GP of Lommel
From one extreme, the heavily elevated hard pack clay of the Czech Republic, to the other, the bottomless whooped out sand of Belgium, the fifteenth stop from seventeen on the FIM Motocross World Championship calendar will be this weekend, August 03, in Lommel. While the circuit itself hardly needs introducing, as it is definitely one of the most widely recognised tracks in the world, known to be the ultimate test of both physical and mental strength, riders can expect to dig deep on a track layout similar to that of 2012’s edition of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, you can watch the highlights from that race below.
Also donning a set of scoop tires this weekend, the boys of the European Championships EMX300, EMX250 and EMX125 will be set to go bar to bar for their overall ranking as it is the seventh and final round of their championships, while the Honda European Championship EMX150 will be contesting their fifth and final round.
It’s home away from home for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli, who will head into this weekend as the hot favorite. While it’s hard to call TC222 a ‘sand specialist’ since he basically specializes at every surface, the Italian seven-time world champion openly admits sand is more his forte than clay, a statement like “I always look forward to going to Lommel, I like to race in the sand” coming from the champ means it’s not going to be a easy weekend for the rest of the competitors in MXGP.
But, if anyone is going to rise to the occasion this weekend it will probably be one of the local heroes Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek or Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos. Van Horebeek experienced his first taste of victory last weekend in Czech and while he is said to favor hard and slick surfaces, he doesn’t mind the sand either and is sure to have put in his fair share of laps around Lommel over the years. Meanwhile, Strijbos has been banking results that haven’t necessarily reflected his speed. The twenty-eight year old is looking hungry for a win, could this weekend be a breakthrough for ‘The Kid’?
It may be a bit far fetched to predict Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin for a win given he’s a little rusty on the racing front and a track of Lommel’s caliber is no walk in the park. At the end of the day, a racer is a racer and there is no doubt GP21, if he’s ‘feelin’ it’ could be a contender for the overall.
While the list goes on for riders that base themselves around Lommel during the season, another ‘local’ is Team HRC’s Max Nagl. Like Cairoli and Strijbos, Nagl lives no more than twenty minutes from the track and can never be counted out for a podium performance. If the German can get off the line and around turn one at the sharp end of the field, he’s sure to be a threat for that top step.
It’s hard to say if we’d be surprised to see Hitachi Construction Machinery UK KTM’s Shaun Simpson on the podium this weekend. While he remains the underdog, more for statistical reasons, it’s a knowledgeable fact the Scot digs the sand and if anyone’s going to mix things up in the results sheets, it’s probably going to be him.
2011 MXGP of Limburg
1. Antonio Cairoli
2. Clement Desalle
3. Max Nagl
MXGP World Championship Classification Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 619 points; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 562 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 484 p.; 4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 469 p.; 5. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 333 p.; 6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 325 p.; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 291 p.; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 235 p.; 9. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 234 p.; 10. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 232 p.