Jett Lawrence 4-27 in EMX250 – Caleb Grothues 20-12
The MXGP of Belgium proved one of legends, as the Lommel Circuit saw a highly competitive weekend of racing, with Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado taking top honours for the weekend, with dominant performances across their classes, from qualification through to both races.
The site of the MXGP of Belgium sees nearly every team in the paddock call Lommel or its surrounding regions home with many riders and personnel living in the area along with various team workshops. The area is also home to tens of thousands of motocross fans who turned up in massive numbers to watch the riders perform on the edge of perfection.
The Lommel circuit also hosted FIM Europe’s classes of EMX125 and EMX250 for this weekend’s round, with Mattia Guadagnini and Mel Pocock taking full advantage of the opportunity to win their respective overall victories.
Coming into the weekend 100 riders were entered into the 125cc class alone with another 91 in EMX250. By the start of Saturday’s points paying race a series of timed sessions combined with a last chance race narrowed the fields to 40 riders each.
When looking at the results of the weekend on paper or watching the races on TV it is near impossible to truly understand the speed at which the MXGP riders attack the track but nevertheless Jeffrey Herlings found a way to go even faster. From the start of the weekend Herlings was on fire with the fastest times in Free Practice and Timed Practice followed by a Qualifying race win.
MXGP Qualifying Race
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:55.928
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:15.876
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:21.255
Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:50.668
Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), +0:55.261
MXGP Race 1
Race day started just as strong with a heater of a lap time in Warm Up followed by his 7th Fox Holeshot of the season to begin Race 1. Teammate and title rival Antonio Cairoli was second across the chalk and Romain Febvre was next with Tim Gajser running fourth.
Before even crossing the finish line to start the 1st official lap Herlings already had a several second lead over Cairoli. Belgian rider Jeremy Van Horebeek chased Gajser and his teammate Febvre early but had Jeremy Seewer and Max Anstie putting on pressure.
Anstie’s Husqvarna teammate Gautier Paulin was off to a difficult race after falling twice on the opening lap and crossing the line to start the race in 34th. Seewer moved past Van Horebeek on the second lap and Anstie passed the Belgian a lap later. At around the same time Gajser passed Febvre for 3rd but only held the position for 3 laps before the Frenchman took it back.
The same lap saw Anstie pass Seewer to reach the top five and several laps after that Gajser dropped a spot to Anstie on his way backwards to 7th place.
At the finish of Race 1 Herlings won by 13 seconds even after a fall of his own while Cairoli took 2nd, Febvre 3rd, Anstie 4th, and Seewer rounded out the top 5. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s 3rd MXGP rider, Glenn Coldenhoff took 6th.
Race 2 was another Red Bull KTM FOX Holeshot but this time it would be Coldenhoff in the lead with Anstie and Gajser 2nd and 3rd but Herlings shot himself into second only a few corners later and took the lead before the end of the opening lap.
Cairoli was behind Anstie and Gajser as his teammates ran in 1st and second but took the fourth spot from Gajser quickly and took 3rd from Anstie on the same spot the next lap. The same section worked well again for Cairoli as he passed Coldenhoff to get into second.
Herlings had grown his lead to an impressive gap at that point and showed no signs of slowing as he put in an unmatchable pace. Febvre and Gajser battle for fifth briefly in which Febvre came out ahead. Anstie took third from Coldenhoff but mistakes allowed the Dutchman back through.
Herlings lapped his way through the field but on the final lap lost control sending him down. Herlings lead was massive however and though the fall cost him several seconds he still came away with a lap time faster than most riders on the track.
Across the finish line Herlings won by 33 seconds over Cairoli and left only the top eight on the lead lap with Clement Desalle starting his final lap as Herlings took the checkered while Van Horebeek finished 1 lap down and nearly 7 seconds later. Coldenhoff took 3rd but missed out on the podium to Anstie who took 4th ahead of Febvre.
Aussie Todd Waters improved on his Race 1 result to take 21st in Race 2 and finished the round in 24th overall, and 27th in the standings.
“I’m really pleased with the weekend. Three good starts and fastest in each practice. This is one of my favourite tracks on the calendar so I’m happy to extend the points gap a little bit. There are five rounds left, we’re 75% ‘in’ and the end is in sight, and we’ll look forward to Switzerland. It will be a new weekend and you cannot get a more different track compared to here. I want to give a special thanks to the Red Bull KTM team; the guys did an amazing job. Also WP because the suspension was awesome and the atmosphere in the team is great so a big shout out to them and all the support I’ve had.”
