than likely KTM will have their deserved share of glory back on the agenda once more with Cairoli set to rule the roost as MX1 Champion again.

MX1 Moto1 result

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 39:13.105;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:03.060;
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:28.705;
4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:31.436;
5. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:32.371;
6. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:39.778;
7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:40.286;
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:40.852;
9. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:48.607;
10. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), +0:58.034;

MX1 Moto2 result

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 39:22.241;
2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:22.296;
3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:24.930;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:27.905;
5. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:28.518;
6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:29.982;
7. David Philippaerts (ITA, Honda), +0:47.488;
8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +1:20.260;
9. Joel Roelants (BEL, Yamaha), +1:22.047;
10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:24.412;

MX1 Overall

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 47 points;
2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 47 p.;
3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 38 p.;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 32 p.;
5. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, Kawasaki), 32 p.;
6. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 28 p.;
7. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 27 p.;
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), 24 p.;
9. David Philippaerts (ITA, Honda), 23 p.;
10. Joel Roelants (BEL, Yamaha), 22 p.;

MX1 World Championship classification after 15 of 17 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 690 points;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 600 p.;
3. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 542 p.;
4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 485 p.;
5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 469 p.;
6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 431 p.;
7. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, Kawasaki), 383 p.;
8. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), 314 p.;
9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 276 p.;
10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Honda), 268 p.;

 

MX2 Moto1 result

1. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), 39:49.925;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:02.250;
3. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +0:08.949;
4. Maxime Desprey (FRA, Yamaha), +0:12.991;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), +0:17.462;
6. Tim Gajser (SLO, KTM), +0:22.893;
7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:23.854;
8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:25.969;
9. Max Anstie (GBR, Suzuki), +0:34.420;
10. Jason Clermont (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:38.677;

MX2 Moto2 result

1. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), 40:04.608;
2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:01.752;
3. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:15.570;
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), +0:17.751;
5. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:18.773;
6. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), +0:19.838;
7. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +0:20.959;
8. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:23.072;
9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:33.329;
10. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Honda), +0:39.377;

MX2 Overall

1. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), 50 points;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 38 p.;
3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 35 p.;
4. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 34 p.;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), 34 p.;
6. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), 34 p.;
7. Maxime Desprey (FRA, Yamaha), 28 p.;
8. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 25 p.;
9. Jason Clermont (FRA, Kawasaki), 20 p.;
10. Max Anstie (GBR, Suzuki), 20 p.;

MX2 World Championship classification after 15 of 17 rounds

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 692 points;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 553 p.;
3. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 470 p.;
4. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), 439 p.;
5. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 412 p.;
6. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), 409 p.;
7. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 370 p.;
8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), 306 p.;
9. Max Anstie (GBR, Suzuki), 302 p.;
10. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), 267 p.;

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