If it’s the first Sunday in August, it must be the Belgian Grand Prix of Motocross. On the World Motocross Championship scene, Belgium in the center of the MXGP Universe.
For many, many year, the traditional first Sunday in August Belgian Grand Prix was held at the famed Citadelle Circuit in Namur. But recent history has the event at another circuit, much different from Namur, and that is the sand of Lommel.
To start our coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix of Motocross this weekend, we give you the words of current MX1 points leader, Mr. Tony Cairoli:
We are now just a few days ahead from the big ‘home’ GP in Lommel. For a lot of riders, it feels like a home Motocross Grand Prix because during the season many riders live in Belgium, especially in & around Lommel. The last few weeks we had an easy time, with three weekend’s of no GP’s.
The first free weekend we had, I went to the Formula 1 GP, in Nurburgring, Germany. It was nice to see how everything goes there in Formula 1, and I could look around in the pit boxes to have a closer look. I also was able to meet lots of drivers, and all of them knew that I was a motocross rider. I was surprised how many F1 drivers actually started on motocross bikes when they were young! Most of them stopped riding dirt bikes, because of their parents who didn’t really like it, because it was too ‘dangerous’. I had a great weekend at F1, and I want to thank my sponsor Red Bull for this … they arranged everything for me! Grazie! (And – what a great Red Bull hospitality they have at F1!! : )
After the Formula 1 race we did go ‘home’ to Belgium again. Thursday before last weekend we went to visit my family in Sicily. Jill and I invited some friends to come to our place in Patti. The weather was perfect, … so we had six great days with a whole group of friends there.
After our little holiday, I was ready to fight against the big sand at the track in Lommel! When we arrived back in Belgium, I went training at Lommel. And after that, I went training at lots of sand tracks in Belgium, Holland and Germany. I’ve had a pretty busy last few days before this next Grand Prix in the sand of Lommel. We have also done a lot of interviews and publicity for the GP, but it is always nice to do. I’m looking forward to our first GP after our ‘little break’!
Take care, and see you all in Lommel!”
On Friday, track preparations were in full swing. The track was being groomed, watered, and literally manicured. All the riders were on the compound. Track personnel were preparing for a weekend of huge crowds. Vendors were getting ready. And, although Belgium can get rain, Friday was hot & sunny.
Lommel is a unique track for a few reasons. First is it’s sand. It starts off smooth as pavement (see photo) but get so choppy, rough, and bumpy – it literally wears the riders down physically and mentally. No matter how good of conditioning you are in, going full anaerobic for 35 minutes plus two laps when the track is rutted, full of holes and bumps and brutal as can be is just about impossible. And, the local government of Limburg is a big help in the race, which is put on and promoted by two of the best riders ever in the sport of motocross – both from Beglium! Winningest Motocross rider ever, with 10 World MX Championships, Stefan Everts, and, 5-times World Motocross Champion Eric Geboers!
Look at the Lommel GP Motocross circuit. Fully prepared, and 100% smooth. That will change : )
The MX1 Honda of Clement Desalle
Grand Prix of Belgium
On Saturday practice, it was Marvin Musquin, the MX2 World Motocross Championship points leader, riding for KTM, dominating the qualifying heat.
In MX1, it was Clement Desalle with the win. Former World Motocross Champion Steve Ramon, making his Grand Prix comeback after being out since right after the Valkenswaard round, qualified second. Current MX1 Champion David Philippaerts could not get his bike restarted, and will start Sunday’s GP with a bad gate postion.
KTM made big new with their 2010 plans – they are bringing in the whole De Carli team, including current MX1 World Championship points leader Tony Cairoli! The KTM factory MX1 line up will be completed by Max Nagl and Rui Goncalves. Stefan Everts will remain as the Overall Race Director as well as the MX2 Team Manager.
Stefan Everts announced the Everts & Friends Charity Race. It’s an annual race between Everts and his “friends”, in Genk, Belgium on August 23 … and some of the top GP riders have already confirmed their participation, including Ramon, De Dycker, Barragan, Strijbos, Goncalves, Tanel Leok, Van Horebeek, Roelants, Simpson, Triest, Priem and Dierckx. Regular Women’s World Championship riders such as Laier, Papenmeier and Franke will also take part in the event as well as Benoit Pauwels, the renowned “one-armed motocross racer”.
Veterans and former World Motocross Champions such as Eric Geboers, Harry Everts, Graham Noyce, Toon Karsmakers, Jo Martens and AndrÃ© Vromans will also enter in a separate class. More info at http://www.evertsandfriends.com
The profits will benefit “Een Hart voor Limburg” (King Baudouin Foundation) and its “Kids” and “De Berk” projects, and to a Belgo-Luxembourg childhood cancer trust.
And, Team France unveiled their line up for the 2009 Motocross of Nations in Italy. Nicolas Aubin, Marvin Musquin, and Gautier Paulin.