Going retro pays dividends for Suzuki’s Kevin Strijbos at Lommel
The MXGP of Belgium, in Lommel, saw Team Suzuki’s Kevin Strijbos and Husqvarna’s Max Anstie top the box
The experienced riders finally got the upper hand on the younger stars this weekend with Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli making up the podium.
Belgian fans eat, sleep and breathe motocross, so for Kevin Strijbos to take his first grand prix victory in nine years here on home soil was definitely something special, not only for him, but for his Belgian based team, Team Suzuki World MXGP, which is now owned and managed by Stefan Everts.
It’s official. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl has an epic dirt-bike riding skillset! The German star rocked up to Lommel today, fresh off of a double moto victory on the hardest of clay at Loket, and won the first race and almost the overall. Unfortunately he stacked it in the second race, and that cost him the win. Regardless, it looks like there is some wind behind his sails and he could be the one to watch over the next four rounds.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli has a killer style in the sand and is typically THE guy to beat, but today he looked a little rusty in Race 1. Despite a slow, at least by Cairoli’s standards, start to the day, he seemed to come to grips with the track in Race 2, which landed him on the third step of the podium. “I’m not so happy because normally on this type of track I can ride better”, he said, “in the first race the feeling was not there and I made some little mistakes and fell back to sixth.”
While Tony Cairoli may have felt like he had a rough day, he wasn’t the only one. Lommel got the better of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle who crashed out of a podium finish and had to settle for eighth, while the defending champ Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre had a day to forget with a bunch of spills dropping him down to fifteenth overall. Luckily for the guys in blue, Jeremy Van Horebeek put in two solid rides for fourth.
Most riders have a love-hate relationship with Lommel. When you’re feeling good on a track this gnarly, there is no better feeling in the world than timing the sand waves to perfection, but to the contrary, when you have a rough day, it’s the last place you want to be. Ask Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser. The nineteen-year-old Slovenian has been flawless this year, but even the best fall down some times, which is what happened to Gajser in Race 1 where he finished fifteenth.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the current championship leader though; he bounced back with a vengeance as the winner of Race 2.
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“This is good, so nice. I really don’t have the words for my feelings at the moment. In the first moto I ran with Max but then had to drop my speed a bit, which I wasn’t happy with, but found a rhythm again by the end. In the second moto I had to catch-up but I had some good lines and when I got to third I thought about the podium…and then tried not to think about it! All the crew were out of the pitbox on the last lap [saying] that I had won the GP. This is a special moment and it has been a long time since I was last on top; nine years and many of the young guys here were not even in GPs then! I’m so stoked for the team because we have worked so hard and not had any results until now; it was tough for them too.”
“I’m really pleased and really disappointed at the same time, if I’m honest. Pleased because I had a really great opening moto and disappointed because I know this could have been another overall MXGP win for me and the team. I felt great in the first moto – I made a good start and was able to win by around 10 seconds. I struggled a little in my qualifying race so to be able to turn that around I was very confident going into the second moto. I got the holeshot, but then I was too cautious for the first three laps. Some riders passed me and then I found my speed. Falling in the sand always loses a lot of time, and I dropped to seventh. Second overall, just one-point from the win, is a great result and I am still 100 per cent focused on my goal of trying to end the year second in the championship.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek
“It’s been a good day overall. We worked hard for this weekend, because I don’t like this track, and I came here a lot to get ready before the race. It’s a tough circuit here and you need all your energy for both motos. I started off the back in the first moto and guys were blowing past me. So to come from dead last to seventh takes a lot of energy, and in the second moto I paid cash for what I spent. Still, fourth is great, and the team did an awesome job. We are getting there.”
“My first moto was not one of my best. It should have been a bit better for the podium but this is my first race in the sand for quite a while and you need to get used to it. I struggled all week a bit with the setup then finally we had a good one for the second moto and I managed to finish second. If I would have won I could have won the GP, but Tim (Gajser) was hanging on pretty good and so I held on for second place. The podium is okay but we are not happy. I should be a bit better on this kind of track. Now we work hard for the next GP.”
“On Saturday I qualified in fourth position, which was OK for the gate pick here. My start in the first race was not too bad, and I got a good rhythm and was able to take fourth position with a good feeling on this track. My second start was even better, and after a few corners I was fifth; I passed Nagl for fourth position and was close to Van Horebeek when I did a mistake and crashed. My front brake was damaged in the crash and then it was more difficult to keep a good rhythm. For sure I’m disappointed as a podium was possible this weekend, but that’s racing. The track was too bumpy this year, and I didn’t had so much fun riding here.”
