Dry weather, a fast track and a big crowd at St Jean d’Angely characterised the first day of the Grand Prix of France where Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle rode to a confident second position in the premier class qualification race.
The RM-Z450-mounted Belgian circulated behind Antonio Cairoli and secured a decent gate-pick for the two motos of this ninth round of 17 in the FIM Motocross World Championship.
Desalle continued his good mid-season form by clocking the fastest lap in Timed Practice and entering the gate first for the 20 minute and two-lap heat sprint. Together with Cairoli, Jeremy Van Horebeek and Steven Frossard the quartet broke free from the rest of the field and set a mean pace around the hilly hard ground. The pace fluctuated between Desalle and the leader but the Italian and Spanish GP winner did not take any risks in his pursuit and was content with second spot for Sunday.
Kevin Strijbos struggled to 12th place after a blameless crash set the Belgian into the midst of an intense multi-rider tussle for the top 10. The ‘#22’ couldn’t find an effective groove with the French hard-pack but gained several positions to rest in the upper-half of the pack. Strijbos will need a good jump from the gate tomorrow to slot into a leading position around the right-handed first turn.
Some clouds and possible showers are predicted for two 30 minute and 2 lap races tomorrow.
“I had a good start in the qualification race. I was second but sometimes made a couple of mistakes and the gap [to Cairoli] was a bit like a piece of elastic. I think the track is not easy for passing so the start will be important tomorrow. It is difficult to say how the motos will go; it could be difficult to make the difference on some other riders so we might have to take a risk…but anyway I will do my best, like every time.”
“I hated the track. I was just ‘riding’ out there because there is just one line and silly jumps in the corners. My speed was good but Searle got caught with a hay bale and rolled out in front of me and I crashed. After that I was just part of the train. I tried to pass but managed it twice or something. We made a couple of changes on the bike through the day that worked out for the better; my start was good.”
MXGP Qualification Heat classification:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 24:12.057;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:04.213;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:06.522;
4. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:09.654;
5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:45.352;
6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:45.599;
7. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:48.952;
8. Milko Potisek (FRA, Yamaha), +0:50.632;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:53.263;
10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:55.703;
12. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:59.217;
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