After a strong performance at the Keiheuvel on Monday 24MX Lucas Oil Honda’s Damon Graulus confirmed his form at Orp-Le-Grand, the third round of the Belgian motocross Championship.
Graulus finished fourth behind Desalle, Paulin and Strijbos. Team-mate Ken De Dycker claimed a solid seventh overall in his second race after returning from injury. With one more round left in the series Graulus currently sits second in standings, seven points behind Brent Van Doninck.
Speed and consistency were Damon’s keywords for the traditional visit to the old-school circuit around ‘la Petite Gette’. In qualifying Graulus guided his CRF450R to fourth, just 0.037 seconds behind Gautier Paulin and less than 0.9 seconds behind Kevin Strijbos. While time practice usually only serves as an indication of the power balance, it was spot-on this time. Polesitter Clément Desalle was remarkably faster than anyone else around the tight, hard-pack track. Unsurprisingly the 19-time GP winner would go on to score three convincing wins in front of his home crowd. Graulus added three more fourth places to his scorecard. While both Strijbos and Paulin were marginally faster, the 24MX Lucas Oil Honda rider did a terrific job of keeping both seasoned factory riders honest.
De Dycker qualified eight. Although Ken lacked good starts in the first two motos he succeeded in limiting the damage with two ninth-places. A better start and an inspired ride in the final 20-minute plus 1 round affair placed the former MXoN winner in the spotlight again. Keeno chased multiple world champ Steve Ramon for most of the race. With a couple weeks of solid riding and two races under his belt, the popular Belgian is looking forward to making his return to MXGP racing. De Dycker, who broke his femur in February, will line up for his first Grand Prix of the season at the weekend in Assen, the Netherlands.
Damon Graulus: “I had a great day! Orp-Le-Grand is a very unique track, but I enjoy riding here. I had three strong starts so that was helping me a lot. In the first moto I managed to stay quite long in contact with Paulin and Strijbos. I was ever so close to Strijbos in the second race but visibility became an issue because of the dust when I came up behind him to pass! Clément (Desalle) and Kevin (Strijbos) were a bit too fast in the final moto however I could match the pace of Paulin. Overall I’m really pleased with my performance, and the way the bike worked. Of course, it’s nice to be second in the series as well, we’ll see how the final round in Kester goes!”
Ken De Dycker: “Frankly I needed some time to adapt to the hard pack surface. This was my first outing on such a track because I had only been training in the sand so far. The first moto was a bit of a struggle with a guy crashing in the start in front of me and not feeling as comfortable as I’d liked to. In the second moto my pace was better but I didn’t have a good jump from the gate. In the final sprint, things came together with a clean getaway and it was cool to be running closer to the front again. I was able to pick my lines, rather than having to race in the pack. In terms of speed, this was a big improvement as well! I’m confident I had the pace to go faster still, so that’s another positive.”