“I got some good starts this weekend. We made a lot of improvements on the bike; little things make a big difference. Sand is always difficult for me, and due to injuries I didn’t race so much in the sand this season but I came here a few weeks ago and also last week to practice on sandy tracks. My goal was to get top ten results all weekend; unfortunately we had some issues in the first race, but in the second one I managed to finish ninth and overall it was a pretty good weekend except the DNF.”
“I had too many crashes to be happy with my weekend; I spent my time in both races passing other riders. I had the speed to get some good results, but in the MXGP class it’s always tough to come back when you start so far back or if you crash early in the race. My first race was not so bad to come from last to twelfth, but the second one was really difficult with two crashes.”
“I bruised my back but I will recover from the injury quickly. There were two crashes in the second moto today, one early and then at the end, and I had to leave with a disappointing result. I know the team works hard, and I know that next week in Switzerland I can get a good result.”
“The sand here is really deep, and the bumps are really tricky. It’s difficult to ride here. Next week the race in Switzerland is on hard pack with great jumps, and I’m really looking forward to putting on a great show for my home crowd.”
“To be honest I’m disappointed with my first race today, but the second was better. We knew it would be tough starting from the outside gate, and in the first race I made a pretty good start into just outside the top ten but then couldn’t make much more progress. In race two we made a small change and it was a lot better – we could climb as high as fifth from the back of the grid and finished sixth in the end. It’s not my level or where I want to be, but we knew things would be hard today starting both races from the back.”
“Actually all weekend I’ve been feeling sick and only really today did I start to feel better. I missed speed yesterday, but we could start making progress in the second race to come back into the top ten from 24th, but then with two laps to go I crashed on the landing of the finish jump and went over the bars, and after that I just couldn’t continue.”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), 34:19.494
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:09.152
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:13.700
- Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:16.852
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:18.247
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:18.848
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:38.021
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:40.038
- Tanel Leok (EST, KTM), +0:43.251
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:55.033.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 34:41.636
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:13.289
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:36.471
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:40.503
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:47.864
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:53.330
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +1:00.924
- Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki), +1:04.634
- Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +1:08.197
- Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +1:16.375.
MXGP Overall Top Ten
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 40 points
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 39 p.
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 37 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 32 p.
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 31 p.
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 31 p.
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 29 p.
- Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 29 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 26 p.
- Tanel Leok (EST, KTM), 22 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 607 points
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 504 p.
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 490 p.
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 464 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 445 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 417 p.
- Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 292 p.
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 277 p.
- Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 273 p.
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 264 p.
- Honda, 620 points
- Yamaha, 556 p.
- KTM, 522 p.
- Husqvarna, 505 p.
- Kawasaki, 374 p.
- Suzuki, 302 p.
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The absence of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings left a handful of riders in MX2 licking their chops at the thought of a potential grand prix victory. Most bench racers would have put their chips on Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie for the win since he has won the grand prix here for the last two years.
Anstie said, “I wasn’t sure I could make it happen this weekend. Everyone was telling me I should win, I crashed in the qualifying race, and I didn’t sleep last night”. Nevertheless, the Brit went 1-1 for his first victory of the season, yet his third GP win at this track. “I do love it here” he said, “I was pushing hard and I’m glad to get this result for my team.” His team is based right around the corner, literally, and his win marks the first ever for Husqvarna here in Lommel.
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer has put to bed his previous struggles in the sand. The Swiss rider hit a career milestone with his first ever qualifying race win. Never in his wildest dreams would he have thought he would do it at Lommel, the craziest sand track in the world. Anyway, he did it, and backed up that outstanding achievement with two second place finishes for second overall.
No-one actually LOVES Lommel except Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Petar Petrov who seems to step it up here every year. Petrov managed to lead a few laps today which was exciting for him, maybe a little too exciting, “I’m not used to leading” he said, “so I tightened up a bit.” The Bulgarian took home his first piece of silverware this season with a 2 – 6 finish.
HSF Logistics Motorsports’ Brian Bogers was lightning quick all weekend. The Dutchman set the fastest lap of the day in MX2, which was in Race 1 where he led a few laps before crashing. He finished fourth overall with a 5 – 4 result.
If anyone spiced things up, it was Kemea Yamaha MX Official Team’s Benoit Paturel. Like Seewer, Paturel is not really known for his sand skills, but he seems to be heading in the right direction. Paturel went 3 – 7 for fifth overall. He is now only 10 points shy of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass in third.
