Valkenswaard GP: The Preview!
VALKENSWAARD (Europe), 22 April 2015 – The first sand race of the year always sends motocross enthusiasts into frenzy. It’s always so exciting, even though the odds continue to fall year after year in favor of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s team of champions Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings, both named as the fastest sand riders in the world. Even though these two are the most popular choices for the grand prix wins in their respective classes MXGP and MX2, the excitement comes with speculation, or in hope, that there may be a dark horse for a change who will miraculously come in and surprise everyone.
This weekend, April 26, MXGP of Europe will take place on the familiar sand of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands. It will mark round five of the FIM Motocross World Championship and is expected to be just as crazy and animated as the previous round in Trentino.
Thousands of Dutch fans will rock out in their orange attire to support their local, but also worldwide legend, ‘The Bullet’ Jeffrey Herlings, while MXGP is likely to be the most incredible race of the year with only one point separating the top three in the championship, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli.
Also adding to the buzz this weekend, three European Championship classes will take place. The EMX250 and EMX125 will be taking on the second round of their series’, again with maxed entry lists, while the sweet sound of more than thirty 300cc two-strokes will line up for round one of the European Championship EMX300.
With three overalls from the first four rounds of MXGP this season, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl is obviously the one most eyes are on. For anyone that may be questioning his sand skills, Nagl lives in Lommel. Speed in the sand will not be an issue for the number 12 with Valkenswaard being practically in his back yard.
Another rider living in close proximity to Valkenswaard is Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli, who is more than likely the safest bet heading into this weekend given his strike rate in the sand. TC222 is without a doubt one of the best sand riders in the world and he has won every grand prix raced in Valkenswaard for the last five years, meaning this weekend the Italian will be looking to make his success rate at Valkenswaard six in a row.
Leading the championship by one point, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle will also be a challenger for the overall in the sand of Valkenswaard. After all, he is Belgian! Enough said.
And then there is Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto who seems to be cutting laps in the sand more often than not. Amidst the enormous amount of hype surrounding the American, one of the most raised topics is his ability in the sand and how it will compare to that of the Europeans who are practically born and bred on sandy rough circuits. This weekend we will find out.
Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Romain Febvre will also be fast as he is based in Lommel, too, and would have done his fair share of laps around soft and rugged tracks, as will fellow rookie and Dutchman Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Glenn Coldenhoff. It may be also wise to make mention of Febvre’s Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek who we are still waiting to see on the box this year. Although there is speculation Van Horebeek has tweaked his knee, if it is not a serious injury he should be a threat in the sand here in Holland.
Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin was one of the fastest riders around the track in The Netherlands last year with his race one victory as solid evidence. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, a crash in race two saw him break his collarbone and forced him out of the next four rounds of the season. Surely this year, if he can score points in both races and come away unscathed, he will be stoked.
Last but not least, Team Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Shaun Simpson will be one to keep a look out for. We saw what he can do on his day when he won the final round of the 2013 MXGP championship in the deep sand of Lierop. Simpson will also be on the MXGP Studio Show this weekend with Paul Malin and Adam Wheeler, so we may even get a little extra insight, in terms of expectations for this race, out of the kid before the gates drop.
2014 MXGP of The Netherlands MXGP Top 3
1. Antonio Cairoli
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek
3. Kevin Strijbos
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings. The name says it all. The local lad is unbeaten around Valkenswaard having won the last five MX2 grand prix’ here with back to back wins. His speed in the sand is just mind blowing, so it’s almost a definite that The Bullet will be looking for his sixth consecutive grand prix win here at the Eurocircuit.
We can also be certain Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser will be pinning it out there in the sand fresh off of his first MX2 grand prix win. After achieving that milestone, something he has dreamed of since he was a little boy, there is no doubt Gajser will be extra confident and motivated for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile Monster Energy Kawasaki’s duo of Dylan Ferrandis and Jordi Tixier are also super quick in the loam. Ferrandis proved his skills in the sand at the 2014 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations where his ability to hold it wide open on the soft terrain assisted Team France in the amazing MXoN victory while teammate Tixier uncorked a bottle of fizz here last year as the bronze medalist.
As for the dark horses, Team HSF Logistics KTM’s Brian Bogers could knock on the door of the top five if he rides to his ability, as could Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Racing’s Brent Van Doninck.
2014 MXGP of The Netherlands MX2 Top 3
1. Jeffrey herlings
2. Romain Febvre
3. Jordi Tixier
Saturday: EMX300 Free/Timed practice 07:10; EMX125 Group 1 Free/Timed practice 07:45; EMX125 Group 2 Free/Timed practice 08:20; EMX250 Group 1 Free/Timed practice 08:55; EMX250 Group 2 Free/Timed practice 09:30; MX2 Free Practice 10:15; MXGP Free Practice 10:45; EMX125 Last Chance Qualifying Race 11:50; EMX250 Last Chance Qualifying Race 12:30; EMX300 Race 1 13:20; MX2 Time Practice 14:00; MXGP Time Practice 14:35; EMX125 Race 1 15:20; MX2 Qualifying Race 16:10; MXGP Qualifying Race 17:00; EMX250 Race 1 17:40.
Sunday: EMX300 Warm-up 08:35; EMX125 Warm-up 08:50; EMX250 Warm-up 09:05; EMX300 Race 2 09:35; EMX125 Race 2 10:25; MX2 Warm up 11:10; MXGP Warm up 11:30; EMX250 Race 2 12:00; MX2 Race 1 13:15; MXGP Race 1 14:15; MX2 Race 2 16:10; MXGP Race 2 17:10.