Fernandez, Gajser and Lawrence brothers discuss Ernee MXoN qualifying
All four Team HRC riders rode excellently on qualification day at the 2023 Motocross of Nations to give their respective countries great gate-picks in tomorrow’s A-Final, where the Chamberlain Trophy will be decided over three motos on the epic Ernee track in France.
Ruben Fernandez (Spain), Tim Gajser (Slovenia) and the Lawrence brothers Jett and Hunter (Australia) came into the weekend with high expectations, with a healthy mixture of individual glory and national pride at stake for what is the biggest race of the year.
Due to the nature of the three-rider format for each country, Gajser needed to put in a strong ride to help Slovenia into the A-Final, and his sixth place was exactly what they needed to give them the best chance possible. Rounding the first bend in second position, the 2022 World Champion would have been hoping to go after the win, but with arm-pump affecting his riding, he decided it was best to back it down and take a comfortable sixth place, with that finish eventually giving Slovenia eighth gate-pick for tomorrow’s races.
Spain has never been on the podium at the Motocross of Nations, but Fernandez and his teammates will be hoping to end that run, and with their excellent results today, they have put themselves in a great position by qualifying in second place. Racing in the Open class, Fernandez didn’t get the best start from his ballot-given 17th gate, but he quickly worked his way into fourth by the end of the first lap and then set about close up the gap ahead of him. By the sixth lap, he was up to second place, which was all he needed to do to give Spain an excellent position for the motos tomorrow.
Coming over from the Team Honda HRC setup in America, Jett and Hunter are two-thirds of a highly talented Australian team that are looking to win the Chamberlain Trophy for the very first time, which would be the perfect finale to a season that has already seen them sweep practically every championship stateside.
The duo has had some GP experience earlier on in their career so this hard, bumpy, hillside Ernee circuit wasn’t completely alien to them, but it took a little bit for them to fit them rhythm, and once they did, they put in two rides that have put the ‘green and golds’ in a strong position before the all-important races tomorrow. Jett came through from seventh all the way up to second in a stacked MXGP class, while Hunter rode a solid third place all moto long in the MX2 race.
Sunday’s format is a little bit different as the classes are mixed in the three motos, with MXGP and MX2 starting off, before the MX2 and Open riders take to the line and then it’s brought to a close by the MXGP and Open classes. The worst score of the six riders is then dropped to give a total, with the lowest scoring country taking home the prestigious Chamberlain Trophy, something that will be the aim of all Team HRC in what should be an awesome finale to the 2023 season.
Ruben Fernandez 70
It was a good day, finishing second in the Open qualification race and helping Team Spain to second gate-pick for the motos tomorrow. The track is a tough track, because the surface is hard and bumpy but we got some good settings and the race went well. If I can ride like this tomorrow, I think I’ll have a good chance to put in two good results and help Spain get onto the podium, which will be a massive achievement.
Tim Gajser 243
Really happy to have helped Slovenia into the A-final, even if I felt I could have ridden a bit better. I got a good start and was second to begin with, but struggled a bit with arm-pump and dropped to sixth by the end of the moto. I know I can do better but it was good enough for Slovenia to qualify in eighth position, which is great, so I should still have a good gate-pick for tomorrow where I’ll hopefully be challenging for the victory in my two motos.
Jett Lawrence 8
It’s been awesome being back in Europe again, seeing familiar faces and just having a good time. We’ve done a warm-up and a qualification race and it didn’t go too bad. It’s just so different here to try and learn the racing on this side of the pond, and workout how the other rider’s race and how the track is meant to be ridden. It was a little bit of a struggle initially but I was able to come out with a second place, which has helped Australia to third position. It should be good tomorrow, get some good starts and hopefully have a good weekend.
Hunter Lawrence 7
It’s been fun to be racing in Europe once again. We go to the line in P3 tomorrow so that’s good, which gives us a good chance and is a much better place than our ballot placing of P13, so we should be able to get out of the gate better. I’m happy with riding myself into form throughout the day, as it’s been a long time since we’ve ridden conditions like this as we just don’t get them in America. My back was pretty good and that is important too, so that was a relief to ride and that be okay, so now it’s just go out there tomorrow and get the job done.
Marcus Pereira de Freitas
HRC General Manager – MXGP
It’s been a really strong day for all the Team HRC riders, with all four of them challenging at the very front of the field in their classes. Tim knows he can improve tomorrow, but with Slovenia qualifying in eighth place, he still has a decent gate-pick. Ruben came through the field well to get up to second place and give Spain second pick for tomorrow’s motos. If he can get around the first corner cleanly, he definitely has a chance to win motos and help Spain onto the podium. And the two Lawrence’s have really impressed everyone with their riding and their professionalism here. It hasn’t been easy dealing with everything but they’ve done a great job and I’m sure tomorrow they’ll do their best to give Australia the win. Overall, a very good day for the Honda CRF450R riders and well done to all the crew from Europe, Japan and America for coming together and helping make it happen. Bring on tomorrow!
MXGP Qualification Race
1. Jorge Prado ESP – GasGas
2. Jett Lawrence AUS – Honda
3. Jeremy Seewer SUI – Yamaha
4. Ken Roczen GER – Suzuki
5. Romain Febvre FRA – Kawasaki
6. Tim Gajser SLO – Honda
MX2 Qualification Race
1. Tom Vialle FRA – KTM
2. Simon Laegenfelder GER – GasGas
3. Hunter Lawrence AUS – Honda
4. Kay de Wolf NED – Husqvarna
5. RJ Hampshire USA – Husqvarna
6. Camden McLellan RSA – Honda
Open Qualification Race
1. Maxime Renaux FRA – Yamaha
2. Ruben Fernandez ESP – Honda
3. Liam Everts BEL – KTM
4. Harri Kullas EST – Yamaha
5. Christian Craig USA – Husqvarna
6. Valentin Guillod SUI – Honda
1. France – 2 points
2. Spain – 3
3. Australia – 5
4. Germany – 6
5. Switzerland – 9
6. USA – 10
7. Belgium – 10
8. Slovenia – 13
*Bold denotes Team HRC
Words: Press Release
Image: Shot by Bavo