Max Anstie put himself in pole position for a ride on Britain’s Motocross of Nations team with a commanding second moto win at the MXGP of Belgium at Lommel on Sunday.
The Standing Construct KTM rider demonstrated his mastery of sand – although Sunday didn’t exactly go smoothly for him – and with the Nations being staged in the soft stuff at Assen his performance must surely have booked a place on Team GB.
Max won the MX2 overall at Lommel in 2014, ’15 and ’16 so he obviously feels at home on what’s arguably the toughest sand circuit in the world.
“There’s something about the track that suits me,” he said. “I think most of the guys get tired but my riding style allows me to be quite light on the bike and use less energy. I seem to be quite handy around there so, yes, I do like it.”
After winning the qualifying race by over four seconds from Team HRC’s championship leader Tim Gajser, Max was looking good to take his debut MXGP overall but he didn’t even make it to the end of the start straight in the opening moto.
“It all happened so quick going into the first turn in the first race. I was literally going out the gate and the next minute I was on the floor.
It was a big one! I just clipped the back of Seewer – I think he got squashed by someone and I tried backing off to miss him and clipped his back wheel. Then I went left into the middle of everyone, got hit by someone and then got run over.
“I got up intending to carry on but the bike had taken a bit of a beating and I’d broken the subframe. It was a shame but at the end of the day that’s the way it goes but at that point I was pissed off because it could have been my weekend.”
Despite landing heavily on his left shoulder, Max was fired up for race two and after taking the lead from Gajser on lap four began to check out and hardly put a wheel wrong until he crashed with six laps to go.
“I was a bit angry after the first moto. I didn’t know how my shoulder was going to be but once I got out and did the sighting lap it felt pretty good so I knew I’d be fine. I got in the lead and thought ‘right, I’m going to start hammering now’. I wasn’t riding over my head but when I went around that left-hander there was one really hard bump.
“Every other lap I was hopping over it but I think someone must have blown my line out and I slid, didn’t get the drive and as I hit it I went completely sideways. My front brake was bent right down and I couldn’t knock it up so I had to ride the rest of the moto without it.
“I use the front brake quite a lot so it was a bit annoying and I overshot a couple of turns on that first lap after I got going again. I had a few minutes left and knew I could still get the win and I didn’t really think after that, I just got on with the job and tried to push forward.”
Almost nine seconds behind Gajser once he’d restarted, he immediately had to fight off a strong challenge from Jeremy Van Horebeek before quickly finding his rhythm again and three laps later he was back in the lead and on his way to a five-second victory.
“That’s my first win in a 450 points-scoring moto – the Motocross of Nations is different – so I guess that’s an achievement. I definitely felt good. I don’t know what was clicking with me but the bike set-up worked really well and I was solid. Now I need to keep it up for the rest of the year.”