Round 13 – MXGP of Flanders, Belgium
The 2020 Monster Energy MXGP of Flanders saw epic action over the weekend, as the MXGP and MX2 riders took on the challenge of what is known as one of the toughest sand tracks in the world.
In MXGP Tim Gajser took to honours with a 2-1 result handing him the round win over Gautier Paulin, with Jorge Prado third overall. Antonio Cairoli was down in ninth meanwhile, allowing Gajser to extend his championship lead.
Gajser now sits on 488-points, to Cairoli’s 440, with Jorge Prado closes in on his fellow KTM teammate, with 429-points, the same number held by Jeremy Seewer. Aussie Mitch Evans falls to twelth in the standings with a broken wrist at the previous round requiring surgery during the week, with the rider absent as a result.
In MX2 Tom Vialle had a solid day to finish 2-2 in the races with that consistency enough to claim his sixth overall win of the 2020 campaign. Vialle was only a single point ahead of Jago Geerts, who took one of the MX2 wins, while his teammate Ben Watson was third overall and was the other MX2 winner, in a strong result for Yamaha.
Jed Beaton went 7-7, for seventh overall and 28-championship points, while fellow Australian Bailey Malkiewicz was 18th, finishing 15th in Race 2.
“Not the greatest day but we’re here for two more rounds so it’s a solid start to the week. My starts weren’t great in both races, which didn’t help but we’ll be better on Wednesday. It took me a while to get going in race one, by around 20 minutes into the race I found my flow and felt really good, but it was too late to move forwards. Race two I felt good from the start and rode a smart race. I know what to expect for the next two, so we’ll be ready for them and I look forward to Wednesday.”
Vialle now sits on 569-points to Geerts 516, with Maxime Renaux and Beaton both tied on 407-points. Malkiewicz sits 16th, on 98-points.
MXGP Race 1
In the opening MXGP race of the day, it was Dylan Walsh who grabbed the Fox Holeshot, as he led Tim Gajser, Arnaud Tonus and Gautier Paulin. There were a few riders caught up in a crash on the first turn, two of them being Adam Sterry and Calvin Vlaanderen.
It didn’t take long for Gajser to take the lead, as Walsh crashed, Prado and Paulin also followed through and those were the top three for the next few laps. Brian Bogers had a great start to the race, sitting in fourth.
Both Romain Febvre and Jeremy Seewer didn’t have the best start to the race as they were down in 16th and 17th in the opening laps. Though Seewer was able to quickly pull through, he passed six riders in a single lap to get himself into the top 10.
Paulin went after the #61 of Prado and was able to pass him by the second lap, to get himself into P2. The Frenchman then set his best lap of the race and was 2.808 seconds down on Gajser who led the way. But Gajser was quick to respond with a flying lap, which put the gap back up to 4.383.
Championship rival, Antonio Cairoli had a tough first race after starting outside the top 15. He managed to finish the race in 13th, not where the nine-time world champion would have hoped to be.
Paulin, Prado and Bogers then clocked their best laps of the race at the same time, as Paulin got the gap down to 2.386. Further down the field, Seewer was applying the pressure to Jeremy Van Horebeek for P6. The pair then caught up to Tonus, as Seewer passed the two riders within a couple of laps.
On lap 11 we saw a change of lead, as Gajser crashed out of first place, which allowed Paulin to make of this opportunity to go after his first race win since Valkenswaard 2017.
Seewer was the next rider to go down, as he lost the two spots he worked hard to gain, to Van Horebeek and Tonus. And despite his best efforts he had a small issue with the bike, which he needed to pull over to fix, that also lost him two more spots – he eventually finished the race in eighth.
In the end it was Paulin who claimed the first race victory in Lommel, while Gajser finished second and Prado third.
Coming into the day’s races, Glenn Coldenhoff was among the favourites for the podium. Unfortunately, the Dutchman did not line up for the races, as a crash in the MXGP timed practice session forced him out of today’s action.
