Cairoli and Anstie weather Belgian storm at Lommel

Cairoli and Anstie weather Belgian storm at Lommel
Cairoli and Anstie weather Belgian storm at Lommel

Just when you thought the championship couldn’t get any crazier. It did. Rubber stamping the fact that in motocross anything can happen, MXGP of Belgium, round fifteen of the FIM Motocross World Championship in the fathomless sand of Lommel resulted in the perfect storm for BikeIT Yamaha Cosworth’s MX2 star Max Anstie as he claimed his first ever MX2 race and Grand Prix victory, and an actual storm for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli as he pressed on, despite the ominous dark clouds morphing into a full blown thunderstorm which drenched the circuit half way through the final race of the day, for his ninth round victory of the year.

MXGP

Recognized for his unique technique and mastered sandcraft, all bets were on Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli today, which turned out to be as safe as expected. Although the Italian said the track was a lot choppier and less rollier than normal, it didn’t slow him down any as he eased his way to his sixth double victory of the season. TC222 said in the press conference, “I want to say it’s nice to win my 72nd Grand Prix in the land of the best rider, number 72 Stefan Everts”

While a lot of random stuff was happening today, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ken De Dycker’s 4 – 2 result for second overall takes the cake as the most random. It’s no secret the big Belgian has been struggling all season long with an injury that hasn’t healed well, he has made the decision to sit out the last two rounds of the championship. With today’s round of racing being his final round of the FIM Motocross World Championship this year, the KTM rider couldn’t ask for a better way to end what has been a season to forget. “I didn’t expect this, I expected maybe a top five or like six or something so this is amazing. I have had a problem with my wrist the whole year but I kept fighting and kept training and it finally paid off,” De Dycker said.

Meanwhile it was expected to see Hitachi Construction Machinery UK KTM’s Shaun Simpson on the box as he’s proven to be quite the sand specialist over the years. Today Simpson threw together a 3 – 3 result for third overall but also made himself one of the most talked about as he was one of only a few riders to consistently jump the quad into the rhythm section. “It was nice to show today that Lierop last year wasn’t a fluke and I can ride the sand well, and it was nice in the second race to follow Tony for a few laps because he is riding great in the sand every time.”

The first rider to impressively bust out the quad card during the race was Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin. No one would have guessed the extremely fluid and flamboyant Frenchman has missed seven of the last nine rounds of the MXGP championship as he chased down and caught the seven-time world champion in race one relatively easily, given his circumstances. While time ran out for Paulin to make a move on Cairoli for the lead, he managed to take second in race one which he backed up with a fourth in race two leaving himself, Simpson and De Dycker all tied on forty points. Due to the overall result being decided based on the best finish in the final race, Paulin was forced to settle for fourth.

Rounding out the top five, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos couldn’t find his flow today. While he tried to push the issue and charge forward, things weren’t working out for the Belgian which saw him back off and take home some solid championship points.

Dean Ferris carded 9th and 7th place finshed for seventh overall –  “On Saturday I felt very sick but I managed to pull through. My starts were strong and in the first race I enjoyed a good battle with Tyla for most of the race. Race two was better. I was seventh and closing in on the guys fighting for fourth. My laps times were faster and I felt like I could get it. But then things turned crazy with the rain and lightning. I had to ditch my goggles – after that it was a matter of survival. Overall these four European races with the team have been a fantastic experience. They’ve been awesome and despite being a replacement rider they gave 100 per cent effort to my results. I’m grateful to the opportunity they gave me.”

MXGP Race 1 top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:22.254; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:03.902; 3. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:04.930; 4. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:16.506; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:21.324; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:26.489; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:45.874; 8. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Husqvarna), +0:47.105; 9. Dean Ferris (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:48.268; 10. Marc de Reuver (NED, Honda), +1:06.632.

MXGP Race 2 top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:46.942; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:08.481; 3. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:19.123; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:25.772; 5. Marc de Reuver (NED, Honda), +0:32.921; 6. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:35.867; 7. Dean Ferris (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:40.127; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:46.294; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +1:01.185; 10. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Husqvarna), +1:08.384.

