Race Report: Paulin & Herlings dominate in sand
Round five of the FIM Motocross World Championship and the first sand race of the year was just as awesome and crazy as predicted. Sand circuits always mix things up as they are known to be extremely, physically, mentally and technically demanding, which today were the skills that Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings flaunted around the treacherous circuit of Valkenswaard, as they both dominated every race in their respective classes for two very deserving overalls.
Although we are only five rounds in, it seems like we have been waiting forever to see that same amazing mix of smoothness, style and aggression Gautier Paulin displayed in the latter stages of 2014. Finally, a lot of the bets his die-hard fans place on him weekend after weekend would have been won with the Team HRC star finally coming out of his shell to dominate every race. As always, the Frenchman’s style was awe-inspiring as he floated around a visibly brutal circuit here in Valkenswaard for his first grand prix victory of the year.
Wrapping up second overall Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl is proving to be the ultimate force to be reckoned with, as he snatches back the championship lead for the second time this year. The German, who openly admitted he didn’t expect to be on the podium this weekend, put in two incredibly solid and consistent performances for second overall and his fourth podium finish of the year.
Belgium seems to have a habit of producing consistently consistent riders. Last season it was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek, who sadly couldn’t race this weekend due to a broken foot, while this season it is Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle. Desalle rode smart, once again, to uncork his fifth consecutive bottle of bubbles. The Belgian did mention in the press conference “I really want to win again, I want that feeling and that is what I am trying to do.”
Rounding out a spectacular weekend for Team HRC, Evgeny Bobryshev finally lost that black cloud of bad-luck that follows him and was rewarded with fourth overall. As a rider that has had a string of injuries, it is fantastic to see him start to bounce back and return to that same Bobby we once knew. There is no doubt that the Russian is hungry to be back on the box and if things keep moving in this direction, it shouldn’t be long before we see him there.
Known as a strong sand rider, there’s no surprise Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Shaun Simpson rounded out the top five this weekend. One of the most awesome factors in seeing the friendly Scotsman wrap up a top five result is the fact he is not a factory rider. As a privateer it’s not the easiest of tasks to go up against the factory bikes, but he has done it once when he won the MXGP of Europe as a privateer back in 2013, so it’s good to see someone prove that it is do-able.
As for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli, this weekend turned out to be one of the worst weekends he has had in a while. The defending MXGP champion came into this weekend one point shy of the championship points lead and if statistics were anything to go by, with the champ having won the last five grand prix’ held at this circuit, it was almost certain the Italian would stand on the podium. Just going to show how unpredictable MXGP can be, the Italian had a massive crash in race one, of which he was lucky to come away scot-free, and could only pull off a seventh in race two which left him all the way back in eleventh overall. He is now thirty points down on the series leader Max Nagl, in third.
Dutch MXGP rookie Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Glenn Coldenhoff also rode rather impressively to take home his second top ten finish of the year in ninth.
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), 34:52.131; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:17.744; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:35.535; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:40.515; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:41.742; 6. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Kawasaki), +0:56.455; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +1:00.201; 8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +1:04.855; 9. Filip Bengtsson (SWE, Honda), +1:08.710; 10. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +1:12.812
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), 34:24.814; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:04.761; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:10.118; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:11.589; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:12.309; 6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:28.128; 7. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:39.579; 8. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Kawasaki), +0:41.763; 9. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:43.720; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:44.567
MXGP Overall Top Ten: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 50 points; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 44 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 38 p.; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 38 p.; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 31 p.; 6. Tyla Rattray (RSA, KAW), 28 p.; 7. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 27 p.; 8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 25 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 25 p.; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, KTM), 19 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten: 1. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 214 points; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 209 p.; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 184 p.; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 178 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 156 p.; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 138 p.; 7. Ryan Villopoto (USA, KAW), 124 p.; 8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 98 p.; 9. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 92 p.; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 86 p
MXGP Manufacturer: 1. Husqvarna, 218 points; 2. Suzuki, 209 p.; 3. KTM, 201 p.; 4. Honda, 179 p.; 5. Yamaha, 161 p.; 6. Kawasaki, 157 p.; 7. TM, 70 p.
It will come as no surprise, but Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings remains unbeaten here in Valkenswaard, sweeping the MX2 for his first grand prix win since MXGP of Thailand. Although Herlings is expected to win in the sand as he has a once in a life time talent which you have to see to believe, he did make life a little difficult for himself in race two when he got off to a shocker of a start and later crashed while trying to dice his way through the field. As a youngster he was labeled as ‘cocky’, but as he matures he is proving to be quite humble admitting, “it’s not as easy as you think to win here. I know everyone expects it, but these guys are riding fast too, so I have to give it up for them”.
Meanwhile Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordi Tixier is starting to pick up some momentum after somewhat of a rough start to the season. Landing on the podium for the second time this season, in second overall, couldn’t be better for the young Frenchman who is trying to regain points after missing MXGP of Patagonia Argentina.
Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Aleksandr Tonkov laid in his best result of the season with a third overall, which is also his first podium performance of the year. The Russian, who has caused a lot of hype recently because he is manning the all new 2016 Husqvarna FC250, is doing a great job of representing the new bike with his two impressive Fox Holeshots vouching for its speed, and his podium finish vouching for its overall handling and performance.
The Dutch fans are always amazing to their home riders, and the vibe in MX2 was just doubled with the local lad HSF Logistics Motorsport Team’s Brian Bogers wrapping up fourth overall while Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube’s Valentin Guillod did the best he could to salvage fifth.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:13.523; 2. Max Anstie (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:42.823; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:58.264; 4. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:10.794; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +1:20.871; 6. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +1:32.176; 7. Julien Lieber (BEL, Yamaha), +1:41.239; 8. Petar Petrov (BUL, KTM), +1:43.961; 9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:45.777; 10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +1:46.836
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:12.664; 2. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:27.575; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:35.672; 4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, Yamaha), +0:37.737; 5. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:40.770; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:54.345; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:58.733; 8. Jens Getteman (BEL, Honda), +1:06.768; 9. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +1:15.696; 10. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +1:20.715
MX2 Overall Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 40 p.; 3. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 38 p.; 4. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 31 p.; 5. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 28 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 26 p.; 7. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 26 p.; 8. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 23 p.; 9. Jens Getteman (BEL, HON), 22 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, KAW), 22 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 222 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 185 p.; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 148 p.; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 137 p.; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 133 p.; 6. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 129 p.; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 125 p.; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, YAM), 121 p.; 9. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 115 p.; 10. Thomas Covington (USA, KAW), 102 p.;
MX2 Manufacturers: 1. KTM, 244 points; 2. Kawasaki, 207 p.; 3. Yamaha, 161 p.; 4. Honda, 157 p.; 5. Husqvarna, 136 p.; 6. Suzuki, 125 p.;
MXGP EUROPE – QUICK FACTS
Circuit length: 1550m
Type of ground: Sand
Weather conditions: cloudy with some shower
Crowd attendance; 32.600