Bastogne (Belgium) August 18, 2013
Mixed results for Gautier Paulin on his comeback after the terrible fall in the German Grand Prix, where he suffered a cranial concussion whose consequences were made less worrisome by the formidable shock-absorption qualities of the AGV AX-8 Evo helmet.
After two weeks of rest to get back in shape, during which he climbed on a bike only a couple of times to check his physical condition, and after having been forced to forfeit the race in the Czech Republic, the Kawasaki official rider was back at the starting gate of the king class to test his mental and physical shape without the pressure of aiming for the top spots.
The 6th place in the qualifying laps and the best time in the free practice on Sunday tell us the French-man is on the right track, though there were doubts as to his endurance on the long run.
The first leg exceeded all expectations, seeing Gautier immediately ranked in 3rd and managed to keep the position to the finish line.
In the next leg, though, a drop in his physical condition and a clash with an opponent made him decide to quit the race before the final lap, so as not to over-stress his body, not quite ready to adapt to the pace of a full race.
The 20 points earned in the opening leg helped him keep an overall 4th place in the Championship, with races still to be run in Great Britain and the Netherlands.
David Philippaerts also gave a satisfactory performance. After a positive first leg ended in 12th place, in spite of the engine running out half way through the race, the rider had the luxury in the closing leg to cruise in third place for seven laps and 4th in the following six, to then display a slight lapse that relegated him to 7th place, thus closing the Grand Prix in Belgium in overall 9th place.
TM rider Tanel Leok came in two notches behind him, weighed down by a bland start in Race 1 and by a slip in the next leg.