Photo: KTM Images – Words by: MXLarge

Several riders stood out last weekend at the Grand Prix of Belgium, and while Tommy Searle and Antonio Cairoli dominated their classes, it was riders like Clement Desalle, Jeffrey Herlings, Jeremy Van Horebeek and Christophe Pourcel who also showed impressive speed. Here are the rider comments from yesterdays action.

Tommy Searle: “My Kawasaki got me out of the gate first in both motos today and that is really important in my battles with Herlings. I was a little too cautious on the first lap of the first race but the track was really tricky and I didn’t want to take any risks. I knew I was the fastest and I soon caught him up again, but we were both using the same lines so I had to search for new ones but they were not so good; I nearly crashed and lost a lot of time, but I knew I could still win the GP on the second moto. The track was better in the second race and I just concentrated on keeping him off my rear wheel. The points gap is still 24 points, but we are only halfway through the series and I have again proved that I am the fastest.”

Tony Cairoli: “On Saturday the track was not so good because of the rain but this morning it was nice and there was a lot of grip. We had many different lines for both races and in the first I managed to pull away and control the race. My start in the second was not so good but I wanted to win here so I just put my head down and did my best to make it happen.”

Jeffrey Herlings: “I know the tracks coming up suit me better. There is Sweden and Latvia and Lierop and it will be sandy in Russia so four of the eight tracks coming up will be good for me. Today in the second race I just couldn’t stay with Tommy and I couldn’t find my rhythm. Tracks like this are my weak points but I am very confident about the ones coming up.

Clement Desalle: “I always try to win the Grand Prix so for that I’m a little disappointed but it was good to get a result at this place. The crowd was great to me and I don’t think I have ever felt such strong support. Antonio was just a bit too fast for us today but I tried my best. I have to say big congratulations to the organisers because they had bad luck with the weather but they did great work on the track and there were more places for overtaking and some nice lines.”

Ken De Dycker: “My start in the first moto was pretty good. Unfortunately Bobryshev sled off and his front wheel got stuck behind my rear wheel and the mud guard. I couldn’t go anywhere! When I got going again I had lost quite a lot of time, still I was able recover quickly. I suffered a second (small) spill, while this one didn’t cost me a lot of time it was energy-sapping nonetheless. All in all I’m happy with my riding in both motos. Only in the middle of the second moto I made a couple of mistakes. Without those I might have finished even a little better. What bums me most is that I couldn’t translate my good shape into points gain for the championship. That was disappointining. As far as the track goes I have to say they have done a great job creating a versatile circuit; ruts, bumps, harder and softer sections… Everything was there!”

Christophe Pourcel: “I didn’t choose the best position on the grid in the first race, and my start was not so good; I came back to fourth, but lost time when I crashed as a lapper destroyed a rut just when I was coming! I got the holeshot in the second race and battled first with Bobryshev and later with Desalle. We passed each other several times, but it was costing all of us time and allowed Cairoli to catch us. But I got another podium and that’s important for the series.”

Gautier Paulin: “I had a good feeling in the first race, and when I was second I controlled my race and was able to increase my pace when Desalle came to third; my last lap was my fastest of the race. My second start was not so good, and then I made a couple of mistakes and crashed; I didn’t feel so comfortable so I didn’t want to take any risks.”

Xavier Boog: “My starts were not so good this weekend, and in both races I had to come through the field. I was happy with my riding in the first moto as I finished sixth, very close to Christophe, but I had a small crash in the second race and that cost me several places; I’m not so far from the fifth position in the standings, but I can’t afford any more bad starts.”

Sébastien Pourcel: “I’m happy as I have now finished the last six races in the top thirteen, and, if I hadn’t crashed in the second race, it could have been even better today. I had a good start in the first moto and soon found a good rhythm, then in the second I was fighting with Gonçalves when I crashed in the waves after the finish line; I got back on in sixteenth place and recovered to eleventh. Despite the crash it was my second best GP of the year.”

Joel Roelants: “ I’m still not 100%, but this weekend I felt better than in France and Portugal and I think that in Sweden it will be OK. Here in Belgium my starts were not so good; I lost several positions at the first corner but then fought hard for fourth and fifth place, so that’s not so bad.”

Dylan Ferrandis: “On Saturday I had a good feeling with the track, and only needed a few laps to get the second position in the timed practice session. The track was very good today, but in the first race I made a small mistake when I was seventh and another rider hit me; I stalled the engine stalled and lost too much time to restart. My second start was not so good, but I fought back to seventh; my wrist was painful again, so I will rest for a few days but we have two weeks before the next GP so I hope for a good race in Sweden.”

Tanel Leok: “My riding was good today so I am happy for that. I didn’t have the best start in the first moto and then just couldn’t avoid the guys that had fallen in front of me in the first corner. I was just stuck there as everybody else took off. To come back to ninth from back there was pretty decent. In the second race I started OK but wasn’t too fast in getting a rhythm going. I then lost a bit of time behind Davide Guarneri. Once I got through I had a small crash and that cost me. They did a good job with the track but it wasn’t that easy to pass in places because the lines were the same speed.”

Kevin Strijbos: “The first race was OK. I got a good start and I was riding second following Tony (Cairoli) for the first three laps. Then I got a little bit of arm-pump and I got a little bit stressed and that is why Paulin and Desalle passed me. It was actually a pity because I felt that I had the speed. In the second race I again had a good start, I focused on the riders in front of me and then I tried not to think about arm-pump. I could push really hard and I passed Bobryshev and then I closed the gap again with Desalle and Pourcel. At that moment Pourcel was a bit faster, so it was difficult to catch him. On the last lap I tried to pass Desalle again but it was too difficult. Overall I’m really happy because this result is good for the points. I want to thank the team for everything the do for me, I’m really happy with them.”

