Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Clement Desalle was virtually perfect in both races on his dependable factory RM-Z450 to take his first double-victory of the season and his second overall triumph of 2014 at yesterday’s World MXGP Championship race at Talavera de la Reina in Spain.
The Belgian also rose to second place in the MXGP championship standings as a result and narrowed the difference in points to just 24 from leader Tony Cairoli.
Around 16,000 fans witnessed the action in what had been a long, three-year wait to welcome MXGP back to Spain and they were treated to a master class of riding from Desalle and a showcase of aggression and effort from team-mate Kevin Strijbos, who finished third overall for his third podium celebration of the year and another impressive Suzuki trophy double.
Turn, climb, drop, turn, climb, turn: Talavera weaved across the low Spanish hills like a frenzied snake and the narrow layout pushed the riders together and was frugal with overtaking opportunities. A mix between hard-pack and some softer sections along with plenty of ruts in the turns meant the track was not overly difficult but had a technical edge and temperatures in the low 30s signified a tough day for the Belgian crew.
Desalle in particular was struggling with a stomach problem on Saturday, so his speed and form on Sunday was a little surprising; even to the rider himself. His motos were almost carbon-copies: superb starts at the peak of the MXGP field around the first three turns, rapier pace; and unfaltering consistency. The first race was clear-cut as he pulled away in his win rhythm.
In the second, Desalle weathered some pressure from Cairoli but held firm and maintained his lap-times to again drift clear of the Italian in the closing stages. The day represented his first 1-1 scorecard since last year’s Grand Prix of Czech Republic.
“This weekend started out as difficult because when I woke up yesterday I had a really bad stomach problem, and I had never really felt that way at a race before,” said Desalle.
“I struggled, especially in the qualification Heat. I had to slow down quite a lot. I had some medicine and tried to have a good night but it was not easy. I wanted to do the best I could today and I’m quite surprised! My feeling on the bike was much better; really good. It was so nice to get two moto wins like I did.
“It is good for the confidence and the championship. I was really happy about my riding and I enjoyed myself out there. The track was technical and when it is like this – that you need to find a good line to go fast – I like it a lot.
“I have to say I’m pleased to win in Spain because I appreciate this country. The start was so important and I managed to have two really good ones. I want to say thanks to the team because we have worked a lot so I can feel good on the bike and it is going better and better.”
While Desalle set the pace, Strijbos had to gain positions and work at eroding time differences to other riders. His attack on Cairoli and Evgeny Bobryshev in the last two laps of Moto one raised the pilot to fourth place and helped push Cairoli into a Suzuki sandwich in Moto two by running a high tempo in third position and Strijbos took the lowest step of the podium for the third time in 2014.
“It was a good day,” says Strijbos. “I had a bad start in the first moto but I could push all the way and passed Tony and Bobby and I was happy with fourth. I had the holeshot in the second moto but ran a bit wide and came out second.
“The race was not so easy, very warm and I was tired out there. We are all doing our best and our work is paying off. I thought the track was good. It was old-school with the layout and nice to ride. I think they put a bit too much water in the morning and maybe it should have been lesser and more frequent. We made a small change on the bike before the second moto to help with the start and to get the power smoother and it worked.”
While Desalle retains second spot in the MXGP points table, Strijbos is not far away in fourth. All back to Lommel now for Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP and a free weekend ahead.
The eighth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take the series into the sloping confines of Matterley Basin for the British Grand Prix on May 25. The length of the 2014 contest is expected to slim from 18 to 17 rounds with confirmation of the cancellation of the date previously reserved for the Ukrainian Grand Prix.