A fast and relentless Loket layout was the stage for the opening day of action at the Grand Prix of Czech Republic and Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos battled through the short qualification sprint in warm conditions to take fourth position for the 14th round of 17 in the 2014 series.
The Belgian recovered from a mediocre launch at the steep hillside circuit to guide his works RM-Z450 to a top-four slot and a decent placing in the gate for the downhill start that will commence the two 30 minute and two-lap motos tomorrow. Strijbos continued his good form and speed – he was fastest in Timed Practice - at the venue where he has already scored two Grand Prix victories (2005 and 2007) and is now set to push for his seventh podium of the season and third in a row.
Clement Desalle was in attendance after missing the Finnish round two weeks ago due to pain sustained in his second moto start crash at the Grand Prix of Sweden. The Belgian was on the pace through Timed Practice and sealed second spot behind his team-mate after heading the screens for most of the session. Desalle opened the Heat race in the top-five but tangled with Steven Frossard at the bottom of the hill and crashed, fortunately without injury. Desalle proceeded to remount and circulate safely and without risk to take 19th.
A poor weather forecast was initially predicted for Sunday but it is now brighter and clearer with temperatures set to touch close to 30 degrees.
“My start was not so great and I shut off a bit when I came close to my team-mate but after that my riding was good and I was happy with the speed. I got a little bit of arm-pump in the last three laps but my position was fine for the start as the first six places are OK for the motos. I didn't change anything on the bike today so all is OK.”
“I’m coming back from injury so it is not easy. In Timed Practice I made one fast lap and it was pretty good. I kept to the inside of the first corner for the heat race because I was mindful of what happened the last time. Kevin was close to me and I didn't want him to push me out. I held it tight and was fourth or fifth. At the bottom of the hill Frossard scooped me up and we crashed. It was hardly what I needed. It is my wrist that is bothering me the most at the moment and is quite painful. The track is really hard and the bumps and shocks don't help much. I’ll just have to do what I can.”
MXGP Qualification Heat result:
1. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), 24:31.104;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:02.174;
3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:02.795;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), +0:15.005;
5. Dean Ferris (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:26.113;
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:29.192;
7. Milko Potisek (FRA, Yamaha), +0:32.601;
8. Rui Goncalves (POR, Yamaha), +0:34.163;
9. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:37.165;
10. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:38.653;
19. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), +1:05.913
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