Brutal Lommel proves toughest test of the year for Team HRC

The deep sand of Lommel, Belgium really tested the pair of Ruben Fernandez and Tim Gajser as both riders had to fight hard to finish around the top 10. Fernandez’s second moto result of sixth was the best result from the duo, coming off the back of the Fox Holeshot as the #70’s Honda CRF450R powered around the first corner in first position.

Team HRC MXGP Lommel 2023 Fernandez 70

Overall though, it was a day where positives were in short-supply as the damp conditions, combined with the difficult new layout meant neither rider leaves the MXGP of Flanders happy with their results.

In moto one, both riders were just outside the top five as the pack went through the first few bends, however very quickly afterwards, a mistake from the rider ahead of Gajser caused the #243 to tip over, allowing the whole field to go past. That position was made even tougher as he burned his hand on the exhaust during the incident and now had to ride the whole moto in excruciating pain. Giving his best effort, he made his way up to 15th as time expired, but it was also done with the knowledge that the second moto would also be a struggle.

Meanwhile Fernandez was looking solid just outside the top five, riding consistent laptimes and keeping the riders in front, in sight. Unfortunately, a mistake four laps from the end dropped him down the field and a lot of his hard work was undone as he received the chequered flag in 11th.

Team HRC MXGP Lommel 2023 Gajser 243

Motivation was high for both riders and the start of the second race went better with Fernandez leading the field around the first corner, and Gajser not too far behind him. The pair were riding well in the first couple of laps and looking like they belonged around the top five, however a mistake from the #243 dropped him down the field again and he had to recover from 15th, eventually crossing the line in 13th.

Fernandez was running inside the top five for the majority of the race, trying to right the wrongs from the previous moto and although he slipped to sixth near the end, it was a definite improvement and one that should give him confidence as he heads to Vantaa in Finland, which is also another sand track, for what will be the 14th round of the 2023 MXGP championship next weekend.

HRC MXGP Ruben Fernandez 70

Ruben Fernandez 70

"I knew it would be a tough weekend, but I feel happy that I gave it my all and I kept pushing until the end. It was also nice to get the holeshot in race two, so that’s good and gives me confidence for future races. My results weren’t what I hoped but if I hadn’t had the small mistake near the end of the first moto, I feel like that points total would have been a much fairer reflection of my speed. I will keep working on my sand riding though, and look for more improvements in Finland next weekend."

HRC MXGP Tim Gajser 243

Tim Gajser 243

"I came into the races today feeling a bit better than yesterday and I started the first race really well. Unfortunately on the first lap, the rider in front of me got out of control a bit and I hit his rear wheel. When I tried to get up, I put my hand on the exhaust and got a really bad burn so for the rest of the race I had pain and struggled to really push as coming back from last was tough. In race two, the pain wasn’t so much and I again I was doing well at the beginning of the race but a small mistake dropped me down the field again. I fought back to 13th so overall it wasn’t good results, but it is another block in my recovery process and I keep building."

HRC MXGP Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager MXGP

Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager MXGP

"Lommel is known as the toughest race of the year and that proved the case for us with both Ruben and Tim. There were good moments though and we know that we aren’t far away from battling up the front, and that will be the aim in the upcoming rounds. Ruben’s holeshot in race two was a great moment and we will definitely be trying to get a few more of those awards before the end of the season, and that starts next weekend in Finland which is another sand track."

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