MXGP Overall top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 40 p.; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 40 p.; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 29 p.; 6. Marc de Reuver (NED, HON), 27 p.; 7. Dean Ferris (AUS, HUS), 26 p.; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 26 p.; 9. Tyla Rattray (RSA, HUS), 24 p.; 10. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 23 p.

MXGP World Championship Classification Top Ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 669 points; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 588 p.; 3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 498 p.; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 484 p.; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 365 p.; 6. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 356 p.; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 307 p.; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 275 p.; 9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 245 p.; 10. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 234 p.

MXGP Manufacturer: 1. KTM, 669 points; 2. Suzuki, 616 p.; 3. Yamaha, 592 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 550 p.; 5. Honda, 457 p.; 6. Husqvarna, 307 p.; 7. TM, 286 p.

MX2

Everything that could go wrong in one season has for BikeIT Yamaha Cosworth’s Max Anstie as he has been up against the eight ball all season long as his team continues to develop his bike. Heading into every race the question that surrounds Max is never over his ability, but rather his bike and will it last entire duration of a race. While it was a little touch’n’go in both moto’s with the Brit not going out for either sighting laps due to problems with the bike, it miraculously fired up at the last minute on both occasions and withstood the demands of what is known as the toughest track in the world, rewarding him with his first ever MX2 race and Grand Prix win. The charismatic young Brit went on to say, “Before the second race I was thinking this is what I live for right here, I was nervous but we got it done. It was a very difficult race; this track is obviously the most difficult, for the bike and physically. But we did it and I am over the moon!”

Again plaudits to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jordi Tixier who once again stepped up to the plate. Despite not being one of the favorites to win in the sand, Tixier silenced his critics for the second Grand Prix in a row with a convincing victory in race two which he added to his third from race one for second overall. “This Grand Prix was really good for me, already yesterday I had a really good feeling on the track so it was good for me.”

CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Dylan Ferrandis raised the second French flag on the podium with his second place in race one and third in race two for third overall. While the Frenchman admitted he had considered not racing today because he woke up with a lot of shoulder pain after crashing hard on the second turn in the qualifying heat yesterday, the youngster gritted his teeth and got on with the job at hand to land his third podium finish of the season.

Three out of four is not bad for the French with Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre being the third Frenchman to finish inside the top four. Despite chucking in a couple of hard charges in both moto’s, Febvre didn’t have any answers for the top three today meaning he would have to leave Lommel today content with fourth.

It’s one for the ‘experience bank’ for Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser as he put in a pretty respectable ride given he’s a rookie and gnarlieness Lommel takes motocross racing to the extreme, the youngster did a pretty good job logging his fifth top five finish of the season.

As for Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Glenn Coldenhoff, the Dutchman admitted he wasn’t quite ready to come back this weekend. Nevertheless he managed to come away with seventh overall.

MX2 Race 1 top ten: 1. Max Anstie (GBR, Yamaha), 34:00.529; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:16.077; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:17.169; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:31.690; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:54.482; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:56.421; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +1:01.447; 8. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +1:06.292; 9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +1:15.713; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:20.785.

MX2 Race 2 top ten: 1. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 35:28.225; 2. Max Anstie (GBR, Yamaha), +0:12.447; 3. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:20.711; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:28.187; 5. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:40.276; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:47.124; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:50.563; 8. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +1:12.744; 9. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), +1:20.275; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +1:22.513.

MX2 Overall top ten: 1. Max Anstie (GBR, YAM), 47 points; 2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 45 p.; 3. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 42 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 36 p.; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 28 p.; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 28 p.; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 26 p.; 8. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 25 p.; 9. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 25 p.; 10. Petar Petrov (BUL, YAM), 22 p.

MX2 World Championship Classification Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 594 points; 2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 537 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 489 p.; 4. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 467 p.; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 448 p.; 6. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 389 p.; 7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 379 p.; 8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 363 p.; 9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 337 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 301 p.

