2016 MXGP of Belgium Coverage |
Nagl and Gajser Trade Wins
With a pair of third place finishes, local hero Kevin Strijbos (Team Suzuki World MXGP) was the overall winner at the 2016 Fiat Professional MXGP of Belgium at Lommel. Riding a Suzuki RM-Z450 and Shift apparel with 1992 retro graphics, Strijbos’ overall win was the 31-year-old’s first since 2007.
The sandy track at Stedelijk Motorcrossterrein Lommel was wet for Race 1 and had dried out for Race 2, contributing to highly inconsistent results. Race 1 winner Max Nagl (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) crashed in Race 2 while in position to win the overall, and finished 7th. Conversely, Race 2 winner and MXGP World Championship leader Tim Gajser (Honda Gariboldi) went down in Race 1 while in sixth place, and he finished 15th.
With that sort of inconsistency, Strijbos’ two thirds (40 points) were enough to take the overall win from Max Nagl (39 points) and Tony Cairoli (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who scored 37 points. Cairoli went 6-2 after failing to catch Clement Desalle (Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team) and defending MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre (Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team) late in Race 1.
Nagl jumped to an early lead in Race 1 after narrowly missing grabbing the holeshot. Nagl was never challenged, and his Race 1 win was his third race victory in a row after doing the double at the MXGP of Czech Republic last week.
Behind Nagl, things were more interesting. Strijbos tailed Nagl initially, but after a mistake, Strijbos was gobbled up by a charging Shaun Simpson (Wilvo Virus Performance KTM) on Lap 7. While Simpson never challenged Nagl, he quickly moved away from Strijbos.
Strijbos made another mistake on Lap 10 that allowed Febvre and Gajser by, putting Strijbos in fifth place, with Desalle also ready to pounce and Cairoli looking to move up. Both Febvre and Gajser had poor starts, with Gajser in 11th and Febvre in 8th after the first lap.
Gajser was passed by Strijbos and Desalle on Lap 12, and then went down, pushing Gajser back to 16th as he struggled to kickstart his CRF450R.
The podium looked set—Nagl, Simpson, Febvre—but Febvre started to flag, with Laps 14 and 15 being the worst of the race for him. Strijbos passed a seemingly helpless Febvre on Lap 16, and Desalle passed Febvre on the following, and final, lap. Cairoli was lurking behind the three-way battle, but never was able to fully participate and finished in sixth.
Nagl was eager to take a second consecutive double, and scored the holeshot. But, before the first lap was completed, Gajser, Cairoli, and Jeremy van Horebeek (Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team) jumped ahead of Nagl in the drier sand of Race 2.
Desalle went back and forth with Nagl for fourth place until Lap 6 when Desalle faded. However, Strijbos had moved up from an eighth place start to put the pressure on Nagl and a fading Van Horebeek.
Nagl, Van Horebeek, and Desalle battled, with Nagl moving into third place on Lap 9, trailed by Van Horebeek and then Strijbos. However, Nagl blew through an inside berm on the sandy track on Lap 10 and went down, dropping Nagl to seventh place, where he stayed for the remainder of the race.
As Nagl went down, Strijbos took advantage of the error to reclaim the third position he had in Race 1, which he held to the end. Van Horebeek held onto fourth, while Glen Coldenhoff (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Evgeny Bobryshev (Team HRC) argued over fifth, with Coldenhoff eventually prevailing.
Up front, Gajser held a steady lead, with Cairoli making a meager charge late in the race. At the end of Race 2, Cairoli was trailing Gajser by 13 seconds.
“On one side, I’m really happy with today,” Gajser said, “and on the other side I’m really disappointed with the two races today. The first race and the second race were completely opposite for me, but on a track like this it can happen so fast. You make just a little mistake and you’re on the ground, and then you’re not focused and it’s very easy to make another mistake again. Race one was tough, but I’m glad that we made the second moto like we did, leading from the beginning to the end. Overall, I think the win in the second race saved the GP for us, and again I learned something new. So, overall I am happy enough with the weekend.”
It was a terrible Race 2 for Febvre, who was buried in 18th after the first lap. He eventually advanced into the top 10, but went down. Remounting outside of the points, Febvre rode two laps before calling it day with four laps remaining.
