-- World MX Rnd 1 - Sevlievo, Bulgaria
Desalle and Roczen win at Gorna Rositza Circuit
Clement Desalle and Ken Roczen became the first red plate holders of the 2011 season this weekend in Sevlievo, Bulgaria. It was not a good weekend for 2010 MX1 World Champion Antonio Cairoli, on Saturday he could not find his rhythm and today he unfortunately twisted his left new on the first heat.
Clement Desalle got a really tight overall victory, after finishing first with the same points as second classified Steven Frossard. Third was Jonathan Barragán thanks to his superb performance on the second race.
In the MX2 Class Ken Roczen dominated the whole weekend and obtained his second red plate of his career. Second was a consistent Tommy Searle and third was Jeffrey Herlings.
This morning took place the second race of the UEM EMX 125 and Italian Simone Zecchina got the first round victory of the season. Second was his compatriot Samuele Bernardini and third Swiss rider Jeremy Seewer.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1’s Clement Desalle got the first Grand Prix victory of the season, the sixth in his career. The Belgian was second in the first heat, even having an unfortunate crash during the last lap when he was trying to find some new lines. On the second race, Desalle took the holeshot and led the race until Steve Frossard and later on Jonathan Barragán overtook him. However, the Belgian rider managed to place himself at the front of the pack and kept such position until the chequered flag.
Motocross Energy Yamaha rider Steven Frossard had an excellent weekend in Sevlievo, which was his first Grand Prix in the MX1 class. After winning yesterday’s Qualifying race, Frossard did an excellent start in the first race and dominated it from beginning to end. The second start was not that good, but Frossard’s managed to be second right after the opening lap. By the end of the heat, the French rider made some mistakes and he had to settle down with a second overall position being tight in points with Desalle.
Third was Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Barragán, who was back on the podium after a long absence due to the several injuries he suffered last year. The Spanish rider could only finish sixth in the first race, but in the second one he got quite a good start and his solid riding took him into the lead. However, Desalle and Frossard came back really fast from behind and Barragán decided to ride safe in order not to risk the third overall position.
The fourth position was for Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Racing MX1’s Max Nagl, who got a consistent third place in the first heat, but he could only finish sixth in the second one. The German rider expressed his satisfaction for this fourth overall position, but he also admitted that he needs some more time to get used to his new 350cc and improve also his fitness.
Completing the top five was Honda World Motocross’ Rui Gonçalves, who could only be eighth in the first race, as he was involved in a tangle when he was catching Cairoli’s wheel. In the second race, he was second in the opening lap, but he could not keep the rhythm of his pursuers and finished fifth.
Other Honda World Motocross rider, Evgeny Bobryshev finished sixth, ahead of Kevin Strijbos, who received the Lovemytime holeshot award, as he took the holeshot in the first MX1 heat.
Davide Guarneri finished eighth overall in a Grand Prix where the Italian could prove his speed achieving a well deserved fifth position. For the second race, the Italian had lost too much energies and he could just finish eleventh.
2010 MX1 World Champion Antonio Cairoli could just finish ninth overall. The Italian had already admitted on Saturday that he was not fully fit yet, but on top of that, Cairoli made a mistake in the first heat when landing from a jump and he twisted his left knee. In the end, the Italian ended seventh, but in the second heat he could just be tenth.
David Philippaerts did a very good first race going from eleventh to a final fourth position. However, the Italian was involved in a tangle at the first corner of the second race and he could only finish 14th.
Runner-up of the 2010 MX2 World Championship, Ken Roczen, had a perfect weekend in Sevlievo. The German young talent took easily both holeshots and ruled the heats from beginning to end. Roczen showed a great superiority this weekend, but he will have to prove it as well next Grand Prix in the deep roots of Valkenswaard.
Second overall was Tommy Searle from CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit, who was very satisfied with his performance in his comeback to the FIM Motocross World Championship. The Brit felt really comfortable on his Kawasaki machine and he expects to close the gap with Roczen in the upcoming GP’s.
Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Racing MX2’s Jeffrey Herlings had very good starts in both motos but he could not keep the second position and had to settle down with a third place. The next Grand Prix is in his home track of Valkenswaard, where the Dutch young rider obtained his maiden Grand Prix victory.
