Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1’s Kevin Strijbos marked his first top-three moto finish of the 2013 FIM Motocross World MX1 Championship campaign in front of 27,000 spectators at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands today to classify fourth overall while team mate Clement Desalle emerged unscathed from a first corner crash to end the day sixth in the MX1 class.
Valkenswaard was a different prospect to what the riders usually encounter at the facility south of Eindhoven. The cold had hardened the sand significantly so the usual waves of bumps and ruts were reduced and the terrain remained slippery and fast.
Strijbos endured contrasting moto experiences: The Belgian was frustrated with his set-up in the first run of 35 minutes and two laps. He felt powerless to improve on a ranking of seventh position despite a bright start that saw #22 running among the leaders in the formative phases of the race. Several modifications to the forks and also the behaviour of the rear shock paid dividends for the next outing where the track had begun to roughen-up but was still hard-packed in many places. Strijbos was given a new lease of life and was able to keep Evgeny Bobryshev distant in fourth place to notch a very decent third position.
Desalle had his weekend ‘checked’ in the opening seconds of Moto1 as the Qatar GP winner was the sole victim of the fast, snaking first turn. The Belgian crashed and restarted from last position and some seconds adrift of the final rider in the MX1 posse. He worked his way through to eighth to bag 13 points for his efforts. Cautious out of the gate for the second time of asking in Moto2, Desalle gained ground in the second half of the top 10 and eventually passed Max Nagl to register fifth spot.
The Grand Prix of Italy at Arco di Trento, north west of Venice, will host round four of the series in a fortnight and is followed a week later by a trip to Sevlievo in Bulgaria. Desalle will travel to southern Europe with second position in the Championship and only a 26 deficit to leader Antonio Cairoli. Strijbos has now moved up into fifth place.
“It was really cold this morning but I guess this was not a surprise after yesterday. I had a good jump out of the gate in the first moto but I was really close to some riders around the second corner. It is very fast there and someone touched me – I think it was Leok – and crashed, hitting my head pretty hard. I was dazed for a few seconds there but it wasn’t anything too bad and I could find my way back to eighth. I was by myself for the second half of the moto…it was better to have this than a DNF. I was a bit wary of the start for the second moto and I felt a lot of pressure with us all coming so close together. I took some time to pass Nagl and ended up fifth. Nothing special. I was sick during the week so I couldn’t train like I wanted. It’s not an excuse but I think if I’d have had two days on the bike then perhaps it would have been better today. We will work on because there is still a long way to go and I’m feeling positive.”
“It was a tale of two different motos really. I had a good start in the first race – around fifth or sixth – and in the beginning I just tried to mix it up but by the third lap I had loads of arm-pump. I couldn’t hold on any more and I was so mad about that. I wasn’t tired or anything but I just couldn’t push. I was angry after the race and I knew with the front fork and the shock the way they were I wouldn’t be able to hit the lines and ruts like I wanted. I talked to Frank about the set-up and he tried something drastic that had worked for me in 2011 when I had a few wild-card rides with the team. A big thanks to him because it was so much better. I could move the bike around a lot more and could do what I wanted. It is a bit of a pity we didn’t get it sorted for the first race because I could have made the podium today. I had the speed for sure. It is good to make the top three anyway and again I want to thank the team for its support, everyone worked hard and helped me turn this day around.”