Desalle qualified second on his Rockstar Energy Suzuki RM-Z450 at the challenging but fantastic St Jean d’Angely circuit in France, but the Belgian was confident ahead of the two races, after winning three of the last four motos.
The opening moto saw Desalle fight with Antonio Cairoli for victory, with less than a second separating the pair at the flag. In the second race, it was between the two of them again, before Cairoli crashed, making Desalle’s plight easier as he took his second moto win of the weekend.
He said, “It is always great to win. I saw after the qualification moto that it would be very complicated to pass here and the start would be more than important.
“I had a great one in the first moto, made some mistakes and dropped back to fourth but was soon into second and trying to stay with Tony. He is a very good rider so my plan was to stay as close to him as I could until the end of the race and it worked out like this in both motos.
“It is a really great feeling that the strategy worked. I wasn’t hoping that he [Cairoli] would make a mistake because I never want a rider to crash but to have an opportunity to pass was the goal.
“I try to improve each year and to be better and I’m happy today that it worked out. You have to focus so much on a track like this and it is not hard to lose concentration, especially when you are pushing at the front. It was an intense few laps in both motos and I’m definitely very happy.
“I would like to dedicate this win to my grandfather who passed away two years ago yesterday and there are still some important memories for me.”
However, luck deserted him in race two, when he was left with nowhere to go when a rider crashed in front of him. Caught up in the melee, Strijbos went down himself, but recovered from dead-last to 13th at the flag to take sixth overall.
Strijbos added, “This is not my track. I never seem to ride well here but today I had good speed and not much luck.
“Fourth was OK in the first moto but I don’t know what happened at the start of the second. I shut off too early on the first corner and then the first laps were pretty difficult. I couldn’t find my rhythm and Philippaerts lost control in a rut in front of me. The bike went sideways and I hit his spinning rear wheel. I went over the bars and my bike was then stuck on his handlebar.
“It took a while to get free and I knew the race was finished. I don’t know where I was but I tried my best.”