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Gautier Paulin was third in the first heat, but he did not have a good start in the second one and he could only finish seventh. The French missed the podium for two points over third classified, Jeffrey Herlings.
Completing the top five was Zack Osborne from Bike-it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha, who rode among the first top five position on both heats, but did not have the speed to improve his position and climbed up in the standings.
Jeremy Van Horebeek and Arnaud Tonus finished sixth and seventh respectively, both tied in 31 points, and Max Anstie ended in a solid eight position in his debut in the FIM Motocross World Championship.
Nicolas Aubin was ninth and completing the top ten was Belgian rider Joel Roelants.
The Grand Prix of Bulgaria at Sevlievo witnessed an amazing start to the FIM Motocross World Championship for Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 as Clement Desalle celebrated his fourth career victory on the factory RM-Z450 - and grabbed the lead in the 2011 series.
The Belgian finished 2nd and 1st in two windy and chilly motos at the open and fast circuit; winning the second race after a tense and entertaining tussle with Steven Frossard.
Desalle picked up the red plate as World Championship leader after two progressively-steady rides at the front of the field. He pulled through from third spot in the opening chase of 35 minutes and 2 laps - run across a hard-pack terrain in which lap-times were very tight - to leader Frossard, without getting close enough to attack.
His runner-up finish - in spite of a last lap off-track excursion - set-up a good stage for the second moto, that began exquisitely with the holeshot and then several juicy-laps of action with Frossard.
Desalle swiftly despatched the closing Jonathan Barragan and when Frossard made a mistake and slipped off, the 21 year old had the advantage and defended it to the flag. It was the second success in-a-row for the works team after Desalle also triumphed at the final grand prix of 2010 in Italy.
Team-mate Steve Ramon entered the weekend feeling the after-effects of Flu and was unable to gel with the track, both on Saturday and Sunday. The former World Champion suffered with arm-pump in the first moto and took 10th and collected 12th in the second for 12th overall.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 now has two weeks until round two and the Grand Prix of the Netherlands at the Valkenswaard circuit near Eindhoven.
Clement Desalle - 1st: "I am very happy and it is very cool to win, but this is the first grand prix and the season is very long. I made a mistake at the end of the first race because I changed my line, thinking towards the second moto. The take-off was different and I landed completely off the track. I don't think I could have done another lap because the back brake was already gone. Steven rode very well and very fast all day and it was good to take the win."
Steve Ramon - 12th: "I had the same problem today as Saturday; especially in the first moto with the arm-pump. It was not possible to push and the track was not easy. I've been sick since Wednesday and I could feel in my muscles that I was not fully-fit. We struggled a little with the set-up so overall I did the best that I could. I guess I was not the only one with problems because Cairoli passed me and he wasn't lapping much faster. It was a bad day but also some damage limitation. Onto the next one!"
Suzuki Europe MX2 tasted the bitter fortunes of motorsport this weekend at Sevlievo for the Grand Prix of Bulgaria after Valentin Teillet was unable to finish either moto in the opening round of the FIM MX2 World Championship.
The Frenchman needed medical attention after a heavy crash into a low jump during the second race and the extent of the damage to his right shoulder has yet to be determined.
The hard and fast Sevlievo course saw Teillet - making his debut on the RM-Z250 - taking positions in the top-10 through practice and qualification and was happy with his pace. The first moto ended prematurely with a technical problem; and the team was dismayed when the former European Champion became entangled with a first turn pile-up as the start of the second moto. It was on a comeback-push through the field that Teillet had his accident.
Two gate-to-flag triumphs for Ken Roczen in opening MX2 GP
Red Bull Teka KTM's Ken Roczen sent a strong signal to the opposition about his intentions in the 2011 MX2 season when he launched his world championship title bid in Sevlievo, Bulgaria with sensational back-to-back wins in both motos.
Now in his rookie year with the KTM factory team, the German teenager was super impressive taking both holeshots and winning the first moto by a margin of 14.66 seconds and the second by even more, 21.4 seconds. He attacked the Bulgarian track from gate drop to flag indicating that the experience he has had racing for Red bull KTM in the AMA SX Lites in the USA during the winter has sharpened his riding skills to perfection.
Ken Roczen said after the race that he "Just wanted to go out in front and do my thing" and this he certainly managed. "I had an awesome race. I'm very happy and everyone is doing a great job," he said. "I hope I can continue like this for the next races." Looking ahead to Valkenswaard, the next GP, Ken said he liked the track and was going to "try my best" there.
