Clement Desalle of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team narrowly missed the podium in the Portuguese round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship to advance to fourth in the series standings.
The Belgian, still recovering from knee surgery last month, had to be content with sixth place in a high-speed spectacle in the opening moto, but was immediately at the sharp end in race two as he grabbed the holeshot to lead convincingly for seven laps before coming under intense pressure from the series leaders. Maintaining consistent lap times to the close he finished fourth, just five seconds down on second place, for fourth overall and a significant advance in the points standings.
Clément Desalle: “It was a decent day if we consider that I couldn’t ride so much during the past weeks and there some positive points. It was great to lead the second moto with a very good rhythm for so many laps and that’s encouraging for the next rounds. I continue to recover from my knee injury and I feel that it’s coming better each week. The other positive point are my starts, and then to score a sixth and a fourth give me good points for the championship. Physically it’s still tough to maintain such a high intensity for the entire race but I know that I will be able to continue to improve my condition in the coming weeks.”
KRT teammate Julien Lieber, his confidence growing from race to race, had quickly taken over fifth place in race one and finished in that position, narrowly failing to close down the rider in fourth by just over a second. High expectations of a challenge for his first MXGP podium evaporated at the second corner of race two as he was hit from behind by other riders, but he showed great resilience to storm back through the pack to finish ninth place in the moto and seventh overall in the GP.
Julien Lieber: “The first moto was good; I got a good start and had consistent lap times to finish fifth, not so far from Seewer. I tried to pass him and pushed in the last few laps but I couldn’t quite make it stick. In the second moto my start was again good but in the second corner two riders hit me; I nearly crashed and lost many positions but I came back to ninth. It was a solid weekend; the track was really nice and I take renewed confidence to the next round in France.”
Alessandro Lupino of Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki gated top six in the opening moto to eventually finish tenth; the Italian was fourteenth in race two. Teammate Benoit Paturel was twice seventeenth and Tommy Searle of BOS Kawasaki added a sixteenth place finish in race one.