MXGP set to heat up in Thailand
Last weekend the season opener of MXGP took place in Losail, Qatar, where Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings made perfect starts to their 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship campaigns with double race victories.
This weekend round two of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place at the all new track and location in Nakhonchaisri, Thailand, where intense heat and humidity will be a factor in the overall performances of the riders.
Built on a small road race circuit MXGP’s in-house track builder has said the track is different to most other tracks he works with on the calendar, it will be tight and technical yet relatively fast. Meanwhile also taking place this weekend, and for the first time ever within Asia, the second round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship will commence where Team One One Four’s Livia Lancelot will be looking to remain unbeaten.
Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl will want to continue his streak of domination. Nagl is confident, his team told us that he has the fastest bike on the line, which can’t really be questioned after he pulled off two FOX Holeshots last weekend, followed by total domination of both MXGP races. Life will be made difficult for the rest of the MXGP contenders if the German is not beaten to the FOX Holeshot line this weekend.
Meanwhile a bogging engine robbed Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s title threat Clement Desalle of a race win on Thai soil last year. This year, given everything runs fine and dandy, Desalle could quite easily land on the top step of the podium.
Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin is on a mission to uncork as many bottles of bubbles as he can this year. The Frenchman is not shy in admitting he definitely prefers life on the top step and as always, he stands a good chance.
As for Antonio Cairoli, heat has never been an issue in the past for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider who has won four from four FIM MXGP World Championship races out here in Thailand. With the track being described as ‘tight’ it may just work in favor of the eight-time FIM Motocross World Champion who is one of a handful of riders opting to race a 350cc engine over the typical 450cc.
Thailand was the start of a chain of back-to-back podiums for Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Jeremy Van Horebeek last year. The Belgian finished third overall at MXGP of Thailand in 2014 and is determined to perform just as good, if not better, this time round, so keep an eye on that number 89 blue machine.
This weekend will be very interesting for Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Ryan Villopoto who was clearly disappointed with his performance last weekend. The track here in Nakhonchaisri is 100% new, which means it will be a completely even playing field for everyone racing. The American star should, technically, feel at home in terms of heat and humidity this weekend, which could also work in his favor.
2014 MXGP of Thailand MXGP Top 3
1. Antonio Cairoli
2. Clement Desalle
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek
It’s hard to bet against Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings who has a 100% strike rate in Thailand. The Bullet is still unbeaten on Asian soil and even though he claims he is only riding to 60% of his ability, he is still mega fast and will be hard to top.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Dylan Ferrandis looked super quick last weekend. The Frenchman is riding strong at the moment and if he can keep his bike rubber side down, as in stay on it, he is probably the man closest to the speed of Jeffrey Herlings.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s most impressive performer Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube’s Julien Lieber will be out to prove he’s got the goods to be there every weekend. In the press conference last Saturday, the Belgian was very modest in saying “It will be difficult to do the same again in Thailand, but I will try my best”. It will be cool to see him do well.
Another guy capable of footing it up front is Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser. Gajser hauls around the track and like Ferrandis, if he can remain mistake free, will also be a firm podium contender.
Last weekend’s fifth place finisher in MX2, Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Aleksandr Tonkov can also run the pace when he is fit and healthy. Unfortunately, we ran into the Russian at the airport in Bangkok where he told us he is struggling with a shoulder injury.
Lastly, it was not an ideal start to the season for Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jordi Tixier who more or less missed his opportunity to capitalize on Jeffrey Herlings’ lack of preparation last weekend in Qatar. The defending champion is already 23 points down on the red plate holder, Herlings, as we approach the second round of the championship, so he will definitely need to be pulling something out of the bag this weekend if he is to stand a chance at retaining his MX2 crown.
2014 MXGP of Thailand MX2 Top 3
1. Jeffrey Herlings
2. Glenn Coldenhoff
3. Max Anstie
Saturday: WMX Free Practice 10:15; MX2 Free Practice 10:45; MXGP Free Practice 11:15; WMX Time Practice 12:25; MX2 Time Practice 13:00; MXGP Time Practice 13:35; WMX Race 1 14:50; MX2 Qualifying Race 15:40; MXGP Qualifying Race 16:30.
Sunday: WMX Warm up 10:00; MX2 Warm up 10:20; MXGP Warm up 10:40; WMX Race 2 11:25; MX2 Race 1 12:15; MXGP Race 1 13:15; MX2 Race 2 15:10; MXGP Race 2 16:10.