Clement Desalle of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team maintained his title challenge in the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship despite a difficult weekend in the Argentinian round at Neuquen.
The Belgian already looked confident as he earns fourth pick at the gate for the qualifying race, but he was hindered by an incident at turn one as several other riders crashed and had to be content with fourteenth place on the grid for both GP motos. Nevertheless he twice made excellent starts on race day, maintaining his challenge throughout race one to finish a secure third. The power of his KX450F-SR gave Clement an even better start in race two and he moved ahead at the second corner to lead for three laps before the 2016 champion found a way past. Track conditions had changed dramatically since the opening moto and after nearly losing control a number of times Clement eased his pace to eventually take the chequered flag tenth. Sixth overall in the GP, Clement remains third in the standings, just 15 points behind the series leader after three of the nineteen rounds.
Teammate Jordi Tixier, racing for the first time in his career in Argentina, soon showed his liking for the panoramic track in the foothills of the Andes to post second fastest time in each of the practice sessions, but his hopes for the weekend were soon stifled as he crashed on the second lap of the qualifying race, injuring his groin. He was advised by the medical staff that there was no danger of suffering more damage if he chose to race the GP, but his leg was so painful that he could only finish eighteenth in the first moto and decided to sit out race two. He now flies home to France for further medical examinations, and he is now fourteenth in the series standings.
Clément Desalle: “My qualifying race was not easy as there was a crash at the start just in front of me and I had no place to go! I didn’t crash but I lost too much time, then during the race I made one mistake and finished fourteenth. My start in the first race was pretty good; I was third or fourth throughout the race and eventually finished third; it was a good race. The track changed a lot between the two races and, even though I got a very good start, I struggled with the track. I was second at the first corner and took over the lead at turn two to lead the race for several laps but I didn’t felt confident and took the decision to ride safe to finish the race.”
Jordi Tixier: “I never raced in Argentina before this weekend, but as soon as I went on the track I enjoyed the track and posted the second fastest lap during each of the practice sessions. I had the inside gate for the qualifying race and was sixth after one lap, but later when I landed from a jump there was a big hole; I went over the bars and had pain in my groin. We went for some examinations at the hospital and the doctors said that there was no risk to race so I tried to do my job. I finished the first race in eighteenth, but my leg was so painful that I couldn’t start the second moto. We’ll have some more examinations when we get back to France; I just hope that I will be able to race in Mexico in two weeks time.”