Julien Lieber of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team finished sixth in the Russian round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship, while Clement Desalle got injured in a bad crash during the first heat.
After two successful trips to the Orlyonok Sports Centre overlooking the Black Sea during the past seasons, the 2019 MXGP of Russia will not remain as a good one for the team as Clement crashed hard on this fast track and probably ends his season there. Sixth during the qualifying race he secures a second place for the first seven minutes of the first moto he tipped over momentarily when the rear wheel stepped out in a tight slippery turn. He was quickly making advances again from eighth and was just about to pounce for fourth three laps from the finish when the rear wheel hit a small mound approaching a jump and he was a “passenger” as he was thrown over the bars, sustaining a suspected fracture of both tibia and fibula. He will fly back to Belgium for further exams and surgery.
With a sixth overall in this eighth round of the series Julien got his best result of the season, and brings some positive news to the team. He faced a difficult opening lap in the first moto from seventeenth choice of gate but already on the opening lap of racing he displayed astounding speed and determination to advance quickly to eleventh and continued to show his skill as he was one of the few riders to make significant headway to finish sixth. A superb getaway in the top six in race two saw Julien battle for fifth place all moto, eventually clinching the position with an immaculate move six laps from the close. The combination of his two top six finishes earns sixth overall though such was the intensity of the scoring that he was just one point shy of fourth. He has also advanced to seventh in the series points standings after the eighth of eighteen rounds.
Julien Lieber: “I had a good rhythm yesterday but my start wasn’t so good in the Qualifying race and I was fighting with Tonus when he hit me and I crashed. I was pushing to come back but had another crash; seventeenth behind the gate was not the best as the start is even more important here. At the first start I was completely outside; my jump out of the gate was good but in the first corner I was too wide and lost positions. My first two laps were really good so I could pass several riders and eventually I came back to sixth. My second start was better from the inside; I was fifth when I hit neutral and lost one position but then I came back to fifth again for sixth overall. I want to thanks all the team as we did a lot of testing before coming here and I feel even more confident; we’ll try to continue the good work in Latvia.”
Clément Desalle(Saturday): “I have some good memories from this track and it was good to win here the last two seasons. In the qualifying race I got a good start, but I made some mistakes when I was in second position. Then Cairoli crashed in front of me at mid-race; I had to grab the brakes hard to avoid him so I also crashed and was lucky that I was able to continue my race. Sixth gate is OK for the race; I just need some more good starts tomorrow and a podium result will be already a success as since France I haven’t been able to train as I’d like due to my knee injury; I miss time on the bike and that always makes it tough to maintain the rhythm.”