Clement Desalle of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team narrowly missed the podium at the fifth round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship on his return to action after knee surgery.The Belgian had only been able to resume training a few days before the Grand Prix of Lombardy at Mantova and track conditions could not have been more difficult as heavy overnight rain saturated the track, persistent drizzle throughout race day ensuring no respite for the competitors. The start was clearly very important and Clement was able to use the smooth power of his KX450-SR to emerge in fourth position from the tricky opening turns in race one and sixth in race two. After the month-long pause in training on the bike the Kawasaki star knew that it was imperative to retain a consistent tempo to complete each thirty-minute-plus-two lap moto and he successfully maintained his lap times throughout the race distance in each moto. After relinquishing one position in each moto the experienced Belgian was able to control his own race, keeping further potentially over-enthusiastic challengers at bay each time to take the checkered flag fifth and seventh. He was rewarded for his consistency with fourth overall in the GP and the thirty-point championship haul strengthened his fifth place in the world standings; he has even narrowed the gap to fourth as the series looks ahead to five further GPs during the upcoming six weekends.
Clement Desalle: "When I saw the track this morning I wasn't so confident as at the moment it's difficult for me to put my leg on the ground if the bike slides. But it didn't change my plan; the goal was to do the best I could and I think I achieved that. I had a good gate pick and got some decent starts in both motos. Fifth in the first race was a good result; I didn't want to crash so I didn't take any risks. The second moto was similar and I finished sixth for fourth overall. It's a positive result if you consider that I couldn't train on the bike for one month. I will continue to work this week physically and maybe get in some riding. This evening I feel some pain in my hands and shoulders but that's normal after so long off the bike and I know that it will be better next week."
Benoit Paturel of Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki defied the difficult racing conditions to achieve his best result since joining the MXGP series last year as he raced to tenth overall from fifteenth in race one and eighth in race two. The Frenchman displayed persistence after an awkward start in the opening moto to already advance to fifteenth mid-moto before he was forced to stop for fresh goggles and, with clearer vision again, he recovered the positions lost during the stop by the end of the race. He maintained eighth place throughout race two.
Benoit Paturel: "It was great to score a top ten result in the second moto. In the first one I slid on the metal plate at the start and later in the race I had to stop for a new pair of goggles; fifteenth was not as good as I had hoped but I had a good feeling with my riding so I was confident for the second race. My start was better, I found a good rhythm and I rode carefully to finish eighth. The conditions were tough today, but we have worked hard with the team during the last few weeks and now we start to reap the reward."
Paturel's teammate Alessandro Lupino had an unfortunate home GP; the Italian was one of the victims of the inevitable first turn crash in race one but persevered to finish sixteenth. He again had to race from the tail of the field in race two after a crash at turn four and finished nineteenth. BOS Factory's Tommy Searle raced as high as eleventh in race one before the difficult track conditions cost him a chance of points, but he got some compensation with thirteenth in race two. KRT's Julien Lieber posted top ten starts in each moto but had no luck in the difficult conditions and had to be content with a fourteenth place finish in the opening moto.