“I’m so, so pleased I got the GP win here at Lommel. The track was as brutal as ever but the work that myself and the team have been putting in really showed. I knew that if I kept away from mistakes I could get the GP win – and that’s what we managed to do. I knew my speed was good, and I think I showed that in the qualifying race, but crashing as heavily as I did certainly wasn’t part of the plan. The pace was really fast at the start of the opening moto and then when it started raining it really made things tough. Lommel’s soft anyway, but the rain just seemed to make it even softer. I kept pushing and got the win. Moto two was altogether different – the track was still tough but I just kept pushing to get that second win. I feel really good right now. Heading into the remaining GPs I really want to focus on the overall podium.”
“We finally got this podium, but it was a tough day. I felt good all weekend. In the first race I had a good start, pushed really hard and got the lead for two laps; it was great to lead the race but that was also a new experience for me. In the second moto my start was not quite as good, and then I hurt my shoulder; the track was really brutal. In the last few laps I pushed again as Paturel was not far behind me; I knew that if he passed me the podium was gone so I had to push and we manage to get it ! Now I’m focused on the Swiss GP next weekend.”
“I tried not to push too fast at the beginning of the first moto because I knew it would be a tough day. My plan was to make the passes nearer the end because I was feeling really fit and was not using a lot of energy but then the rain started to come and I had to throw my goggles away and I couldn’t make my move or the plan happen. I could still finish fourth and planned to attack in the second moto. I knew Max was behind me in that race and I just tried as hard as I could while in the lead for as long as I could. He made the pass with a couple of laps to go and then I didn’t want to take any more risks, so I just tried to finish. It feels amazing to be on the podium again, especially here in the sand, and it has been a fantastic weekend for the team. A special day.”
“The sand in Lommel is very difficult, but I am happy with this result. We have worked hard this year to improve my fitness and the engine, and I want to thank my trainer Jacky Vimond and all of the mechanics and staff at Kemea Yamaha for their effort and attention this weekend.”
“I raced here in Lommel a couple of times, but it has never been so hard ! We struggled as with so many classes the track was already rough before our first practice session but I did my best on both days. During the qualifying race I crashed twice but got a sixth which was OK for the races; I got the holeshot in the first race and led the race but I never used too much energy as I knew that it would be a long day. I was leading the race but after fifteen minutes I started to have some troubles with the clutch and had to retire. My second start was not so good; I came back to third but Seewer and Anstie were gone.”
“It was a tough weekend for me. I’ve been struggling with some lower back pain for a few weeks and Lommel isn’t a great place to race when you’re having troubles with your back. I taped it up and did the best I could but I had a big crash in the first moto. That put me outside the top 10 and then a second crash put me back even further. I didn’t get a good start in the second moto and just wasn’t able to ride the way I needed to. I’m looking forward to next weekend’s GP and more hard pack conditions.”
“I really had to push hard during my qualifying race on Saturday, and I think ultimately that cost me in the second moto today. I didn’t get a great start in the first moto so I pushed hard to get to 12th. I got the holeshot in the second moto, which was great and I ran in second for about 10 minutes. But then I faded pretty badly. It’s a little disappointing because I was in a great position at the time. But I really gave the GP my all and learned a lot.”
“I know I could do way better if I was fit but it was a tough weekend with a lot of pain. I had to start from gate pick 38 in the first moto because I couldn’t finish on Saturday. I took a bad start but came back from 25th to sixth. Then in the second moto I had no feeling at all in my hand and I had an even worse start. At one point I was ninth but I couldn’t feel my wrist and I had to pull off.”
Pootjes is due to have corrective surgery this week and he confirmed he would then concentrate on getting ready for next season.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), 36:12.881
- Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +0:11.777
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:15.189
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:20.081
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:20.819
- Davy Pootjes (NED, KTM), +0:42.291
- Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:46.331
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +0:52.785
- Michele Cervellin (ITA, Honda), +0:54.990
- Alvin Östlund (SWE, Yamaha), +1:04.456.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), 35:16.537
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:09.198
- Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:16.432
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:17.172
- Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:49.525
- Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +1:04.026
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +1:06.321
- Lars van Berkel (NED, Husqvarna), +1:33.680
- Ivo Monticelli (ITA, KTM), +1:36.713
- Michele Cervellin (ITA, Honda), +1:40.398.
MX2 Overall Top Ten
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 50 points
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 40 p.
- Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 37 p.
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 34 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 34 p.
- Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), 30 p.
- Michele Cervellin (ITA, HON), 23 p.
- Lars van Berkel (NED, HUS), 21 p.
- Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 20 p.
- Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 19 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 597 points
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 510 p.
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 403 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 393 p.
- Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 378 p.
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 366 p.
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 320 p.
- Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 319 p.
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 294 p.
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 280 p.
- KTM, 660 points
- Kawasaki, 527 p.
- Suzuki, 510 p.
- Yamaha, 484 p.
- Husqvarna, 456 p.
- TM, 294 p.
- Honda, 264 p.