Team HRC duo Calvin Vlaanderen and Tim Gajser both finished second in their respective qualification races as the pair helped their countries make tomorrow’s Motocross of Nations A-Final.
Held at the Assen motor-racing facility in the Netherlands, where 26,000m³ of sand have been brought in to make the circuit, the 2019 edition of this prestigious event saw a wide range of weather conditions as the riders took to the track for their qualifying races.
First out was Gajser in the MXGP class representing Slovenia, who had 11th gate pick after the ballot on Friday evening. Getting a good jump out of the gate, he rounded the first turn in fourth place and set about trying to work his way forward. On the second lap he moved in third place and then a lap later he had moved up to second spot, with the rider in front within striking distance. However due to the format of the competition, Gajser decided it was better to secure two points for his country rather than risk a pass in what were quite difficult conditions and that decision paid off as Slovenia made the A-Final in 16th place.
In the MX2 class Vlaanderen was lined up near the outside as the Netherlands only had 27th gate pick out of 34. Still, utilising the power of the Honda CRF250RW, the Dutch rider rounded the first turn inside the top 10 and ended the first lap in sixth place. Just like the MXGP race, rain showers hit the track throughout the moto but that didn’t stop the home fans cheering on their rider as he worked his way through the field. Making passes at regular intervals, Vlaanderen kept the crowd entertained and eventually he crossed the line in second place, which was the best finish of the Dutch trio and gave them second gate pick for tomorrow’s three races.
Unfortunately Team Japan didn’t manage to qualify for the A-Final as the treacherous conditions meant that Akira Narita was unable to finish after an off-track excursion midway through his race. This left MX2 and Open riders Gota Otsuka and Toshiki Tomita needing to score well and despite good effort from both riders, they were unable to place high enough and will instead ride in the B-Final tomorrow morning, with the winners of that getting promoted to the A-Final.
Tomorrow, the teams have a 15 minute warm-up before the B-Final gets underway at 11am. There is then a bit of a break before the three A-Final motos which take place at 13:10 (MXGP & MX2), 14:40 (MX2 & Open) and 16:08 (MXGP & Open) local time.
Bold denotes a team with at least one HRC rider