Defending champ Brad Anderson started his EMX300 championship defence in fine style, taking third place – just one spot in front of fellow Brit James Dunn. But it was the Benelux sand specialists of Belgian Greg Smets who won, with former champ, Dutchman Mike Kras in second.
GL12’s Kras took the holeshot and led from his team-mate James Dunn, Greg Smets and Brad Anderson in freezing conditions – minus two temperatures and falling snow. Smets soon past Dunn as No.1 Anderson, who fell hard in practice, chased him.
Kras made a small mistake on the opening lap to let Smets by, as the pair gapped the chasing KTM duo of Dunn and Anderson. Smets, son of five-times world champ Joel, was overtaken by Kras as he backed off to miss a slower rider but the Dutchman jumped by. Smets was soon on the back wheel of the fellow KTM man Kras and got back in front as backmarkers got in the way. Smets then controlled it at the front, despite a few mistakes in the ruts, to win by 17 seconds from local hero Kras.
A further 32 seconds back was Anderson, who worked his way past Dunn. Dunn ended up 19 seconds further back in the tough conditions. Brit Rob Holyoake took 18th and Phil Mercer 25th.
Smets, who took his first ever European championship win, said: “After practice I was hoping for a good start and hoping for the win. I can’t believe it – it doesn’t feel real right now!”
In the EMX125 race, KTM dominated again as Rene Hofer won from Emil Weckman and Mario Lucaz Sanz. Sam Nunn was 27th. KTM rider Dominic Lancett, moving up from the 85s last year, was 32nd in his international debut on the 125.