Team Suzuki Press Office – April 8. Chilly but bright conditions at Valkenswaard on Easter Sunday greeted a positive start to the FIM Motocross World Championship for Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 as Clement Desalle took his factory RM-Z450 to second position in the first MX1 Qualification Heat of the season.
The Belgian commenced the opening meeting of 16 in the series slowly building up his speed and refining the works motorcycle to best cope with the bumps and ruts of the shallow sand. Desalle, developing new engine management components, made a few tweaks to the set-up as well adjustments to his rear shock (to lower the ride height of the bike) and a handlebar modification in search of the best feeling on the demanding terrain.
The 22 year old started the 20 minute and 2 lap heat inside the top five and focused throughout the sprint in gaining ground and passing two riders to reach second spot – and therefore the same pick of gate positions for the Grand Prix motos tomorrow – behind World Champion Tony Cairoli.
New team-mate Tanel Leok came to Valkenswaard nursing a sore wrist and leg but the Estonian battled through two practice sessions and the qualification heat in typically robust style. A conservative but determined run to eighth place gives him a decent gate slot for what will be his Grand Prix race debut tomorrow on the new factory RM-Z450.
“It’s great to be at the first GP but it was only practice and qualifying today and we had some work to do as I wasn’t so comfortable with some of the new settings we had for the bike. We made some changes and it was better for me in the afternoon. The start in the heat race was not so bad but I was squashed a little bit into the first corner. I was working on my feeling on the bike rather than lap-times and in the end I’m quite happy with how things went.”
“I expected the track to get a bit rougher than it did today. It was pretty tricky in some places but it was also quite flat. I feel OK although I had a bit of pain in my leg but the wrist was fine. My start in the heat race was ‘so-so’ but I turned in tight and came out well and made up some places. The bike is working well and we didn’t make any changes today.”
MX1 Qualification Heat: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 25:04.092; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1), +0:08.168; 3. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), +0:08.684; 4. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:12.345; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), +0:13.620; 6. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:16.654; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:17.074; 8. Tanel Leok (EST, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1), +0:23.258; 9. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:41.411; 10. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), +0:43.661.