Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 saw both of its riders fill qualification positions in the top eight of the MX1 class at a freezing cold Valkenswaard circuit for the Grand Prix of Netherlands and the third round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
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Clement Desalle raced his works RM-Z450 to third position after the 20 minute and two lap Heat – run in temperatures barely above zero and through frequent light snow flurries – while Kevin Strijbos was eighth by the chequered flag.
The wintery conditions hardly helped the Dutch sand churn into its usual melee of bumps, holes and waves and riders were wary of a relatively flat, fast and tricky terrain in which it was difficult to gauge traction. For the first time since 2007 the circuit was being run in its original orientation.
Desalle and Strijbos honed the set-up of their bikes in anticipation of Valkenswaard becoming more treacherous and technical but in the end did not veer much from their base modification. The Qatar GP winner made a decent start in the race and held off Gautier Paulin for his result while Strijbos was not far behind in seventh for long stretches and just missed out on that slot to Joel Roelants. The Grand Prix motos take place tomorrow afternoon and more brisk weather is predicted.
Clement Desalle said: “Wow, it was really cold today but we’ve been used to that since we got back from Thailand! I took it easy today. My start was OK for the race and I was close to Cairoli but he was just a bit better than me. Sometimes Paulin got a bit closer and sometimes I saw I was making time to Ken and Cairoli. You had to really concentrate for the whole race. We adjusted the position of the forks in the triple clamps a little bit but generally we didn’t move away from our base setting.”
Kevin Strijbos: said: “The track is strange because it is really hard and there is just one line…which everybody is taking! Normally on a sand track you can change around and cut-off corners but perhaps the cold and the lack of riding on this new layout has had an effect; I don’t know. There are just square-edged holes out there and not really the big ones we typically see here. I felt pretty good all day. In the race I had a good start and in some points on the track I was really slow – I know I need to improve through the waves – but I was quite OK in others. Eighth is not that bad for tomorrow.”