Race reflections: Assen MXGP
The pre-race sceptics were silenced in as Assen hosted one of the best MXGP rounds of year.
Full grandstands watched great racing on a newly built but old fashioned sand track as the home of Dutch road racing hosted the best motocross riders in the world for the first time.
It was also the location for Romain Febvre’s first world title. The MXGP rookie has been sensational this season on the factory Yamaha. Febvre was second overall at Assen, taking his eleventh podium in a row and winning his twelfth moto of the season to win the title with a 5-1.
Febvre proved yet again, that while he may not be the most natural sand rider, he can still ride fast in the stuff and get the job done. Febvre was joyously and slightly unbelievably crowned the 2015 MXGP World Champion after his dominant second moto win to confirm his status as the best outdoor rider in the world in 2015.
Let there be no doubt that Febvre deserved this championship, yes there were injuries, but Febvre has been running with and beating the pre-season favourites even before they got hurt. His first few motos just included some rookie mistakes that cost him in the points’ chase. But speedwise, he was right there, even at round four in Arco he was reeling in Villopoto, Desalle and Cairoli before Villopoto looped out and Cairoli barely held him off for second at finish. Then, once Febvre figured it out and won his first moto at the British GP, he was the runaway train that no-one could stop.
After the race Febvre said that while he couldn’t believe he won the title in his first season, but issued a warning to the rest by saying he will be even better next year -and you have to believe him! This is only his fourth season in MXGP, he had three years in MX2 and only had come back to motocross a year before that after racing supermoto. Febvre is still on the upward curve and he will be out to prove to the doubters that he can win again in 2016, even if the rest stay fit.
There were also more celebrations for Scotland’s Shaun Simpson. The Scot went 1-3 at Assen to win his second GP of the year. Again, it was in the sand and when Cairoli isn’t there, Simpson is the man to beat in the soft stuff. Shaun is having the best season of his career and is rumoured to have secured a factory KTM for next season, but run under a privateer awning. It might be the perfect scenario for the Scot who could be one to watch in 2016.
Simpson has won two of the three main sand GPs of the year and has risen to fourth in the championship but his next goal must be to get his first top five of the year on the hard pack. With a factory bike at his disposal now, Simpson has to believe he is capable of running in the top five in Mexico and Glen Helen even if it won’t be the deep sand he loves so much.
It was a great weekend for Glenn Coldenhoff, an MXGP rookie like Febvre, the Dutchman delighted the huge home crowd with third overall in MXGP then promptly signed to be Cairoli’s teammate at factory KTM for 2016! Coldenhoff had a slow start to the season but has really come on strong in the second half of the year. He will no doubt be even better next season, especially getting to ride with Cairoli all winter.
Gautier Paulin rode well but a bad start in race two meant he lost his chance at taking the world title fight to Mexico. Paulin hasn’t been able to train properly for six weeksn since his knee injury but says things are getting better and he should be fully fit for the last two GPs and the MXoN.
It was all to play for in MX2 but in the end Tim Gajser came out with the biggest smile and the red plate.
Gajser passed his championship rival Jonass in the dying laps of race one to take a huge race win in the sand – Jonass’ preferred conditions and Gajser’s worst. It was a huge mental boost for Gajser and race two helped even more – it might even have decided the championship.
Gajser got squeezed off the gate and Jonass was exiting turn one in second but then Jonass lost the front wheel and went down. The damage included a flopping front brake and the unlucky Latvian had to go into the pits and get the front brake cable removed. When he re-joined he was a lap down but rode fantastic to get back to thirteenth.
But crucially, Gajser worked his way up to second to win the overall and take a 13 point lead to the final two rounds in North America.
Max Anstie won moto two but a costly crash while running second in race one along with a spluttering machine meant he only took ninth place, and is now 44 points behind Gajser going into Mexico and the USA. Anstie however is getting valuable experience this season before his move to factory Husky and his final tilt at the MX2 title next season.
It leaves Gajser as the man to beat and Jonass, who has been impressive under pressure but still hasn’t won a GP this season, will have to produce the two GPs of his life to stop Gajser and Honda taking the MX2 title away from KTM.
The riders now have a week off from MXGP ( many have national championship races) before heading into the final two GPs of the season, and for Gajser and Jonass, it will be the biggest two races of their lives.
MXGP Overall Top Ten: 1. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 45 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 41 p.; 3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 40 p.; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 40 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 36 p.; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 30 p.; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 28 p.; 8. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 24 p.; 9. Dean Ferris (AUS, HUS), 23 p.; 10. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 20 p
MXGP Championship Top Ten: 1. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 638 points; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 536 p.; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 499 p.; 4. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 437 p.; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 416 p.; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 414 p.; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 394 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 361 p.; 9. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 331 p.; 10. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 324 p
MX2 Overall Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 47 points; 2. Max Anstie (GBR, KAW), 37 p.; 3. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 36 p.; 4. Julien Lieber (BEL, YAM), 35 p.; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 31 p.; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Harri Kullas (FIN, HUS), 29 p.; 8. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 28 p.; 9. Thomas Covington (USA, KAW), 25 p.; 10. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 22 p.; 11. Ben Watson (GBR, KTM), 18 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 518 points; 2. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 505 p.; 3. Max Anstie (GBR, KAW), 474 p.; 4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 446 p.; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 440 p.; 6. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 423 p.; 7. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 393 p.; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, YAM), 391 p.; 9. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 320 p.; 10. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 301 p.
Article: Jonathan McCready
Pic: MXGP/KTM Images