The weekend saw the running of the 2020 MXGP of Lommel, as the final round of the Belgian triple-header, with a new track layout introduced to up the ante in sectors three and four, upping the tempo of the races, while adding an additional challenge for riders.
In MXGP it was Tim Gajser claiming top honours, winning both races, with Romain Febvre runner up in both races for second overall. Jeremy Seewer completed the overall podium, going 4-3.
Tim Gajser extended his standings lead as a result, now leading Tony Cairoli by 74-points, 583 to 509. Jeremy Seewer sits third on 499-points, while Jorge Prado was unable to compete in MX2 after testing positive for COVID-19 and was in self-isolation. The rest of his Red Bull KTM team had returned negative test results, however he dropped to fourth. Mitch Evans, still out with injury, sits 13th in the standings as the top Aussie.
The MX2 class was hard fought with Ben Watson and Roan Van De Moosdijk sharing the wins, with just eight-points separating the top six. Watson came out on top adding a fourth place result to his win for the overall on 43-points. Van De Moosdijk had to settle for second on 40-points, with Maxime Renaux third, ahead of Thomas Kjer Olsen, GasGas’s Isak Gifting and Tom Vialle.
Jed Beaton was inside the top-10 in eighth, claiming 27 championship points. He had a consistent day, not getting the best jump from the start in race one, and moving up through the ranks throughout the race, before making the pass for seventh on lap 13, Jed then chased Roan Van De Moosdijk to the chequered flag to end his race in seventh.
Moto two saw a much better start for the FC 250 rider. Moving into ninth early in the race, Jed progressed into seventh at the halfway stage of the race as he found his rhythm around the demanding Lommel track. Losing just one position as the moto neared the end, he finished eighth.
“A disappointing day today. Not my greatest day of racing but I’m healthy, which is important with three rounds to go. I found my flow in both races but not until towards the end, which was frustrating. By then there was a big gap ahead of me in each race. Overall, I felt like my riding was good, it just took me a little while to get going. Looking forward to some hardpack next weekend in Italy.”
Bailey Malkiewicz took 13th overall for 12-points, racing to 16th in Race 1, and improving that result to 14th in Race 2.
In terms of the championship, Geerts has lost some ground on Vialle who now heads into the final three rounds with a 74-point advantage, with Renaux down in third with 476 points. Beaton now sits fourth on 456-points, with fellow Australian Bailey Malkiewicz 16th on 119.
The world series now heads to Pietramurata in the north Italian province of Trentino next weekend for the last of five triple-header GPs which will complete the eighteen-round series.
MXGP Race 1
In the opening race, it was Gajser who claimed the Fox Holeshot. He was closely followed by Seewer and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli, who wasted no time to pass into second by the end of the opening lap. Febvre also went through on Seewer on the opening lap, pushing him down to fourth.
Febvre then passed Cairoli and put in some solid laps, as he worked away at the 3.906 second gap between himself and the race leader. A lap later the gap was halved as just 1.716 was in it between the Honda and Kawasaki rider.
Seewer was pushing to go after Cairoli, in the early stages of the race, to claim back third, though eventually lost a bit of ground on the 9-time world champion.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Arnaud Tonus was having a really solid ride in the opening race, as he went after Jordi Tixier of JT911 for fifth. At one point in the race the factory Yamaha riders, Seewer, Tonus and Gautier Paulin were fourth, fifth and sixth in the race, before Paulin found a way through on his teammate, who came into the goggle lane towards the end of the race and lost a couple of more spots.
Gajser and Febvre kept things close for the first half of the race, though towards the latter stages, the HRC rider showed that he was on another level as he edged out further and by the end finishing the race with a 22.638 second gap. Febvre was second and Cairoli in a solid third. Seewer settled for fourth, while his teammate Paulin finished behind him in fifth.
Marchetti Racing Team KTM’s Brian Bogers and Tixier both had a solid race to finish sixth and seventh.
MXGP Race 2
Race two saw Gajser out in the lead once again, with Tonus, Febvre, Seewer and SR Honda Motoblouz rider Jeremy Van Horebeek also getting a good start. Meanwhile Cairoli had an unlucky beginning to the heat, as he picked himself up in last after crashing in the first couple of corners.
There was also drama for Gajser on the opening lap, as he went down while in first, which allowed Seewer to quickly sneak into the lead. The Swiss led briefly as Febvre pushed hard to get around him and eventually moved into first.
