Clement Desalle takes 'Red Plate' to Argentine MX

Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle has not dropped out of the top two in the first four motos of the premier class in the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship and carries the coveted red plate as series leader to Neuquen this week for the first Grand Prix of Argentina this century.

A new, sandy, scenic and woodland-set facility in Villa La Angostura awaits Desalle, the Belgian squad and the rest of the MXGP field for the third round of 18. By all accounts a fanatical fan-base is also primed for Grand Prix action, with Argentina representing the biggest following through official social media MXGP channels. The 25-year-old Belgian has recovered from the heat and hefty trip back from Thailand two weeks ago and has been preparing for the second ‘unseen’ racetrack in as many races for the GP stars.

“I took some more rest to get over the trip back from Thailand but then got back on my normal schedule last week. I’m feeling good,” ‘#25’ said while packing for the long flight to Buenos Aires and then onto Bariloche this week. “I was doing some laps at Lommel and then also enjoyed a mountain bike ride with some friends.”

“I’m in good shape and I want to continue the positive start to the season,” he added. “As I always say: when I am having fun on the bike and enjoying my riding the speed and results come. So far everything has been going OK and we have that red plate. I’m happy. I want to win races but it is also important to be consistent and we have done that in the first two GPs so far.”

With Max Nagl and Ryan Villopoto earning victories in Qatar and Thailand Desalle will have his eyes on the top-step against the most competitive collection of motocross athletes seen in Grand Prix in recent years. He will be the sole works RM-Z450 rider in the factory team aiming to do so however. Team-mate Kevin Strijbos will miss the long 14-hour flight to the capital city in order to have more corrective surgery on his right wrist to deal with problems connected with Tendonitis. The Belgian is hoping for a competitive return for the Grand Prix of Trentino (Italy) in mid-April and will require three weeks of recuperation after the procedure today, Wednesday.

Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe duo Glenn Coldenhoff and Jeremy Seewer also have their RM-Z450 and RM-Z250 machinery (respectively) waiting for them in Argentina. The Dutchman and Swiss are currently jetting to the Neuquen region that nestles on the southern border with Chile and is a popular skiing destination in the winter. The current climate should see sunny and temperate conditions for practice and qualification heats on Saturday and the Grand Prix motos on Sunday.

The prospect of cooler temperatures will be good news for Seewer who suffered in the heat and humidity of Thailand two weeks ago and due to the effects of a cold the youngster could not complete the first moto and had to sit out the second after treatment for heat exhaustion. Seewer has made a full recovery from the ordeal at Nakhonchaisri where the biggest form of damage came to his championship scorecard. He is now looking to get back to the fringes of the top-five in MX2 and continue his charge for a maiden podium finish in just his second Grand Prix season. “Physically I feel really good,” said the 20 year old who also travelled to Belgium over the course of the last fortnight for more set-up work on the RM-Z250. “It didn't take long to recover from Thailand. The heat was unlike anything I’ve raced in and of course it was a long journey back but I was already racing in Germany shortly after and I spent the week in Lommel doing some suspension tests and sand riding.”

Like all of his peers, Seewer’s only knowledge of the layout at Villa La Angostura has come through the (excellent) provision of videos, images and graphics provided by the local organizer. The new build certainly seems to have more character and even some elevation over the two previous tracks at Losail and the Thailand Circuit. “It looks a bit sandy, but not too heavy. You never know until you ride it!” said ‘91’.

Also feeling confident for Argentina – and no doubt enthused about a possible sandy terrain – is Coldenhoff. The short hiatus after Thailand was exactly what the 24 year old needed to allow his injured toes to heal further and now the former MX2 Grand Prix winner is nearing full fitness as he looks to tackle just his third event in the MXGP category on-board the RM-Z450. “My foot is finally healing up well…but I was a bit sick after the trip back from Thailand so it was lucky that we had a full week off. I feel fine now and did a lot of riding the last few days.”

Coldenhoff was also able to continue his acclimatisation to the demands of racing the 450 in Grands Prix. The Dutchman has yet to throw the RM-Z around in anger and to the extent of his potential after weathering the Qatari and Thai rounds with the foot injury. “We also did some suspension tests in the break and made good progress; at the moment I feel really good on the bike. We leave to Argentina on Wednesday morning and we’ll see how the track will be there.”

The Grand Prix of Argentina will be the first of three events that will also take MXGP and MX2 to Italy and Holland before the end of April.

MXGP Championship Standings (after 2 of 18 rounds): 1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 88 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 79 p.; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 78 p.; 4. Ryan Villopoto (USA, KAW), 70 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 67 p.; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 67 p.; 7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 55 p.; 8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 45 p.; 9. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 40 p.; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 38 p.; 15. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 27 p.

MX2 Championship Standings (after 2 of 18 rounds): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 100 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 78 p.; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 70 p.; 4. Julien Lieber (BEL, YAM), 62 p.; 5. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 58 p.; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 56 p.; 7. Thomas Covington (USA, KAW), 53 p.; 8. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 52 p.; 9. Petar Petrov (BUL, KTM), 41 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 38 p.

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