The MXGP elite are all on form and ready to battle in Lativa!
For most of this season it has been the Tony Cairoli and Tom Gajser show in MXGP. Both men have brought their A game to the championship early and have a substantial lead over the chasing pack.
But in Valkenswaard Gautier Paulin got his first win in two years and the real Jeffrey Herlings showed that he is two good starts away from winning again!
Paulin had struggled for two years on the Honda, never really showing his true form but his solid results in the first five rounds this season showed he has enjoying the Husqvarna and that win may now put Paulin back on the form he showed in 2014.
“This victory has given us a big confidence boost for the races to come.” admitted the French talent. Latvia of course is a track Paulin is fantastic at, he dominated the world at the MXON in 2014 and it appears this round of the championship is coming at the perfect time. He is confident again and loves the track, so can he contend with Cairoli, Gajser and Herlings this weekend? If he does he might well be an outside bet for this title.
Jeffrey Herlings goes into Latvia knowing he can win for the first time all season – if he gets good starts!
Speaking in our interview Herlings said, “If I would have been in the top three (starts) at both moto’s I would have won today.”
We haven’t seen a Cairoli/Herlings battle for the win yet, and their contrasting starts in Valkenswaard prevented their first true battle of the 2017 season but this weekend we could finally see the sand masters go at it!
And Herlings knows he’s going to get faster, “I think we have a lot more to show.” admitted the Dutchman but he knows things won’t be easy in MXGP and now expects a brutal battle in every moto.
“Everyone is so determined,” explained Herlings. “They all wanna win so bad and there are so many good guys on the track. The top ten, like I just said in the press conference, when the gate drops until the finish flag, it’s an all-out war, they go for it and I have to just get used to that.”
Antonio Cairoli also thought he should have won Valkenswaard: “It was a race where I should have gone 1-1 so I’m disappointed.” The Italian has shown some incredible speed this season and will want to close the 14 point gap to Gajser in the standing but he also won’t want Herlings beating him in the sand!
When you have two KTM teammates who think they should have won Valkenswaard plus the guy who actually did win, all coming to a track they like for the next round – there could be fireworks!
And let’s not forget Tim Gajser the championship leader either! Gajser didn’t like the track in Valkenswaard but did some good damage limitation in the championship. But he does like the track this weekend in Latvia.
“I like the track and did well there last year,” admitted Gajser but also warned, “It’s another sand track with harder bumps in which can catch you out.”
Tim will be out to stop the growing confidence of this three rivals and with his consistently good starts the Honda star will no doubt be battling at the front again.
Another rider who has been impressive this year is Jeremy Van Horebeek, he was oh-so-close to a win in Valkenswaard but illness cost him some power in the last few laps. Can he defeat what is now the big four and get the win he keeps flirting with? Don’t rule it out!