Race reflections: Italian championship round one
1. Faster Febvre – The world champ said at the end of last season that he would be even faster in 2016 and going by his performance at round one in Italy it appears to be true. Sand is the Frenchman’s worst surface but in Italy he rode it like he had grown up in the stuff. Febvre was hopping, skipping and jumping his way around the course wheras last year he hammered his way around the sand trscks. While others used the race as a warm-up Febvre gave everything he had to win, putting in a blistering last couple of laps to catch Bobreyshev in the last moto. Febvre issued a warning to the rest on Sunday – he’s faster than ever!
2. Brilliant Bobby – Evgeny Bobreyshev had a steady season last year building his speed up gradually but in Italy he was going for it at the first round of the year! It was the old Bobreyshev, flat out and slightly on the edge, but Bobby didn’t make a big mistake and took a very impressive win despite race-long pressure from Febvre. Their best laps were three seconds quicker than anyone else showing just how hard they were trying. Bobreyshev was signed as a back-up rider to Paulin but the Russian is staking his claim to be number one in the team this season. It all means HRC’s big money signing Gautier Paulin is under pressure within his own team, nevermind the rest of the MXGP riders, but maybe that will help the Frenchman to get back to his true level.
3. Terrific Tim – MX2 world champion Tim Gajser showed he will be intimidated by no-one after leading the opening race and battling Febvre hard for the lead. The two world champs went at it in that opening moto before Gajser ulimately dropped back to 15th after a bike issue. In race two Gajser came from tenth to sixth. It was an impressive day for Gajser who, like Febvre, wouldn’t class sand as his best surface. But if Gajser can run with the top guys there then his potential on his favoured hard-pack tracks could well be pretty amazing! Gajser could well be a threat this season to win races and even the title if he can avoid rookie mistakes.
4. Herlings returns – Jeffrey Herlings made his long-awaited comeback and predictably dominated MX2 with some blistering sand riding. In the superfinal Herlings didn’t get the start to battle Febvre and Bobreyshev but he did pull through to fourth from around tenth and nearly nabbed third off Van Horebeck. Interestingly, Herlings’ best lap came on lap ten when everyone else was posted their best laps at the beginning of the race. Only Herlings knows how hard he pushed at the beginning and whether he even wanted to win incase he caught flack for staying mx2. But his performance still left everyone wishing he was racing the MXGP class next year and not MX2!