19,000 spectators packed the Grand Prix of Belgium and the fifteenth fixture of the FIM Motocross World Championship as Monster Energy Yamaha’s Joel Roelants rode to tenth position overall on his works YZ450FM. The Ardennes location was typically scenic and rural but the soft dirt of the layout provided a bumpy and slick track that was complicated further by infrequent spells of light rain.
Roelants home Grand Prix did not begin in the best way with a tumble in Saturday’s qualification heat forcing a retirement and a lowly pick in the gate for the motos on Sunday. From this adversity the Belgian responded in determined and aggressive style. ‘34’ pushed to the fringes of the top ten in the first race of 35 minutes and 2 laps duration and a battle with Tanel Leok eventually ended with eleventh place. In the second outing Roelants set a better speed in the latter half of the moto. His fitness and condition showed as he gained two positions in the closing stages and was less than two seconds from relegating Ken De Dycker to ninth spot. With 11-9 Joel grabbed the last overall slot near the top zone of the leaderboard and is twelfth in the world championship standings.
Milko Potisek, in his third and most likely final appearance on the YZ450FM as a substitute for Steven Frossard, was thirteenth in the final MX1 listing and was happier with his second moto result of eleventh, that was two places higher than his efforts in the first sprint.
JK Racing’s Shaun Simpson was the best YZ450F pilot on the day with a strong performance and classification of eighth for the Belgian GP. Monster Energy Yamaha will now look to the final two meetings of the year and Grands Prix at Matterley Basin (Great Britain – also the second ever MXGP Festival with eleven categories competing on the same weekend) and Lierop (the Netherlands).
Joel Roelants: “In the first Heat I took a pretty good start but had to come right from the outside. I was around seventeenth and passed some guys on the first lap to reach the top ten. I spent the whole race fighting with Leok and he had some better lines and I was struggling slightly. I was too slow at the start of the second Heat and towards the end it went better this time and I could pass Simpson and Potisek and was really close to De Dycker. The second moto was OK. The track was really good today with some nice jumps and corners. It was pretty stony but overall pretty good.”
Milko Potisek: “It was a good weekend and I’m happy with the second moto. My goal was to finish in the top nine and I didn’t manage that, so a little disappointed even if my riding was good and I have to be satisfied. This was my last race with Monster Energy Yamaha and the Rinaldi guys so I’m a bit sad about this but I want to say a big thanks for giving me the chance to ride these three Grands Prix.”