Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos raced to sixth and ninth positions overall at the weekend’s second round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado.
In the days before, the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 GP riders – invited to the USA to take in two rounds of the AMA series as guests of Rockstar Energy Drink – gathered with the Rockstar Racing mechanics to set-up their machines: Suspension, exhaust and wheels/ tyres were fitted to team’s RM-Z 450s to match the Belgians’ normal Grand Prix set-ups and then fine-tuned for the circuit’s high altitude and high speeds.
And with good result as both riders came out blazing in the first qualifying heat. Desalle pulled out a scorching second behind eventual race winner Ryan Villopoto and Strijbos rode to a sixth qualifying time, which became seventh after the second qualifying session.
The first moto saw Desalle in fifth position out of the first corner behind Trey Canard and despite putting in some quicker laps, the Belgian made several charges on the rider in front of him but was never able to pass. Strijbos got caught in a first-turn tumble with Chad Reed and worked his way back from 25th position to the top 10.
The second moto saw both riders close with American Mike Alessi with Desalle in sixth position in the first half of the race, followed by Alessi and then Strijbos. The 2012 Vice Grand Prix Champion had to settle for seventh when Alessi put the pressure on in the last laps – and secured sixth position in the overall ranking. With Strijbos following in eighth, the 28-year-old Belgian took ninth overall in his first ever AMA Nationals outing.
“I’m quite satisfied with this race; I got a good qualifying time and a reasonable start in the first moto,” said Desalle. I was trying to get hold of the first guys to follow this rhythm but made a small mistake which allowed Canard to pass. I worked to pass him back since I felt I was faster than him, but it wasn’t so easy to get by him. In the second moto my start was not as good as the first moto, but I didn’t have the strength to push forward. I think all the travelling to and from Brazil might have taken its toll there.
The format takes some getting used to – with just two timed practice runs and everything put into one day – but I don’t think it’s bad; in the end it’s the same for everyone!”
Strijbos said: “It’s a great experience! I didn’t know what to expect but after the qualifying sessions I felt comfortable on the track and felt my speed was good in opposition to the others.
“I’m a little bummed about falling in the start of moto one, managed to come back to 10th which in the end was good, but also took a lot of energy. So for the second race I felt after a few laps that I had to settle for a slightly lower pace to get through the race, which in the end wasn’t bad either with an 8th position. It’s good working with the guys from Rockstar Racing – we’re learning in both ways here!”
Desalle and Strijbos will now head back to Corona, California for some more testing and training before they take the plane towards the third round of the AMA Outdoor Championship at the Muddy Creek Motocross track in Blountville, Tennessee next weekend.