MX2 Manufacturer: 1. KTM, 714 points; 2. Kawasaki, 572 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 505 p.; 4. Honda, 458 p.; 5. Yamaha, 436 p.; 6. Suzuki, 433 p.; 7. TM, 6 p.

Husqvarna Report 

With the MXGP of Belgium marking the final European stop in the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship there were some solid performances from Husqvarna Motorcycles.

Delivering the best result for the brand, Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre claimed a promising fourth overall in the MX2 category. With the sandy tracks of Lommel regarded as one of the toughest of the series, Febvre again put himself to the forefront of the MX2 class. Second in Saturday’s qualification Febvre placed fourth in race one. Repeating his result for the second race, the Frenchman ended his weekend fourth overall

For teammate Aleksandr Tonkov the weekend didn’t pan out quite like he hoped. Showing some great pace in qualification and starting well in both races, Tonkov placed seventh in both races.

In the MXGP class, both Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Dean Ferris and Tyla Rattray carded top ten results in difficult conditions. With Lommel marking the end of Ferris’ replacement rider stint with the team, the Australian gave his best effort to end it on a high. Pushing hard in both races, he improved from ninth in race one to seventh in race two to finish seventh overall.

Back in competitive action Rattray jumped straight into the thick of it in Lommel. Eighth in race one, the South African struggled to repeat his result in the thunderstorm-affected race two and placed 10th for ninth overall.

Romain Febvre: “I’m happy with my performance this weekend. Finishing second in qualification was a big help. I got two good starts and was able to run a strong pace. I really wanted to put two strong rides together and I felt I did that this weekend. Of course I wanted to make the podium but I was consistent and scored more important points for the championship.”

Aleksandr Tonkov: “What can I say – it’s been an ok result for me. Both of my starts were good but I lost a few places on the first lap of each race and had to fight my way back from that.”

Dean Ferris: “On Saturday I felt very sick but I managed to pull through. My starts were strong and in the first race I enjoyed a good battle with Tyla for most of the race. Race two was better. I was seventh and closing in on the guys fighting for fourth. My laps times were faster and I felt like I could get it. But then things turned crazy with the rain and lightning. I had to ditch my goggles – after that it was a matter of survival. Overall these four European races with the team have been a fantastic experience. They’ve been awesome and despite being a replacement rider they gave 100 per cent effort to my results. I’m grateful to the opportunity they gave me.”

Tyla Rattray: “Returning back to the MXGP at Lommel was always going to be tough – this track is brutal. I’ve only rode my bike about four times prior to this race so it was hard to match the top guys but I gave it a good shot. I’m happy to have got this race out of the way and will work hard for the next few weeks to be ready for the final rounds of the series.”

Kawasaki Report

Gautier Paulin of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team was joint second highest-points scorer in the Belgian round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship at Lommel.

The Frenchman had only returned to racing from injury the previous weekend but showed his resilience as he battled for the podium all day. He charged onto the rear wheel of the leader from outside the top ten on the opening lap of racing in the first moto to finish second and was riding confidently again in race two as he advanced from an initial seventh to challenge for fourth place until the heavens opened and a heavy rain engulfed the track. After initially losing a place to teammate Steven Frossard, Gautier regrouped to finish fourth but unfortunately the riders who had finished directly behind him in race one were the same ones who held down the placings ahead of him in race two and all three tied on points. Riders who score the same number of points over the two races at a motocross GP are classified in the overall GP classification on the basis of their result in the second moto so, although Gautier scored the same number of world championship points, he missed out on a visit to the podium on the tie-break. Despite missing seven GPs earlier in the year because of injury Gautier has now confirmed eighth place in the championship standings and has every chance to snatch seventh place in the final two GPs next month.

Steve Frossard is not generally considered to be a sand expert but he was riding comfortably in eight position in the opening race until he landed too short over a jump; in great pain he battled on bravely to finish thirteenth and, after a two hour break, showed excellent form in race two as he charged up the leaderboard from an initial tenth to hold fourth place before heavy rainfall in the closing laps of the race made visibility very difficult and forced Steven to lose two places for a sixth placed finish. He now holds down sixth place in the championship standings, just nine points behind the rider in fifth, with two GPs remaining.

