The godfather of sand races and the 14th round of the FIM Motocross World Championship got underway today in the gruelling sand of Lommel where the Brits, Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Shaun Simpson and Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Max Anstie took the qualifying heat thrones.
KTM Factory Junior’s Jorge Prado took the first race victory and his third of the season here at the seventh round of the European Championship EMX125, while GL12 Yamaha Racing’s wildcard Brad Anderson signed up and followed his double moto win in Loket with the first race win of the sixth and final round of the European Championship EMX300.
Speaking of the European Championship EMX300, last year’s runner-up Marco Maddii kept a cool head for eighth in the race which was enough for him to be crowned the 2015 European Championship EMX300 champion.
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With exceptional weather and a sand track that had shaped up gnarlier than ever, the gates dropped for the qualifier and the rookie sand sensation, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Glenn Coldenhoff edged out Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos for the holeshot.
Strijbos was quick to get around Coldenhoff but it didn’t matter, both Suzuki riders’ claim to fame was short lived as Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Shaun Simpson lofted the quad on his way to the front.
Speaking of the quad, it is hard to explain just how epic that jump is. The only indicator is that in a field filled with the fastest and most talented dirt bike riders in the world, Simpson was the only rider in any class to do it and whether he won the qualifier or not he was already a legend in the eyes of everyone watching.
Luckily for Simpson, he is more than just an epic jump launcher, and he pulled it all together for his first qualifying heat victory of his career, “I hit a milestone today, I’ve been racing GPs for eleven years and finally I took my first ever qualifying heat race win,” the Scot reminded us.
Simpson added: “It’s quite hard to believe. I felt comfortable out there, I had a few good lines, a few bad lines, but that’s the beauty of a sand track, you can make up quite a lot of time and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, after randomly whipping out a fast lap in the last second of Timed Practice, Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Romain Febvre tried to challenge Simpson for the lead but eventually let him have it and sat back for an easy second.
Back in third, Strijbos and Coldenhoff made for a fast moving blur of yellow as they tossed the position about. In the end, it was the seasoned Belgian, Strijbos who managed to take third. Coldenhoff put in yet another solid performance for fourth while Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Jeremy Van Horebeek rounded out the top five.
While two Belgians made up the top five, unfortunately Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle will not be racing this weekend after his shoulder popped out in Timed Practice. Unconfirmed reports suggest #25 will need surgery.
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 25:04.611; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:11.856; 3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:19.997; 4. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:21.832; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:25.097; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:32.939; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:36.356; 8. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:37.554; 9. Nathan Watson (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:38.729; 10. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Kawasaki), +0:41.277
Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Max Anstie pulled the holeshot and initially looked to be taking his time in finding good lines.
Sure enough he found some that worked for him and let that number #99 ‘dance’ as he would say, for his third consecutive qualifying heat victory of the season.
“I haven’t ridden here since I won last year but once you know how to ride around Lommel it kind of stays,” Anstie said. “I have a great memory from here, because of last year, but two races tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes.”
Second went to Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Petar Petrov who was so fast all day. He literally lives less than five minutes from the circuit here in Lommel, so for those that know him and have seen him ride in the sand would have known that he was capable of such a performance.
Petrov rode amazing for second while Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass withstood the pressure of a charging Kemea Yamaha Yamalube’s Brent Van Doninck for third.
The head turner in this race was definitely the local kid Brent Van Doninck, who put in a lap time a full second faster than anyone else. Van Doninck came from a mediocre start, outside the top 10, for an outstanding fourth ahead of Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Jeremy Seewer who rode smart for fifth.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Max Anstie (GBR, Kawasaki), 25:32.320; 2. Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +0:04.866; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:07.716; 4. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:15.586; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:26.879; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:36.102; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:36.979; 8. Ben Watson (GBR, KTM), +0:45.358; 9. Julien Lieber (BEL, Yamaha), +0:46.830; 10. Davy Pootjes (NED, KTM), +0:48.460
EMX150 Warm-up 07:45; EMX300 Warm-up 08:00; EMX250 Warm-up 08:15; EMX125 Warm-up 08:30; EMX150 Race 2 09:05; EMX300 Race 2 09:45; EMX250 Race 2 10:35; MX2 Warm up 11:10; MXGP Warm up 11:30; EMX125 Race 2 12:10; MX2 Race 1 13:15; MXGP Race 1 14:15; EMX250 Race 2 15:10; MX2 Race 2 16:10; MXGP Race 2 17:10.
- Sunday Live Timing Link: MXGP Live Timing