The weather was really nice today in Lichtenvoorde (Benelux), for the qualification of the sixth round of the championship. Under perfect conditions, the well-prepared track offered some good racing during the MX2 qualifying heats, a gripping MX1 session and with good weather forecast the GP could be exciting tomorrow as four different brands headed the MX1 class.
Most of the riders enjoyed the design of the track, even if the sand usually gives some riders a hard time… With a couple of spectacular jumps in the sand pit, a whoops section in the woods and some fast banked corners, the track offered many possibilities and options for the riders, even if the sand is not as deep as expected.
The MX1 time practiced session started without the winner of the last Grand Prix. Brian Jorgensen crashed in the first free practice and dislocated his shoulder! Qualification was more open than during the previous GP’s and the last minutes were particularly exciting. Everts was leading most of the period but Joël Smets improved his lap time and captured his first pole position of the season aboard his new 450 Suzuki! “Everybody knows that I’m not such a pole position addict, but I will not say that I’m not happy with my result today. It doesn’t mean so much to me, but it’s a sign and that’s good for the team. I felt more comfortable on the bike, even if I was not so happy with my riding in the first part of the session. I had to change my lines later, and I finally was really happy with my two last laps,” said Smets during the post-session press conference. Surprising Mickael Pichon who couldn’t train during the week finally took second spot, a half second from the pole. “I was not expecting a so good result, as ten days ago I was not sure to race here due to my shoulder injury. Finally I had less pain than this week and with a good pick up at the gate I will have more ambitions for the races; my plan was a top ten result, but I think that I can reach a top five,” confirmed Pichon. Everts, who didn’t improved his previous time, finished third, followed by Steve Ramon and Cedric Melotte. Cedric crashed pretty hard during the session, but will be fit for the race. For the first time this season a two-stroke obtained a top six result, thanks to Estonian Tanel Leok on his 250 Motovision Suzuki!
The first MX2 qualifying race saw local wildcard Rob Van Vijfeyken taking the holeshot but he was promptly passed by Ben Townley. Ben led the entire race and was never troubled, although behind him the race was intense for the second spot between Spaniard Jonathan Barragan and Italian Antonio Cairoli, both surprisingly fast on this sandy track. Alessio Chiodi was involved in a collective crash off a jump and was unable to race, Claudio Federici retired as his leg was struck by one of the bikes!
Andrew McFarlane got the holeshot in the second heat and led the race for one lap. After a disappointing beginning of season Belgium’s Patrick Caps, fourth two weeks ago in Germany, took the lead on the second lap and won quite easily. Crashing in the second corner with World Championship leader Stephen Sword, Tyla Rattray came back to third and Sword was fifth just behind his teammate Mickael Maschio. Both Alessio Chiodi and Claudio Federici qualified in the Last Chance practice and will have tough races with a bad position on the line.
Tomorrow the MX2 races are scheduled at 12.05 and 15.05, and the MX1 at 13.05 and 16.05.
For more info and results check the official web site of the FIM Motocross World Championships: www.motocrossMX1.com
Photo (C) Alex Hodkinson