Gautier Paulin: “I’m happy with my performance this weekend, but unhappy to miss the podium as there were three of us tied with the same number of points, from second to fourth overall! It is just three months since I got injured and I have worked hard to get these results. My first start was not very good, and when I came through to second behind Cairoli he found another rhythm; we did four very fast laps, but then I decided to keep some energy for the second race. We had some heavy rain in the last ten minutes, and I finished fourth. Now I will go back home to prepare the last two GPs and the Motocross of Nations.”

Steven Frossard: “ I was in the top eight of the first race when I came short up on a jump, and when I landed I had pain everywhere in my body so the goal was just to finish the race and salvage some points. The second race was much better; my start was not really good but I recovered to fourth, but when the rain came I lost two positions as I couldn’t see the track very well. Lommel was nice to ride this year; they did a very good job to keep the track safe even though so many classes were racing all weekend.”

Dylan Ferrandis put his CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy on the podium at the Belgian round of the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship at the sandy Lommel track.

The French youngster set second fastest lap time in the practice sessions, but his hopes of success in the qualifying race for start positions were ruined when he crashed on the opening lap of the race and faced a long hard ride through the pack to earn ninth choice of gate. When he awoke the following morning he discovered that his right shoulder had seized up overnight, but after treatment he was able to start the GP motos and once again showed good speed. He quickly moved up the leaderboard in the opening race but the leader had already made good his escape and he had to settle for second place. Dylan was soon embroiled in a three-way battle for second place in race two and was holding down third when a small mistake cost him more than ten seconds; recovering strongly he regained third position by the end of the race to secure his podium finish and consolidate his fourth place in the championship standings; with two GPs remaining in September he trails third in the series by 22 points.

Thomas Covington had rested since the previous weekend’s Czech GP after medical diagnosis had established that his body was showing signs of fatigue from over-training. He showed the benefit of the rest by posting ninth fastest lap during practice, but racing was still more difficult and, after finishing sixteenth in qualification, he finished sixteenth and eighteenth in the two races and now holds down eighteenth place in the championship standings.

Tommy Searle, still handicapped by a thumb injury, decided not to compete in the Belgian GP after a test session at another sand track in the area.

Dylan Ferrandis: “Saturday was a mixed day for me, as I posted fast laps in the practice session but crashed after the start of the qualifying race when I was in second position. I hurt my shoulder, and on Sunday morning when I woke up I couldn’t move my right shoulder. We worked with Bruno Losito and the medical staff to find a solution so I could race the GP. My first start was not so bad, but when I recovered to second place the leader was out of sight. The second start was similar and I was fighting with Febvre and Anstie for second place until I lost time in a small crash; that put me back to fourth, but I could pass Febvre again to finish third and gain my third podium of the season.”

Thomas Covington: “I have been struggling a little bit with my health in recent weeks due to overtraining so this week I took some rest time and didn’t train on the bike. I came here and had a really good qualifying time but the races were different. My goal was to finish the races and that’s what I did, scoring points in both races; the track in Lommel didn’t surprise me so much it was just as tough as I expected it would be. Now I will go back home to prepare the last two GPs; I think that the tracks in South America will suits more my style.”

Bud Racing Kawasaki Monster Energy youngsters Sulivan Jaulin and Jorge Zaragoza battled hard in difficult conditions at the final round of the European MX250 Motocross Championship.

Both riders posted top eight times during the qualification session in the deep sand of the Lommel track in the north-eastern corner of Belgium but found conditions more difficult in racing.

Jaulin, who still retained a slight mathematical chance of the title prior to racing, was racing in such rugged sandy conditions for the first time in his career and soon discovered the difficulties encountered by strangers to this terrain. After starting tenth he was unable to retain the position and gradually dropped downfield to cross the finishing line eighteenth. Track conditions were even more rugged for race two and, after holding eighteenth position for several laps he decided to retire rather than risk injury.

It was Zaragoza first race since injuring a shoulder two months ago and the lack of race time showed when he was unable to control the bike on landing off a jump during the first moto. He managed to finish the second race eleventh after battling for a top ten finish throughout.

