Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP had an encouraging start at a bright but windy Losail for the Grand Prix of Qatar and the first round of the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship as Clement Desalle rode to a controlled second position in the 20-minute qualification race, although team-mate Kevin Strijbos endured a painful right wrist to take fifth place on his factory RM-Z450.
Losail is entertaining the Qatari Grand Prix for the third time in three years and the desert soil of the layout located a short distance from Turn1 of the road racing asphalt was damp, rough and soft. Thorough watering meant that the first Free Practice of the season was soggy but the track dried and carved for Timed Practice (to decide positions in the gate) and then further for the Qualification Heat itself.
Desalle was hot-off-the-mark to set the best lap-time and enter the gate first. It was not an easy feat with the MXGP field one of the strongest and deepest in the premier class in recent years. The Belgian’s start was good but not quick-enough for the holeshot and he worked for the duration of the race to pass Max Nagl and secure second in the gate for the GP motos.
Strijbos was also a pace-setter in spite of some discomfort with his wrist. The ‘# 22’ was second to his team-mate in Timed Practice and then rode an easy set of laps to earn fifth position; meaning that both Belgians have decent locations on the start line for Saturday night’s 30+2-minute motos.
“Today was pretty good actually. I was a bit tight in the first practice because everything is new but this feeling went away quickly. I did a lap at the beginning of the timed practice but then came in and told my mechanic that I can do better. I went out again and it was enough for first, which wasn’t the priority but still OK. The only negative point from the heat race was the start. It was not terrible but not how I wanted. I need to have it better for tomorrow. I was fourth or fifth and managed to come back to second. I feel good with my riding and that’s important. Hopefully we can get a good result tomorrow.”
“I had some pain in my wrist after the first practice and I don't know what it is. They say it might be an infection but it might be worse because every time I jump or go into the holes and braking bumps it hurts. I had a bit of arm-pump in the race and had to slow down a bit. I didn't put-up much of a fight with anybody but I had some good lines and was the first to do the new jump over the back. Apart from the wrist I feel pretty good otherwise. If I can start well then after about 25-minutes there should be a gap.”
MXGP Timed Practice: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 23:57.028; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), +0:04.946; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:07.150; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:12.479; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), +0:16.261; 6. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:26.411; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:32.424; 8. Ryan Villopoto (USA, Kawasaki), +0:33.693; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:43.779; 10. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:48.825.