Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe's Julien Lieber scored a ninth-placed finish at the opening round of the World MX2 Championship at Qatar as team-mate Max Anstie had an eventful debut and unlucky to have not finished higher aboard the Factory RM-Z250.
Round one was Anstie's opening GP debut on the factory-backed RM-Z250 and the young Brit grabbed 14th after a dramatic evening. He struggled a little with fatigue on the first night, having flown from the USA to the UK and then to Qatar and also with the process of acclimatising to the demands of the night schedule.
Anstie was unlucky to suffer a crash while fighting for a top-five position almost half-way through the opening moto, but fought back to win the last-chance qualifier in the MX2 category. Lieber made excellent progress in the wake of a start that saw him circulating the first lap outside of the top 20, but worked his way into the top 10 and up to eighth by the end of the 35 minute and two-lap distance.
"I made my life hard work today. I had an easy top-five run going in the first race until that crash. I'm not sure if it was the trip from the U.S. to here or the fact that I've been a bit sick the last few days but I haven't felt 'on it' all weekend. I put in some good times and the bike has been working really well...I just haven't felt sharp. I tried to push through it but ended up making mistakes. It's frustrating because I know I should be up there battling at the front. All we can do it keep trying and look to next weekend."
"The day was pretty good although my start was horrible in the first moto and then I crashed and was very far back. So to come back to eighth was very good for me. We changed the bike a bit for the start of the Superfinal and it was better but I missed some speed in the first moments. When Jake Nicholls block-passed me I crashed and had to recover again. Even though it was night-time out there, it was still hot and it was a tough couple of races. I'm really happy with the Suzuki and the team and looking forward to next week."
MX2 Moto1 result: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 39:51.449; 2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:31.544; 3. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +0:32.888; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), +0:44.961; 5. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), +0:59.726; 6. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +1:03.051; 7. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +1:11.094; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), +1:12.485; 9. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), +1:17.280; 10. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +1:28.001. 29. Max Anstie (GBR, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), -8 lap(s).
Superfinal result: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 39:55.020; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:07.472; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:09.834; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:11.515; 5. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:11.809; 6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:16.592; 7. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:25.914; 8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:39.408; 9. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), +0:44.527; 10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Honda), +0:53.888; 25. Max Anstie (GBR, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), +1:44.667; 27. Julien Lieber (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), +1:47.111;
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 1 of 18 rounds): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), 38 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), 38 p.; 4. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 36 p.; 5. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), 33 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 26 p.; 8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), 25 p.; 9. Julien Lieber (BEL, Suzuki), 24 p.; 10. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 21 p.; 11. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), 19 p.; 12. Elliott Banks-Browne (GBR, KTM), 17 p.; 13. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), 16 p.; 14. Max Anstie (GBR, Suzuki), 12 p.