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"Lommel…it's like survival of the fittest" were the words that came out of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Jeremy Van Horebeek's mouth before the gates had even dropped for the Qualifying Race here at the fourteenth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, the Fiat Professional MXGP of Belgium, which was won by Honda Gariboldi's Tim Gajser in the end, ahead of the home turf titan Jeremy Van Horebeek.
As one of the most iconic tracks in the world, notorious for its sand surface, it also put the best to the test in the MX2 Qualifier which saw Team Suzuki World MX2's Jeremy Seewer take his first ever Qualifying Race win.
Until Honda Gariboldi's Tim Gajser came along it would have seemed impossible for a nineteen-year-old rookie to dominate the premier class in the sea-deep sand of Lommel. Gajser announced his partnership with Monster Energy yesterday, and who better to represent the brand than the most flamboyant and energetic rider on the track who for the eighth time this year, unleashed the beast, pulled a holeshot, and checked out for yet another qualifying heat victory.
Fellow Monster Energy athletes, Jeremy Van Horebeek and Romain Febvre, had their Monster Energy Yamaha Factory machines singing on the opening lap, in second and third, before Febvre chucked his away and dropped off the radar.
The defending champ had a couple more spills and only came home in twenty-first. Van Horebeek, on the other hand, remained strong. He looked good today. He set the fastest lap in Timed Practice and stayed cool in the qualifier for second place.
Behind the number 89, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Clement Desalle and Team Suzuki World MXGP's Kevin Strijbos had a decent scrap for third with Strijbos eventually winning that battle after charging hard up the inside of Desalle for the spot with only five minutes to go.
The winner of the most recent round of MXGP, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Max Nagl, rounded out the top five after taking a few laps to find his mojo. In the end, he had the sand dialed and finished right on the rear wheel of Desalle.
With 100cc less than everyone else, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Antonio Cairoli was outside of the top ten around turn one, but as the track got rougher, he excelled and managed to fight his way back to sixth. Last years' MXGP of Belgium winner, Wilvo Virus Performance KTM's Shaun Simpson also put in a good performance for seventh.
MXGP Qualifying Moto Top Ten
1. Tim Gajser 25:28.215
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek +0:05.417
3. Kevin Strijbos +0:10.291
4. Clement Desalle +0:19.063
5. Maximilian Nagl +0:19.689
6. Antonio Cairoli +0:21.256
7. Shaun Simpson +0:23.132
8. Arminas Jasikonis +0:28.968
9. Tommy Searle +0:32.312
10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:32.590
After topping the charts in Timed Practice, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Max Anstie got off to a perfect start as he led the way around turn one with Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Dylan Ferrandis on the right of him and Team Suzuki World MX2's Jeremy Seewer on the left. That was already an epic start to the weekend for the thousands of fans that have come out to watch here in Lommel, since Anstie, Ferrandis and Seewer are the hottest picks to win in the absence of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's sand masters' Jeffrey Herlings and Pauls Jonass.
Countless hours playing in the sand-pit with the king, Stefan Everts, have paid off for Seewer who passed Ferrandis like he was standing still almost straight away before Ferrandis put himself out of contention for the win when he folded the front end on lap two. On lap three, Anstie decided to join the club of dirt samplers when he threw away the lead with a massive crash on a wide sweeping turn.
With Anstie down, Seewer jumped into the drivers seat and led a freight train of sand specialists, namely, Petar Petrov, Brian Bogers, Brent Van Doninck and Calvin Vlaanderen.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Petar Petrov was in beast mode. He hammered it around the outside of HSF Logistics Motorsports KTM's Brian Bogers for second and managed to challenge Seewer for the lead. A few mistakes stopped him from making a move, but the Bulgarian who resides just up the road here in Lommel was pumped to finish second, "I wish there was points for qualifying," he laughed, "but it's tomorrow that counts."
Bogers is always a force to be reckoned with in the sand, a statement that was backed up with his third place finish. Meanwhile, Kemea Yamaha MX Official Team's Brent Van Doninck made an impressive return to the championship, after a two-month hiatus, with his fourth place finish ahead of HSF Logistics Motorsport KTM's Calvin Vlaanderen who was equally as good, in fifth.
Ferrandis and Anstie recovered from their slip ups for sixth and seventh, in that order.
MX2 Qualifying Moto Top Ten
1. Jeremy Seewer 25:38.485
2. Petar Petrov +0:07.915
3. Brian Bogers +0:14.815
4. Brent Van doninck +0:19.182
5. Calvin Vlaanderen +0:27.456
6. Dylan Ferrandis +0:33.488
7. Max Anstie +0:35.997
8. Benoit Paturel +0:37.963
9. Conrad Mewse +0:43.262
10. Michele Cervellin +0:46.581