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MXGP: New Generation!

MXGP: New Generation!
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Before the 2015 season even kicked off it was Antonio Cairoli and Ryan Villopoto getting all the hype. None of us could predict the crazy season that was ahead for us all to watch. Rookie, Romain Febvre was able to clinch his first world title. Many people put it down to injuries, but there is no doubt that as the season progressed the Frenchman gained more confidence and speed each and every GP.

Heading into the 2016 season, Febvre and Cairoli were going in as title favourites. However, another rookie surprised us at Qatar! Tim Gajser, moving up to the class after clinching the 2015 MX2 World Championship.  Tim was impressive and went 1-1 on his MXGP debut showing the world just how talented he is.  He is already going faster and getting better results than what Febvre had this time last year – although it is worth mentioning Febvre had an injury before the season and lost bike time.

We are now three rounds, six moto’s into the season with the fourth round in Argentina, approaching this weekend.

Romain Febvre has continued were he left off from last season and currently has the red plate. Tim Gajser has podiumed at each GP so far and is only thirteen points of the Frenchman – the new blood in the class are the real deal.

For many years, we have been watching Cairoli controlling races at ease and that has took him to eight world titles. However, it hasn’t been a good year and a half for the Italian. Injuries haven’t helped him as he rode a chunk off last year injured. Signs were good for TC at Glen Helen last year as he battled with Febvre and that would have pleased him knowing he could still run the pace.

Coming into this season Cairoli got injured again and hasn’t been riding at 100% fit. After three rounds he finds himself down in fifth place, already thirty-seven points behind Febvre in the championship race. It is worrying times for the eight times world champion – he simply needs to start winning! The fact he has only won four GP’s since Sweden in 2014 shows things aren’t going to plan.

Valkenswaard will have worried Cairoli the most as he looked to be controlling the race like he does so often. However, Febvre was having none of it and pulled the pin with two laps to go and sensationally beat Cairoli on what is basically his back yard.  That would have hurt Cairoli but he will desperately want revenge as soon as possible.

The problem for Cairoli is that the speed of Febvre and Gajser are improving the speed of other riders in the class as well. There are so many guys that can win an MXGP overall – Max Nagl, Clement Desalle won’t be far away soon, Simpson can win in the sand, Coldenhoff won a GP in 2015, Van Horebeek will believe he can run at the front after Valkenswaard, there’s also Strijbos, Townley and Paulin to consider when he is back.

The more Febvre wins and Gajser runs at the front, they will gain more confidence and Cairoli will lose the ‘fear factor’ that he had for so long.  We will have never really seen Cairoli at his 100% fastest as he is the master of controlling races at the front but we need to him at his absolute fastest soon if he wants another world title to his name.

With Argentina coming up this weekend everyone should bring their ‘A game’ as it’s a track that the riders loved last year. The speed will be very fast at the front and starts could be crucial. Cairoli needs at least a podium to try and get his way back into the title haunt but don’t rule him out just yet! Cairoli will still believe he can still win the title and will want revenge on Febvre. Let’s not forget how impressive Max Nagl was in Argentina last year, he will be wanting to go there and do the same this weekend.

KTM need to add to the young generation in the class and promote Jeffrey Herlings into MXGP for the 2017 season. He could be the guy to win back the title for them!  There is no doubting that the new generation are fast and they are starting to take over. Can Cairoli get back to full fitness soon in order to run with them to get his championship challenge back on track? That is the question we will see being answered in the coming weeks.

Article: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

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