The six rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship held so far have seen the factory Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 team count on three trophies won with the works RM-Z450 and thanks to the talents of Clement Desalle. And as the Belgian crew arrives at the Agueda circuit on the west coast of Portugal for the seventh meeting on the 2012 schedule, the first glimpse of the chequered flag could not be a sweeter prospect.
The premier MX1 category has produced some electric racing and a depth of talent not seen yet in the nine-year history of the class. Seven riders have already walked the podium, and at the first meeting in Holland on Easter weekend from the gate of nearly 40 racers, almost half had Grand Prix-winning experience. Among that fast collective is Desalle and Tanel Leok, both third and 10th in the current MX1 standings as the series nears the halfway point.
The trip to the red dirt and the drops and climbs of the Agueda layout – an ever-present host this century – precedes the team’s home Grand Prix at Bastogne on June 17th and some more success (in particular for Desalle who will fill the spotlight come this time next week) will be well-timed.
The 23-year-old Belgian has had a busy week. After suffering a family bereavement on the eve of his travel to the French GP last weekend, Desalle has had to deal with his personal circumstances and then refocus on a circuit at which he enjoys and took not only pole position but victory in the 2011 edition of the Portuguese event. In fact Desalle will be aiming for a hat-trick having also won at Agueda in 2010.
“It will be a difficult day for sure,” Desalle commented last Sunday after the French GP and referring to his grandfather’s funeral on Monday. “I will then just try to follow my plan of preparation and routine for Portugal and hope for a good race. Agueda has different ground to St Jean D’Angely but it really depends on how the weather will be; how it has affected the track in the build-up; and what we have to deal with over the two days. I like the track and feel positive about going there.”
Tanel Leok was unable to affect the top section of the leaderboard in France and is now incredibly determined to establish a base from which his results can start to head in an upward trajectory. Portugal should see the Estonian nearing a good level of fitness for the first time since the start of the series.
The long-term weather forecast for the weekend predicts rain and overcast but warm conditions.
MX1 World Championship Standings (after 6 of 16 rounds): 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 253 points; 2. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 214 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki WMX1), 213 p.; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 212 p.; 5. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 179 p.; 6. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 169 p.; 7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 161 p.; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), 154 p.; 9. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 134 p.; 10. Tanel Leok (EST, Rockstar Energy Suzuki WMX1), 121 p.