Lommel, Belgium hosted the 15th round of the 2018 world motocross championship with the deep sand combined with the high temperatures providing a real challenge for all the competitors. However, despite these conditions, the Honda riders in MXGP, MX2 and EMX250 classes acquitted themselves really well and now head to Switzerland with renewed confidence as the season enters its final quarter.
After two consecutive podium performances, Team HRC's Tim Gajser wasn't quite able to make it three in a row after he ended the weekend with sixth overall. In the extremely difficult conditions, the Slovenian rider tried his best to battle with the top five, helped by two good starts on his CRF450RW, but had to settle for a pair of seventh place finishes, which was still good enough to close the point's gap on third place in the MXGP championship. Assomotor's Petar Petrov and HRC's Todd Waters both suffered first lap crashes and had to come back from way down the field, but they showed good speed coming through the pack and can be pleased with their efforts.
In the MX2 class, Calvin Vlaanderen continued his good run of form, going five-seven for sixth overall. While not quite as good as his recent podium efforts, the 30 points he accumulated allowed him to close to within nine points of fourth place in the MX2 standings and with five rounds left to race, momentum is really on his side. Behind him, the Honda 114 Motorsports duo of Bas Vaessen and Hunter Lawrence found themselves together on the track, fighting to get inside the top 10 after they found themselves on the ground early on. Vamo Racing's Micha-Boy de Waal also battled with his Honda compatriots as he scored points for the fourth race in a row and will look to continue that streak in Switzerland in two weeks' time.
Mathys Boisrame kept his lead of the EMX250 championship despite a difficult weekend in the deep sand. The Assomotor rider showed good speed throughout the weekend, qualifying in third place in his group and leading a good portion of the first race before the track took its revenge. Eventually, the young French rider was able to salvage six-eight results which means he still holds onto the red plate with just three rounds of the EMX250 series remaining. Freek van der Vlist returned to action after his injury at the MXGP of Germany and put in his best results of the season, something that will hopefully continue as the season heads to the Frauenfeld track in Switzerland.
Mathys Boisrame 172
I am a little disappointed with the weekend because I know I had the speed to get better results. I was riding really well in the first moto, leading the race on my CRF250R and I felt comfortable but it was a difficult track and I wasn't able to keep that up. It was similar in the second race where I had the speed but an early mistake cost me. I am happy to get all the way back up to eighth place, especially as it meant that I was able to keep hold of the red plate. There are now three rounds left and I am extremely determined to stay at the top of this extremely competitive EMX250 championship.
Calvin Vlaanderen 10
I'm not too disappointed with today's result. Yes, it could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse, too. I fought hard the whole day and did my best, and I feel I couldn't have done a lot better than this. I put it down in the second moto, which was my fault: they kind of made the outside of the track flat while the inside was very rough, so I landed completely in the middle, my front washed and fell down. I had quite a good rhythm before that and I was happy with my speed, but afterward it was nearly impossible to get up to speed again. Fifth and seventh is not really what we want, but we'll keep working hard and fight. I look forward to Switzerland!
Tim Gajser 243
It was a difficult weekend and I'm glad it's done! The good thing about it was definitely the starts, as I was up there in all the motos. The first 15-20 minutes of both motos were OK, but I made too many mistakes. After I crashed in race one it was hard to get up to speed again, and in general, I felt like I was fighting against the track. Nevertheless, we scored some important points and got closer to third place in the standings, so we now look forward to be back at a hard-pack track in Switzerland. Thank you to the team for their amazing job, as usual.
Bas Vaessen 98
I am pretty happy with my weekend overall. Things weren't too great on Saturday as I couldn't find my rhythm but every time I got on the track I felt better and better. In both motos, I felt pretty comfortable, especially in the second race where I had some really good lines. It was just a shame that I crashed on the start because otherwise, I feel like I could have had a top 10 easily, so I'm disappointed with that but overall I'm happy with my riding.
Petar Petrov 152
Unfortunately, this weekend wasn't what I expected and it certainly wasn't what I hoped for. I felt like I had the speed to be around the top 10 but I just couldn't put it together in the races. I crashed first lap in the first race and I came back to 20th but I didn't feel comfortable. In the break, we made some good changes and it was much better for the second race. Unfortunately on the first lap again, another rider lost control and forced me to crash as I was making the pass. I went over the bars pretty big and then another rider hit me in the back. When I got up, I was a long way off the rest of the field so I just put my head down and ended up getting back to 23rd. It's not what I wanted but my lap times were good so that's a small positive, it's just that I really thought I could be around the top 10 this weekend and I had the speed and the fitness to do it, just no luck.
Gordon Crockard | Honda Europe Off-Road Manager
Lommel is an extreme sand race and that is a standout test compared to the majority of the other rounds. Deep sand racing is not a background that Mathys holds – this round would be the ultimate test for him – so it's positive that Mathys is going into the final 3 rounds of the series still holding the championship lead. Mathys was riding really well, especially in the first moto when he was leading the field, but like so many others, suffered small crashes due to the ever-changing nature of the Lommel sand. Freek van der Vlist returned after his injury layoff and put in his best results of the season as looks to finish the year on a high. Alberto Forato also showed good speed over the weekend, especially in qualifying when he placed just behind Mathys, for fourth place.
Tim Gajser put in two solid, if unspectacular results but once again got out the gate well, showcasing once again the power of the Honda CRF450RW. Like Calvin Vlaanderen in the MX2 class, he closed up on the rider in front of him in his championship and with five rounds left could easily improve another place before the end of the season. Unfortunately, Todd Waters, Petar Petrov, Bas Vaessen and Hunter Lawrence suffered problems in the early stages of their races which made good finishes extremely difficult. I was happy that they all fought throughout the whole moto though and I look forward to Switzerland where I hope their luck changes.