Factory teammate Jeffrey Herlings also had a good season's opener. He rode behind Roczen in second place for most of the first moto, only to drop back in the final laps to fifth place. He was a comfortable third in the second moto to finish overall third behind Britain's Tommy Searle.
Jeffrey said he had been hoping for a second place this weekend and had been expecting to be a bit faster. "Now for the coming weeks I have to work on my speed," he said. "I haven't done too many races so far this year so I have to get into race mode. My main goal this year is to be consistent and to try to finish 2 or 3 in the championship. Everyone is expecting me to win at Valkenswaard but I am just going to do my best - more than that I cannot do." Jeffrey won the GP at Valkenswaard in his rookie year last year with the KTM factory team.
Jeremy van Horebeek, the third rider in the KTM factory team was hoping for top five and indeed finished with equal points to fifth placed Zach Osborne but was discounted to sixth because of the order of his results. The rider with the best second moto results prevails.
Jeremy van Horebeek: "I did expect a little more this weekend but for the first weekend of the season it was good for me. I had two good starts but I didn't seem to find my rhythm all Sunday. I finished 6 and 5 which was okay but I still need to work on some points." Jeremy said he is looking forward to Valkenswaard because although sand is not his favorite surface, he has trained a lot in the sand with team boss Stefan Everts during the winter and he is well prepared.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports boss: "All the riders are fit and strong and it was a great start to have two GP wins with Steffi (Laier, WMX GP winner) and Ken and to have Jeffrey on the podium."
Factory team boss Stefan Everts was also impressed with Ken Roczen's performance. "Ken did a great job winning and dominating both motos. He's adapted very well and he's coming from getting good results in the U.S. I thought the switch from SX to MX would be tougher but he's adapted very well. Jeffrey's a sand rider so he did well to be on the podium here. In two weeks he will have his home GO in the same so we will see how good he is."
Nagl fourth, Cairoli ninth in opening MX1 GP in Bulgaria
While the MX1 riders in the Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Racing did not enjoy the same overwhelming success as their MX2 counterparts, Max Nagl and Tony Cairoli still picked up valuable championship points in the season opening GP on Bulgaria's Sevlievo circuit.
The race on the Bulgarian circuit, where it is notoriously difficult to pass, was not without problems for the KTM factory riders. Max Nagl was unlucky to be hit in the goggles by a flying stone that forced the lens out and let the dirt in, obstructing his vision in the second moto, which he said was like "riding without any goggles". He also said he has to work on his starts but overall was happy with his performance on the KTM 350 SX-F this weekend. (Max has been riding the 450 SX-F in previous seasons).
Max Nagl: "I am a bit disappointed that I missed the podium by just one point but for the championship the points are okay. I am happy that it's going so good with the 350 and I think it's going to get even better when I've had more race practice. Next race is in the sand at Valkenswaard. That's where I live and I like the track. Last year I didn't do too bad there so I think it's going to be a good GP."
Tony Cairoli said he was disappointed about the result of the first races of the season but given that he had twisted his knee in race one was relieved that it seemed to be nothing serious and that he was able to race in the second moto.
Tony Cairoli: "The start is very important here in Bulgaria because it is difficult to pass on this track. It was not so bad for me yesterday but today I had a very bad start in the first moto. I tried to pass as many as possible and I was up to about fifth then I hit my knee trying to pass Goncalves. It's the same knee that I broke so I was quite worried. It was hurting a lot and I gave up a bit and finished seventh. Then I made an appointment to see the doctor and it started to feel better so I was able to race again in the second moto. My start was better and I almost got the holeshot, I think I was third in the first corner. Then Philippaerts crashed in front of me and I couldn't avoid him and found I was back at 20 or 21 in the field. I scrambled back to tenth and tried to move up to ninth in the last lap. But I didn't manage it."
KTM Motorsports boss Pit Beirer said at the end of the day that he was happy that everything was going well. "The bikes are good, the team is working great and all the riders are healthy so the basis is there for a good season. I am sure that we all expected a little more from MX1 but we also know the competition is very tough. We make no excuses but we know our weak points, the guys struggled a bit with the starts and made some mistakes but I am sure we will be ready to show better form in Valkenswaard."
