The Grand Prix of Belgium, round fifteen of the FIM Motocross World Championship, is well underway now that the various practice sessions have wrapped up. One could argue that not much can be taken from the results, because conditions will continue to deteriorate across the weekend, but there were intriguing points that jumped right off of the page. Five of those are listed below.
– Everyone knows that Jeffrey Herlings is unbelievable in the sand and the heavy favourite to win this weekend. It is still impressive that he was almost three full seconds quicker than anyone else in the free session, however, especially considering that conditions will only get tougher from this point on. This is actually the greatest advantage that he has ever had in free practice at Lommel, as he was two seconds and eight tenths quicker a year ago. The first time that he was here, 2011, he was only four tenths quicker in the free session.
– Temperatures are soaring this weekend, which has been mentioned a lot now, so it was intriguing to see how the guys tackled the practice sessions. The riders can obviously exit the track whenever please and some took advantage of that. Antonio Cairoli completed six laps in time practice and Jeffrey Herlings did eleven, for instance. It is actually worth noting that Cairoli was quicker than Herlings in two of the four sectors (three and four) despite the fact that he ended with a lap that was more than a second slower. Perhaps this thing is not over yet?
– Pauls Jonass is very good at Lommel, but most seem to forget that. The fact that Jorge Prado won this Grand Prix a year ago is clouding their vision. Jonass was the first-moto winner at Lommel last year and then charged from dead last to fifth in the second moto, after a first-turn crash, so he is more than capable of taking control of this series again this weekend. The practice times indicate that things are going that way, but then Prado was not exactly great in practice at Loket either. These times must give the former confidence though.
– Speaking of the MX2 class, it seems as though the quad is out of bounds for all of those riders. A considerable amount of MXGP riders are even struggling to make the gap! Ben Watson went for it in the timed session and came up so short that it just seems impossible. It is only going to get harder as the straight leading up to the face deteriorates too, so it will be interesting to see if riders stick to the triple or search for alternatives. There were guys messing around with lines out there.
– Gustavo Pessoa, a fill-in rider beneath the Bike It DRT Kawasaki awning, has not travelled to Lommel. There are no injuries to speak of, so he will be back and gunning for a spot in the top fifteen at the Grand Prix of Switzerland, but it just did not make sense for him to tackle the bottomless sand when he has really had no experience in the soft stuff. A shallower track like Valkenswaard would have still been a new experience for him! Continuing to work on his ability on hard-pack could set him up to achieve great results at the next round; a top-ten finish may be possible if his speed at Loket is anything to go by.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden