KTM’s Ken Roczen and Suzuki’s Clement Desalle lead the world tonight after claiming the opening GP wins of the 2011 world championship season here in Bulgaria. It came down to the very last lap in MX1 to decide the overall, but as expected Roczen romped away with both MX2 motos in a dominant display.
The young German made the perfect KTM debut and return to GP action as he led from gate to flag in each heat and rode around out front all day, unchallenged. The closest anyone came to Roczen was our own Tommy Searle who closed to within a couple of seconds of Roczen early in the first mot, but Roczen simply dropped his lap times significantly and motored away again. Any doubts onlookers had about his motivation and fitness after his US jaunt were resoundingly answered.
Searle was not on Roczen’s pace on the day, but his return to GP racing after a two injury riddled years in America was very impressive in itself and he was quite clearly a step ahead of the rest of the MX2 pack, making short work of third overall Jeffrey Herlings in both motos. It bodes well for the rest of Searle’s year.
Gautier Paulin was forced to ride through the pack in both motos following a couple of sub-par starts but claimed fourth, just in front of Zach Osborne who struggled with arm pump in the opening moto, but bounced back to finish an impressive ourth in the second heat.
Third factory KTM teamster Jeremy van Horebeek and Arnuad Tonus claimed sixth and seventh overall whilst Max Anstie found his mojo in moto two, where he claimed a strong six, which helped him to eighth overall on his GP debut, whilst Nico Aubin and Joel Roleants rounded out the top ten for the day.
In MX1 the name at the top of the classification is Clement Desalle but the day belonged to Steven Frossard who would, and should, have taken an astonishing double win on his MX1 debut, but for small tip over in second moto.
Frossard had completely dominated the first moto from Desalle and after passing his way from fifth to second in one lap at the start of the second heat, muscled Desalle out of the way and looked set to record a famous win when he span out in a slick turn and dropped back to third behind Desalle and a resurgent Jonathan Barragan. Passing Barragan back within a lap, Frossard tried everything he could to pass Desalleand even pulled along side again with two laps to go, but Desalle just hung on for the win by a few bike lengths to snatch the overall on the tie-break.
Barragan looked back to his bullish best in the second moto as he took third to give him third overall on another tie-break from Max Nagl, while Rui Goncalves impressed with a somewhat surprising fifth overall ahead of team-mate Evgeny Bobryshev, with David Guarneri, Kevin Strijbos, an unlucky David Philippaerts and a well out of sorts reigning champ Tony Cairoli rounded out the top ten.
Shaun Simpson found the going tough in his MX1 debut in 14th, while Jason Dougan was a solid 14th in the opening moto on his return to GP racing but was forced out of the second moto just a couple of laps in.
Words by Ben Johnson
Images by Ray Chuss