Team boss Stefan Everts: "We expect Tony to be winning of course. Yesterday he had a good qualifying race and a good speed. But today he hurt his knee and I'm happy he could finish the race and take some points. For sure he will come back strong. Max surprised me with how well he has made the change to the 350. He's been riding a 450 for many years and you cannot underestimate that. He did really well and he was riding very aggressively. Maybe he is not yet in the best shape but he showed some good things today.
Victory for Steffi Laier in Sevlievo
WMX World Champion and Red Bull Teka Factory Racing rider Steffi Laier of France dominated the first WMX GP on the circuit at Sevlievo, Bulgaria on Saturday with back-to-back moto wins to grab the red plate as championship leader after the first round.
Right from the qualifying race it was obvious that Steffi remains in a class of her own. She mastered difficult conditions that were dry, dusty and very windy and led from the drop of the gate to the checkered flag every time she went out on the track. She finished almost 18 seconds up on second placed Livia Lancelot of France in the first moto and in the second moto she was 10 seconds ahead going in to the final lap but eased back and took the comfortable victory with more than three second to spare.
All indications are that any rider with Steffi in her sights will again have to work very hard to catch the talented German rider.
Steffi Laier: It was strange to have the two races on the one day and with the second one when it was already getting dark. The second moto was not so easy on the one hand but also not so difficult. We were fighting in the first four laps but then I found my rhythm but in the end I was flying blind because of the problems with the sun and the dust."
In 2011 the women opened their season together with the MX1 and MX2 riders on the Bulgarian circuit but for the rest of the season they will race with the MX3 riders. They race nine GPs in 2011 and their next outing is on April 17 at Megalopolis in Greece.
Steffi, like many of the women competing in the WMX is apprehensive about what to expect when the competition switches to the MX3 circuit as from the next race. her arch rival Livia Lancelot has decided to quit the competion and move onto other things and she expressed concern that so far there were only nine riders confirmed for the next races. "I really don't know what to expect," she said. "I feel good here with the team and racing the same weekends as MX1 and MX2 and I will miss all that."
- Yamaha Racing
The first round of fifteen in the 2011 FIM MX1-GP World Championship was a memorable one for Monster Energy Yamahas Steve Frossard as the factory team rookie tied on points for victory at the Grand Prix of Bulgaria, won a moto and left the cold and windy Sevlievo circuit with the runner-up position overall.
The Frenchman aced the qualification heat on Saturday to take pole position and signal his intent across the flat hard-pack. The 23 year old handled his YZ450F with deft skill; the kind of form that recently helped him claim the MX1 Italian title. A superb start on Sunday watched by the officially-provided spectator figure of 35,000 allowed Frossard to flick and sprint away from the pack and win the first moto of the year and his first in the class and with Yamaha.
The second race saw a similar level of speed and performance although he faced a tricky challenge from Clement Desalle that produced some close and exciting racing. Frossard was able to prevail and had a four second lead entering the closing stages of the contest when he lost traction exiting a corner and the back end of the bike spun out. Quickly remounting he jostled for the lead again with Desalle and also Jonathan Barragan. A small moment of mis-timing on the final lap prevented a last-gasp attack and Frossard had to accept second and the same ranking on the podium due to the second race classification.
While Frossard was marking the pace at the front David Philippaerts was forging a similar effort through the pack after two restrictive starts. The Italian pushed through to fourth place in Moto1 after a thorough charge. A better launch in Moto2 was ruined on the apex of the first corner when the former world champion lost balance. From the very rear of the field DP19 valiantly chased back to 14th for 10th overall.
Anthony Boissiere was another rider making his bow for Yamaha in MX1 and picked up a decent share of points for 15th and 13th and 13th at the end of the day.
With 2nd, 10th and 13th the MX1-GP collective of the Monster Energy Yamaha team are off and running. Round two will take place in two weeks on Easter Monday at Valkenswaard for the Grand Prix of the Netherlands.
Steven Frossard / 2nd position - I feel really good on the bike and the 450 suits me better. In the first moto I made a really good start and it was easy for me to take a lead of a few seconds. In the second it was completely different because the start was not great. I passed Clement and was ahead by four seconds but made a mistake. My physical condition was really good and that helped me to come back to second and look for the win. I was pushing really hard because I wanted to win the GP and then made another error that cost me half a second. In my head I knew I was capable of this speed because we worked really hard over the winter with Yamaha.
