After his heavy start straight crash at the Grand Prix of Sweden last Sunday Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle is still unsure if he will be able to compete at Hyvinkää for the Finnish round – stop 13 of 17 in the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship - this weekend.
The winner of four MXGP events this season has been slowly recovering from hard impacts to his torso this week and is still suffering a lot of pain in his back. Medical checks revealed no serious damage to any internal organs but hits to the muscle groups and also his skin have meant a stiff and uncomfortable convalescence so far. “I had such a crazy impact in the crash and I have been hurting since. For this weekend I just don't know at the moment,” the Belgian said when asked if he could travel to the shallow sand a short distance from Helsinki.
Team-mate Kevin Strijbos heads to the second Grand Prix in a week in northern Europe with his tail up. The Belgian was confident, attacking and courageous with his lines at Uddevalla on Sunday and unveiled one of his better performances of the term across a track that was difficult to judge for his fifth podium finish of 2015.
Strijbos was also lifting a trophy in Finland last year as he took third behind Desalle around the compact corners and straights of the facility. “Finland is the start of a few good races for me with Czech Republic and Lommel coming straight afterwards,” he said. “I just started to ride the sand again last week.
“Hyvinkää gets rough and is pretty hard in some places. I hope the track crew leave the ruts and bumps from Saturday for Sunday’s motos. I want another podium there,” he added.
Finland enjoys a notable motocross history and although the current Hyvinkää venue is readying for Grand Prix for the second year in succession - and only the second time since the start of the century - the MXGP series will find a passionate following for the sport in this area of Europe. For Strijbos it represents the first of three events remaining on the continent before the championship goes to Brazil and Mexico in September to close the current campaign. “The first half of the season was not great for me but the second half has been quite good,” he said. “There have been some tough moments with the arm-pump but overall I think I can be happy. I’m pushing hard at the front now and maybe it is a little bit too late because there is quite a big gap to third place in the championship. Anyway I want that win – it has been seven years now! – and then we’ll see what happens in the rest of the season.”
Strijbos stands 80 points behind his team-mate in MXGP and has a gap of over 100 from Shaun Simpson in fifth place.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe will be tackling the top-ten of the MX2 category with their factory RM-Z250s in the hands of Jeremy Seewer and Julien Lieber. The Swiss and the Belgian have slightly different approaches coming into the Grand Prix. Seewer is familiar with the Hyvinkää terrain having shown some promising speed there last summer in what was the fifth round of the European EMX250 Championship and is eager to get reacquainted with the fine Finnish soil. Lieber on the other hand has not raced at the site having missed the inaugural fixture in 2013 due to his knee injury.
“I was riding there last year and won the semi-final heat race against some good sand riders,” said Seewer, who is a clear front-runner for 2014 Rookie of the Year accolade so far as he holds 10th-place in the MX2 Championship points table. “I made some mistakes on Sunday and I think that was the only time that season where I was not on the podium; I was fourth. Anyway I felt good there.
“It is a really strange track,” Seewer continues. “It is hard under the sand and it is very narrow. It is very flat with one small hill. I’ll do my best like always.”
Lieber equalled his personal-best GP-finish in the first moto in Sweden last Sunday but the Grand Prix seemed to summarise his season so far as he fell three times in the second race. It has been a tough trek to find some consistency for the 20 year old but he knows that decent getaways from the gate should mean that his pace and riding style then take care of the rest. “When I can start near the front, then the race is so much easier for me,” he said. “I have the speed to be in the top-five. I just need to put myself up there and give myself a fighting chance.”
Lieber scored his first sixth position in the MX2 class back at Valkenswaard in Holland last year; a similar surface to what he will find in Hyvinkää and this bodes well for another positive showing. “I’ve never been there but I have raced in Finland for the European Championship. I won a moto, which was great. We will see,” he said.
The weather forecast is positive for the weekend with sunny skies and temperatures around 20 degrees predicted.
MXGP World Championship Standings (after 12 of 17 rounds):
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 527 points; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 482 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP), 470 p.; 4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP), 390 p.; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 267 p.; 6. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 265 p.; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 237 p.; 8. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 210 p.; 9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 207 p.; 10. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 205 p.;
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 12 of 17 rounds):
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 544 points; 2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 409 p.; 3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 389 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 388 p.; 5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 372 p.; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 350 p.; 7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 288 p.; 8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 284 p.; 9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 265 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 234 p.; 13. Julien Lieber (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 185 p.;