Jaulin, who had joined Bud Racing after the first round, was classified seventh in the final championship standings, while Zaragoza, who missed three of the seven rounds through injury, ended the series in thirteenth position.

Sulivan Jaulin: “It was the first time in my career that I raced here in Lommel, and it’s definitively very different than the sand we can find on other tracks where we practised during the last couple of weeks. I was able to post a fast lap in qualification, but then handling the bike during the race is another story. On Saturday I scored a few points with an eighteenth position, but today the track was even rougher and I retired as I couldn’t control the bike. But it was a good experience and for sure it will help me in the future.”

Jorge Zaragoza: “It was my first race after my injury, and I had a top ten result in the timed practice session. Then I was eleventh in the first moto, but when I landed after a jump I did not enough power in my shoulder and crashed. The second race was better; I was again in the top ten at the start and finished eleventh, which is not so bad on this track as I hadn’t ridden for nearly two months.”

Team HRC Report

The MXGP of Belgium started in the best way for Team HRC as Max Nagl took the holeshot in race one, leading through the first corner after another blinding start.

After yesterday’s busy track schedule, Lommel had become characteristically rough by the first race today, and as Nagl predicted after qualifying it became a test of physical endurance. The order of the top ten was shuffled regularly, and although the lead trio broke away from the pack battles were waged further down the order and, fighting hard, Max came home a respectable sixth.

Max’s start in the second race was not quite as strong and the No.12 rider found himself lying in fourteenth, in the melee of the pack. He fought up to twelfth, but as the deep sand became rougher still, so too did the physical challenge. Holding out as long as he could, unfortunately Max was forced to retire on lap eight suffering symptoms similar to last year when a virus befell him mid-season.

Choosing to pull out of a Grand Prix is very uncharacteristic of Max, so indicates the potential brevity of the situation. Consequently, he will visit specialists next week to assess his condition, and an update will be provided once available. There is now a break in the calendar until the GP of the State of Goias at the start of September.

Max was due to ride the new Honda CRF model range in Malpensa this coming week but this situation has unfortunately overshadowed that, although fellow HRC rider Tim Gajser will be present to experience the new MXGP-derived CRF250R and CRF450R machines alongside leading European journalists.

Max Nagl   6th   20th   12th overall – “Yesterday was already really hard in terms of getting the bike set up for the deep sand conditions. Normally I really enjoy riding the sand but this time was very difficult. I had a good start in the first heat with the holeshot and I was happy because Saturday felt much worse. My start was not great in the second moto and I don’t know what happened then; I had so much pain in my legs and across my body and I could not hold the bike any more. I tried doing one lap very slowly to try and recover but I didn’t get any better. I tried to push but lost grip of the handlebars three times. There is nothing you can do when your body is so tired. I will go this week to a specialist place in Germany where I can make some analysis because the situation today was not normal. This track is heavy but when you are an athlete you shoul d not need to pull out. We are all training hard and well so we need to check what is wrong.”

Keisuke Inomoto   Team HRC Team Principal – “In the first moto today Max had a very good start and took another holeshot so it was looking good, but then in the second race it was clear something was wrong with his condition and that he was struggling. It’s not like Max to pull out of a race so we must now look at his condition with the specialists and see what happens next. Meanwhile we are preparing more improvements to the bike in the next month without any Grands Prix so we keep pushing hard for Brazil and Mexico to finish the season strongly.” 

Roger Harvey   HRC General Manager – MXGP – “The first race started well but then you could see that Max wasn’t going forward as you’d expect him to in the sand, and immediately after he didn’t look like he’d weathered the race well. Yes he’s missed time on the bike through injury this year, but Max is not a quitter, and he will not quit a Grand Prix unless there is something wrong. He doesn’t pull out of races unless something is broken, he knows that, so for him to do that today shows that he has a problem. The symptoms are the same as he experienced last year, so this week he will go to see specialists in Germany to get their analysis.”

