Jonathan McCready: Pauls Jonass showed he was still very much the man to beat for the 2018 MX2 world championship in Argentina winning both races, in two different but impressive ways, to show complete dominance over the field. But can they at least get closer in Valkenswaard and stop Jonass gaining the momentum in the series?
I think they will. While Jonass excels in the sand, two of his expected main title rivals Hunter Lawrence and Jorge Prado will feel they have more to show this weekend than they did in Argentina. Lawrence was disappointed in his performance in Argentina, especially with a sixth in the second moto and Prado was looking good until a big crash while second in he qualifier reinjured his elbow and left him fighting through the field. He even ended up getting involved in another crash with Calvin Vlaanderen on the Sunday, but Prado has had two weeks to recover and loves the sand.
Both will undoubtedly come into Valkenswaard with motivation from Argentina to show everyone their true potential this season so expect them to be closer to the world champ this time out.
Statically right now, Jonass’ biggest competition is Thomas Kjer Olsen. The Dane started very strongly at round one in Argentina with second overall and dominated the Dutch Masters last weekend in the sand. Olsen looks to have stepped up a level this season but he will want to take another step and battle for GP wins. After being consistent in Patagonia and in some pre-season internationals, Valkenswaard will be the test for Olsen to see if he can beat or at least battle Jonass and show he can be a viable contender for the world title.
And with the form Ben Watson is showing and his skill in the sand, the Brit might just be up there again battling at the front if he gets the starts – he could just prove to be the revelation of the season.
While we can never read too much into the first round, Pauls Jonass has certainly thrown the gauntlet down to his rivals with his performance. Now, it’s time for them to respond and show they can step up and go with him.
Andy McKinstry: Honestly, I can see Jonass going 1-1 this weekend again just like in Argentina. The MX2 World Champion excels in the sand and will love Valkenswaard, he was great there last year winning both the moto’s and I think he’ll do the same this weekend.
It’s not that I don’t think he can be beaten because Hunter Lawrence and Thomas Kjer Olsen are certainly more than capable – Prado is good at Valkenswaard too! However, Jonass is just so good out of the gate on his Factory KTM and it makes it hard for his opposition, not to mention he’s great under pressure too.
I’d love to see Thomas Kjer Olsen get a holeshot to see what he can do, speed isn’t an issue for him but he’s a big guy and starts are the issue. With a holeshot, it would be intriguing to see if he could turn it into a win!
After a bad first round of the season, Jorge Prado will want to improve this weekend and his starts are always on point. The Spanish sensation might just be the guy to stop Jonass this weekend.
You can never rule out Hunter Lawrence, he rides with his heart on his sleeve and had a good second moto in Valkenswaard last year crossing the line in fifth. Lawrence also got a good start in Argentina during the first round which we rarely saw on the Suzuki, hopefully he will benefit with the Geico engines.
The guy I’m looking forward to seeing this weekend in Jago Geerts, ninth overall at Argentina which was only his second ever GP is impressive. The Belgian knows the Valkenswaard track too so should be better. Can he get a top five? He’s certainly got the talent.
The two guys that impressed during the first round, Calvin Vlaanderen and Ben Watson will certainly want to build on an impressive first round and go for the podium at least.
Pics: Ray Archer