David Philippaerts / 10th position - The first moto was good but I crashed at the start of the second and made a mistake when the rear stepped out. I restarted last and pushed as hard as I could but my times were not as good as the first moto. Overall I think I was good enough for a top four finish today, which would have been OK because the track was very hard. I like this place but there were other riders who were quicker today. Im looking forward to Valkenswaard now and we must improve the starts.
Positive outing for Paulin in Bulgaria
Monster Energy Yamahas Gautier Paulin finished 4th at a blustery Sevlievo for the first Grand Prix of fifteen in the FIM MX2-GP World Championship on Sunday. The Frenchman who missed this event through injury in 2010 showed impressive speed and handling of the factory YZ250FM to 3rd and 7th positions under bright but cloudy skies and through a cold wind.
The gusts dried the hard-pack track thoroughly during Saturday practice and qualification and even created difficult dusty conditions. A coating of rain during the night and watering helped roughen the surface but also made it greasy.
Paulin was slightly undone by two average starts in the motos. His flight from a place in the lower half of the top ten on the first lap to pressurise and overtake Jeffrey Herlings for third by the end of Moto1 was entertaining to chart and his increased speed and overtaking prowess was commendable around a layout that was not forgiving to passing opportunism. The 21 year olds second start was worse around mid-pack and he spent many laps regaining ground to enter the top ten.
In fifth position in the final ranking was Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamahas Zach Osborne. The American suffered a little with nerves in the first race and finished seventh but was more comfortable on his YZ250F later in the day and circulated on the fringes of the leading trio, capturing fourth by the flag. New team-mate Arnaud Tonus had a spectacular opening race to pass the chequered flag in fourth but suffered a little with fatigue in the second and sealed eighth for seventh overall.
Monster Energy Yamaha riders Christophe Charlier and Harri Kullas had varying experiences in Bulgaria. Charlier was eleventh overall, one place in front of Kullas, but was competing with a bone broken in his right hand and had to cope with pain and swelling. Kullas had a crash in the second race and felt dizzy. His tenth place from Moto1 was his highest finish of the day.
Round two will take place in two weeks on Easter Monday at Valkenswaard for the Grand Prix of the Netherlands.
Gautier Paulin, Monster Energy Yamaha, 4th: The first race was quite good but the track was so hard and it was watered so I struggled with it. I normally like Bulgaria but today it was something different. I had bad starts and it was hard to pass. It was like being at Loket where catching the guy in front is difficult. This is the first GP and everyone wants a good result, so I am not too disappointed with fourth because the championship is just beginning. I am so happy with the performance of the bike and the suspension was also very good; I feel happy going out in every session on this bike. For sure we will continue to work because you can never have perfection but the team are trying so hard and we are pushing together. I still need to find a bit more speed but physically I feel good. Two motos today was no problem at all and my lap-times were right there.
Christophe Charlier, Monster Energy Yamaha, 11th: It was a hard GP for me because I broke my hand two weeks ago and I cannot ride like I want. We tried our best today and I pushed where I could but the racing conditions were hard and overtaking people was difficult. I hadnt ridden since the accident with my hand so that was also against me. After some treatment now I hope I can see an improvement for Valkenswaard.
Harri Kullas, Monster Energy Yamaha, 12: I lost too many positions on the first lap of the moto and that was not so good. I had a good battle after that until I had difficulty passing the backmarkers and finished tenth, which I was not so pleased with. I need to be stronger at the beginning. I ruined the start in the second Heat and came back to thirteenth before I couldnt avoid touching a rider who had crashed in front of me. I went down also and hit my head. I was a bit dizzy and had trouble concentrating after that. I tried to finish the race as fast as I could. Im not really happy and want to do a lot better.
Zach Osborne, Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha, 5th: It was a pretty decent start to the season, a productive weekend and I am quite close to where I need to be. I was a bit nervous and tightened up in the first race and had to ride through it but in the second race I could show a bit more of my speed and got a fourth place. I was a bit bummed out with the result because I felt like I should have been on the podium today. This was the best finish Ive had here in three years and Ive made improvements. I need to work on my first laps but I have something to build on from here.
