Lieber posts decent fourth place through Lommel sand
Lommel's sandy bumps, holes, ruts and waves were illuminated by bright sunshine for the fourteenth round of eighteen in the FIM Motocross World Championship at Lommel and Yamaha were ably represented by Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube's Julien Lieber who used his YZ250F to run to fourth position overall.
The most feared racing track on the MXGP calendar lay in store for the Grand Prix elite and Lommel was in it roughest and most demanding state for years. Temperatures in the mid-twenties did not make the latest stop on the world championship trail any easier.
In the first moto Julien Lieber kept pace with Petar Petrov in fourth position but the Belgian - competing at his home fixture for the first time in two years - was protecting a back problem that eventually forced him to ride with a lot of clutch action and mechanically strained his race bike to the point where he lost two places on the final lap and dropped to sixth. Teammate valentin Guillod was already reeling from a crash and DNF in the Qualification Heat that saw him enter the start gate second-to-last. The Swiss was one of many to struggle on the sand and he lost a potential tenth position in the first race with another fall that bumped him to twelfth. Kemea Yamaha Yamalube's Brent Van Doninck started badly and had to come from almost last spot to chase and overtake his team Benoit Paturel with the blue Kemea machines crossing the finish line in ninth and tenth respectively.
The second moto again saw Lieber in decent form and satisfying the loud support of fans through the fences. He defied his back discomfort while holding a clear third position until the final stages of the thirty-minute and two lap distance when a dismount through the waves section almost spelt disaster. '33' was able to restart and thankfully keep his ranking. Guillod's moto did not last a lap. The Grand Prix winner could not avoid the fallen Van Doninck and ripped a hole in his radiator through the collision. Forced to the pitlane for his second DNF of the weekend Guillod also saw a dent to his championship aspirations. Van Doninck was also a retiree. Paturel rode to ninth.
From being joint-second before Lommel Valentin Guillod is now fourth in the MX2 table and 25 points away from leader Pauls Jonass. Lieber is eighth and Paturel also in the top ten.
Maxime Renaux and Yamaha's hopes of adding more glory to a fantastic 125cc track record in 2015 were dashed when the Junior World and French Champion fractured his left collarbone while training before the weekend. The teenager had to withdraw after the first practice session at Lommel with too much pain and discomfort and can now hope to return in shape for the final outing at Assen in four weeks if he doesn't require an operation.
The EMX250 European Championship was also entering the closing stages and Kemea Yamaha Yamalube's Damon Graulus was flying back from a bad start in the first moto until he crashed out of fifth position. In the second race he again fell in a similar zone of the track. Unfortunately the consequences for the championship means that the Belgian is third and by trailing Nick Kouwenberg by 41 points with just 50 left to win. Alvin Ostlund walked the podium in Lommel with third place overall.
Brad Anderson took his YZ250 to a second Grand Prix win in succession for the EMX300 European Championship.
The Grand Prix of Lombardia in the hard and shallow-packed sand of Mantova in northern Italy will represent round fifteen of MXGP on August 23rd.
6th and 3rd for 4th overall. Championship Position: 8th
"I'm happy, especially after the difficult time in the last few races. Today I was a bit unlucky in the first moto because I had a few problems with my back and towards the end of the race I had to sit down more which meant I had to clutch a lot. I burned the clutch on the last lap and almost didn't make the finish line, that's why I lost two positions. Without that problem I should have been on the podium. In the second race I was third and then made a stupid mistake near the end because I was so tired again because of my back. We'll make some checks at the end of the season and maybe consider some surgery to be fit for next year. I missed my home GP for the last two years so it feels great to make a nice result here. I want to thank the Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube team and all my family for all they do for me. My trainer Yves Demaria and also Tim Mathys [Team Owner] who invests so much in the team and this is really good for us."
12th and DNF for 19th overall. Championship Position: 4th
"In the first moto I was positioned to the outside of the gate and didn't make a good start. I was twenty-second on the first lap and came back to tenth. I wasn't feeling so good. I was sitting down a lot and had a small crash to finish twelfth. Not a good moto because physically I was struggling. I cut to the inside for the second moto and it worked because I was around seventh. Van Doninck passed me and jumped into some bumps and went over the bars. His bike was in front of me and I hit it and broke the radiator. I was pretty mad at myself and how it had all turned out. Now I am focussed for the next races. I want to work hard and I want that title."
Brent Van Doninck
9th and DNF for 14th overall. Championship Position: 15th
"I'm so disappointed. I expected a lot from this weekend and it turned out completely the other way. Saturday was good. I had a good feeling, was riding smooth and was confident for Sunday. The first moto was going pretty well. I was saving some energy at first and right when I started pushing, I crashed. It took me a while to get back in the rhythm and finished ninth in the end. Second moto; my start was average and I pushed straight away. In the second lap the sand soaked up my bike after a big jump and I went over the bars. I had some troubles breathing and was in pain, so that was the end of a day to forget."
10th and 9th for 8th overall. Championship Position: 10th
"I'm quite satisfied with the weekend. This was by far the gnarliest track I've ever ridden. If they would have told me I would finish 8th overall in Lommel, I would have signed immediately. I feel I learned a lot in the sand. This was the aim for me for this year, and the plan is to step up towards next year.'