Tough qualifying for Honda in Thailand
The temperature for today’s 20-minute qualifying race for the MXGP of Thailand reached a sweltering 36 degrees Celsius, but more oppressive was the humidity that peaked at nearly 40 per cent.
It was therefore a day of managing the effort on track to retain maximum energy for tomorrow’s two races. Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin finished eighth after the mid-pack melee saw him down to eleventh from the start, but Evgeny Bobryshev had more of a mountain to climb after a crash in turn one demoted him to the back of the pack on the CRF450RW.
Fighting back through the pack, whilst being mindful of not overdoing it today, Bobby eventually crossed the line in eleventh.
As more laps were turned on the track throughout the day, it became increasingly rutted and technical and presented a great challenge to the riders especially with the added factor of heat. There won’t be any let-up tomorrow either, with similar temperatures and even higher humidity forecast once racing gets underway at 1315hrs local time.
Gautier Paulin: “I didn’t make a good lap today because I was always in traffic so I started to be nervous on the bike. They closed the eight gates inside so that put me on gate 24 for the start – way out and the ruts were really bad there. The goal was just to get a better start position for tomorrow. I couldn’t make it work to be top three – I had a good start but then I was in the traffic in turn one and many riders were pushing. When you’re in between like that it’s like a war on the track. I tried to push and made up to eighth so that’s ok for tomorrow.
“The track is really rutted, but many of the ruts you can’t go in. Some ruts are too deep and it’s just not possible to ride through them. If you go in you get stuck. It’s really tricky and you can see that many riders in MX2 got injured. I made something good for tomorrow by improving our speed through the day, so for tomorrow it will be much better for my place on the gate and so the line for the start too. On the bike the temperature is exactly like it was last year, but I’m fit and feeling good so I’m not worried about the heat. When you come off the bike though and go into the cool room that feels like normal temperature, but when you go out again it feels like a sauna.”
Evgeny Bobryshev: “From the beginning I had a good gate but then someone took Tommy’s (Searle] gate so he took mine and then I had a really bad gate, on the inside with all the stones and holes. I had a bad jump, but then when I tried to cut inside turn one, I touched Lupino and my front wheel washed out and I went down. I started coming back but it wasn’t so easy as there were so many ruts and so easy to make a mistake.
“I finished 11th so it’s ok, and I have to look at it from a positive way. Everything’s safe and in one piece and we’re ready for tomorrow. A good start will be so important tomorrow. The track is not so easy because there are deep ruts but we learn from today and put it all into tomorrow. Tomorrow it will be very hot so we need to make a strategy for the race to not be dehydrated, but the temperature was ok today so maybe I prepared better this year.”
Roger Harvey: “It’s quite a difficult track. It’s prepared but it’s rutted very deeply after today’s running which makes it very tricky. You needed to get out the start today, and we had the starts last weekend but not today. Someone took Bobby’s gate so he had to take one he hadn’t prepared, and Gautier and Tim got into the pack and couldn’t really get a good flow going. The key today though was managing the race with the heat – it was all about saving energy for tomorrow and you could see everyone settling for position towards the end and just cooling it off a little.”