A thrilling home event for Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 culminated with Clement Desalle toasting his first Grand Prix victory on Belgian soil and his second success in a row after claiming the Czech round two weeks ago.
The factory RM-Z450 rider posted second and first positions in the two motos at Bastogne today and watched by 19,000 appreciative spectators at the 15th stop of 17in the FIM Motocross World Championship.
The Sans Souci course welcomed a Grand Prix for the second year on the bounce and with superlative speed in both 35 minute and two-lap sprints Desalle was able to walk the top-step for the third time in 2013, making the podium for the 12th occasion this season. The rough surface churned-up several rutty corners but the fine soil also meant conditions were dusty and the course itself was fast and relentless. Fans were packed at the fences and took advantage of new access points to the infield to get even closer to the action.
The story of the Grand Prix revolved around Desalle and Antonio Cairoli with the pair providing a snappy preview on Saturday in qualification. The World Champion fronted the Suzuki rider from the first lap of the opening moto for the entire race distance. Desalle was rarely more than two seconds adrift of the Sicilian and launched his attack in the final two laps. On the last circulation ‘#25’ tried a different approach landing into the tight corner after the double heading into the infield and briefly slipped off, handing Cairoli the chequered flag.
In the second race, Desalle was determined and ruthless: He blitzed Cairoli on the second corner with a sharp and effective overtaking move and then proceeded to mark the pace ahead of his peers; much in the same vein as his flawless performance in the Czech Republic a fortnight ago. Cairoli had little answer and the crowd pushed its hero to the line for an emotional result.
Also on stage in front of a sizeable and loyal set of supporters was Kevin Strijbos. The Belgian completed a steady but unspectacular qualification heat to ninth position on Saturday but set a base-level from which to operate on Sunday. Strijbos was again able to count on efficient starts. He was unhappy with his output in the first moto and although he was consistent enough to arrive to fourth at one point, dropped back to seventh by the finish. A better outing in the second race allowed the 28 year old to reach fourth in a more satisfactory manner and he classified with the same ranking in the overall results sheet.
Desalle is a firm second in the MX1 standings with just two fixtures and 100 points left in the series. He holds a 58-point gap over Ken De Dycker while Kevin Strijbos is fifth and needs 16 more than Gautier Paulin to move up.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 will now make the short trip home and then cross the English Channel to Winchester this week where the British Grand Prix will stage the penultimate round of the MX1 World Championship.
“I’m really happy to win my home GP. The first of my career was really nice but this is also emotional because I have never won a Belgian GP before. It was so nice in front of that public; at the same time there is a lot of pressure but it was cool to win and I really enjoyed it. I pushed to catch Antonio in the first moto and tried everything to win. There were not many options to pass so on the last lap I tried to change my line and go inside but it was not easy after that jump. I could still take second and told myself the GP was there to win. In the second moto I made an early and clean pass to take the lead and I wanted it until the end. With a few laps to go I saw I had a big gap and just controlled it until the end. I’m confident for the next two races and I feel fit and ready to win more GPs!”
“Again a bad race and a good race. I knew I could do a lot better from yesterday and felt good in the warm-up this morning. I had a good start in the first race but then couldn’t find a decent feeling on the track; no confidence at all. Ken De Dycker had a problem and then Bobryshev crashed so I gained two positions to fourth and had a fast couple of laps but made a few mistakes in the corners as I pushed to catch Gautier. The track was really slippery and I had another dip. I was really angry after that moto. My start was good again in the second moto but I was pushed outside on the first corner. I was sixth or seventh and my riding was much better. I passed a few riders and got Van Horebeek late on so I was happy with that. Overall the second race saved the day and I’m still not sure what went wrong in the first. Too bad I’m not on the podium here in Belgium because we had a lot of great fans here supporting all the Belgian riders. A big thumbs-up to my team-mate for winning here and creating a great memory. Now to England.”