2 August 2015
Four Great British Victories at Lommel
The Belgian GP proved to be one of the most successful Grands Prix ever for British riders, with a a staggering four double wins for the UK riders in everything from the EMX150 class right up to the MXGP. It was simply a fantastic day to be British in Lommel.
Shaun Simpson was on another level today as he proved to be the strongest sand rider on the grid. In the first moto it was Romain Febvre and Gautier Paulin that crossed the holeshot line almost simultaneously, the Yamaha rider just edging in front with Simpson getting past Paulin for second as they headed for that big quad. Febvre went for the triple but Simpson unleashed the quad jump, soaring past the red plate holder and taking the lead. Febvre continued to press hard but Simpson slowly began to stretch a slight lead as Paulin was chasing down Febvre and taking his attention. Febvre went down once to lose second and then again when he was trying to regain ground and after that he had to settle for third as Simpson stormed the win with Paulin four seconds back, the Honda man unable to make enough time to catch Simpson.
In the second moto all the expectation was on Simpson, but it was Paulin who got out in front and stayed there for an agonisingly long seven laps with Simpson and Febvre were dicing with each other behind him. Simpson finally got past Paulin and a lap later so did Febvre, the Yamaha rider keeping dangerously close to Simpson for another seven laps. The final two laps were drama filled as Paulin got back in front of Febvre, but more worryingly Simpson had a big off at the end of the quad straight. Luckily, he got back up quickly and managed to keep the lead, taking the chequered flag and the overall, his first GP victory since Lierop in 2013.
Simpson's double win had been matched by an equally dominant performance from Max Anstie, getting his second GP win on the bounce at what is surely the toughest track in modern motocross. KTM's Pauls Jonass seemed to be doing a good job as a replacement for the injured Jeffrey Herlings, leading the first two laps of the first moto before Anstie dropped the hammer and left him for dust. With Anstie rapidly pulling out a lead the fight was between Jonass and Petar Petrov with Julien Lieber not far behind. Series front runners Valentin Guillod and Tim Gajser were again back in the pack with the Honda rider in 9th and the Yamaha man in a terrible 16th. The both moved forward slowly but by the end it was Gajser who put in the best push, getting to an eventual fifth behind Harri Kulas, Petrov, Jonas and Anstie by the end of the gruelling race.
Second time out, Anstie was done with messing about and took the lead from the start, stretching to a 25 second lead by the end of the perfectly ridden race. Jonass kept things the right way up, getting past Petrov on lap one and then staying in second for the entire moto. His result would prove pivotal as Gajser yet again started poorly and had to claw back to seventh, while Guilllod started in seventh then crashed badly, smashed his bike to bits, ripped off a radiator hose and gave himself a DNF. With both his rivals having problems, Jonass second place behind Anstie gifted him and KTM the red plate by four points from Gajser.
But the day belonged to Anstie – he rode superbly and proved himself to me the strongest in the class.
The third double came from Brad Anderson in his stand in role for the GL12 team. Anderson's problems the day before had been traced down to water from the quick filler tank getting into the fuel. With no such issues in MOTO two, Anderson still made himself fight for positions, starting in eighth but climbing steadily to hit third in five laps behind Davey Jansen and Mike Kras. Kras and Ando both got past and the Dutch rider held the front for a brief two circulations on the sand before the former British champ pulled the pin, took the lead and blasted to the second moto win and the overall.
For the final British double, EMX150 rider Jack Bintcliffe provided the goods yet again after his wire to wire win the day before. He didn't quite repeat that in the second race, but only dropping from the lead in one of the eleven lap races could be forgiven – he took his Honda CRF150 to the overall victory and stood on the podium with just as much pride as Simpson, Anstie and Anderson when the National anthem played.
The EMX250 class went to Lars Van Berkel, but with the title front-runners all having difficulties, Adam Starry managed to convert his fifth overall to second in the championship, only 33 points behind Nick Kouwenburg with two races to go. In EMX125, Conrad Mewse managed sixth overall, taking him to fourth with one round left.
Despite being the toughest tracks in the calendar, Lommel proved the British riders can mix it with the best in World and European motocross and win, And Man did it feel good.
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