Julien Lieber of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team finished sixth in the Russian round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship at the Orlyonok Sports Centre overlooking the Black Sea.
The Belgian faced a difficult opening lap in the first moto from seventeenth choice of gate but already on the opening lap of racing he displayed astounding speed and determination to advance quickly to eleventh and continued to show his skill as he was one of the few riders to make significant headway to finish sixth. A superb getaway in the top six in race two saw Julien battle for fifth place all moto, eventually clinching the position with an immaculate move six laps from the close. The combination of his two top six finishes earns sixth overall though such was the intensity of the scoring that he was just one point shy of fourth. He has also advanced to seventh in the series points standings after the eighth of eighteen rounds.
Julien Lieber: “I had a good rhythm yesterday but my start wasn’t so good in the Qualifying race and I was fighting with Tonus when he hit me and I crashed. I was pushing to come back but had another crash; seventeenth behind the gate was not the best as the start is even more important here. At the first start I was completely outside; my jump out of the gate was good but in the first corner I was too wide and lost positions. My first two laps were really good so I could pass several riders and eventually I came back to sixth. My second start was better from the inside; I was fifth when I hit neutral and lost one position but then I came back to fifth again for sixth overall. I want to thanks all the team as we did a lot of testing before coming here and I feel even more confident; we’ll try to continue the good work in Latvia.”
KRT teammate Clement Desalle, previously unbeaten at the venue, was most unfortunate. Holding a secure second place for the first seven minutes of the first moto he tipped over momentarily when the rear wheel stepped out in a tight slippery turn but was quickly making advances again from eighth and was just about to pounce for fourth three laps from the finish when the rear wheel hit a small mound approaching a jump and he was a “passenger” as he was thrown over the bars, sustaining a suspected fracture of both tibia and fibula. He will fly back to Belgium for surgery.
Home country star Evgeny Bobryshev was another unable to start race two. Even before racing the Russian had decided to undergo an operation for a wrist injury which has been troubling him for several months but was keen to put on a good performance for his fans after an impressive eleventh place in Qualifying; he again held that position on the opening lap of GP racing before losing control on a slippery downhill, suffering a broken tibia of the right leg.
Evgeny Bobryshev: “This was going to be my last GP for some weeks but I guess it will be a little longer now. I have been riding in pain from my wrist injury so I went back to my doctor last week and he confirmed that I I have broken ligaments in my wrist and needed an operation but I wanted to race here for my Russian fans.”
Alessandro Lupino was another first moto casualty. He had advanced quickly from twenty-fifth to fifteenth in the first fifteen minutes before crashing hard. He was transported immediately to Krasnodar hospital where four broken bones in his back and one in the chest were diagnosed; he will be flown back home to Italy for surgery as soon as possible.
Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki teammate Benoit Paturel finished the first moto tenth after an excellent start in eighth, but, determined not to make mistakes in the extreme heat after using a lot of energy in the first moto, he never settled in race two to finish nineteenth.
Benoit Paturel: “There are some positive points from this weekend; it was my best GP so far even if the result in the second race is not that good. I had a good rhythm this weekend. In the first moto I got a good start and was able to battle in the top ten; I lost two positions in the last part of the race but it was a positive one. For sure I used a lot of energy when I was fighting in the top ten and the second moto was more difficult after a bad start; the track was fast, it was very hot and I did my best but I didn’t want to take risks.”