Febvre then edged away from Seewer, while Gajser was making his way back up the order as he caught onto the back of Van Horebeek. It took a couple of laps for Gajser to get around the #89 and when he was eventually able to do so he then went after Tonus who was third at the time.
By lap 5 Gajser was already ahead of Tonus, as he set his sights on Seewer. The Slovenian carved his way around the deep sand in impressive fashion, and two laps later was up in second, as Seewer dropped to third.
With 10 minutes on the clock the gap was 6.168 between Febvre and Gajser, though Gajser was able to take almost two seconds out of the Frenchman by the next lap and then worked away at the gap even further and by lap 11, the Honda rider, was the new race leader.
With three laps to go, Tonus came under fire from Paulin and Van Horebeek, though Van Horebeek did not finish the race due to what looked like a bike issue.
In the end it was Gajser who claimed a double race win, with Febvre second and Seewer third.
Tim Gajser – P1
“I’m very happy with how the whole week went. All three rounds my speed was good and I was enjoying the riding. In the first moto I took a really important holeshot because it was raining and the track was wet so it was a lot easier to ride in front rather than get roosted. At the beginning Romain was pushing but I managed to get a good gap and control the race. The second race I got the holeshot again but on the first lap I fell after getting sideways. I went back to seventh or so and it took me a couple of laps to regroup a bit. Then I found some good lines, made some passes and worked all the way back into the lead. I was riding really well and I’m super happy to go one-one here and finish off this week with such a good performance. A big thanks to everyone in the team who continues to work so hard in these difficult times, and I’m really looking forward to getting to Trentino!”
Romain Febvre – P2
“In the second heat I was really comfortable in the lead and doing some good things so I just tried to keep my rhythm but I knew I could be better on two particular sections of the track and could see Tim coming back at me. I knew for sure he must have better lines than me in those parts of the track so I hoped to see his lines but two corners after he passed me I crashed so I could not follow him. It’s not really what I would have hoped but at least we are back on the box after just missing it on the same points in the first two races here. I’m looking forward to Arco; maybe it will be cold, maybe not, but we feel good and will be looking for more podiums there.”
Jeremy Seewer – P3
“It’s nice to be back on the podium after a tough week here in Lommel. It was really brutal out there, the rain, the weather, the track, three GP’s in a row, Lommel, it was just really tricky. I am happy to be back on the podium with two solid motos and no big mistakes. I’m looking forward to the next three GP’s in Arco di Trento because this is more my type of track so there are still some positive races left.”
Gautier Paulin – P4
“I feel strong. I missed the podium by 1 or 2 points. I am disappointed about this. I am happy with my riding. I had an okay start in Race 1, but I hit the rear wheel of Cairoli and had to make my way back to the front. This was not easy because I had a lot of roost on the goggles and stuff. In the second race, I started better with three or four strong corners to get close to the front, but I stalled the bike. I was passed by many riders because of this mistake and in the end, it cost me the podium. I missed something a little bit today, but the feeling was there, and the riding was strong.”
Arnaud Tonus – P6
“Lommel is already a tough track even before we had to come here and do three GP’s in a row. It was super challenging mentally. Honestly, I was really tired after the first race. It was a real mental challenge to overcome. I am super happy to finish strong like I did. I made a couple of mistakes at the end and crashed but it is how it is, I think everyone did. The rain made it super tough today.”
The first MX2 race saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle claim his 17th Fox Holeshot of the season as he led Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts, Thibault Benistant of Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing and Watson.
Geerts then went down in the early stages of the race and it was Vialle who led Renaux, Benistant and Watson on the first official lap. Watson then went after Benistant for third as he began his charge for the race win, though he had Van de Moosdijk on his rear wheel too.
Pretty quickly Watson was in third, and continued his way forward, while his teammate, Geerts, was having a tough ride down outside the top 20.
On lap 5, Gifting crashed out of 5th and re-joined the race in 11th. He then gave it a good effort to pull back as many positions as possible as he fought his way back up to 8th for another solid top 10 result.
Vialle led the race with a steady gap to Renaux, though the hard-charging Watson was taking quite a bit of time out of the pair, as he caught on to the back of Renaux and eventually passed the Frenchman on lap 10. The Brit then took chunks of time out of Vialle for the next four laps, before getting onto the rear wheel of the KTM rider and then passing him.
Vialle then came under pressure from Renaux, who also managed to move up a position with just three laps to go. Though it was Watson who won the opening race, with Renaux finishing 7.958 seconds behind in second and Vialle third.
