Talking Point: Pre-season progress
It was quite the weekend of racing with the preparation for the World Championship now well underway. The fans at Hawkstone and Castiglione Del Lago got the scoop on who looks good with three weeks to go until Qatar.
Over in Italy David Philippaerts continued to show form that many thought they wouldn’t see again, but Philippaerts looks great so far and his win after holding Nagl off all moto in race one will further increase his self-belief that he can get back to rider that won the 2008 World Championship.
Another rider who looked superb in Italy was the quiet man of GP motocross, Max Nagl. After being content to follow Philippaerts’ line in race one, Nagl holeshot race two and clear off. He looked very comfortable on the Husky and suffered none of the arm pump that hindered him the week before in Sardinia. Riding with precision and playing on the bike Nagl remind everyone of his talent, and has shown the world that he shouldn’t be counted out in 2015.
Tommy Searle is now tied for the points lead in the championship and had a brilliant second place in the Elite race. Searle couldn’t do anything about Nagl but held off the charging Philippaerts and Febvre at the end of the moto. Searle is getting back to rider we thought he would be in MXGP.
Romain Febvre was awesome in the second moto, the MXGP rookie looked at home on the Yamaha and made fewer mistakes on the tricky track than he was making last year on the 250. He passed and left Cairoli to show he won’t be intimidated by the big name and with a couple of more laps he may well have nicked second with Philippaerts and Searle just in front of him!
Tim Gajser won in MX2 but had to fend off and impressive Beniot Paturel who, if he can stay away from injury, might be about to make a name for himself this season. Gajser looked much more comfortable on this track than he did in the sand, but with a crash for Pauls Jonass ruling him out of the first moto meaning he couldn’t take part int he elite race it was hard to judge just how Gajser would have matched up.
Over in England at Hawkstone, Jordi Tixier set toungues wagging with his laptimes. Over a second faster than Tonkov in race two and not far off the pace of the Strijbos and Desalle in the Superfinal suggests that Tixier’s move to Kawasaki and his World title win have pushed his confidence to the next level. In contrast his teammate Covington just did not have a good day but perhaps the adjustment from the heat of California to the cold of England proved too much!
In MX1 it was the battle of the Suzukis. Glenn Coldenhoff was getting the starts and getting some laps led under his belt before coming under pressure from his more experienced teammates. But Glenn showed he can ride a 450 no problem in what was his first ever race on the big machine.
Kevin Strijbos edged Desalle after some impressive riding, made even more impressive by the fact the Belgian had been sick since returning from the USA. Desalle too will be happy to have got a race under his belt and team Suzuki can all come away knowing that progress had been made.
It was the first race for Shaun Simpson too and despite a couple of crashes will be glad to get the first race of the year out of the way and continue his preparation for Qatar. Dean Ferris had a steady day on the Husky as he continues to get back to pace after his broken femur. Ferris will only get faster from here on out.
It’s all still a bit of a guessing game at the moment as to who is pushing 100% and who is holding back, Cairoli admitted he just took it easy because the track was a bit dangerous with all the ruts in Italy and his focus is being ready for Qatar. But for Tixier, Philippaerts, Nagl and Strijbos they will take a lot of confidence and were definitely the four riders who really stood out this weekend!
Article: Jonathan McCready
Photo: KTM images