The Monster Energy MXGP of Flanders treated us to some epic action as the MXGP and MX2 riders took on the challenge, at what is known as one of the toughest sand tracks in the world.
The races saw some epic action, as we added some new race winners in MXGP and MX2, as Gautier Paulin and Ben Watson of the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MXGP and MX2 squad, took a race win each in their respective classes.
Though it was Team HRC’s Tim Gajser who took a second consecutive win here in Lommel, with a 2-1 result which put him on top of the box. While in MX2, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle had a solid day to finish 2-2 in the races to claim his sixth overall win of the 2020 campaign.
In the opening MXGP race of the day, it was JM Honda Racing’s Dylan Walsh who grabbed the Fox Holeshot, as he led Gajser, Arnaud Tonus and Gautier Paulin of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing.
There were a few riders caught up in a crash on the first turn, two of them being Adam Sterry of Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee and Calvin Vlaanderen of Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing.
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. Marchetti Racing Team KTM’s Brian Bogers had a great start to the race as he was sitting in fourth, this was also the position he eventually finished the race in.
Both Romain Febvre of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer both 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, as he passed 6 riders in a single lap to get himself into the top 10.
Paulin then 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 of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had a tough first race after starting outside the top 15. He managed to finish the race in 13th, not where the 9-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 of Honda SR Motoblouz 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 2 more spots and he eventually finished the race in 8th.
In the end it was Paulin who claimed the first race victory here in Lommel, while Gajser finished second and Prado third.
Coming into the races, Standing Construct GasGas Factory MXGP’s 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 the day’s action.
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 7th just behind Paulin.
Gajser then 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 then crashed out of 5th, which allowed Paulin and Cairoli through, as the two continued their race long battle.
With 6 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 4th.
3 laps to go and 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.
In terms of the podium, it was Gajser who took to the top step of the podium and claimed his second consecutive win in Lommel. Gautier Paulin finished second overall, for his first podium appearance of 2020 and Prado occupied the final step.
Gajser has now doubled his championship lead from 24 to 48 points over Cairoli, as Prado and Seewer both have 429 points and are third and fourth in the standings heading into round 14.
Tim Gajser: “Already from the beginning I was feeling really good on the bike and on the track as well. In the first race I got a really good start, I was second and I managed to catch the leader and pass him. I was able to make a little gap and go ahead but I made a mistake and I lost the front. I crashed, this is when Gautier passed me. In the second race the start was not so good but after the first corner I was able to go second and then pass Prado, make a little gap and go ahead with the win of the race so I’m super happy about today”.
Gautier Paulin: “It has been a while but I’m really happy to be back on the podium for myself, for my team and for my family and as you said it was a long time since I took my last win. In the first race I pushed really hard because I wanted this win and I found the good rhythm. It has been a really tough one because you know at the beginning of May I broke my back and right now to be back at this level is… When I was on the bed of the hospital I was really scared. In Latvia I injured my hand and once again in Faenza I had a really hard crash so now I’m really happy to be back again”.
Jorge Prado: “It has been difficult. The track was hard but it’s good to get used to these conditions because we’ll have other two races there and we are doing good to improve that is really good for the future. In the first race I had a really good start from the gate, and I was in the first position, in the second race I did a perfect start but after Tim passed me very quick and even if I tried to follow him, he made quite a gap. Then I was fighting for the second position and Seewer come from inside and I crashed, after that Paulin and Tony were on my tail and I managed in the last lap to be 4th in the second race. Being third overall is really good but I’m looking for more on Wednesday. I’m very happy to be third in the championship because after all that happened to me in the beginning of the season is great; anyway, we are still charging and we will see how it will end up”.
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), 36:38.456; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:08.713; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:19.653; 4. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:21.723; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +0:33.340; 6. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:34.647; 7. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:35.438; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:55.038; 9. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +1:01.292; 10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Husqvarna), +1:05.035.
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 36:21.474; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:12.666; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:13.976; 4. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:29.157; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:32.265; 6. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:38.527; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +1:14.279; 8. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Husqvarna), +1:15.053; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +1:16.036; 10. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +1:47.967.
MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 47 points; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 41 p.; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 38 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 37 p.; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 33 p.; 6. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 32 p.; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, HON), 27 p.; 8. Brent Van doninck (BEL, HUS), 24 p.; 9. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 23 p.; 10. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 20 p.
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 488 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 440 p.; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 429 p.; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 429 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 383 p.; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, GAS), 375 p.; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 352 p.; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 312 p.; 9. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 263 p.; 10. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, HUS), 248 p.
MXGP – Manufacturers Classification: 1. KTM, 577 points; 2. Honda, 525 p.; 3. Yamaha, 494 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 452 p.; 5. GASGAS, 399 p.; 6. Husqvarna, 305 p.
The first MX2 race was another opportunity for Vialle to show off his skills when it comes to the starts, as he claimed yet another Fox Holeshot. Watson and Geerts were close behind, with Maxime Renaux of Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori J1 Racing, Roan Van De Moosdijk of F&H Kawasaki Racing and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen, also right there as well.
Geerts then crashed out of 3rd on the opening lap and re-joined further down the order in 8th, which was only the beginning of a tough race for the Belgian.