Yamaha Report

One week after his milestone victory at the Grand Prix of Czech Republic Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek battled through some tough circumstances to capture eighth position at Lommel, Belgium today for his home round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.

The fifteenth meeting of seventeen was played out on the treacherous sand of Lommel and in some difficult conditions with high temperatures and humidity covering the weekend and a torrential rainstorm flooding the closing stages of the second MXGP moto.

Van Horebeek made a steady start to the first moto by gliding his way into the top five and then pushing to gain third. The Belgian then concentrated on his lines until threatened by Shaun Simpson. While attempting to retaliate he landed heavily from the quad jump and the impact of hitting the bars caused his goggles to cut his left eye and knocked his head. ‘Jere’ continued until the end of the race but slowed to make the finish and eventually reached the flag with seventh position.

Despite the adversity Van Horebeek sought treatment and recuperated in the break and turned out again for the start of the second moto. ‘Damage limitation’ and a steady approach yielded decent points with ninth place and ‘89’ moved closer to confirming his position as runner-up in the 2014 MXGP championship thanks to a 90 point lead over Kevin Strijbos and a maximum of 100 left to win this season.

Bike it Yamaha Cosworth’s Rui Gonçalves was competing around a circuit that he knows like the back of his hand. The Portuguese managed tenth position in the qualification heat on Saturday and circulated just inside the top twenty to score fifteenth in the first moto. A problem with a back muscle meant he could not reach his usual level of performance, although he did ride to eleventh place in the second moto for eleventh overall.

DP19 Yamaha Racing’s David Philippaerts completed some laps on Saturday despite a broken bone in his left foot. The Italian wanted to evaluate his condition and see if it was possible to score some points on his YZ450F but decided that the bumps and hard landings from some of the jumps were just too much for his injury, sustained just seven days previously in the Czech Republic. The 2008 world champion was running a special livery in dedication to late former mentor and champion Georges Jobe. DP sat out the races on Sunday but expects to be back to fitness in two weeks and ready for the remainder of the season.

Yamaha’s Grand Prix collective can breathe easy over the next few weeks with a sizeable break in the schedule. Race action will not start again until the first weekend of September with the State of Goias event (Brazil) directly followed by the second ever Grand Prix of Mexico at Leon.

Jeremy Van Horebeek “It doesn’t matter. Maybe I made a rookie mistake. I felt good in the first moto and my pace was pretty good. I thought second place was possible but then Simpson and Paulin started to jump the quad and I looked at it and believed it was quite easy, so I went for it also. Yeah…it was further than I thought! I cased it quite badly and smashed my face on the handlebar. My eye was bleeding a lot and I wasn’t feeling so well. I wasn’t sure about the second moto but we are racers, not football players so I went for it. I had an awesome start but I started bleeding again and it was running into the goggles so I had to dump them, it was ‘game over’ then. A shame but I’m having an awesome season and we are close to second in the championship.”

David Philippaerts “I knew it would be very hard for me here but this was an important GP for me and the team so I wanted to try at least. The big holes and the landings from some of the jumps were hard for me to deal with and I know I would have to take too many risks for maybe just one or two points. It was senseless to risk another crash. I should be in good shape after a couple of weeks and ready to go for Brazil and Mexico.”

Rui Gonçalves “I’m a bit disappointed because I was looking for better results. Today I don’t know what happened with my back but on the first lap of the first moto I pulled a muscle or something and it was just locked. I could stand up or sit down properly and was struggling. I worked with the physio between motos and it helped but it was not how it should be. We worked hard this weekend and it a shame I couldn’t do better. We just have to look forward now to the last two rounds for good points there. My first priority is to fix my back and will check with my doctor tomorrow. Thanks to the team and the mechanics for all they have done.”

The 2014 Grand Prix of Belgium in the hot sand of Lommel represented a milestone in the career of Bike it Yamaha Cosworth’s Max Anstie with a first career victory in the MX2 category and a first for the new YZ250F since the 2014 model reworked one of the defining models of the racing class.

