Lommel is a unique beast and one that some will never master. There are certain riders who pound lap after lap at the Belgian venue, with the sole goal of turning a weakness into a strength, but never quite manage to make that happen. Fantasy MX Manager on MX Vice is more intriguing this weekend, with that in mind, as some will rise to the occasion and others will drop down the order.
There are a handful of sand specialists who are worth keeping an eye on at the Grand Prix of Belgium, but it is not as simple as that. The cost of each rider dictates whether they are truly worth selecting or not. Max Anstie is the winningest MX2 rider at Lommel and a perfect example of that. There is no doubt that he has the ability to finish on the podium this weekend, the way that he performed at the Grand Prix of Lombardia is proof, but does his five-thousand-euro price tag mean that there is not enough upside? It would be worth signing him if he does indeed finish third, but there would not be much of a return if just misses out on that and is fifth.
The same theory applies to the second rider beneath the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing awning, Gautier Paulin, who also costs five thousand euros. Paulin has had a rocky time of it in recent weeks, as he has entered the top five once in the last six motos, but he is considered a sandman. After all, the last two Grand Prix victories that he acquired came in the Dutch sand of Valkenswaard. Is it likely that he will step up onto the top step this weekend and provide Fantasy MX Manager players plenty to cheer about? No, not based on recent form, hence why he is just too much of a risk at that price tag. If he cost four thousand euros though, then he would be a brilliant pick.
This is where it is worth drawing the line on Fantasy MX Manager. If a rider costs five thousand euros or more, then perfection is needed. Jeffrey Herlings is the only logical pick, with that in mind, as it is likely that he will win the three races across the weekend and then pick up a holeshot on race day. If a player goes for Antonio Cairoli and he acquires a brace of seconds, which is obviously phenomenal at this level, then there is just enough upside. There is a little more wiggle room with a rider who costs four hundred thousand euros, on the other hand, hence why Clement Desalle has been such a strong pick throughout. All he needs to do is slot into the top six.
There is a clear leader in the premier class, hence why selecting Jeffrey Herlings is an option, but there is not someone like that in MX2. It is rare for a rider to sweep both races on a weekend and, considering that Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado split moto wins at Lommel last year, it is quite unlikely that will happen at the fifteenth round. Instead of looking at the costly riders, it is worth scrolling down the list and looking at those guys who cost three hundred thousand euros or less. There is great value in this class, because of the fact that many guys have managed to exceed expectations. Ben Watson and Jago Geerts immediately spring to mind.
Both Ben Watson and Jago Geerts are incredible in the sand, just look at their results from Kegums and Ottobiano as proof, and cost five thousand euros in total. Select those two in the MX2 class, then there are seven hundred thousand euros to play with! It is difficult to name another rider who should be considered, but Calvin Vlaanderen is worth a punt. Vlaanderen costs four hundred thousand euros, so a bit more than Watson, and is also great in the sand. Based on recent form, it would not be too surprising to see him up on the podium. Those three appear to have the most upside, especially considering that there are not many quality riders in MX2 at one hundred thousand euros.
There are a couple of those guys in the premier division. A lot of players have leaned on Maxime Desprey to acquire a few extra points each weekend, but he is out injured. Jose Butron should be considered, although sand is not a strength of his, then there is Tanel Leok as well. Leok may not have the raw speed that he once had, but he will never quit and should pick up some valuable positions late in the motos. Ivo Monticelli is another name worth throwing into the mix, as he too costs one hundred thousand euros, but he does not exactly excel in soft conditions. It would be worth saving him for the next round in Switzerland.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna/J.P Acevedo