Arnaud Tonus, Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha, 7th: I had a great first moto from a bad start and pushed really hard to come back. I was consistent with my lap-times and made a great race to fourth. I think I pushed too hard physically because after fifteen minutes in the next one I had to slow down and ride a smart moto; that was difficult. I need to improve my starts to be further up from the beginning and find the rhythm I want. The bike and the team are really good, I couldnt be happier from that side.
The 2011 FIM Motocross World Championship cranked into life with the Grand Prix of Bulgaria at Sevlievo circuit and the new-look Honda World Motocross team enjoyed a solid showing under bright, but breezy and cold skies. Debutant Rui Goncalves finished fifth overall in the premier MX1 category with team-mate Evgeny Bobryshev taking sixth position to place two CRF450Rs in the top six.
The hard, fast and dusty layout a short distance from the town of Sevlievo housed 35,000 spectators during a blustery weekend as the first test in the fifteen round FIM series provided a simple, but physical challenge. Goncalves, making his first Grand Prix appearance for the Italian team and on a 450cc motorcycle at World championship level, made two positive starts and battled initially with the leaders during the first 35 minute and two lap moto before taking eighth by the flag. The Portuguese, a former MX2 World championship runner-up, was fifth in the next outing just behind Bobryshev.
The powerful Russian could only score 12th in the opening sprint due to an early crash in which he lost the front end, but was determined to do better and in the second and pulled through from a stuttering start to fourth.
LS Honda Racing's Shaun Simpson was another rider making his MX1 bow and left the grand prix lamenting two mediocre starts that did not do justice to his speed. The Scot ran inside the top five during practice and even challenged for the top three in the qualification heat until running into problems with arm-pump. The former British Champion ended the day with 13th and 16th for 14th in the final listing.
Five positions behind the Briton was team-mate Ken De Dycker who had a meeting to forget. Some technical problems caused a qualification position of 31st and a handicap for the race-starts. The Belgian tumbled off his motorcycle after clipping a hay-bale on the second lap of Moto one and although he was able to remount he classified outside the points. In the second affair he encountered problems with the fallen David Philippaerts on the first turn and completed the race with 17th.
With the young championship table reflecting exactly the overall result of the Grand Prix Honda occupy spots in the first six with all four principal riders gracing the top twenty.
The second round will take place at the Valkenswaard circuit close to the city of Eindhoven in two weeks time (Easter Monday) for the Grand Prix of Netherlands.
Rui Goncalves (Honda World Motocross)
Race Result: 8th / 5th Championship position: 5th "It was alright. I worked really hard in the winter and I felt I had to take my time with things a little bit because a lot was new for me this season; new bike, new team, first season with 450 and first with a bike with an aluminum chassis. Anyway, together with the team we worked well and I'm happy that they believe in me and keep on giving me what I needed to achieve results and even if the pre-season races were not brilliant, it paid-off today. It was a good start today and now I will focus on each GP."
Evgeny Bobryshev (Honda World Motocross) Race Result: 12th / 4th Championship position: 6th "I crashed on the third lap of the first race because I couldn't see anything through my goggles due to the dust. I think I hit a stone or something, but the front wheel went away. I was in fourteenth after that and it was difficult to come back through because so many were going the same speed. I was disappointed with twelfth, but it was better to get some points instead of a 'zero'. The second race was much better. I was concentrating more and thinking about the track even if I struggled for a few laps trying to hit my lines. Once I got my rhythm I came back to fourth position. Overall I'm pleased. If I look at last year compared to this year then it is much better."
Shaun Simpson (LS Honda Racing)
Race Result: 13th / 16th Championship position: 14th "This is not one of my favourite tracks because it is fast and bumpy and not really what I like to ride. I had some arm-pump in the heat race which was a bit beyond my control, but I was happy with my speed because I was in the top five in both sessions and also up there in warm-up. I think if I could have taken good starts in the two races then I would have been able to do something and make two top tens, which was my goal. I messed up the first start and then in the second Philippaerts crashed in front of me in the first turn and there was nowhere to go. I battled all race and I think my second-to-last lap was my fastest; I just took too long to dial-in to the track. Things should be better in Valkenswaard, but I will take the positives from this."