Twenty-one thousand spectators at the fifteenth round of seventeen in the FIM Motocross World Championship saw the young and talented Briton ride to first and second positions through the technical sand and post a remarkable success for the UK squad who have been buried deep into a development programme this season. Anstie’s triumph was the first of a set of notable results for Yamaha technology in Belgium. Nick Kouwenberg used his YZ250F to win the second race of the EMX250 European Championship while Sweden’s Alvin Ostlund dominated the last fixture in the EMX125 series with the able YZ125 two-stroke.

It was Anstie who made headlines after a difficult 2014 term. The Yamaha man signalled his intentions on Saturday with a determined first Pole Position and then survived moments of drama such as the late starting of his racebike in the gate for the first moto and crashing while fighting for the lead in the second outing. The Lommel sand was typically tough and draining and was the usual hard test for both the athlete and the motorcycle. It was an acute stage of demands for the performance and reliability of Yamaha’s machinery and the bikes shone in more than one division.

In the final round of seven in the EMX125 European Championship Alvin Ostlund was ruthless. The Swedish ace claimed both motos on his YZ125 and finished a strong runner-up in the series. David Herbreteau was fourth in the standings for a pair of two-stroke YZ125s in the top five while Kemea Yamaha’s Cyril Genot posted a season-best at Lommel and was fourth overall, just one point shy of the podium.

Lommel was also the last chapter for EMX250. The competition represents the final stepping stone to Grand Prix in the European Championship ‘pyramid’ and Dutchman Nick Kouwenberg was irrepressible on the YZ250F in the second moto to take his second chequered flag of the year.

Back in MX2 and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Christophe Charlier had a difficult day in the sand. An early fall in the first moto meant he was far behind the pack and had to push for the entire race duration to arrive to seventeenth spot and bag four points. In the second race he again hit the floor. He was twentieth overall and had to write-off the Grand Prix as simply ‘one to forget’.

Kemea Yamaha’s Petar Petrov was sceptical of his possibilities at Lommel. The Bulgarian came into the race doubting his fitness after separating his shoulder less than two weeks beforehand and having sat out the previous round in the Czech Republic. Petrov came through the Saturday qualification heat and then rode to a brave eleventh place in the first moto, complaining of a lack of strength in his joint but still producing the speed around the circuit that he describes as his ‘local track’. In the second moto he managed to break into the top ten and was ninth, just in front of Glenn Coldenhoff.

The Grand Prix of Belgium was the last major international motocross fixture in Europe. The final two events of the FIM MXGP term will take place in South America on the first two weekends of September

Max Anstie – “We didn’t make things easy for ourselves but everyone has worked so hard. From where we started at the beginning of the year the thoughts going through my head today were ‘I have to finish the job I started in Qatar with the ’13 YZ250F’. I said to the guys in Czech Republic that if we had a good Saturday here then we would put ourselves in the position for a good finish and we did that. It is amazing to see the effort that has been put in, and this is the day that we lived for. Before that second race I was thinking ‘this is what I am here for’ and I was nervous..but we got it done. It was a very difficult race and this track is obviously the hardest both on the bike and also physically of the year. I’m over-the-moon but I don’t think it has really hit me yet.”

Christophe Charlier – “I’m not sure what to say; the whole weekend hasn’t been a good one and from my crash on Saturday I just did not have a good feeling in this sand. The results were not good and the riding also. Too many mistakes and I just have to look ahead.”

Petar Petrov – “Looking at the fact all the doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to race here I’m quite satisfied. This isn’t the result I was looking for but with the injury I’m happy I could finish both races and finish tenth overall. Now I have some time to heal up and I hope to be 100% for Brazil and Mexico. I really want to thank Yves Demeulemeester and Dr Claes for their help. They helped me a lot to get me on the bike this weekend and I’m really thankful for that.”

Nick Kouwenberg – “At least I could save my weekend with the second race… On Saturday things were going well and I was riding in third place when I got some issues and fell back to seventh place. On Sunday I was at the front from start to finish and rode a good race. In the end I’m missing just one point for the podium and that was my goal. So I can’t say I’m happy of my weekend. I had hoped for more but I can’t thank the team enough for supporting me.”