Just two weeks after getting back aboard his Rockstar Energy Suzuki RM-Z450, Clement Desalle showed incredible form to win Sunday’s gruelling Ronde des Sables race in France as fellow Suzuki-man Steve Ramon also raced to the podium with third position.
Desalle entered the race as part of his preparation for the 2015 MXGP season; and his first race after a broken scaphoid ended his 2014 championship bid and required surgery and three-months of recuperation.
Held at Loon-Plage, the event is one of the first real tests in preparation for the legendary Le Touquet Beach Race due to its similarities in the race format, deep sand, two pit-stops and two-and-a-half hours of racing.
Ramon rounded the first lap in second place and took the lead on the second from Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren. Desalle was fifth but gradually worked his way up and took the lead on the fourth lap.
Both Desalle and Ramon were on a two-stop strategy, which enabled Van Beveren to take the lead on lap eight, but Desalle set blistering lap-times putting him back in front after his second pit stop and eventual victory by almost a minute over Van Beveren.
“It's the first time I’ve done a long distance race like this and it wasn’t so easy. I felt good and rode as hard as I could in the first two hours, but that last half-hour was really difficult. I started to feel every muscle in my body and had pain everywhere. “Our first pit-stop was a bit early, we had a rough idea how long we could do, but as we had a slightly-smaller fuel tank than the others we decided to come in after 40 minutes. After that it was clear that we could do a lot longer on each tank of fuel and keep it down to two stops. It was a good experience, my wrist hurts a bit but so does everything else, so I think it's normal!”
“I had a good start - third into the first corner - and when Clement overtook me we managed to create a bit of a gap on the others.
“Sadly my roll-off system broke just after the first pit-stop which forced me to take a slower pace for the next 50 minutes, but after the second pit-stop things went better, although the race was already pretty-much decided at that point. But all-in-all a good race.”
Results: 1: Clement Desalle (Rockstar Energy Suzuki) 2h 31m06,251 ; 2: Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 2h 32m13,820 ; 3: Steve Ramon (Rockstar Energy Suzuki) 2h 33m24,081 ; 4: Jeffrey Dewulf (Yamaha) 2h 34m45,956 ; 5: Axel Van Dessande (Yamaha) 2h 38m34,337 ; 6: Jean-Claude Moussé (Yamaha) 2h 31m47,833 ; 7: Marshall Meplon (Yamaha) 2h 34m47,180 ; 8: Sabry Gembala (Yamaha) 2h 38m45,596 ; 9: Arnaud Degousee (Honda) 2h 31m49,476 ; 10: Stephane Watel (Husqvarna) 2h 33m46,471.