The twenty-eight year Belgian, entering his third year in the premier world motocross series with the Kawasaki Racing Team, was clearly confident all day on his new KX450F-SR which the team has tailored perfectly to his flowing riding style. He rode to a strong third place in timed training and made a perfect start in the twenty minute plus two lap qualifying race which decided start positions for both GP points-scoring motos tomorrow. Using Kawasaki power to enter the first turn right at the head of the pack together with his main rivals Clement settled quickly into a nice rhythm to hold second place for two-thirds of the race but took no chances in the closing laps to finish third.
KRT teammate Julien Lieber also showed good speed in his first race in the MXGP class. The twenty-three year old rookie held down fourth place for several laps before slackening his pace slightly to finish tenth.
Crowd favourite Darian Sanayei of Bike It DRT Kawasaki took a solid sixth place in MX2 qualifying. The American entertained the enthusiastic crowd with some stunning acrobatics during practice but showed self-control in the qualifying race to advance from an initial seventh to cross the finish line sixth.
Clement Desalle: “It was a pretty good start to the season. I felt comfortable in the timed practice session to earn a good gate pick for the race and I got a very good start! The metal plates which the FIM introduced last year really do make it a fair start for everybody. I went a little wide in the first corner and was second, then Herlings passed me but he made a mistake and I was again second. I had a good rhythm but I made a few small mistakes and Van Horebeek passed me near the end but third was a good result. There’s one section of the track where I want to find more speed; we’ll analyse that this evening."
Julien Lieber: "I've only been back on the bike for five weeks and this was my first race of the season so it was already a bonus to run with the leaders for several laps. MXGP is tough physically and I didn't want to take any risks. It's good to have my first race on a 450 behind me and I'm sure I will be more relaxed tomorrow."