“Overall I’m happy because I know in the sand and on this type of track Jeffrey is very fast. It would have been nice to be a little bit closer but I’ve had issues with my thumb and could not train exactly as I wanted in the sand lately. I know how to ride it but to keep this kind of speed the whole moto is very tough. Two-times second is OK and for the rest of the season we’ll try to stay as close to Jeffrey’s wheel as possible and make a win where we can. A lot can still happen in the races to go. I’m looking forward to Switzerland. It is a track I really like and hopefully we can have a better result.”
“It was a tough GP and I was pleased to get on the podium. Overall, we’re making steps forward and we showed that this weekend. Getting fourth in qualifying gave me a good gate pick and my starts were great in both motos. In the first moto I made some passes before settling for fourth. Then in the second moto, I got another good start but I was running a little bit low on energy so had to give it my all until the finish. We had a great battle with Glenn [Coldenhoff] for third. Soon after I passed him I crashed and had to do it all over again. I kept pushing as much as I could and managed to secure my second podium result for the season.”
“I had a really good weekend, all weekend long I was feeling really good, and third place in the first moto, I was really happy with that, especially in the deep sand. In second I was also riding well but I crashed while battling for the third place and even after that I came back really strong. At the end of the race I was quite exhausted, so I finished fifth and fourth overall with the same points as third. I am disappointed that I am not on the podium, but it is still good points for the championship, so now I will rest a little bit and then get back to work so I am better in Switzerland.”
“I was not near the top five in the practice sessions and it was a bit frustrating. We made some changes to the bike – actually for the first time since the beginning of the year – with the engine after we’d tested last week. I had to get used to it and that contributed to the bad start in the first moto. I couldn’t make my own speed or rhythm and was just too slow. Finally I got to sixth, which was solid but not for this race where I expected to be nearer the front…like you saw in the second moto. I was a bit slower than Max but he went down. I finally got my first holeshot of the year! It has been too long. I can be happy with the second moto but we were aiming for that podium.”
Todd Waters had an encouraging comeback in the second half of the final moto as he recovered more than ten positions to finish just outside the top-20. In the first moto, the Australian rider crashed in the early stages and despite all the efforts, he could not finish any higher than 26th.
“I surely didn’t make my life easy by crashing early on in both motos! In the second one, however, I was able to find a decent pace and pass Strijbos for twenty-first position before the finish line. Obviously we are not happy with the result itself, but I feel we have made a step forward so we look forward to Switzerland, where I’ll be racing for the first time.”
The MX2 racing was just as interesting and showcased nearly as dominant of a performance from Jorge Prado. Similar to Herlings in MXGP, Prado took Saturday’s qualifying race win and backed it up with a Fox Holeshot to start Race 1.
Jorge Prado may have had Thomas Covington behind him but title adversary and teammate Pauls Jonass was alongside and took second from the American immediately. Covington’s teammate Thomas Kjer Olsen chased Covington with Calvin Vlaanderen following both.
In a heated battle over sixth was UK’s Conrad Mewse and Jago Geerts. Geerts had the upper hand however with it being his home GP the fans cheered him on to pass the Brit in what was his first race in nearly six weeks.
The biggest moment of the race however was the crash of Jonass as he tried to catch Prado for the lead. Jonass miss timed the massive SIDI jump into rollers and landed heavy which ejected him from his bike. Lucky to get away from the fall uninjured Jonass rejoined the race in fourth but lost another spot while trying to kick his clutch lever back into place.
At the finish Prado took the win with Covington second, Olsen third, and Jonass fourth after he passed Vlaanderen back two laps after the crash. Mewse managed to take the sixth spot back from Geerts after following the Belgian’s lines for 6 laps.
Aussie Hunter Lawrence finished in 16th place.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 34:59.736
Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:11.439
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:21.141
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:31.144
Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), +0:33.899
Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:45.443
Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:56.360
Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +1:02.821
Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +1:07.739
Brent Van doninck (BEL, Husqvarna), +1:11.923
…16. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON)
MX2 Race 2
Race 2 was consistent with the Race 1 for Prado who took the Fox Holeshot again leading Covington and Olsen while Jonass fell remounting in 14th. Ben Watson started well in fourth but dropped to seventh before the opening lap was complete.
Geerts in the other hand battled again with Mewse taking the spot and advantage of a crash from Vlaanderen. Geerts continued his charge forward taking 3rd from Olsen and then going after Covington for 2nd.
Covington made a mistake and jumped off the track while under pressure from Geerts and lost the spot but somehow managed to stay on the bike and take third. Prado’s second race win was followed by Geerts, Covington, Olsen, and Watson while Jonass fought back to sixth.
In the overall podium result it was perfect 50 points from Prado followed by Covington’s 2-3 and Olsen’s 3-4. Prado now leads the championship by 28 points after gaining 17 points on Jonass this weekend.