Jed Beaton finished the race in seventh, while Bailey Malkiewicz was 16th.
MX2 Race 2
The gate then dropped for the second MX2 race of the day and it was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts who claimed the Fox Holeshot, as he led Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle, Van de Moosdijk and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen.
Diga Procross GasGas Factory Juniors pilot Isak Gifting was having a great race, as he took fourth from Olsen in the early stages of the race and then went after Vialle for third.
Watson had to work hard in the second race, as he started down in 6th, though he made a couple of good passes to finish 4th, which got him on the top step of the podium.
The bad luck continued for Geerts in the second race, as he crashed out of the lead on lap three, which allowed Van de Moosdijk to inherit first place. Geerts then managed only a couple more laps before another big crash, dropped him from 4th to 10th. He was however able to make a few passed before the end of the race to finish 7th.
But it was Van de Moosdijk who led the race until the chequered flag dropped on lap 16, after defending his position from the likes of Gifting, Vialle and Olsen who were keen for top positions.
Gifting and Vialle had a couple of good laps battling amongst themselves, though as Olsen and Watson joined in on the fight, it allowed the GasGas rider to get ahead, while Vialle came under pressure from the Dane and the Brit, who were able to find their way through.
Renaux came next as he pushed Vialle down to 6th and in the end it was Moosdijk who won the race with a 7.808 gap to Gifting and Olsen. Beaton had to settle for eighth, while Malkiewicz improved to 14th.
Ben Watson – P1
“In race one I felt like I did a good race. My start was good and the first lap I lost one position and I was in fourth for a little while, then it takes me a little while to get into it, I was able to get in my rhythm and keep putting my laps in. I found one spot on track where I was able to pass the guys in and it was working for me and I won good, I was really pleased with this race. Race two was a little bit of a different story. My start was really bad, and I was tight. I mean in the beginning of the race it was ok, but it took me time to come through like I normally can and then when it came towards the end and I could see who was in front of me and who was behind me, it [the overall victory] was going through my head. It was a little bit of a problem for me as I was riding tight but the thing is now that I’ve won a GP and no one can take it away from me and it’s a big weight lifted off me so now I can just focus on moving forward.”
Roan Van De Moosdijk – P2
“It was hard in the middle but the day started well with my fifth pole – more than anybody else this season – and of course that first-ever GP moto win at the end. It was important to make a quick lap this morning and our pole shows we had a good strategy. The track was in better condition than I expected after the rain and I was really looking forward to the two races. The first moto started well but after about ten minutes I got hard arm pump again. I dropped back to sixth and tried to relax but it didn’t go away; that was both frustrating and disappointing but I stayed positive for race two and it went a lot better. I took the lead again after a few laps and I had a bit more of a gap so I could stay more relaxed, even if it was going through my mind in the last few laps “just don’t crash, stay on the bike”. It was a long moto and mentally quite tough to lead for so long but I am just so happy to get that first one under my belt; now I’m looking forward to more!”
Maxime Renaux – P3
“The day went pretty good. In the first race I felt good out on track and finished second so that was a pretty good race. The second one was a bit harder I started further at the back and then had push and I felt also tight on the track so it was not the best race of the year but I tried to do my best and give my best to be on the podium and that’s good it’s nice to be back on the box and now I’m looking forward to more of this.”
“A positive day for me and a good end to the week after a couple of challenging rounds at Lommel. The changes made to the track made it flow better for me and with the team we made some changes to the bike, which made me really comfortable out there. I was able to battle today and I’m happy with my result, so it’s been a good GP for me. Thanks to the team for the work they’ve put in this week and we go to Italy next weekend aiming for the podium.”
Isak Gifting – P5
“Just amazing. Another great GP and a great end to the week. Having some battles with the top guys in the class has been really good for my confidence. It was a shame that I crashed in race one but race two was amazing. Second place, I cannot complain. As always, I just went for it today. Full gas in both motos and another great result. I can’t wait for next weekend in Italy.”
Tom Vialle – P6
“It was a difficult day. I was feeling good with the track in the morning but in the first moto I was struggling with it at one point, especially in the waves section. I was losing time there. The second moto was the same. I couldn’t find any flow today but for the championship it was pretty good. There are only three races to go now and I like Arco. I don’t know what conditions we’ll find there but it’s hard-pack and a surface that I enjoy it a lot.”
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