This weekend the MXGP World Championship hits Russia for the tenth round of the series, it’s hard to believe we have already had nine rounds. It really doesn’t feel like that long ago we were all excited for round one at Qatar in February.
There were a lot of questions on the lips of MXGP fans before the gate dropped in Qatar such as could Herlings win the series in his rookie year? Could Gajser successfully defend his title? Could Cairoli continue to show his brilliant pre-season form?
Well, nine rounds into the series we have some answers! Who would have believed that six riders would already have a GP win to their name? However, in terms of the championship it’s a completely different story as it looks like even though we are just approaching the second half of the season, Cairoli will bag his ninth world championship title.
TC222 has a fifty point advantage at the head of the field (two moto wins) with Gautier Paulin sat in second. With Tim Gajser out injured ruling him out of Russia it pretty much ends his championship chase. Cairoli is a clever cookie and knows he just needs to be consistent for the remainder of the season. Cairoli might only really push and show his true potential at the tracks he really feels comfortable on and it’s possible we won’t see him put in a performance like he did at Italy again which was a tremendous ride.
Cairoli is in the perfect position but one man he won’t want picking up confidence is Jeffrey Herlings. Of course, he came into the season injured and had a very bad start to his rookie season – there is no getting away from that. But he is finally getting his mojo back and if he can improve his starts he will win plenty more before the end of the year. With Gajser out this weekend he could potentially be in the top four of the series at the end of the weekend.
The biggest disappointment this year probably has to be Romain Febvre as he sits down in eighth position in the series – that’s not where the former MXGP champ will want to be. However, after switching back to his old Yamaha settings he looked more like his old self last time out France. He will be regretting not switching back to the settings sooner – make no mistake about that. You would fancy him to win a couple of rounds before the end of the season, he will be wanting to hit top form and head into the 2018 season in a good place when he will be looking to challenge for the title again.
When Tim Gajser re-joins the action he will have no pressure as the championship is pretty much gone. Like Febvre he will be able to look towards the 2018 season and head into it with good confidence. He should certainly pick up some MXGP wins before the end of the year but again he is one rider Cairoli won’t want getting too confident.
Even though we are only hitting the second half of the 2017 season with Cairoli in control of the championship many of the top riders will already be looking at next year. What could make the 2017 championship battle interesting is if Herlings can go on a winning role, Cairoli won’t like that and we could see some great battles between the two egos.
Roll on Russia and the rest of the season, whatever happens hopefully we continue to see some great racing and plenty more GP winners with the likes of Max Nagl, Romain Febvre, Jeremy Van Horebeek and Evgeny Bobryshev looking their first GP wins of the year!
Article: Andy McKinstry