The factory Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 team will be looking to re-establish some podium presence at the Grand Prix of Bulgaria this weekend.
The fifth round of 17 in the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place at the traditional setting of Sevlievo and, after missing the top three only twice in the last seven visits to the spectacular circuit, the Belgian crew will have its sights firmly aligned.
Clement Desalle comes into the meeting holding third position in the MX1 standings with his works RM-Z450 and keen to bury some of the frustration from last Sunday’s Grand Prix of Trentino when his part in a second moto second-corner crash with other riders saw his chances of a third podium of 2013 disappear. The 23-year-old Belgian (24 next month on the day of the Brazilian GP) also needs to reignite his run of results at Sevlievo. In 2010 he took the Suzuki to third place overall and won the Grand Prix in 2011. He was unlucky to register only eighth place last season after a battle for third place culminated in a fall after the finish line jump and he had to restart and fight through the field to gain three points.
Kevin Strijbos has taken fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth positions so far in the four rounds of 2013 and is edging into the speed and consistency needed to fight for trophies. The Belgian knows that more urgency in the opening laps will be key in order to fly with the likes of Cairoli, Desalle, De Dycker and co. The 28 year old might be able to cast his mind back to 2006, only the third edition of the Bulgaria Grand Prix, where he took a fledgling version of the RM-Z450 to second place overall.
The weather forecast points to a showery weekend. In Strijbos’ view this is not bad news as the extra ‘watering’ will increase the technical nature of a track that is wide, quick and with many uphill and downhill straights. In the dry it is not uncommon for the top 10 of the MX1 class to be split by tenths and hundredths of a second. “I like Bulgaria,” he said. “It is quite fast and simple with the layout but if it rains, or the ground is soft, then it can get pretty technical with the ruts. I would prefer it if the GP is slightly wet and the mud cuts up more. We will see what we will find!”
MX1 World Championship Standings (after 4 of 17 rounds): 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 192 points; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 155 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1), 149 p.; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 148 p.; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1), 120 p.; 6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 118 p.; 7. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), 89 p.; 8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 87 p.; 9. Xavier Boog (FRA, KTM), 83 p.; 10. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), 75 p.