Mexico GP: Preview
After being wowed by the MXGP of Patagonia Argentina last weekend where the racing was top notch, particularly in the premier class, we’ve landed in Leon, Mexico, where the fifth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place.
This weekend is the third time in succession that the MXGP has been here in town. In recent times this round of the series took place near the end of the calendar, but after the mud fest last year and since September is rainy season for this area of the world, the round has been shifted forward for a more stable climate where the risk of rain has been massively reduced.
Interestingly, the MXGP of Leon has never been won by the same rider twice, not only in the MXGP class but also in MX2. In 2014 it was Gautier Paulin and Jordi Tixier who were able to do the victory dance, while last year it was Romain Febvre and Thomas Covington. Judging by the previous rounds and the result patterns of the MXGP of Leon, we are in for a hard-core awesome round of racing.
Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser took a decent chunk out of Febvre’s lead in Argentina & has good memories of Mexico where he won his first ever MX2 race back in 2014. The nineteen-year-old Slovenian impressively has a 50% win rate in MXGP at the moment having won four from the eight races thus far, and two from four grand prix overalls. ‘Tiga’ really likes the track in Mexico and judging by the pace he’s running at the moment, is probably a good rider to put your chips on.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl has lined up at the last two rounds a seemingly new man. He’s been fast and aggressive out on track and that paid off with the German taking his first race win of the 2016 season in race one last weekend. Although he was bummed he didn’t take the overall win in Patagonia, Max is feeling positive for this round in Mexico since the track is said to be one of his favourites.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli is known for his methodical approach to the championship. Just like he has done over the previous years, he is racking up consistent results. After a thirteen round podium drought, TC222 bounced back for third overall last weekend and quietly snuck into third place in the championship standings. The Italian star missed the MXGP of Leon last year due to injury, but was second overall the year before and should be in good shape to land on the box once again this weekend.
A rough day in the office saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre break his astonishing sixteen round podium streak. Even though he went down in both races last weekend, it never broke his stride and he bounced back for a respectable fourth overall. At the MXGP of Leon last year, Febvre had already wrapped up the title, he only need to cruise for the rest of the season. Instead he went out in race one and obliterated everyone to win by a whopping forty-five seconds. To put that into perspective, everyone remembers Ryan Villopoto winning the MXGP of Thailand qualifier by an astonishing thirty-three seconds. Well, add ten more seconds to that gap, and that’s what Febvre did here last year. Amazing.
Last but not least, there is the heroic Shaun Simpson who is doing it for the satellite teams onboard his Wilvo Virus Performance KTM. Simpson was second here last year so we can’t count him out for another top five or podium performance. Also we can’t forget Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev who actually won the Tag Heuer fastest lap last weekend, which means he was the fastest rider in the world on that day but a couple of strokes of bad luck meant he would finish outside the top five.
2015 MXGP of Leon MXGP Top 3
1. Romain Febvre
2. Shaun Simpson
3. Evgeny Bobryshev
MXGP Championship Top 10: 1. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 172 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 169 p.; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 144 p.; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 138 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 134 p.; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 125 p.; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 105 p.; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 103 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 82 p.; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 74 p.
Every now and then the sport turns out a one of a kind talent, and it just leaves everyone scratching their heads as to how he can ride the way he does. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings is one of them. Don’t take anything away from the rest of MX2, those kids are hauling too, Jeffrey is just on another level at the moment. While The Bullet is running on pure confidence, and he rides at a pace that makes people question if he is even human, he has proved in the past he is real and he can make mistakes and those mistakes have been his undoing. Because of those mistakes, Herlings has never won here in Leon, although he did win the hearts of most when he attempted to race in 2014 with a broken femur. It was obvious he was in pain, he could barely walk, but that is what being world champion meant to him. Maybe that is the difference? Maybe he wants it more than anyone else. Either way, if he keeps riding the way he is and manages to keep a cool head, he should be able to wrap up his third MX2 world title this year.
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer has been indulging in his fair share of podium pie this season. He has now had three in a row and looks to be picking up the pace. The Swiss rider will be hoping for another ‘lovely day’, as his butt patch reads.
Red Bull gives you wings, don’t take the slogan seriously. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonasstried last year when he was catapulted horrifically from his bike. Amazingly, he was ok but it was a costly mistake in terms of winning the MX2 world championship, which eventually went to Tim Gajser. Putting that spectacular crash aside, Jonass was incredibly fast around Leon last year where he won his first ever MX2 race. He hasn’t won one since and it might be a little difficult against his teammate this weekend, but either way, we are sure the courageous Latvian will give it his best shot.
It may pay to keep an eye on TM Racing Factory Team’s Samuele Bernardini. The Italian, who is the only TM rider in the class, made his debut to MX2 halfway through last year and is already starting to crack the top five. Also, Bernardini is blistering fast out of the gate, which always assists in achieving good results.
And then there is last years MX2 round of Leon winner Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington. Last year the American took his first ever race win and overall out here, which will leave him buzzing on the gate this weekend. Hopefully all his stars can fall in line once again and we can see Covington fulfill his potential and the same for Kemea Yamaha MX Official Team’s Benoit Paturel who uncorked his first bottle of bubbles here in 2015 on the third step of the podium.
2015 MXGP of Leon MX2 Top 3
1. Thomas Covington
2. Tim Gajser
3. Benoit Paturel
MX2 Championship Top 10: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 200 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 152 p.; 3. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 131 p.; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 130 p.; 5. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 104 p.; 6. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 99 p.; 7. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 91 p.; 8. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 84 p.; 9. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 78 p.; 10. Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 70 p.