Hunter Lawrence improved on his Race 1 result with a 12th place, leaving him 13th overall in the MX2 class for the round, and 13th in the championship standings. Fellow Aussie Jed Beaton continues to recover from injuries suffered at the British MXGP, including a broken fibula and tibia, as well as ankle and ribs.
“A great weekend and I was feeling very good today, even from warm-up with the bike and the track. They left it pretty rough for today and it was a bit weird in some places in the second moto but I was enjoying it. We train really hard so when we get to a track like this then you can see who is really fit and who can keep the focus: if you lose focus then it is so easy to make a mistake. I think I did well in this way and to go 1-1.”
“I’m really happy with second overall at this tough GP. A few years ago, I couldn’t even think this would be possible over here in Lommel. There’s been a few weekends where I felt I should have won the GP, but this weekend Jorge [Prado] was just better. I could push him during the first part of the motos, but after that I decided to keep it steady and ride safely for the overall podium. I just can’t thank the whole Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team members for all their hard work. We’ve been able to get some great results during the last few GPs and it’s onwards and upwards from here.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen
“It feels good to be back on the podium. The track was brutal during both motos and the heat made things even harder. I got a decent gate pick from Saturday’s qualifying and my starts were good in both motos. I did the best I could in both races and I’m happy with third overall for this GP. With Thomas [Covington] getting second overall, it just shows how hard all the members of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team work. It felt good to be on the podium with my teammate. It was great to end the weekend like that and I’m looking forward to more times like that in the future.”
“It’s really special to race at my home GP and in front the fans. I had a pretty good weekend but my starts were not that good, but still I managed to come back in both races. In the first race I could see fifth and fourth and then I had a pretty big crash but still finished seventh, and then in the second race, I could fight back to second, so it was fun.”
“I actually felt pretty good all weekend and my speed and fitness was there. I felt good behind Jorge in the first race where I was waiting until the end to attack but a small mistake with the lapper in the waves meant I went a bit sideways trying not to touch. I landed in and out of the rut, crashed and lost a lot of time. I still got back to fourth. Van Doninck jumped out of the gate at the start of the second moto and I was a bit shocked. I completely lost my concentration and then after the first jump I lost the blisters on my left hand. It was tough and painful. For the first ten-fifteen minutes I was trying to find the position to hold the handlebars but in the last fifteen minutes I was again good. Sixth is not what we wanted and we’re 28 points behind Jorge now but there are five races to go and 250 points on the table. I’m looking ahead.”
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 34:51.222
Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.083
Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:12.715
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:21.133
Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:24.378
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:39.784
Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), +0:52.172
Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:59.965
Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +1:06.985
Marshal Weltin (USA, Kawasaki), +1:21.222
…12. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON)
MX2 Overall Top Ten
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 50 points
Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 42
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 38
Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 36
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 33
Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, HON), 30
Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 28
Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 26
Adam Sterry (GBR, KAW), 25
Brent Van doninck (BEL, HUS), 21
…13. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 14
EMX250’s Saturday race was the final event of the day on a rough Lommel circuit. The conditions challenged the riders to stay focused and eliminate mistakes but several fell throughout the 13 lap race including early leader and red plate holder Mathys Boisrame.
Maxime Renaux took his sixth place start to the front of the field and by lap 9 was into the lead. Kevin Horgmo fought for second from start to finish while Mel Pocock took third.
EMX250 Race 2 was just as brutal with only slightly cooler temperatures to aid the riders. Horgmo led nearly every lap of the race but the most important final laps when he crashed out of the race and handed the top spot to Pocock.
The gift was great fully accepted by the Brit who took the race win and overall victory as a result for the first time this season. Roan Van de Mosdijk took second in the race with Renaux third. The overall result was mirrored however with Renaux second and Van de Moosdijk third.
The EMX125 class was full of epic racing as the riders fought for power in the deep Belgian sand. Saturday’s race 1 was lead early by Mattia Guadagnini but he was eventually passed for the lead and race win by Thibault Benistant. Guadagnini held on to take second over Arvid Lüning while early contender Adam Zsolt Kovacs crashed and was ran over ending his weekend.
Sunday’s racing was even more challenging with much of the track left untouched since yesterday’s final race. EMX125 again battled on the track first with Lüning leading the first official lap. Second on the first lap but quickly taking over the lead was Guadagnini. Just as impressive was Filip Olsson who came from eighth on the first lap to finish second after passing Raivo Dankers.
Guadagnini’s 2-1 gave him the overall with Olsson in second, Andrea Bonacorsi third with a 4-4, Lüning fourth, and Benistant fifth. The weekend also gives Benistant the championship leader’s red plate after previous points leader Rene Hofer suffered a season ending injury a week ago.
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