Ken De Dycker (LS Honda Racing)
Race Result: DNF /17th Championship position: 9th "It was a tough GP and a bad start to the year. The bike wasn't running well for most of the day Saturday and then stopped in the heat race three laps from the flag. At least we were able to identify the problem. It meant I had to start from way outside along the gate and the starts are so important here. I crashed when I touched a hay-bale on the second lap and knocked myself about and it was hard to come back. I started badly in the second race and then a stone hit my goggles and knocked the lens out. I had to stop because it was so dusty. 'Everything' seemed to happen this weekend, so we will leave it behind and look to the next one."
- LS Honda
Sevlievo - Held in sunny, yet cold and windy conditions LS Honda Racing riders Shaun Simpson and Ken De Dycker kicked off their 2011 FIM Motocross World Championship campaigns today, at Sevlievo in Bulgaria. Shaun and Ken had proved quick and on-form in pre-season outings, respectively claiming wins in Great-Britain and the Netherlands, but Bulgaria was a tough race for both.
LS Honda Racing hit the ground running on Saturday with Simpson posting the fourth time in free practice and the second time in pre-qualifying practice. The Scot pushed hard during the early stages of the qualification race when he was in contention for a top-3 spot. Unfortunately Shaun had to back off because he suffered arm pump and settled for 11th. Team mate De Dycker had a terrible day with electrical problems relegating him to a disastrous 31st starting position for Sunday’s races. Rain on Sunday morning made the dirt softer and in some places treacherous and bumpy, while other sections were slippery and lacking grip. Simpson didn’t have the start he wanted to in the opening moto. Although he put in consistent lap times Shaun didn’t succeed in making any headway form his thirteenth position on the opening lap. De Dycker was highly motivated to bounce back from yesterday’s trouble. The tall Belgian was fast but in his attempt to make up as much ground as possible early on Ken clipped an hay bale and went down hard. In the end a disappointing 22nd was the best he could muster. While eventual GP winner Desalle grabbed the holeshot in the second race, both De Dycker and Simpson were victims of a first corner pile-up caused by a crash of David Philippaerts. Simpson had another race to forget crossing the finish line in 16th. De Dycker’s bad luck continued when a stone broke his goggle lens in the early stages of the race. Because of the dust Ken didn’t have any other option than coming into pitlane for fresh goggles. The former German and British rode his heart out to claim four valuable championship points.
Shaun Simpson: “This is not one of my favourite tracks because it is fast and bumpy and not really what I like to ride. I had some arm-pump in the heat race which was a bit beyond my control, but I was happy with my speed because I was in the top five in both sessions and also up there in warm-up. I think if I could have taken good starts in the two races then I would have been able to do something and make two top tens, which was my goal. I messed up the first start and then in the second Philippaerts crashed in front of me in the first turn and there was nowhere to go. I battled all race and I think my second-to-last lap was my fastest; I just took too long to dial-in to the track. Things should be better in Valkenswaard, but I will take the positives from this.”
Ken De Dycker: “It was a tough GP and a bad start to the year. The bike wasn’t running well for most of the day Saturday and then stopped in the heat race three laps from the flag. At least we were able to identify the problem. It meant I had to start from way outside along the gate and the starts are so important here. I crashed when I touched a hay-bale on the second lap and knocked myself about and it was hard to come back. I started badly in the second race and then a stone hit my goggles and knocked the lens out. I had to stop because it was so dusty. ‘Everything’ seemed to happen this weekend, so we will leave it behind and look to the next one."
- Women's MX
The girls are back on action and for the fourth year running the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship season started at the Sevlievo track in Bulgaria. This year though all the practice and racing was held on Saturday with 2010’s World Champion Stephanie Laier replicating what she did a year ago and taking the overall win.
The day started with last year’s usual suspects inside the top-ten during the free and qualifying practice sessions with Laier leading the way from Lancelot, Fontanesi and Papenmeier. Maria Franke and Natalie Kane were the most noticeable absentees this weekend with the latter going under wrist surgery this past week.
Race 1 - All against the wind
On the first moto an invisible adversary in the form of a “wind-kick” kept trying to blow away the riders on the highest jumps, greatly affecting their performance, though that couldn’t prevent Red Bull Teka KTM factory rider Steffi Laier of grabbing the holeshot on what was the start of the first WMX race of the season.
The defending WMX Champion instantly positioned herself in the lead but not without some initial opposition from Livia Lancelot who came under pressure from Chiara Fontanesi for the first half of the race. The Italian rider didn’t hold herself back even having two WMX World Champions right in front of her.
