Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1's Clement Desalle raced to victory at the Hawkstone Park International Motocross - the second year in succession that the Belgian has topped the MX1 class at the popular UK pre-season event.
Desalle - who also put his Suzuki RM-Z450 on the top step of the podium at the Valence International in France last weekend - won both races at the famous and historic former GP venue in Shropshire on Sunday.
After recording Pole Position in the morning's qualifying, the 22 year old grabbed the holeshot in the first MX1 race, closely followed by main rival Gautier Paulin (Kawasaki). The two swapped places briefly, but Desalle managed to pull away and take the flag. In the second race, he accidentally went off the track while leading, but he managed to recover and close back on the Frenchman, get ahead again; and bring home his second victory of the day - and the overall - by six points.
Desalle, who was injured whilst leading last year's World MX1 series, said, "The race was a good preparation for the season. Together with Paulin, I think we had some exciting races. I feel good on the bike and I'm happy that my shoulders are doing well: I found some issues, however, that I can still work on in my preparation towards the first GP in Valkenswaard."
The 2012 Hawkstone Park International Motocross podium
On the sandy layout of Hawkstone Park, Gautier Paulin battled all day long with Desalle; being the runner-up two times, he didn't finish the super final after breaking his bike
"It was another good weekend for me, and I was happy to race on such a technical layout with some nice jumps and deep ruts. It was my first visit to Hawkstone Park, and we had perfect conditions with nice weather and a rough track," Paulin said.
"In both MX1 races we had some nice battles with Clement; I had two great starts, and I had a good rhythm. Clement won twice but I was happy with my speed and my riding. We both lost time with the lappers even though it was a very long track. I retired in the last heat mixing the MX1 and MX2 riders, as I collided with an MX2 rider and damaged the bike. Next week we'll have different conditions in the French Elite. It will another opportunity for us to make some adjustments to the settings of the bike even though we already have a very good bike."
Paulin's teammate Xavier Boog also got a podium result with a seventh and a third place for third overall in the MX1 races, but struggled in the super final with an eleventh position, after having had a crash.
"I have mixed feelings after this event, even after I've gotten a podium result in the MX1 class," Paulin said.
"In the first race I had some troubles with my clutch and stalled the engine during the first lap, and then I had to come back from far. I was fourth during most of the second heat, and I lost too much time behind Simpson. I had a bad rhythm, and when I passed Simpson, Clément and Gautier were far away. I had the holeshot of the MX1 riders in the final heat, and I passed a couple of MX2 riders during the first lap; then I had more troubles to gain positions, made a couple of mistakes and finally crashed."
In the joint MX1-MX2-class Superfinal - where the top MX2 competitors were given a five-second head-start from the MX1 riders - Desalle finished in second place behind Swiss Arnaud Tonus (Yamaha).
Tonus also had a win at Valence, France last week in the MX2 class. The Swiss was irrepressible through the rough Hawkstone sand on his YZ250F. Tonus, the 2011 British Champion, further endeared himself to the local crowd with his impressive speed and delectable style by winning all three sprints; the last of which against the more powerful 450 machines.
"Wow, a great day. I'm really happy," commented Tonus, who along with Desalle, hit lap-times in the 2min 20 bracket almost three seconds faster than anyone else.
"I had a good feeling with the track but I have to say my bike was incredible today. I had three holeshots and I think that was more than all of last season put together! The power I had helped keep a good rhythm in the sand and that was important on this terrain. To be able to set that pace and beat Clement in the last moto felt really great. I'll head back to Switzerland now for some more riding and then be in the UK again for some tests with Michelin before the first British Championship."
Main Photo: Clement Desalle (25) takes the holeshot on his way to 2 moto wins Credit: Suzuki Racing