MXGP Race 2
As the gate dropped for the second MXGP race of the day, it was Prado who grabbed the Fox Holeshot, with Gajser, Seewer, Tonus and Bogers right behind him. Gajser then started to go after Prado for the top spot, as just 0.5 seconds separated the pair, and he was able to make the pass stick by the second lap, as Prado made a mistake.
Seewer then started to come under pressure from Bogers who was keen to put on a good performance. Cairoli was also having a much better start to the race as he was sitting in seventh just behind Paulin.
Gajser continued to lead the way as he gradually stretched out his lead, while Seewer started to catch up to Prado, as Febvre joined in on the battle too.
Bogers crashed out of fifth, which allowed Paulin and Cairoli through, as the two continued their race long battle.
With six-minutes plus 2 laps to go, Seewer and Prado were having a close battle. The pair made contact in one of the corners, after Prado lost a bit of ground, which also saw the Spaniard go down as a result. Febvre benefited from this as well, as Prado re-joined in fourth.
Three laps to go saw Gajser had a comfortable 10.447 second lead to Seewer, who made a mistake on the final lap and went off the circuit. As a result, he lost a position to Febvre.
In the end it was Gajser who was victorious, as Febvre crossed the line in second and Seewer holding on to third.
Tim Gajser – P1
“From the beginning of the day, I felt great on the track and on the bike. In the first moto, I got a good start, in second place around the first corner and then I moved quickly into the lead, pulling out a little gap. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake and fell, which allowed Gautier to pass me and I finished second. In the second moto, I had a good first corner and came out second again. I passed Jorge in the second lap and then pulled out a decent gap to control the race and take the overall. I’m really happy to take the victory here because we have worked so hard to get better in the sand and this is toughest race to win. Everyone in the team has been great and we just keep on pushing to get better and better and I can’t thank everyone enough!”
Gautier Paulin – P2
“This is an emotional high. I am really happy to be back on the podium especially for myself and for my team. It has been a tough road, it has been a long time since I had a win, so in the first moto I could have it, I was really pushing hard on a good rhythm. I didn’t really talk about it, but at the end of May I broke my back and knocked myself hard, so to be back at this level I am really happy because from the ground, in hospital where I broke two vertebra, it was a really hard time and then I crashed again in Faenza (Italy) and hurt myself again. Now I am feeling 100% and I am really happy to be back again.”
Jorge Prado – P3
“It was a positive day. The track was very rough and it was good to get used to the conditions because we still have another two rounds to go here. We also made some improvements to the bike, so that was useful. I had a perfect start in the second moto and was block-passed by Seewer while holding a good position. I rode strongly to make sure of 4th though and 3rd overall was pretty decent. I’m very happy to be 3rd in the championship after the way the year started. We are still charging.”
Romain Febvre – P4
“It was a good GP with a great second moto! My start was good and as always there was confusion in the first corner but I made my way through and rode a good opening lap. I found a good rhythm and came back to second; I was very happy with that! The first moto was not so good. I was fourth at the start but during the first lap I made a mistake in a corner and crashed; that’s never good as everyone is so close together during the first laps of a race and you lose so many places. I was seventeenth and came back to sixth, which is not so bad, but that cost me the podium. I was happy with my speed and my physical shape; the track was difficult but I found a good feeling and overall it was a good day. Now my goal is to win a GP here in Lommel; I have two more opportunities on Wednesday and Sunday!”
Jeremy Seewer – P5
“Lommel is always tough except when you are winning, and then I think you enjoy it. I felt okay today. I had a tip over on the first lap and was caught in the pack, almost last, but I had good speed and rhythm and I came back to fifth but then I made another small mistake and had a technical problem which cost me another three positions. I had a good start in the second race which paid off. I felt solid in second position but I threw it away with a stupid crash, but this is how it is in Lommel. If you’re on the limit it’s really sketchy, but I am still happy with third in that race but a little bit disappointed. At least we have another two rounds to make up.”