This fight for second position actually ended up with both Chiara and Lancelot making mistakes and allowing the German KTM race leader to extend the gap for the second place to almost 18 seconds, lapping everyone up until Marielle de Mol’s sixth position.
In fourth position came Larissa Papenmeier who also had a race of her own after losing ground with the top-three. The German rider who had the pole position in the Bulgarian hard-pack circuit a year ago is still trying to adapt herself to this year’s taller KTM machine; much different than the “compacted” Suzuki she had in 2010.
Race 2 – Increased challenge
For the second moto of the day the WMX riders were already anticipating a worse scenario on the track with a mixture of low sunshine and gusty winds producing some severe clouds of dust.
Laier holeshoted again and managed to stay up front but not without some trouble coming from Chiara Fontanesi who showed this weekend that she’s not going to make it easy especially for the German girls on the KTMs.
It was actually a completely different outing for Larissa Papenmeier as the KTM Sarholz rider kept recovering time on a fast pace passing Fontanesi for second position nine laps after and ending the race a bit more than three seconds behind the leader.
Livia Lancelot didn’t have the best of starts in fourth position and crashed after the finish line with only one lap to go benefiting Francesca Nocera who got fourth spot overall after going fifth on the first moto. The Italian rider will certainly battle her way to the podium in the next rounds.
Fighting for sixth position were Britt van der Wekken and Sara Petterson with the first getting the better of the Swede after recovering all the way through the field up until fifth position from tenth at the start. Marielle de Mol was also stronger in the end pushing Petterson back another position. Seventh overall went to Marianne Veenstra with two solid rides for the Dutch Suzuki rider.
Although it might look like Stephanie Laier is on the good course to take the title again there’s still a lot to race so expect some warm fights for the lead. The FIM Women’s World Championship’s next stop will be on the April 16th weekend in Megalopolis, Southern Greece, now with t0he MX3 boys as spectators.
What they said:
Stephanie Laier: “I came back from last year with the red plate and I still have it! It was a tough race, a lot of sun, wind and dust in the air but I’m happy that it ended this way.”
Larissa Papenmeier: “My first race wasn’t that good, I couldn’t find my rhythm and it was bad but the second was awesome; I felt incredible as I had a great start.”
Chiara Fontanesi: “I made a big mistake and crashed on the first moto; I lost a lot of time and hurt my back again. I really like this track where everybody can go fast but it’s harder than last year. Third overall is good for the beginning of the championship.”
WMX Race 1 top-ten: 1. Stephanie Laier (GER, KTM), 24:15.517; 2. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:17.714; 3. Chiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:41.201; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, KTM), +0:50.760; 5. Francesca Nocera (ITA, KTM), +2:05.855; 6. Marielle De Mol (NED, TM), -1 lap(s); 7. Marianne Veenstra (NED, Suzuki), -1 lap(s); 8. Britt van der Wekken (NED, Honda), -1 lap(s); 9. Elien De Winter (BEL, KTM), -1 lap(s); 10. Sara Pettersson (SWE, KTM), -1 lap(s);
WMX Race 2 top-ten: 1. Stephanie Laier (GER, KTM), 24:48.542; ; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, KTM), +0:03.374; 3. Chiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:26.694; 4. Francesca Nocera (ITA, KTM), +1:49.183; 5. Britt van der Wekken (NED, Honda), +2:01.013; 6. Marielle De Mol (NED, TM), +2:10.662; 7. Sara Pettersson (SWE, KTM), +2:12.078; 8. Marianne Veenstra (NED, Suzuki), +2:12.632; 9. Elien De Winter (BEL, KTM), +2:13.147; 10. Joanna Miller (POL, KTM), -1 lap(s);
WMX Overall top-ten: 1. Stephanie Laier (GER, KTM), 50 points; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Chiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), 40 p.; 4. Francesca Nocera (ITA, KTM), 34 p.; 5. Marielle De Mol (NED, TM), 30 p.; 6. Britt van der Wekken (NED, Honda), 29 p.; 7. Marianne Veenstra (NED, Suzuki), 27 p.; 8. Sara Pettersson (SWE, KTM), 25 p.; 9. Elien De Winter (BEL, KTM), 24 p.; 10. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), 22 p.
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