MXGP Insider No.30 presented by Kawasaki – Belgium GP
Welcome to our web-exclusive weekly column: Transmoto’s MXGP Insider, presented by Kawasaki.
Just a few days to go and we head to Belgium for the Grand Prix of Belgium. It’s the most exciting round of the season and the Belgian public gets to express themselves like no other fans in the world. Set in the historical city of Bastogne, this year’s Grand Prix of Belgium is going to be a little different from the last few.
While the Lommel circuit was the venue for the last couple of GPs in Belgium, this year it will be the new facility in Bastogne, which is hardpack. The area around the circuit is really beautiful and, for many, it’s like going back in time as we venture to the eastern part of Belgium.
Of course, the Grand Prix of Belgium has a long history. In 1957 the Swedish great, Sten Lundin, won the first-ever GP of Belgium, held at the famous Namur circuit. Riding a BSA machine, Lundin would start what for many was the most important GP of the season.
Belgium is without question the leader in World Motocross, with most of the riders on the top ten and all-time winner’s list coming from the small country. Names like Stefan Everts, Joel Robert, Roger De Coster, Georges Jobe, Eric Geboers, Harry Everts, Joel Smets and so many others have made sure that the country tucked between Holland and France is the hot bed of World Motocross. In the last decade many of the leading Grand Prix riders have also lived there in the summer.
Since that day in 1957 when Lundin won, the famous Namur circuit was always the stronghold of the Belgian GP, however due to environmental issues that circuit needed to be closed and was replaced by the famous Lommel circuit and now Bastogne.
Back many years ago the Belgians had a huge advantage over their rivals as the sand circuits proved to give riders a better technical knowledge and the local riders always showed that they had a big advantage in the sand. Former Grand Prix rider and now owner of the Rockstar Teka Suzuki World MX1 team, Sylvain Geboers, remembers well the advantage the Belgians had.
“In the 1970′s not too many Grand Prix riders lived in Belgium,” Geboers told recently. “Now half the paddock lives in Lommel. That advantage that we had is gone, but it has improved the level of the World Championship riders,” Geboers continued.
While names like De Coster, Everts and Smets had dominated the Grand Prix’s in their eras, younger riders like Jeffrey Herlings, Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin and Antonio Cairoli seem to have an advantage over the Belgians and we’ll see who’s in form when they line up this weekend.