The return of some old-school hard pack as a welcome sight and the different style of track helped get some different results in the races – although a bit too much watering made the track more one lined and rutted in the corners than it should have been in the second motos.
The over-watering aside, it was nice to see something different even it is was very fast. Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli were still fighting for the win but finally they they had some competition and both admitted this style of tack doesn’t suit them. Being the champions they are though they both adapted like you have to in the world championship and both made the podium.
Clement Desalle rode superbly in both motos, he passed Caroli and Herlings in a very intense opening lap in race and dreams don’t faulter under pressure in the final lap to win the fit moto and backed that up with keep Herlings honest in race two.
Desalle looked comfortable all weekend and showing just how important it is to have tracks like this on the calender – it slows riders with different skills sets to show what they really can do on their best surface.
Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser were also good although the more rutted Sunday seemed to hamper Febvre’s raw speed, even his starts didn’t help his case either!
The biggest surprise in MX2 was Stephen Rubini who used his hard pack skills to get into the to five in race one even with a tip over and despite a bad start in race two took eighth. Rubini has been tipped as one to watch but never really showed what he could really do until Russia, another reason why these slick tracks are also essential for the world championship as it allows different riders with different skill sets to shine.
It was a great day for Ben Watson who after coming so close this season finally got that podium he has been craving. Watson has been superb this year and to get the podium on hard-pack on a track he admitted wasn’t even his favourite shows just how good Ben is in 2018.
Both KTM men rode well for different reasons in MX2, Jorge Prado is showing he is becoming an all round rider, his hard pack skills have improved a lot over the last few months and chasing Jonass down in that second moto was very impressive.
Jonass too showed he has a strong mentality to rebound from two poor rounds without Prado putting the pressure on. Jonass said he worked hard and was pushed even more by Harry Everts and trainer Willy Linden prior to Russia and it certainly paid off with Jonass back to his best and unruffled under pressere.
You feel however, the tension is building with Prado and Jonass with Prado saying he felt Jonass was weak towards the end of the race and then very nearly making a contact pass for the win. Both riders are playing fair right now but like Herlings and Cairoli it might just take one moment to ignite fuse.
See just how intense the opening laps were on-board with Cairoli below: