Feared by many and adored by some, the endless sand of Belgium's Lommel circuit hosted round 14 of the FIM World Motocross Championship this weekend as the gate dropped on the MXGP of Flanders.
With the final round of the championship in Oman postponed until 2023, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser’s hunt for his fifth World Champion’s crown grows even closer. Gajser stated the weekend with a 125 point advantage in the championship and was hoping to extend his lead in Belgium.
In race one the Slovenian got off to a good start and quickly pushed into second place on lap one, but dropped to fourth by the end of the lap and dropped further positions on lap two to fall into sixth. Struggling to find a rhythm a lap 13 crash pushed Gajser further to seventh where he finished the race.
Despite a fantastic initial showing in Saturday’s qualifying race, Whilst holding third place Tim’s teammate Mitch Evans crashed hard on lap nine and took a big hit to the body. Sore from Saturday’s crash he started race one today and progressed well from 21st on lap one to 13th on lap six, but dropped to 19th by lap nine and was forced to pull out. Mitch didn’t start race two.
Team JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi had a good first race today. The German sat in 10th place for the first half of the race and eventually finished in 11th. A good result for CRF450R racer.
The ever-competitive MX2 class saw some fast racing today and Shiptocycle Honda SR Motoblouz’s Stephen Rubini didn’t make it easy for himself in race one. The Frenchman began lap one down in 18th place and battled hard throughout the moto to eventually come home in 9th. A decent result for a rider more accustomed to hillside hard-packed tracks.
The gate dropped for MXGP race two and Gajser was looking to improve on his race one result. He rounded lap one in fourth place, but again struggled to find his natural flow in the treacherous sand. With the championship overall at stake the pragmatic approach was to settle for a good points score and retain the championship lead. Tim finished race two in seventh and leaves Lommel with a 122 point advantage in the MXGP class with four rounds to go.
Although Henry Jacobi started mid-pack in moto two, he pushed hard throughout the race. He occasionally dropped positions, only to regain them and eventually finished the race in ninth overall. An improvement over race one. Jacobi finished the day in 10th overall. A good result for the German.
Stephen Rubini suffered from a poor start in race two. He rounded lap one in 12th place and struggled to settle into a rhythm. Rubini tried hard to make progress, but the punishing sand, heat and humidity tool a big toll on the Frenchman. He finished the race 14th, which gave him 10th overall and amazingly just 13 points away from a podium finish.
Round 15 of 18 visits the hard-packed and undulating Swedish circuit of Uddevalla in two week's time.