Evgeny Bobryshev: “The weather had improved a lot since yesterday, but this kind of track is almost like old school with the mud, stones and so on. I had a really bad night sleeping with the noise from the camping area, but anyway the first race went wrong straight from the gate. I crashed with de Dycker, who came across so fast as I was turning from the inside, and damaged my front brake. I crashed again because the front brake was damaged. The second race was much better, as I led a little bit, but I did struggle too. I haven’t really had good races with crashes and injury, so I got a bit pumped up in the middle of the race, just with not having many races being close to the front of the field where we should be. I am happy with fifth place, as it’s better than nothing and it is closer to the place I need to be. I had a lot of pain with the chest, and I don’t like taking painkillers because i t affects my vision. It’s hard to breathe when riding, but now we’ve got a bit of time to recuperate and get healthy ready for Sweden.”

Rui Gonçalves: “It was a really difficult day after the crash yesterday, where I fractured my rib and damaged the cartilage. I had a tough night with the pain, as I couldn’t breathe properly, or find any way of getting comfortable, then this morning it just felt like there was a knife inside with so much pain. I knew it would be tough, and I’ve never broken a rib in the past, but to be honest it’s not the best thing to have on a race day. I decided I could race with some painkillers and strapping from the doctor, but in some stages in both of the motos I couldn’t breathe. The pain was really intense, taking a lot of my energy, so I just had to try and battle to get to the end of each race. I really don’t know what’s going on, as I feel like I’m swimming against the current; every time I get nearly healthy something else happens. I won’t give up, and I just hope I can ride without pain to show my performance at 100%, as this has be en the fourth injury of the season, which is definitely enough now. Thanks goes to the team for their support and now I’ll go home to get a more detailed look at the injury.”

Petar Petrov: “Not a great weekend. Yesterday wasn’t too bad actually and I qualified 10th in the wet. I could do better but made some small mistakes. Today I had trouble with my starts. I was right at the back in the first one and came back to 18th but then had a crash, battled to 17th and went down again. It was a horrible race! In the second I pushed to 14th and was having a close fight out there with the others. The track was really nice and they did a good job. There were a lot of lines. Not a good weekend finally and I need to work a lot on my starts but we’ll hope for more and better in Sweden.”

Arnaud Tonus: In the first one I had a bad, bad start. I didnt jump out of the gate and then was blocked on the first corner. From that I took a bit of time to get my rhythm and from mid-race I was coming back pretty good. To reach seventh and find that speed after Portugal was really positive. In the second moto the start was OK, around tenth, and then I came up for fourth quite quickly. I rode my own race pretty much. I feel like I am improving after the long break I had. They did a great job with the track. Yesterday it was muddy and one-line and I didnt expect it to be that good. There were a lot of lines and it was in a fine state for the races. I cant say I thought about my birthday much! When you are ten or something you always want another year but I think when you hit the twenties you want the years back!

Mel Pocock: I had a little bit of a get-off and caught a rut badly in the corner on the pitlane straight. It was a bit of a gnarly crash but that was the only low point of the day. Im pumped to have tenth overall. Top ten speed in both motos and Im really happy if I am close to establishing myself as a rider who can do that regularly. The schedule is pretty stacked now with Desertmartin one of my favourite tracks next week and then to Latvia and Russia for the next rounds of the European MX2.

Jonathan Barragan: “In the first race I had a problem with the goggles in the first few laps and when some sand or dust came inside I couldn’t really see anything. I was thirteenth in that one, and then in the second I came off and hit the ground pretty hard. I couldn’t breathe and had to stop. Thankfully the scan showed there is nothing broken, but for sure this is a day to forget.”
David Philippaerts: I dont really know what happened today. In the first moto I didnt start well again and in the middle of the race I didnt feel so great a bit tired and I finished sixth. The battle with Pourcel was fun and overall it wasnt too bad. In the second race I was right at the back again and had a crash. I pushed to get in the top ten but I was too slow. The track was difficult and we couldnt get it working today.

Shaun Simpson: The weekend was about contrasts really and not just with the weather. My speed was good in difficult conditions on Saturday and I excel in those types of circumstances. I was happy with the fourth gate-pick because I thought it would be important to get up the inside of that first turn. I tried that in the first moto and De Dycker crashed taking me with him. It was pretty bad. I got up and starting fighting my way back through and – had I kept on going – then it might have been OK but my goggle lens popped out when a stone hit it and I had to waste time going through the pitlane to get some more. That was a freak thing and I was annoyed about it. 16th is not where I want to be. On the second start I was next to Desalle and wheelied out of the gate, not really getting any traction. I came around the first lap in eighteenth or so and set some good lap-times. I battled the whole moto and caught Boog, Paulin and those guys. Although there were a lot of different lines it was hard to pass. There are positives to take from the weekend. I am riding strongly and I feel good but we have an issue with starts and it has to be worked on.
Harri Kullas: “Really bad starts today; getting out of the gate was OK in the first moto but I messed up the first corner. In the second race I couldn’t get off the line with the group. I lost lots of positions at the start of the first heat and it was so hard to come back because I had so much arm-pump. I could barely feel my fingers and it wasn’t nice to ride just cruising around. I just tried to finish the race and get some points. I found myself having to come from behind again in the second. I couldn’t believe it was so dusty on the first lap, especially after yesterday! My riding was OK until the last 10 minutes when I suffered with the arms again and couldn’t pass the guys in front of me. A bad day; we have to move on from this.”