The 2011 motocross world championships wrapped up with a win for Frenchman Gautier Paulin (Yamaha) at the weekend’s Grand Prix of Italy, the 15th and final round of the series.
Fellow Frenchman Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki) and Spain’s Jonathan Barragan (Kawasaki) took the next two spots on the final MX1 podium of the year.
With such a strong finish to the season for the French riders, the forecast looks good for Team France at this year’s Motocross of Nations, set for their home turf at the hilly French track at St Jean d’Angely, near Bordeaux, next weekend.
Belgian Kevin Strijbos tied on points for the last step of the podium at Fermo and was disappointed to miss out with a decent tally of third-and-fourth places through two hot races.
The steep Italian hillside at Fermo, set in the shallow dips of the scenic landscape close to the Adriatic Sea, provided a slick, hard-pack and rutted track. The high temperatures and many jumps of the course meant a hard day’s work for the riders at this last appointment on the 2011 schedule.
About 18,000 spectators also enjoyed watching as Kiwi ring-in rider Cody Cooper scored his first GP points in MX1.
The New Zealand MX1 champion from Mount Maunganui, called up to replace an injured Clement Desalle in the factory Suzuki team a fortnight ago, pushed valiantly through the haze, dust and up the hills and grabbed his first MX1 GP points with 16th and 19th placings, good enough for 20th overall.
Despite missing the final three GPs of the season, Desalle still finished third in the MX1 standings.
Another injured factory Suzuki rider, fellow Belgian Steve Ramon, finished 14th but is still recovering from his injury sustained at round 11 in Lommel.
Strijbos ended a year in 10th overall for the championship and will now represent his country at St Jean D’Angely in France for the Motocross of Nations next week.
“I rode well today but I’m feeling a bit down about missing out on the podium,” said Strijbos.
“I had a good jump out of the gate in the first race but I was dragged outside a little bit. Anyway I made my way to third and at one point I was pushing to catch Xavier Boog for second but then backed off a little bit because I was feeling a little tired. I’m not sure what happened at the start of the second; I think I had some wheelspin, but I rode the whole moto believing I had third place so it was disappointing to not make the podium.”
Cooper admitted he wasn’t in the best shape for GP racing.
“As I said last week, it was a tricky decision to come and do these GPs because I knew I wasn’t in the best shape; but now I go home with some good endurance under my belt that’s for sure.
“I had a good start in the second moto because the bike has good power and it was awesome out of the gate. I had some fatigue from the previous race but I did my best. I’m real thankful to the team for the experience of coming here and I’m glad I did it.”
Meanwhile, in the MX2 class, a superb performance from KTM Red Bull Teka rider Jeffrey Herlings saw him take the overall away from race one winner Tommy Searle and secure his place in second overall in the standings
It was Searle who looked odds on favourite for the overall after winning both the Saturday qualifying race and the first of Sunday’s two motos, but it wasn’t to be two in a row for the Gaildorf winner as Herlings dug deep to spoil the Kawasaki party and take his fifth overall win of the year on the hard baked ground of Fermo.
Searle led early on in race two from Herlings but he began to lose his rhythm and that allowed Herlings to gain back the ground he lost early on and make the pass down the back of the very steep circuit.
Searle managed a great fight back with 10 minutes to go but a small crash as he closed on the KTM rider was enough to end his chances of the overall.
He was joined for the first time this year on the podium by his Kawasaki team-mate Max Anstie who finally managed to convert one of his fourth places into a debut Motocross GP podium.
As for Germany’s Ken Roczen, the new champions two-stroke experiment looked to be working with 5th in race one but a heavy crash mid way through race two as he closed on 4th lead to his early retirement but it had no impact of the overall standings.
In the EMX 125 class, it took just one race for Simone Zecchina to seal his first European title as Tim Gajser took his first overall of the year with dominant wins in both races. Samuele Bernardini had almost recovered from his arm injury but he was unable to complete either moto and slipped out of third in the championship.
Moto1: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), 39:24.930; 2. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:11.779; 3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:19.334; 4. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Kawasaki), +0:36.361; 5. Anthony Boissiere (FRA, Yamaha), +0:45.590; 6. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:48.323; 7. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:48.634; 8. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:56.812; 9. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), +0:57.141; 10. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:19.363. 16. Cody Cooper (NZL, Suzuki), -1 lap(s).
Moto2: 1. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 39:31.286; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:14.080; 3. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Kawasaki), +0:32.179; 4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:37.472; 5. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:54.398; 6. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), +1:10.394; 7. Anthony Boissiere (FRA, Yamaha), +1:22.599; 8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Kawasaki), +1:38.375; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Honda), +1:44.436; 10. Marcus Schiffer (GER, Suzuki), -1 lap(s). 19. Cody Cooper (NZL, Suzuki), -1 lap(s).
MX1 Overall result:
1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), 47 points; 2. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 38 p.; 3. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Kawasaki), 38 p.; 4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 38 p.; 5. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 38 p.; 6. Anthony Boissiere (FRA, Yamaha), 30 p.; 7. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Kawasaki), 28 p.; 8. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 27 p.; 9. Marcus Schiffer (GER, Suzuki), 20 p.; 10. Manuel Monni (ITA, Honda), 20 p. 20. Cody Cooper (NZL, Suzuki), 7 p.
Final MX1 World Championship standings:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 596 points; 2. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), 472 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 461 p.; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 444 p.; 5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 439 p.; 6. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 431 p.; 7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 347 p.; 8. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Kawasaki), 326 p.; 9. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 308 p.; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 295 p.
© Main photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Cooper photo courtesy Suzuki