With all the inconsistency, the overall podium was a confusing mismatch of finishes. Had Cairoli been able to catch Gajser, Cairoli would have been the overall winner, rather than his 6-2 third overall. Nagl’s crash was just enough to knock him out of the overall win. Gasjer’s win was matched with a 15th in Race 1, so he ended up tied with Simpson (2-12) in fifth overall.
As a result, the 3-3 consistency of Strijbos made him an overall winner. “This is good, so nice,” Strijbos said. “I really don’t have the words for my feelings at the moment. In the first moto, I ran with Max but then had to drop my speed a bit, which I wasn’t happy with, but found a rhythm again by the end. In the second moto, I had to catch up but I had some good lines and when I got to third I thought about the podium, and then tried not to think about it! All the crew were out of the pitbox on the last lap [saying] that I had won the GP. This is a special moment and it has been a long time since I was last on top—nine years and many of the young guys here were not even in GPs then! I’m so stoked for the team because we have worked so hard and not had any results until now; it was tough for them, too.”
Cairoli’s third overall gained him just six points on MXGP Championship Series leader Gajser, who still leads Cairoli by 103 points with four rounds remaining. “I’m not so happy because normally on this type of track I can ride better,” Cairoli said. “In the first race, the feeling was not there, and I made some little mistakes and fell back to sixth.”
Nagl extended his lead over Febvre in the standings by 23 points, and Nagl is now just 14 points behind Cairoli. “I’m really pleased and really disappointed at the same time,” Nagl said. “Pleased because I had a really great opening moto, and disappointed because I know this could have been another overall MXGP win for me and the team. I felt great in the first moto. I made a good start and was able to win by around 10 seconds. I struggled a little in my qualifying race, so to be able to turn that around I was very confident going into the second moto. I got the holeshot, but then I was too cautious for the first three laps. Some riders passed me, and then I found my speed. Falling in the sand always loses a lot of time, and I dropped to seventh. Second overall, just one point from the win, is a great result and I am still 100 percent focused on my goal of trying to end the year second in the championship.”
Photography by Youthstream.
Race 1 Results: Fiat Professional MXGP of Belgium, Lommel
1. Max Nagl (Husqvarna), 34:19.494
2. Shaun Simpson (KTM), +0:09.152
3. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki), +0:13.700
4. Clement Desalle (Kawasaki), +0:16.852
5. Romain Febvre (Yamaha), +0:18.247
6. Tony Cairoli (KTM), +0:18.848
7. Jeremy van Horebeek (Yamaha), +0:38.021
8. Glenn Coldenhoff (KTM), +0:40.038
9. Tanel Leok (KTM), +0:43.251
10. Evgeny Bobryshev (Honda), +0:55.033.
Race 2 Results: Fiat Professional MXGP of Belgium, Lommel
1. Tim Gajser (Honda), 34:41.636
2. Tony Cairoli (KTM), +0:13.289
3. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki), +0:36.471
4. Jeremy van Horebeek (Yamaha), +0:40.503
5. Glenn Coldenhoff (KTM), +0:47.864
6. Evgeny Bobryshev (Honda), +0:53.330
7. Max Nagl (Husqvarna), +1:00.924
8. Arminas Jasikonis (Suzuki), +1:04.634
9. Tommy Searle (Kawasaki), +1:08.197
10. Clement Desalle (Kawasaki), +1:16.375.
2016 Fiat Professional MXGP of Belgium Overall Results
1. Kevin Strijbos, 40 points
2. Max Nagl, 39
3. Tony Cairoli, 37
4. Jeremy van Horebeek, 32
5. Tim Gajser, 31
6. Shaun Simpson, 31
7. Glenn Coldenhoff, 29
8. Clement Desalle, 29
9. Evgeny Bobryshev, 26
10. Tanel Leok, 22
2016 MXGP Championship Series Standings (after 14 of 18 rounds)
1. Tim Gajser, 607 points (14 race wins)
2. Tony Cairoli, 504 (3 race wins)
3. Max Nagl, 490 (4 race wins)
4. Romain Febvre, 464 (7 race wins)
5. Evgeny Bobryshev, 445
6. Jeremy van Horebeek, 417
7. Valentin Guillod, 292
8. Glenn Coldenhoff, 277
9. Clement Desalle, 273
10. Kevin Strijbos, 264
11. Shaun Simpson, 256
12. Tommy Searle, 225
13. Christophe Charlier, 198
14. Gautier Paulin, 193
15. Jose Butrón, 178