On lap 3, Watson set the best lap of the race as he cut the gap down to 1.8 seconds, as he started to go after the race leader. Meanwhile, Geerts managed to get back up to third and crashed once more. Vialle then made a mistake, which allowed Watson to get even closer and by lap 7, the Yamaha rider was the new race leader.
Vialle then whittled the gap down to just 1.646 seconds as he started to go after Watson for the win, while the pair had a solid 16-second gap to Renaux who was third in the race.
By lap 9, the top 5 included Watson, Vialle, Renaux, Olsen and Van de Moosdijk, but Van de Moosdijk found himself in trouble as he crashed out of 5th.
With a few laps to go Vialle picked up the pace as he gave it one last push to get Watson, the gap changed several times in the following laps, but it was a mistake, which resulted in a crash, from Vialle in the last lap which solidified the hard-earned win for Watson.
Watson was the race one winner, with Vialle holding on to second and Renaux finishing 6 seconds down, in third.
The start of the second race was once again dominated by Vialle, who claimed his 16thFox Holeshot of the season. Factory Yamaha riders, Geerts and Watson got another flying start and were up there, running with the leader.
Renaux then took 3rd from Watson, as Van de Moosdijk was looking to pass him as well, though it was a crash from the Brit that saw him drop down to 7th in the opening laps.
Olsen then went after Renaux for P3, which he was able to do, as Geerts worked away at the gap between him and Vialle, which was 1.053 at the time.
By lap 5, Geerts was the new race leader, as Van de Moosdijk took 4th from Renaux.
Van de Moosdijk then set his fastest lap of the race as he looked to go after Olsen who was a couple of seconds ahead of him. It took a bit of work for him to find a way through on the Dane, but by lap 9 he was able to do just that. All while Watson was going after Beaton and Renaux to get back into the top 5, which he was also successful in doing so.
With 3 laps of the race remaining, Geerts led the way by 2.170 seconds, though Vialle was able to get onto the rear wheel of the race leader. Though after putting up a good fight, he was unable to pass the Belgian rider.
In the end it was Geerts who was the race winner in the second heat, with Vialle second and Van de Moosdijk crossing the line in third.
In terms of the podium, it was Vialle who took to the top step of the box for the 6th time this season, as Geerts occupied second and Watson getting back on the box for the second time this year, as he finished third.
As it stands, Vialle continues to lead the MX2 championship with a nice 53-point lead, while Renaux and Beaton are tied on 407 points in third and fourth.
Tom Vialle: “It has been a really good day for me. In the first race I was riding good, but Ben was pushing on the back and then he passed me. I tried to push but I did a little mistake and I crashed just before the last lap, but I still finished good so at least it was a good race for me. In the second race I was feeling really good on the track better than the first one. I pushed Jago and at the end I finished second. Winning the overall here is something really special for me because three years ago I was riding the European championship here and I finished really at the back. I’m really happy about that. We work a lot with the team, Joel, my family and it’s really nice to win.”
Jago Geerts: “In the first race I did two small mistakes and it was a tough race for me. My riding was ok, but it could have been better. In the second race we made a big improvement; my riding was better, and I was also feeling comfortable on the track. I think we can still do some improvements for Wednesday and I’ll be ready for the next races. It’s always nice to ride here in Lommel, it’s my home GP. This year have been difficult for everybody and now I’m really looking forward for the next race here in Lommel”.
Ben Watson: “In the last few laps I felt that Tom was on my back, but I tried to not to think about that and ride in my style. I was feeling comfortable and riding good. You know when you go for the first win you always feel some pressure and I need to get used to that. Then after I crossed the line, I was really happy not only for me but for everybody and for the team. They stayed behind me, it’s really nice to be on the top again. I really enjoy the track and I like it. A lot of guys train here but I think they made some changes with different sand because compared to the training track this is different and new for everybody, which is good”.
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), 36:16.844; 2. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:22.023; 3. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:28.203; 4. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:31.157; 5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:42.546; 6. Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +1:01.154; 7. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +1:18.517; 8. Alvin Östlund (SWE, Honda), +1:26.138; 9. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Yamaha), +1:28.880; 10. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +1:31.051;
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 36:22.920; 2. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:09.511; 3. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:27.551; 4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:30.982; 5. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:32.601; 6. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:56.536; 7. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:58.842; 8. Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +1:21.322; 9. Nathan Renkens (BEL, KTM), +1:45.424; 10. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Yamaha), +1:55.624;
MX2 – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 44 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 43 p.; 3. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 41 p.; 4. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 35 p.; 5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 34 p.; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, KAW), 31 p.; 7. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 28 p.; 8. Isak Gifting (SWE, GAS), 28 p.; 9. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, YAM), 23 p.; 10. Alvin Östlund (SWE, HON), 23 p.
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 569 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 516 p.; 3. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 407 p.; 4. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 407 p.; 5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 381 p.; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, KAW), 357 p.; 7. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 355 p.; 8. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 287 p.; 9. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, YAM), 249 p.; 10. Mathys Boisrame (FRA, KAW), 234 p.
MX2 – Manufacturers Classification: 1. Yamaha, 585 points; 2. KTM, 585 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 471 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 439 p.; 5. Honda, 294 p.; 6. GASGAS, 199 p.