Clement Desalle was close to his first pole position of the 2012 FIM Motocross World Championship today at a rainy Agueda circuit for the Grand Prix of Portugal and the seventh round of 16 in the series.
The Belgian fronted the MX1 pack on his works RM-Z450 around a jumpy and tricky track for overtaking but ultimately settled for a very decent second pick of slots in the gate for tomorrow’s two Grand Prix moto races.
A sunny start soon gave way to clouds and a late afternoon period of sustained light rain that caused the red, loose top soil at Agueda to carve into a single, fast racing line. There were variations in the curves and jumps trajectories but passing meant a close and carefully-measured approach.
Desalle and Tanel Leok set rapid lap-times around the Portuguese layout through the sessions and the duo actually placed second and first respectively in pre-qualification. Desalle experimented with suspension settings and his feeling at Agueda – where he has won the previous two years – was clearly paying dividends as he ran at the front, set the pace; and must be considered a viable threat for victory tomorrow.
The wet weather could create a rougher and slower track for Sunday and with a lively start, then Leok should also be looking for a first possible podium result for the team. The Estonian was hesitant with his overtaking in the Heat race but his ride to ninth by the flag is good enough for thoughts of the holeshot come the first 35 minute and 2 lap race tomorrow at 13.00.
“I feel OK. The pre-qualifying was OK and I didn’t take too many risks. My start wasn’t great in the heat race but in the first corners I had a good strategy and came out second. I had the lead when Bobryshev made a mistake but Cairoli was right there. He passed me and I tried to reply but I made a mistake that let him get away a bit. I looked to attack again but it was not so easy. We tried a setting on the shock for the start – to get more comfortable – that was more towards what we used here last year. We are always trying to improve.”
“The speed is alright but the racing could be better! I really struggled to find the way to pass people and when I was lining others up, riders behind me were coming through. I lost positions like that and I’m not so happy. I’m fast here and I know if I can get track space ahead of me that I’ll be gaining a lot of ground. The track is a bit one-line with the rain so I hope it doesn’t get too wet tomorrow.”
MX1 Qualification Heat: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 25:21.612; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1), +0:07.754; 3. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:20.028; 4. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), +0:21.244; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:29.755; 6. Davide Guarneri (ITA, KTM), +0:39.140; 7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:39.985; 8. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Honda), +0:41.311; 9. Tanel Leok (EST, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1), +0:42.285; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), +0:44.445.